Untold Updates videos
By Tony Attwood
I am not sure when WeCareDoYou launched its most recent missive attacking the Arsenal owners and board, but I have a date noted of 15 July 2019, which suggests to me it was then.
So taking that as being the case, at that time Arsenal had finished the season in a disappointing 5th, disappointing after the 19 consecutive years run in the Champions League – the second-longest run ever achieved by any club. That sequence ended in May 2016 as we became runners’ up.
|2015/16||20||11||7||65||36||71||2nd||QF||R16 Champs Lge|
|2016/17||23||6||9||77||44||75||5th||W||R16 Champs Lge|
|2017/18||19||6||13||74||51||63||6th||R3||SF Europa Lge|
|2018/19||21||7||10||73||51||70||5th||R4||RU Europa Lge|
Unfortunately there followed the runners’ up achievement, an increase in anti-Wenger rhetoric in the media, quickly taken up by some “fans”, and ultimately out came WeCareDoYou. (Although it is worth noting that in coming 5th in 2017 we got four more points than in coming second in 2016).
Now it has always been my contention that letters of complaint of this nature can have any one of three outcomes: they can (rather self-evidently) make things better, make them worse, or leave them as they are.
And I was wondering what those organisations that signed the WeCareDoYou letter actually think has happened. Have their efforts worked and made things better, have they made things worse, or have they had no effect?
It’s an important point I think because how you see the outcome will affect what you think should happen next. For example, if you think that the WeCareDoYou letter has had a good effect you might argue for more of the same. If you feel it has had no effect you could argue for more of the same (just one more push and it will make things better) or don’t do it again (it didn’t have any effect, so let’s do something else). If you feel it has made things worse, then not doing it again would seem to be the key future policy.
This season we are 10th with six wins with 18 games to go which by any measure is worse than before.
“As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade. When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final. Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running.
“Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued. This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter- shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club. It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change.
“What all of us as signatories to this statement want to see is meaningful action by Stan Kroenke to reinvigorate our football club.”
The letter then goes on to set out what is wrong and what needs to be done (better leadership, new and dynamic appointments at board level, independently-minded directors, a more co-ordinated approach to buying players and paying wages, improving the atmosphere, reducing the “thousands of empty seats blighting almost every game”, fighting the ‘franchisation’ of European Football).
Those signing up included, Arseblog, Arsenal Armed Forces Supporters Club, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Black Scarf Movement, Gooner Fanzine, Goonerholic, Gunnerblog, Gunners Town, Highbury Squad, Le Grove, REDACTION, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Suburban Gooners, You Are My Arsenal Blog, 7am Kick Off.
I always found the logic of the piece hard to understand (in my business experience not many people change their style and approach as a result of being criticised in public), and so I wasn’t too surprised to find that not much changed as a result of the letter.
But I guess some, if not all, of the signatories expected change as a result. After all, if you don’t expect a campaign to work, what’s the point of doing it, other than for self-aggrandisement, and free publicity in the mass media? True, they certainly got the latter, and I wonder if that was the point – or whether they actually thought they would have an impact. If it was just for publicity that was rather cynical in my view – but of course it was their show, not mine.
Anyway, whatever their thoughts at the time, things have got worse, and as an outside observer (the Arsenal supporter organisations I am a member of didn’t sign up), I wonder what the next move by the groups that did sign up, will be.
I guess they could either
a) do the same sort of thing again
b) do nothing
c) try something different
The first option seems a bit of a chancy thing, because if the decline we have seen in Arsenal’s performance comes in part as a result of the WeCareDoYou campaign then more of the same could have more of the same result: more decline.
But could the WeCareDoYou initiative that was supported by all those blogs and organisations, have contributed to the current state of affairs?
It certainly is possible. It is likely that some players are less inclined to come to a club where there is notable supporter discontent than to a club where there is unity. And certainly that WeCareDoYou letter and the twitter campaign, plus the Wenger Out placards and banners might well have made a player with a choice of Arsenal or somewhere else, choose somewhere else.
And we do know that Kroenke does not like being attacked publicly and will do whatever it takes (even up to moving a club) if he doesn’t like what’s going on locally.
There is also the possibility that the campaign did lead to the club investing more in player transfers last summer than was originally intended, and although that is generally considered a good thing by the media (since it means news for no journalistic effort), it doesn’t always help clubs as the current chart of the biggest spenders last summer shows…
- Manchester United £148m (currently 7th, last season 6th) DOWN
- Aston Villa £144.5m (currently 17th, last season promoted) LOWER THAN EXPECTED
- Arsenal £138m (currently 10th; last season 5th) DOWN
- Manchester City £134.8m (currently 2nd, last season champions) DOWN
- Everton £118.5m (currently 9th, last season 8th) DOWN
- Tottenham Hots £101.5m (currently 5th, last season 4th) DOWN
So even if carried out, the aims of many of the supporters’ groups – to encourage greater spending and change managers – were actually likely to result in decline. For changing managers also tends to cause upsets – at least in the early years.
The conclusion has to be that the WeCareDoYou movement has not had success. It could be argued that it has no impact at all, or it could be argued that it has made things worse. It is a thought that might be held in mind if the groups involved come up with any more schemes for influencing the club.
Alternatively, the organisations involved could, of course, apologize for their actions, but I suspect that is probably too much to ask.
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