What’s wrong with football 1: The fans

Trying to take a view on fans over a lifetime of watching Arsenal is difficult – but for me, personally, football is going wrong when the fans become more important than the club and the team.

Of course I like it when the Emirates is noisy, and I like the funny songs, and the jokes with people you don’t know…  but what we now have is a situation in which the fans raise themselves up to a level that is, quite frankly, laughable.

The most obvious case is Liverpool.  A Liverpool match covered on radio or TV starts not with the game, the team news or even the state of the pitch – but with endless comments from local supporters – all of whom talk about themselves and the fact that they are a 12th man, 13th man and every other number of man.  They can (it seems) suck the ball into the net – they are worth an extra goal, and so on.  And on.  And on.

Fans are important – but not that important.  Fans are biased.  Fans know some stuff, and don’t know other things.  Fans often have short memories.   We don’t go to the game for the fans – but for the teams and the football.

What is needed is a balance.  At Liverpool the fans consider themselves to be the owners of the club (what rubbish is that) and so can decide who should have the honour of ploughing endless millions in for their manager to spend.  At Man U the fans are treated with contempt by both the manager and the occasional captain, derided for their lack of noise and desire to eat expensive food.

We need balance – and I think we are very fortunate to have that at Arsenal.  M Wenger always thanks the fans for their incredible support.  He never criticises.  And the fans respond with their loyalty.  That’s how it should be.

Yes, I pay a small fortune to watch the Arsenal each week, and that in turn pays for the special soap powder they use to clean the shirts, and that’s fine.   Let’s not get carried away and think that it is about us.  It is not.  It is about Wenger and the guys on the pitch.