Morning all, hope yours is a good one, filled with optimism for what the day ahead might bring?
For me it’s a standard working day but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to take what pleasures you can from it. After all, every day that passes by is a day you’ll never get to relive, so you might as well look on the bright side.
It’s raining here in London but that’s just par for the course unfortunately. It won’t beat me down!
Neither will Arsenal or, specifically what I wanted to talk about today, sections of the Arsenal fan base and their apparent steadfast views that they will never deviate from.
It appears that the AST meeting from Monday has caused a little bit of a stir amongst some Arsenal fans. Some sections of our fan base see the comments by Dixon as poor, that he shouldn’t be making the views about Bellerin, Mustafi and co. As clear as was reported.
I’ve seen some people make comments like “he knows his audience” when talking about the AST, as if it is a collection of football fans who are there to deliberately hear Dixon pile in on the manager and the current regime at the club. I’ve seen people call his views misguided, or poor, or even that he should show more respect to the man that got an extra few years out of him.
This has all got me to thinking about some corners of our fan base and the utter myopia that exists within it. Before I delve into that particular opinion let me tackle some of the above points mentioned in relation to poor old Lee, who let’s not forget gave almost an entire career to The Arsenal, retired an Arsenal player with trophies, respect and love from Arsenal fans.
“He knows his audience”
That was a veiled dig at the AST and a suggestion that they tee’d Lee up to paste the club. I’m not an AST member, haven’t been to any of their events, but I have plenty of friends that have and they range from the slightly more passive and middle ground Gooners, through to those that want the manager to be hauled out of the club by their coat tails. They are real people who represent a small cross-section of the fan base and I salute their efforts to get fans together in a group, as well as the events put on with different people. To suggest that they are some kind of militant faction designed to rid the club of the manager is ridiculous.
“His views are misguided. He shouldn’t talk about the club and the manager like that”
Firstly, what Dixon did say for those following the whole event, was that he had a lot of respect for Arsène, but he told the crowd of his experiences and his opinion, which was that Arsène never really was a great coach. Let’s not forget that it’s what most people have said already, but now that there’s an ex-player who’s played under him saying that, it’s suddenly in poor taste? People who have stated their opinion that Lee shouldn’t have given his opinion are clearly missing the irony of their own anger by suggesting some form of censorship of him.
Tribalism within tribalism
So having seen Lee have to respond to some of the comments and vitriol aimed in his direction over the last 36 hours, it got me to thinking about our fan base, the factions within it and I realised that as Arsenal fans we seem to have this weird tribalism that exists within our own tribalism.
Football is all about tribalism, the need for belonging, to be one of a collective of people. We all know that. But over the years of decline that we’ve seen in recent seasons, a ‘tribe within a tribe’ has arisen. There are some who are in the ‘Wenger Out’ tribe and they are entrenched in that view and now it seems to be more about who has been ‘Wenger Out’ longest as some kind of weird caste system. The thing about that is that it is finite though. It’s almost a dark humour kind of fan discussion but ultimately, it has an end point, because when Wenger goes everyone starts again from zero.
But it’s the other end of the tribal spectrum that is the most concerning. These are the people who – no matter what the view, no matter what the current situation at the club, no matter how poor everything seems to be – seem to feel the need to pull up the drawbridge around their views on Wenger. Anybody seen to be deviating away from a defence of the club or the manager are immediately turned on, whether in a passive-aggressive or full on aggressive manner.
I just find it weird. Why are these people so myopic in their views that they simply refuse to draw away from this single line of thinking? It’s just, well, odd. It’s a bit like my parents and grandparents generation who always voted Labour or Tory because that’s what their parents voted. I have never understood this thinking. I say it to my dad all the time, has your “team” won the election this time?
Politics should be about choosing the party you think will do the best job for your country. You should be free to change your view at different points in your life depending on who is saying the right things about the running the country.
It should be the same with Arsenal fans. Don’t push yourself into a corner where you are so one-sided in your view that you can’t be changed. Don’t defend what feels like the indefensible right now and on the other end of the spectrum, don’t be prepared to have a point in which your view can’t swing the other way.
I’ve made my views pretty clear that I want the manager to go but if we won every game between now and the end of the season, picking up the Europa League in the process, I’d certainly have a different perspective on the manager. Whether I’d still want him to stay is a different story, but my perspective would certainly have shifted. I don’t think that will happen because the team are a mess, but I’ll not be that one-sided in my views that I won’t change regardless of what is happening on the pitch.
Because that is the most important part of Arsenal and that is what should define our collective tribe, rather than any of the tribes within the tribe that we do or don’t think we belong to.