Fuelled by an escalating respect for foreign-based fans after watching the FA Cup semi-final against Man City at a little bar in Central Vietnam, I started writing a piece about the different types of Arsenal fans you come across. Good intentions but in my attempt to write something up I failed miserably. What I thought should be a fairly straightforward task ended up churning out more and more nuances than I could coherently articulate. I guess the lesson learnt was that there perhaps is no way to segment Arsenal fans in any kind of real granularity without still having to make fairly sizable generalisations.
I’ll still try to do it at some point, but the situation at Arsenal since the beginning of the season has for me brought out the characteristics of one Arsenal fan segment which I’d like to unload on.
The segment in question probably see themselves as Conscientious Objectors, but in reality could probably be best described as Self-righteous, Over-entitled, Glory-hunters (yeah I said it). Let’s make an acronym and call them SOGs for the ease of it.
You know the type. They claim they are big Arsenal fans, usually they say they’ve been big Arsenal fans for years. However, they are apparently such big Arsenal fans that the current state of the club is too extreme for them to continue actively supporting them. In fact, in a self-proclaimed act of nobility, they often hope for short-term failure in the club in order to bring back some of the original identity of the club back, seemingly willing to sacrifice their support for the club they love so much, just for the greater good.
What absolute garbage. A SOG is likely to come out with something like this: “I hope Arsenal lose the next 10 games so we can see some change.”
Statements like that are the worst. As an Arsenal fan, how can you hope the team loses? Where does that mentality even come from? No club is entitled to be successful forever. No club is entitled to not go through big periods of mediocrity. No club is entitled to anything.
Liverpool Football Club, one of the two most decorated sides in English football history. An absolute dominant force in European football at one point. What do you think their fans thought back in the 80s? I’m sure they thought that even if they take a dip, Liverpool will always be there and thereabouts as a heavyweight in European football.
Liverpool have now won 1 League Cup in the last decade. That’s 10 years and the only trophy to show is a League Cup. Not even one FA Cup, just one League Cup. Arsenal are apparently in a humiliating meltdown. We’ve won 3 FA Cups in 4 years! The reason I reference Liverpool isn’t to criticize them, it’s, in fact, the opposite. If Liverpool fans from the 80s were SOGs then they’d have no fans left such is their fall from then to now. However, they still have a huge fan-base locally and globally. So what’s up with that? Liverpool must have also had SOGs but here’s the thing, they’re irrelevant in the long term. The fans that continue to actively support the club are the real fans. A lot of the fans singing their hearts out in the Kop have been consistently singing from those glory years to now.
To be clear, I’m not berating all fans that decide to stop going to games. There could be a number of reasons why a match-going fan decides to stop and every case is usually a bunch of compounding factors. I’m just criticising the idiots that talk like they’re taking a break from supporting the club because basically things just aren’t panning out the way they would like them to. It’s ridiculous self-entitlement and quite simply it’s glory-hunting. If you’re not going to support the club in this period, I hope you don’t come back when it’s better. (Hopefully, it will get better.)
SOGs may say “It’s not glory hunting. I hate the Manager. I hate the Board. I hate the Owner. I want change!”
Yeah ok mate, all fans want things to change. All fans of any club in the world want their club to do as well as they can. All clubs who won titles before, want titles again. For Liverpool to go from a European superpower to the Tottenham of the North must mean there must have been a host of incremental poor decisions over the last 30 years to get them into this situation. By poor decisions, I mean relative to their peers and the expectations of the stakeholders of Liverpool FC. That’s the key thing to remember, by the way, a club’s downward turn is always a result of poor decisions in some way by the club’s hierarchy relative to peers and expectations. The chances are there’ll be some good decisions that propel Liverpool back, we’re probably seeing some of them being made now. One day, they may be a superpower again, and those fans who have been actively supporting through thick and thin will deserve it. So Arsenal are no different, no club is different.
We’re going to have owners that we like more than others. We’re going to have Managers we buy into more than others. It absolutely is glory hunting to say that you’re not going to support a club until change happens. Don’t pretend you’re being thoughtful or noble or sacrificial in your protest. If you’re going to protest, make your feelings known outside the stadium, do it on social media even, but when the game kicks off at least start with 100% support to the players and the manager, because if you support Arsenal then you want Arsenal to win every game. For 90 minutes the bigger picture can wait.
What SOGs just need to accept is that they just aren’t big fans. They may think they are, but they’re not. If they can accept that, I’m sure they’ll be happier. Instead of getting frustrated with the other fans who stick with the team, just look at them and admire the fact they’re bigger fans than you. You don’t have to be a season ticket holder to be a big fan but no-one who takes a break from supporting the club is a big fan. No-one who wishes Arsenal lose matches is a fan at all.