One of the first things Mikel Arteta talked about when he became the Head Coach at The Arsenal, was how the club needed to get better at connecting with the fanbase. We’d experienced a good few years of disconnection dating back to the tail-end of the Wenger regime and the grumbles at the Emirates were pretty obvious to hear and see. It’s during that era that the type of fan who wants to make themselves money by joining a ‘fan channel’ profited from and we all know the legacy of those ‘big social media’ accounts and YouTube channels today. But Arteta wanted to bring the unity between the club and its fanbase together and at the time when you hear that and think “yeah alright”, you don’t think about how to do that and build that connection.
Part of it is on the pitch, but part of it is also in your actions, some of which we also managed to get an insight to in the All or Nothing documentary. The season may have ultimately ended in disappointment, but personally I finished watching that series and felt more drawn to the coach, the players and the club. Arteta may not have liked the cameras everywhere at the time, but the longer term benefit of bringing fans closer to the club has shown that it has been a successful experiment for The Arsenal, which has helped towards the goodwill that was carried in to this season.
What has also contributed, however, is the decisions that the club makes from an on-field playing perspective. In this instance I’m talking about the players that we’ve signed. I’m sure many of you who are on social media have already seen that series of The Athletic images that talk about each of the big clubs and how they have either had a ‘hit’ or a ‘miss’ in terms of their big transfers in the last few seasons. Green box for a player who is a ‘hit’, amber-looking box for a ‘jury’s out’ and a red box for ‘miss’. The Arsenal section had a heck of a lot of green in it, as I’m sure you are already aware, serving to show to us (like we needed to be told!) that our business in the last few windows has been good.
Again, this all translates to performances on the pitch and it’s a fairly ‘no sh*t Sherlock’ statement to make I know, but if you win football matches, then you’re going to have the fans on side. But we went on an unbeaten and winning streak under Emery a few years back and I didn’t notice the same level of buy in from the supporters in the stadium as I do now. That’s because we can all see what the club are trying to do. Their moves are making sense. Things feel right with some of the decisions they are making. You can’t get them all right (I suspect Nuno Tavares and Lokonga will look for new clubs in the summer), but, by-and-large, what we’ve done has worked.
It is why it fills me with some pride and happiness when I read some of the Mudryk rumours yesterday. Apparently Chelsea want to go toe-to-toe with us on the Ukrainian, willing to ‘blow Arsenal out of the water’ if they have to in terms of the fee they are willing to pay. Let’s park the fact that Todd Boehly is swinging around cash like a drunk uncle at a wedding in Vegas, or the fact that you have to question whether Chelsea need that type of player in that position given the other options they have (they literally spent £47.5million on Sterling last summer, who has played most of his life and had his success as a left winger), but instead focus on the response of our fanbase upon hearing these rumours that came out. Or at least people I follow on social media.
The response was…quite sensible. Now, that could be because I try to make a habit out of following sensible people and not mad, ranty, 12-year-olds that just want us to ‘SPEND ALL THE F*CKING MONEY!!’, but I think – and feel – like it reflects the general consensus amongst Arsenal fans right now. We trust what the club are doing. The responses I saw to the potential of Chelsea going over the top and over paying for a player they potentially don’t need was “let him go for that money”, “there are other options out there” and “the club shouldn’t and won’t, be held to ransom. Walk away”.
To me this speaks volumes about where we are at. The trust in what the management are doing is absolutely there. And I don’t even think it is entirely because of the league position we have right now. I think people were saying these things in the summer before a ball was even kicked. The trust had been built because the connection between fans, the club and the players/manager was already forged. Now we are reaping the benefit of that trust because we have a calm (broadly speaking) fanbase who know that what we are doing is right and if the club decide to pull out of a deal then that’s fine too. As I said yesterday on Twitter:
“Plenty more fish in the sea”.
And there are. There are plenty of players out there who could improve our attacking line. And we know that Arteta and Edu know that they need to strengthen there, because they have told us so on numerous occasions. Despite what happened last January in us not signing a striker and leaving ourselves short, Arteta has stated on numerous occasions that we need to maximise every window. This isn’t like the days of Wenger in which he would dismiss things and say “we have no interest” or make it sound like we aren’t even trying. Arteta is very clear with us and I like that. I feel more confident that the club will get business done.
It may not be at the beginning of January, it may not be Mudryk if Shaktar mess us around, but the club, Arteta and Edu, are going to make sure that we strengthen in those attacking positions. I am putting more trust in them to make the right choices.
Right, I’m offski for the day. you have a good one and I’ll catch thee in the morrow.