Posts Tagged ‘Fans’

Next year, we’ll be better.

Next Year, the board will allow for spending or force Wenger to spend, depending on who you believe.

Next year, we’ll buy the players to fill our needs.

Next year, those players will FINALLY be available.

Next year, Wenger will be more tactically aware.

Next year, we’ll make that zonal marking work.

Next year, we’ll shoot more, as a result – we’ll score more.

Next year, the players will self-motivate or Wenger will be a better motivator, whichever comes first.

Next year, Leicester won’t be as good or we as bad.

Next year, Aguero’s hammy will definitely give Pep fits.

Next year, Tottenham will go back to their “normal”.

Next year, no way do United, Chelsea or Liverpool improve.

Next year, our forwards will finish Mesut’s chances, if Mesut decides he’s ready for another year.

Next year, Theo and Giroud become World Class.

Next year, Alexis won’t play 25 matches before October.

Next year, we won’t injure our own players by overusing them.

Next year, we’ll allow players to warm up properly on cold weather days.

Next year, our title bid won’t fall apart by December.

Next year, we won’t scramble in January to sign a player at a position everyone knew was a need in the summer.

Next year, the supporters won’t create a “bad atmosphere” – haha, imagine the nerve of that.

Next year, we’ll definitely do better against “lower teams”.

Next year, we’ll be better in the London derbies.

Next year is almost here. Are you ready?

Up the Arsenal…

No one can really point out exactly when or where it happened. I certainly don’t have the exact date – the hour, minute, second or location it occurred eludes me. I think you’ll find it eludes us all, the exact point it happened. When did supporting a club go from an enjoyably insufferable dedication that brought family and friends together, to a 24/7 news cycle addicted, horde mentality with a generous serving of self-entitlement? Where exactly is it written that Arsenal MUST win, just because some, you, me, say they must. Let’s attempt to narrow it down.

Sport. Those that follow it, are engulfed by it. Sport, football in particular, Arsenal to be exact, is the reason you are reading this now and the reason I’m writing it – It’s a wondrous thing. Sport can show man in his purest of form. Athletes competing, in unison, striving to achieve a predetermined goal. Then there is the supporter, who plays their part, who at times cheer and push those athletes to higher levels, sometimes beyond themselves, to achieve – something, anything. It is a relationship that is mutually gratifying most times.

Alas, like sport, which is cyclical, the relationship between supporter and club (from players to owners) have their rough patches. These patches nowadays tend to show the nasty side of man. The abusive, cursing, violent side that is sometimes excused by some due to the sense of self-entitlement that now surrounds certain teams. Cue the fist-fights, protests, banners, etc.

My team, your team, our team, Arsenal is going through one of these rough patches, or so “they” tell us. “They” talk a lot don’t they? “They” like to tell you and me what should be, because of course “they” know better. All of this despite just recently having achieved one of those coveted goals, an FA Cup win. “They” apparently want their Arsenal back. Which version? The one that wins a trophy a year? The one that buys the exact needed reinforcements every year? Guess what? That version of the Arsenal never existed. Further news update, the version of Arsenal that competes near the top of the table year in and out is only a recent incarnation as well.

It’s really very simple, the self-entitlement of the modern Arsenal supporter has made it so that “grading” the team is now based solely on the trophies won that year. Now let me clarify, when I say “modern” supporter I don’t mean age, I mean mentality. There are plenty of “older” modern supporters. Still with me? Good.

So, where is this sense of self-entitlement coming from in the Arsenal supporter base? Where is it written that after the normal cyclical success of the club throughout its history, that not winning something on the season is now a failure? Every elite club in Europe has had a spell(s) where they weren’t relevant. So both historically with the results of the club and knowing that in sport nothing is assured, why now do we expect to win something every year?

The answer to that isn’t so simple, so I’ll start with the less controversial portion of it. Passion and access to information. The passion for the club, whether you are young or old, hasn’t changed. With the utmost confidence I can say we all truly love Arsenal, and it would be a truthful statement. You couple that passion with the access to information we as a society now have, and you have borderline obsessives throughout the supporter base. No longer is it just reading the daily newspaper or sports magazines to get the latest info. No longer is it waiting for the next radio show or the next match to get your “fix”. Now, all things about the club you support, the club you love, is at your fingertips. Access to players and their personal lives, commentary on the club from a thousand pundits, other supporters that have both similar and differing views on many subjects are RIGHT THERE, at your fingertips, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can access that information whilst at work, in the WC, on your commute, anywhere, anytime. That submersion is difficult to counteract. When you have so much information, about anything, then you feel you have all the answers, how could you not, how could we not (I’m as guilty as the next guy)? With that sense of knowing, well, everything (so we think), how can those in the club not see it? How can they not fix it? How can they not win, each year, every year in fact! Therein lies the delusion or is it just an illusion? Or better yet, in this age of Football Manager commentary, is it just a bad simulation?

The second part of the answer is obvious, even though some won’t want to admit it. Who has contributed the most for setting the bar so unbearably high that winning a trophy is the only sign of success? Who is responsible for fueling the modern, self-entitled supporter to feel as such? Well, funnily enough, the very man that receives all, well most, of their abuse – Wenger.

Now, some of you have read my posts here and follow me on social networks, you know I’m the furthest thing from an AKB. I am not afraid of change at Arsenal, I do blame Wenger for a good portion of our inadequacies in personnel in recent years, and the current “weak” mentality that seems to be festering at the club, but I also understand that Arsenal wouldn’t be where it is, on the brink of competing with the elite, if it weren’t for him. Arsenal Football Club has a long, proud tradition, but the fact is that there were many, many down times as well. What Wenger has done is make it so those “down” times now are near the top of the table and playing in Europe. It’s switch in mentality and execution at the club that he instilled into the fabric at Arsenal and the man has now become a victim of his own success.

What a bad joke it really is when you think about it.

Man comes into an institution, changes the path of said historic institution for the better, has unprecedented success, positions said institution for greatness, then progress is stalled for some time, and the supporters for that institution who have become emboldened with a sense of entitlement bestowed upon them by said man, now abuse that man. That’s what it’s come down to. The modern supporter, using his passion and his information, having selective memory and with his sense of entitlement now abuse the man who helped create that winning atmosphere, thus the entitlement, at the train station, on the pitch as he comes on or off. They abuse the players much the same and on social media. The vocal few spoiling it for everyone.

I am not an apologist for Wenger the manager, there is plenty of criticism to be thrown his way on a variety of issues. I am not an apologist for the players and their bad performances, which there have been plenty. But I do know you don’t achieve anything with abuse, with that abuse, you lower the standard of the club you claim to love. On the reverse side of that, abusing those that take things too far is just perpetuating the cycle of idiocy that now seems rampant. Protesting, speaking out, organizing, etc. is everyone’s right who chooses to partake in it, and done properly, with class, can be beneficial for all supporters. We as supporters, should never think we have a right to take that away from those who choose to go that route.

The situation with supporters these days has become so complex. A bit of clarity and perspective is needed. Success has bred a sense of entitlement with supporters of Arsenal. That has led to some really unfortunate circumstances recently both with those abusing and those trying to correct the abusers.

The growing pains of becoming an elite club are apparent. More trophies, bigger stadium, more success – more expectation. More expectation, more entitlement. If that entitlement can be curbed with a backwards glance at the history of the club, and the realization of just how far we’ve come under Wenger, we may be able to put out more fires than are started, because as we know too well in sport, no matter the era, there will always be those that take it too far. But unlike years prior, the modern, entitled supporter has many mediums to make themselves heard. Sometimes, too much of a good thing turns bad.

Up The Arsenal.

Sense of Entitlement

So, I support Arsenal, have done since 1991. That ought to be enough yeah? Been to Highbury, am a club member, buy multiple shirts yearly, etc. So all should be right in the world and any other Arsenal supporter shouldn’t be able to pull out the, “but you’re not local” or “high ticket prices – money spent” card right? Wrong.

The truth is, like any other big club, the majority of the supporters are actually NOT local. That global recognition is what allows for the growth and prosperity of Arsenal. It seems though that there is a local element that feels itself superior in some ways. I get it to some extent. I just don’t see how one can take ownership over it and say you are a bigger fan based on proximity, in this supposed age of information when everything is available at the touch of your fingertips; one has access to anything – anywhere. Although I do respect all local supporters as I would be involved in all things Arsenal as they are able to be; I do lament the fact that SOME, not all, feel superior to us foreign fans. Worse yet, that some feel the need to voice that superiority on a fairly regular basis.

Attending Matches

Well there is nothing I can do to have Arsenal come play in Barcelona every weekend, although at the rate with which we’ve sold them players in the past it was almost reality, but I digress. It is a wonderful thing to live locally to the team. One can walk, taxi or take the metro to the match, meet friends before and after for a drink at the pub, etc. Does that make you a better supporter than me? Well no, but some sure do seem to think so. That scenario makes you luckier than most and you should revel in that rather than use it as a point to win a baseless argument.

Ticket Prices

There is little you or I can do to change that as much as we would all like and some are attempting to do. The extra pounds spent on tickets do not buy you more “supporter points” with the football Gods. If you want to bring up ticket prices in comparison to trophies won over the last eight years go ahead – that’s a very compelling argument to make to the club. But what you spend on tickets doesn’t make you a better supporter over someone not local, sadly that’s not the prevailing opinion of some.

My Story

I feel connected to the club on several levels just like the next supporter. We all have something that hit home with us to connect us to Arsenal. I will share my personal story with you as an example why sometimes foreign supporters will go to extremes to watch the club in action. It might make you think before “going off” on a foreign supporter next time.

Some of you have heard this story before. I started following Arsenal in 1991. That year I met a foreign exchange student at my school and we became friends, as time went on she became my girlfriend. She introduced me to Arsenal and I was hooked. Back in those days there was no internet as we know it now. Cable and satellite services were ok but in its infancy as far as pay-per-view. So what where my choices? There weren’t many let me tell you.

In 1991 the option was tape delay and wrap-up shows as the EPL as we know it now would come into effect the following year. Starting in 1992 (and the subsequent 9 years) I could watch all EPL matches in a given weekend for $69.99 (if memory serves correct) or a specific match for $49.99 (that would later turn to $39.99 for every match). In those years the exchange rate for dollars to pounds ranged from $1.40 to $1.90 (so let’s call it a medium of $1.65), so on a weekly basis I paid 30£ to watch the Arsenal play via these services. Let’s not even mention getting up at 5-6am for early matches on a Saturday or Sunday (later matches were 8-9am so a bit better). Add the cost of midweek cup matches that cost the same, plus shirts being shipped over, etc. Well, all that added up to a pretty penny in those days.

Tickets could be had for as little as 8£ in those days if you remember. Obviously as the years wore on the prices went up but some tickets could still be had under the 30£ I was paying weekly to watch on TV. Some supporters will only go to home matches so that reduces the amount spent – while I spent 30£ minimum on every match, home and away to watch Arsenal. HUGE difference wouldn’t you say? I did this for nearly 10 years. From 2000/01 prices became more economical with better coverage, but were still a rip-off. I don’t even want to get into what it cost to fly from US to UK, hotel, meals and all the rest to watch the team play. But even all the money spent I mention doesn’t make me any bigger of a supporter than the next person and I very rarely bring it up. So why do some feel the need to try to rub the amount spent, matches seen live, etc. in others faces as proof that they are better?

Relax, Reflect, Adjust and Support

My point of all this detail, the pricing breakdown and the rest is very simple. I direct the next few statements to the supporters that think themselves “superior”. The amount you spend, the numbers of matches you see live, the fact you are local, etc., none of this gives you any reason to belittle or call yourself a “better” supporter over any other person that follows the team. In fact the more you beat that drum, the dumber you look. This becomes even more evident when a supporter can bring out a similar story to mine. Trust me, there are hundreds if not thousands like it.

Supporting a team is a very peculiar thing. We love sports as a society; it can provide an escape – a connection to someone or some time. Sports can make a bad day better and a great day fantastic. It can work in reverse too! Anything that can affect you so much shouldn’t be taken so lightly as to try to measure it in dollars, euros or pounds. Supporting Arsenal has left an impression on my life. Coming to Europe to visit during those early years of my adulthood made up my mind that this (EU) is where I wanted to move. The impression this club has left on me is something I can’t forget, I live it every day. My story is but one of a thousand similar cases.

So I caution the “superior” supporters for whom this entry was written – before you make a comment about how you are a better supporter for any of the reasons discussed; remember there are those with far more complex stories than yours. Enjoy the luck of being local to the team you support, you don’t know how enviable of a position you are in and how others wish they had the same luxury.

Everything mentioned doesn’t make you any better and it certainly doesn’t make their love for the club any less. I would suggest all this frustration and energy be directed into supporting the team and cheering on the lads as opposed to putting others down or competing with them to see who has the biggest ticket drawer.

Up the Arsenal!

If you are a foreign supporter and have a crazy story on how you became and Arsenal supporter I’d love to hear it! I will be making a permanent page for them in the near future so stay tuned!