Well the world certainly doesn’t lack for excitement these days, does it? While there are so many serious stories that deserve to be written out there, this is not one of those stories. This is the story of modern upheaval. 2016 into 2017 may forever be known to the world as the time that 3 of the most powerful institutions in the world (the United States, the United Kingdom, and Arsenal Football Club, as if you didn’t know) have either just recently, or are perhaps on the cusp of, making a major decision the could affect the futures of so many.
The United States got so tired of the dollar recovering on the global market, a net immigration from Mexico that has essentially dropped to zero, and Unemployment continuing to decline into healthy margins, that the only solution the electorate could come up with was to put a Reality Television star and certified Egoist in charge. This is obviously a good thing for those services that the rest of the world has realized shouldn’t run on the profit motive and yet are in America. Or more accurately, the few people that run them.
The United Kingdom on the other hand, has suffered their own bout of jingoism recently: foreigners are taking the jobs of the English worker, and steps must be taken to prevent that! And those are just Paul Merson’s and Piers Morgan’s views on Hull City boss Marco Silvia, and Arsene Wenger, respectively! And then there is Brexit, which of course is different than that in every way (somehow) and does not need further mention here.
So we have three big decisions. Two have already been made, the third cannot come quick enough for some, but there are certainly some connections that may be drawn from all three. Essentially, all three are issues that have suffered from a lack of clarity about what the true expected outcomes can be. In the case of American Politics and Brexit, the new age of social media replacing news media as the primary information outlet for many has really given the advantage to the sides of the arguments most willing to embrace this fact. This is why the world from the outside witnessed America’s election in total exasperation. America’s almost total bipartisanship, making no real room for any third party, means that it is nearly impossible for informational truths to pass between the two spheres of influence. In America, the left has its news sources, and the right has its news sources. Everything that happens in American politics filters down through the views and agendas (driven in part by the profit motive) of these news sources.
So how does this relate to the most important political issue facing the world today: #WengerOut vs #OneArseneWenger? Well from the off, immediate parallels can be drawn between the way news is transmitted. Time was, football news was exclusively the territory of official news outlets. These days, you will find articles and opinions written by any old fool (myself included!). The merits of many of these pieces are not judged on their accuracy, but rather by how much it confirms what one already believes. This confirmation bias COMPLETELY flies in the face of what the original intention of “the news” was: to inform and to educate.
The travesty in all of this is that the news media has had to adapt to this in order to stay relevant and even in business at all! This is why every newspaper now has a twitter feed, and the most important part of the story is not the story, but rather the headline. This is not news to anyone these days. Click Baiting is a reality now, and sadly more important to the survival of newspapers than actual circulation of the paper itself. The effect that this has on factual reporting is catastrophic.
The genius and increasing effectiveness of the #WengerOut movement is in its simplicity. Pointing to a problem (or as I like to call it, the final step in modern news reporting) is one of the easiest things in the world to do. All it requires is the provision of an expectation, and then the evidence that this expectation has not been met. This is among the most simple arguments to frame and execute:
Arsenal haven’t won the title in over ten years. We as supporters expected Arsenal to win more in that timeframe. Therefore, the club, and specifically the board and manager, have let the supporters down.
In a sense, this is true. All supporters want to win everything all the time. It takes a real Piers Morgan to want your team to lose. But instead of perhaps looking at other factors such as the level of investment into other clubs in the Premier League, the top to bottom strength of the EPL vs other major European leagues. Or perhaps even how many of those seasons Arsenal were actually able to spend with any sort of financial freedom. Maybe even recognizing there is an element of luck or other factor not attributable to the club with injuries, but instead the focus is simply #WengerOut. It’s the low hanging fruit.
The second reason why this movement is so simple yet effective is that it actually puts the onus on the incumbent to provide facts. This idea that getting rid of Arsene Wenger is a solution itself is patently false. If his replacement makes the proper changes or augmentations to what currently exists, than yes, this may well be true. But what if they don’t, and the team does not succeed? Then the protest will have achieved its aims (getting Wenger fired) but failed in its stated goal (in order to help the club succeed). This solution of course would mean trusting the board (whom the protesters do not trust) to replace a legendary manager (whom the protesters don’t like anymore) with a better manager (better yes, but also contractually unobligated, attracted to the position, and a fit with the club and its values). Luckily, the legwork on that one has already been done by the Wenger Out brigade, and it seems Max Allegri is the man, unclear though it may be if any of those three conditions even apply to him. Job done that.
As the comparatively minor moments in America and with Brexit have shown, Rhetoric is winning. The problems with these major upheavals, should they arise, will stem from how effectively rhetoric is converted into action. America is going to find out how much they really need Donald Trump, and England how much they need Europe, but will the most important question in the history of the world soon be answered?
Wenger In or Wenger Out?