As a season ticket holder at Arsenal and somebody who is very passionate about the club, can I make an admission to you? I have, in the past, booed the team after a poor performance. Perhaps you think ill of me for it? Unfortunately there’s nothing I can really do about that. When you are so emotionally invested in something that you have absolutely no control over, fall to pieces, in the heat of the moment, it feels like it is the only impact that you can make as somebody in the stands.
There are those who watch on television, or observe through social media, who will tell me that I am wrong. That I am part of the problem and if they had my ticket they would never boo the team. To those people I would politely suggest (for I am not one to wish arguments on any Arsenal fan. After all, we should all want the same thing, right?) that until they have walked around in my shoes, they do not judge me or make assumptions on what they will or will not do. My decision to boo players is not because I want them to fail. It is not because I want the manager ousted and it is not because I harbor any genuine ill-will towards any Arsenal player that has ever played for the club. It is the only way I – at times – feel like I can express my disappointment. Polite clapping at the end of a 2-1 defeat to a relegation threatened team is not quite my bag I’m afraid.
Of course the reason I’m bringing this up this Monday, is after Arsene Wenger made the comments about the fears that the fans discontent can have a negative effect on the players. Perhaps this admission from the manager is an example of how booing is counter-productive, of how the atmosphere inside the Emirates has contributed to the poor performances of the players? Personally I don’t buy that. I’ve heard countless players over the years explain that when they step over the white line, they are focused on the game, on what their job is and whilst a positive and loud set of supporters will have some impact, it won’t in my opinion sway the team as much as some people are making out this morning.
Let’s look at the Barcelona game at home a few weeks ago. At 2-0 down an wave of chanting developed amongst my corner of Arsenal fans in Block Five. We knew that the gig was up, yet still the songs began to be sung. The team had put in the effort and quite frankly were being done by one of the best teams in the world. We could take it. We cheered on. But Swansea were a team that came to the Emirates on a bad run of form, having had three shots on target in two seasons and picking up their sixth point against us. Was it the support that caused the lapse of concentration at the back for both goals? Was it the fans who’s audible dismay cost Giroud to hit the bar from point-blank range? Of course not. It was the poor performance of some of the players that cost the team. The idea that it is the fans who are in some way to blame for this current run of results is quite frankly embarrassing if you ask me. The away fans at Old Trafford were superb, yet they were served up some total dross. If the fans have so much impact, why did’t we draw that game 3-3?
Arsene has himself said on many occasions that it is the players performances that can lift the fans. I totally agree. If Giroud and Alexis both score against Swansea in the first half last Wednesday, we are 3-0 up at half time and the Emirates is rocking. But that doesn’t happen and the effect was there for all to see. Cause and effect people, cause and effect.
Perhaps, as I’ve seen it be suggested, it is the fault of the club and it’s attempts to price out traditional fans? I see a lot – like, A LOT – of one-game-only match goers and tourists come to the Emirates. Perhaps these are people that have travelled from across the globe to watch their team for the first time, because they can only afford one game. It’s been suggested that it is these tourists who contribute. Personally I’m not sure about that. If you’ve travelled from across the globe to see the team you support, you want to make the most of your time there and so surely you’re more likely to scream your head off for 90 minutes? So what then? Is it the season ticket holders who have been fed caviar over a decade ago and now occasionally have to make do with baked beans? I’m sure if Arsenal had been 3-0 up at half time on Wednesday you’d have had more of those people on their feet.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that I don’t really know what the answer is to the poor atmosphere at the stadium some times. I suspect it’s a multitude of factors. Some people who visit the Emirates because it’s in London and they’re there for a weekend. For some it will be people who are just not happy with the repetitive nature of life under Arsene. For others it will be the impersonal feel of the Emirates as a ‘bowl’.But what I do object to is when people think that it is the fault of the supporters that Arsenal aren’t picking up results. That blame must lie squarely at the feet of the players and the manager. They are the ones who have imploded when the pressure is on. They are the ones who have seen our best chance in winning the league for over a decade disappear. The fans have been with you so far, but when you serve us up dross like Swansea, don’t expect there to be a display of positive hysteria. Name me a team who has a fan base that applauds its team after they’ve lost a game to a supposedly inferior team? There isn’t one.
Anyway, enough of ranting for one day, I’m off to work. Laters.