What Arsenal really needs is fans without a sense of entitlement.

By Tony Attwood

Moaning about the club one supports is part of the process for many football fans.  As far as I can tell, it happens in a lot of clubs, no matter how successful the club is.  I mean, I heard Celtic fans complaining about their club after they had just won the Scottish League nine times (including four triples in a row).

But even so, the current set of complaints is getting a bit absurd even by the standards of Arsenal fans.  We’ve been in the first division since 1919 – the longest stay of any team in England.  And in total we’ve been in the top division 105 years (the league of course not being played during the two world wars).

Thus we’ve had our ups and downs, although the 100+ years consecutive in the league’s top division is unparalleled.  So why are some people moaning so much?

Certainly not because of a complete lack of success across the years.  We have won the FA Cup more than any other team, and are the third most successful team in terms of league titles with 13.  The most successful club in the Premier League is Manchester United with 20 titles.  Out of 123 seasons.

OK that is a little unfair since none of the most successful clubs in terms of winning league titles played in the original football league, and so have had fewer chances to win.  But discounting that opening period when there was only one division, that still gives us 119 seasons.  And the most successful club of all time has won the title 20 times.  Once every six seasons.

But success isn’t evenly spread.  Manchester United, the most successful team, didn’t win the title for 25 years from 1967 to 1993.  Manchester City having won the league in 1937 were then relegated the next season and then only won it once between 1937 and 2011, when the results of the mega investment programme, and the failure of the Premier League and Uefa to control expenditure allowed them to do what they wanted.

Chelsea won the league in 1955 for the first time, and then not again until 2005, by which time the Soviet money had arrived.

Liverpool went from 1990 to 2020 without a title having won it 11 times in 17 years (which was, I think you might agree, extremely boring.)

The fact is that Arsenal mostly win their titles in batches – in particular five titles between 1931 and 1938, plus two (1989-91) and three (1998 to 2004).   Of course there are odd moments of success, which vanish as quickly as they arose (1971 for example – three trophies in two seasons).  Yep, generally success comes in batches and then vanishes.

Most successful teams also fall into disrepair for a while.  Manchester City were relegated in 1996 and 2001.  In fact, most people forget that the reason the Big Six of the Premier League are called the Big Six (with capital letters) is because they are  the only six teams who were there are the start of the Premier League and have never been relegated from it.  That’s the point: not the six teams who win the league all the time, but the six who avoid relegation most of the time.  Arsenal have done that for the longest of course.

So the demand that we should be succeeding all the time is rather like a little child throwing toys out of a pram in a tantrum.

But why do these people do it?

I suppose the prime reason is to hide the awareness that they were part of the Wenger Out movement which has been such a staggering success for the media (in that they love negative Arsenal stories – no research, interview a couple of nobodies from AFTV on the phone, story done).  The staggering success of the club (25 years in Europe) is only noticed as a failure: the end of 25 years in Europe.

But it should also be remembered that although Arsenal has not won the league since the Unbeaten Season, we have won four FA Cups in the last eight years.  Not league titles, true, but even so, better than nothing at all.  Ask Liverpool fans.  The club is painted as a picture of triumph, but they have won three proper trophies in the last 15 years.  (I don’t count Charity Shield, Supercup etc where just one game is played.  And yes they were very proper trophies, like the League and the Champions League, but still only three.

So what makes people feel that Arsenal should be winning trophies all the time?

In part I think it is a sense of entitlement; I want it, because I am me.   That in turn is caused by poor childhood upbringing and a lack of understanding of historical context.

Finally I think it is also caused by feeling too much attachment to the club.  We are supporters – but not people who are on the inside, influencing what goes on.  And yet we think of it as our club.

Owning something emotionally – a football club or anything else – while not having any chance to influence it, is the source of real pain.

But we should not confuse this source of pain with some sort of feeling of entitlement.

Which was why it was good to watch Arsenal beat Tottenham away in the under 23s today.  Beaten 6-1 by West Ham in the first game, we’ve come back with two solid wins.  Interesting too, to see the bad behaviour of the Tottenham player.

Meanwhile if you fancy the League Cup match one more time there are highlights on Arsenal.com 


18 Replies to “What Arsenal really needs is fans without a sense of entitlement.”

  1. I was thinking,are their any real Arsenal fans remaining out there? All i can read and hear is old time footballers turn pundits, taking shots at us. Our so call fans are so depressing somethings. Today everyone can use social media to talk sh**. It was refreshing to read this article which gives a different perspective of The Arsenal!

  2. Very good article. Some have been spoiled. Realistically, we can’t compete financially with the top 3. Add Liverpool to that and we are at best battling for top 6.

  3. Great (psycho)analysis of the modern Arsenal supporter…

    Will pop by for another dose of therapy regardless if we win lose or draw…

    PS That Hutchinson/Kido combo is already looking pretty lethal…

  4. I couldn’t agree more. The 1st season I started following Arsenal they had been flirting with relegation the year before. We won a total of 1 FA Cup in the following 14 years (until that glorious night at Anfield ) but we still turned up every week to support our team. I sometimes think the modern fan has been spoilt by the success of the Wenger years plus they all play football manager and think they know better than the guy in the hot seat.

  5. I support the Arsenal. I do not expect us to win the league every year. In fact I acknowledge it’s very unlikely that we will
    I do expect us to be challenging more than we have been in the last few years

  6. No, I disagree. Many of us just want good football with a consistently positive direction. The past 4-6 years have been devoid of really any identity at all. Arsenal haven’t decided whether they want to develop an identity with youth or experience, whether they want to push creativity on the pitch or defend with resolve. Watching them as a supporter I have NO idea what to expect from game to game.

  7. 100% agree.
    The entitled Arsenal fan I just embarrassing.
    I saw a clip of some guy in a car all but crying, screaming at his camera phone, like a spoilt brat.
    I cheered the team from start to finish on Sunday.
    We are the twelfth man… probably not at ours.
    I find the booing really difficult.
    I didn’t see anything to boo.
    The only thing unforgivable is not putting a shift in.
    AFTV is far more of what is wrong with our club than the Kronkes.

  8. Tony,
    I do agree that a lot of supporters have a sense of ‘entitlement’, the important syllable being ‘title’. I ‘m not qualified to wade into the reasons but I feel some of this comes from the club themselves. They always portray the club as one of the giants of GB and Europe. Through the claret coloured glasses the players are world-class, the stadium world-class, we’re are right there with the best of them. The spend as well. But the squad isn’t and the performances aren’t. Now 5 years ago they could have pointed to a 2nd to Leicester as a sign of competitiveness in the EPL, but, again, it wasn’t. A one-off. I love the FA Cup and probably rate it higher than most but ask Arsenal fans if they’d trade the 4 Cups in 8 years for a league title. After all we have 14 FFS!

    At least Arteta is honest and says the club is in a re-build with an emphasis on youth. It’s going to take time. Above him, not so much. Still insisting we’re RIGHT THERE! I wish it were true but I don’t see it. I understand it’s a business and they need to sell seats and merchandise. I suppose you can’t have the hoardings read ‘get your mid-table gear today!’

  9. Tony

    Very well said.

    Outside of the 3 financially doped teams we are the best and most successful team in the premier league. That is a fact.

    Not sure where anyone would get the idea Arsenal football Club think our spend is up there with those 3 but I’m sure they’ll be able to show me. And even if it was at least it would be OUR money, money we’ve earned and not a Russian Oligarchs hobby money or a Nation states propaganda budget.

    I am so proud of our club. I am 100% behind the financial model we have chosen and wouldn’t swap it for a single trophy bought by Chelsea or Man City. Worthless.

    Entitlement doesn’t begin to describe some of the ingrates we have abusing our club, manager and players on an almost daily basis.

  10. Sorry, didn’t mean to insult Man Utd.

    I meant 2 financially doped teams and wealthiest (by heir own means) clubs. I have no issue at all with United’s wealth, status or success.

  11. I see that Danny Mills is spouting again. He has claimed that Arsenal beat an under-17s side in midweek. A quick look at the WBA website would tell him that their youngest starter was 18, and the average age of the team was 22. Is Mills really that stupid?

    Perhaps he is.

  12. seismic

    Oh well, no harm in seeing it again:


    As the commentator says, “made to look rather daft”. And you make him sound it too.

    As Charlie George says, “It puts a smile on peoples faces”. It does indeed.

    Oh, Danny, you sad bitter and twisted little man.

  13. The Liverpool success was also because of financial backing of the Moore (Littlewoods) family.

    The Premier League allowed Manchester United to exploit their financial muscle because of their International Market (subtly aided by the Government) following the Newsreels of the Busby Babes. The markets were well exploited as were the PGMOL who worked for United by ‘sloping the pitch’. Despite all this, Manchester United probably worked their way to success in a more fair way than the ‘Oiled clubs’.

  14. Nitram,

    To be fair, nobody is making Mr. Mills look or sound daft. He manages that without any outside assistance. He is a complete 🍩

  15. Scrolling down, my attention has been caught by an article among related articles from 2014 by Tony Attwood titled “It’s not only winning things that counts. It’s the genius of staying there”.

    An interesting read given how it’s contrasting to the content of this Article.

    We can agree things didn’t turn out as expected.

  16. I agree with the tenor of this article. I was talking to a colleague today and he was pessimistic about the season…already. He couldn’t understand how I would be optimistic about it. He thought I had a loser attitude because I could accept not winning the title.

    Maybe my attitude stems from my attitude in the 90s and the noughties. I was always very pleasantly surprised when we won…I didn’t expect it. I did expect a good effort and loved the style we had to offer but I never expected our club to win the title…that takes too many stars in perfect alignment.

    Often when I say I don’t like another team, in reality, it is the fans that I don’t like. I have heard people say that about us. About our sense of entitlement. I honestly think Guendouzi was banished from the side because some of the things he is alleged to have said to other teams about the size of the pay packet he received vs what they got…while we were losing…meh.

  17. Agree totally, I had exactly the same discussion the other day with an “entitled” fan. To which he had no genuine answer to, apart from the default we need to sack Arteta and we need to spend lads more on individual players, so the Kronkes need to start spending.

    On top of that you have the media saying Leicester have replaced us in the big 6 lmfao. The definition of what a massive club is has been lost. Now I don’t consider Chelsea or City massive clubs, nowhere near massive clubs. Hugely successful yes but every title is tarnished by the fact they have spent 2 billion within a short period to be able to compete.

    The only true massive clubs in the Prem are Arsenal, Utd and Liverpool. The definition of a massive club is sustained success over the period of the clubs existence, international fanbase and reputation, Club infrastructure and stadium size and of course how much revenue that club makes naturally. Not the dodgy income the accountants at City and Chelsea every season.

    Now are we going to accept that the media put City and Chelsea in the same bracket as Real Madrid Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool. Especially when their stadia are so small as well as their fanbase I mean City can’t even fill their stadium when they have one of the cheapest season tickets in the league.

  18. Funny and telling to read the title of the piece in the Guardian about the game of Spurs in Europa League : Triumph for beating a second zone team…

    I mean, Triumph ?!?!?

    or is this some hidden advertising going on because they are in dire financial straits ?

    Then again we are talking about a North London team incapable of wining anything year after year after year….

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