I’ve been ruminating about the way Arsenal fans treat Arsene Wenger and the team, or players they feel must be singled out for their vitriol. I don’t think there is any other team that gets such a battering from its own fans, not to mention many of the English sports commentators. I don’t quite understand this blatant disregard for an amazing manager – a revolutionary one – and the team we profess to love and support.
Perhaps Arsene is the architect of his own demise. He created the Invincibles after all – but they are a hard act to follow by anyone’s standards. No team has been able to do what they did in the League – maintain an unbeaten run throughout the season in 2003/4 and, by setting such a high standard while there were only two major players in the Premier League, perhaps he created a set of expectations that are just about impossible to meet.
So not only do we have big shoes to fill, so do all the top teams. Furthermore, this game has become so much more competitive in recent years, with some clubs having seemingly endless amounts of cash to spend (Exhibit A: Pogba). Yet Arsenal supporters lay into this man with something that seems to border on hatred – the same man who gave us the Emirates Stadium while keeping us consistently in the top four over the past ten years. Not one of the other top six can claim to have been consistently in the top four over the past ten years. Not one! (Interesting that the talk is no longer about the top four but the top six – but hey, goalposts were made for being moved, no?).
It boils down to holding up that silverware – particular the EPL. And perhaps that particular trophy is representative of something far more than the its glorious silverness. Perhaps the cups speak more loudly than anything that “mine is bigger than yours”.
If we win we can show off to other teams and tear them down, right? I for one am very wary of this. I know what a fickle friend football can be. One minute you’re trouncing the big teams and the next you’re being beaten by Burnley.
Of course, I still want my team to win. I wish that Chelsea would inexplicably and religiously be defeated game after game from here on; and I have dreams of us coming back to beat Bayern 4-0 at home.
I’d particularly love for Man U – especially Man U and that not-so-much-to-be-smug-about Jose Mourinho – to be thrashed regularly and hard. And I would love for my beautiful boys and Wenger to be holding the EPL trophy up high come end of May.
And talking of Man U — over the recent few years, I saw Arsenal play lovely soccer while Man U played crap and still managed to win. That’s the truth. Sir Al, bless his Scottish socks, left Man United a scrap of a team (David Moyes was handed a poisoned chalice in my not so humble opinion). I will not even go into the very many 50/50’s that have gone Man U’s way over the years – EPL referees, shame on you! (you know who you are).
Yet despite the fact that Man United has been a shadow of itself in recent years, I don’t hear their fans baying for blood as ours do.
Yes, I would love to see my team win some trophies, BUT….I would also like to keep knowing that I support a club that is different: a team that plays the beautiful game; I’d like to support a team that fools around and shares funny videos of men being silly; a team that nurtures youngsters into the stars they have the potential to become; a team whose manager would rather spend money on an unknown with potential than on big names, waving his big stick around in doing so. A manager who doesn’t bow and bend to the whims and fancies of every disillusioned or emasculated fan.
And if that means we don’t get silverware, my heart will break, but I’ll still be in love. I’ll still keep the flame burning.
And while we’re at it, I’d like to remind everyone that we were ALL trounced by Leicester last year. At least Arsenal had the decency (blush, blush) to come second. I guess theirs was bigger than all of ours – for a while anyway.