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Losing Faith

Losing Faith

I realised some time on Saturday evening that I have lost all faith in Arsenal fans. Probably in football supporters in general actually. The discontent began to fester last week, after another shoddy England performance, continuing a forty year pattern of inspidness, people are lining up to lambast Capello. I'm tired of hearing this pattern repeated and people too afraid/ not intelligent enough to see that the players just aren't very good. I'm tired of hearing what Capello should do for Gerrard and Rooney when the question should be what can Gerrard and Rooney do for him?

The media saturation that envelopes football has led to a galling lack of intelligence amongst football fans all too prepared to recycle well worn cliches from dimwitted pundits. I see it very prevalent amongst Arsenal fans too. So on Saturday, it didn't matter that van Persie played appallingly and for himself, because there is a consensus that he is an amazing player (he is), but he is revered as something of a deity and to criticise him is an act of heresy that sees all that break the code cast asunder into Gooner purgatory. However, it's always open season on Eboue, despite him being our best player on Saturday and his absence on the right hand side leaving us exposed by Zoltan Gera, it was still Eboue who bore the brunt of the frustration of supporters around me. Similarly Gallas has been mercilessly blamed, apparently his armband should have summoned up the power to rid the team of their malaise. When Gallas got the comeback rolling at the Reebok last season, or scored against Twente in an average display, it has nothing to do with his leadership skills. But when we lose it is all because of his poor leadership skills. All people are essentially doing by trotting out these easy answers is making a hobby horse to justify their own opinions without looking at the issues.

I watched a recording of one of Chris Rock's stand up shows last night. In it he said, 'I'm tired of people trying so hard to be something or other. 'Oh I'm liberal' or, 'oh, I'm conservative.' Why not be a PERSON? LISTEN! Only an idiot makes up their mind before they hear the issue. Me, there's some shit I'm liberal about and some shit I'm conservative about.' They say there's never a truer word said than a word said in jest and you see this with the current football fan. Football fans simply don't WATCH football anymore, they've already made their minds up before they've watched the game. So when we lose it's because Eboue is not good enough and Gallas is a crap captain. It has nothing to do with complacent performances from Adebayor or van Persie, or the fact that Walcott has no idea how to protect a full back as Eboue does. England fans booed Lampard on Wednesday night when Gerrard was every bit as woeful as Frank was. Football supporters already have their weapons loaded the morning they set off for the stadium, as a group of people, we are simply no longer polymathic enough to watch a game like the Fulham one and say, 'actually, what does van Persie bring to the TEAM? Wow, Eboue really does do a half decent job on the right flank defensively, which is crucial away from home.'

The modern Arsenal fan just seems to have become spoiled to the point of childishness. On our way through the park after the match on Saturday I heard another of these tired nuggets, 'we need to bring Dein in to spend some money.' This would be the David Dein that was very forthcoming with the readies for Thierry Henry's signing on fee, the Dein that sanctioned the sales of Petit, Overmars, Anelka and Vieira. The Dein who basically ran Arsenal in the mid nineties and sat on his hands as football enjoyed a massive financial boom, but chose to look on in solitary as Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona and maximised their commercial capacity and left Arsenal trailing behind. The same David Dein that drew a handsome £70m from his share in the club he proclaims to love and has not invested it into his beloved Arsenal. The Dein who drew a mammoth £315,000 in expenses in his final year at Arsenal. That David Dein? These facts are routinely ignored in the face of Dein's unstoppable PR machine promoting and extholing the 'Arsenal need Usmanov's money' corporate line. I'm looking at you Daily Mail.

The problem is, if you try and understand what the manager and the board are doing, you are written off as an Arsene apologist. There is an entire website dedicated to rallying against any supporter who toys with this line of thought. Similarly, there are supporters who do routinely trot out the 'Arsene Knows' cliche and instructs all that do not necessarily believe that to be the case to 'sod off and support Chelsea then.' There is a sense of civil war amongst Arsenal fans and I find it malodorous. Nobody wants to assess the individual issues anymore, we're all too keen to align ourselves with one particular camp and regurgitate the appropriate party line. Nobody LISTENS. Nobody WATCHES. Comments I've heard this weekend include a gentleman who gave up his season ticket because he didn't think we'd win anthing this year, that the game showed Gallas is a horrible captain and should be replaced, that Dein and Usmanov will save us, that the financial structure is all wrong, that the youth policy is rubbish. All apparently because Fulham scored with their only shot on target in a poor performance for Arsenal. If you try and reason otherwise, you're a rose tinted apologist. Nobody will deconstruct your point, but you'll be automatically written off just as a Tory would write off a Liberal Democrat as a matter of towing the party line. It's paradigmatic of the Tory party themselves, who refused to make Ken Clarke their leader, the only man with the charisma and ideas forward thinking enough to resurrect the Conservative party (heaven forbid) in the last ten years because he is pro Euro.

There are pertinent issues in the above, but the trend for making a drama out of a crisis is pathetic. It's a symptom of the media age where everything is as bad as it could possibly be. A rapper makes a recordabout guns? Well then everybody who listens to the track will instantly purchase an AK-47 and gun down the neighbourhood. A bird in Scotland with avian flu? Well the whole nation will soon be in the thrall of bird flu and we'll all die slow, horrible deaths. Drains burst in Cornwall? Well the whole country will soon be engulfed in floods of biblical proportions. Every scenario is taken to its most apocalyptic conclusion and presented as an inevitability. So Arsenal play badly and lose to Fulham and the board and the manager should be sacked and the captain should be replaced and the youth policy is destroying the club. There are questions to be asked. Why haven't we replaced the midfielders we have sold for example. But let's actually look at the issues for what they are and stop fanning the flames of apocalypse every time things don't go correctly. Watch a game and criticise those that don't perform, not just those that you don't like. In other words, be a person, watch, listen.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Monday August 25 2008
Time: 12:09PM


I'm so glad you wrote this pice, as I was saying the same to the boys on the demoralising walk back to Putney Bridge station. I wish some "fans" would just stay at home. We're supporters, we need to 'support'. What do people achieve in giving the players s**t? I now know I'm not the only one who thinks it, surely we can do something about it!
25/08/2008 12:28:00
I totally agree with the article. Because I am supposed to........ LOL
25/08/2008 12:37:00
Great article, also well supported navy Dave!!! As you say yourself thats what the supporters need to do, yeah discuss the issues after games etc, but during the game we need to get behind the team without the crisis moaning.
25/08/2008 12:39:00
Certainly at the game we should support.It is not incorrect for us to criticise in post mortem, nor for people to ask questions. But I'm tired of people trotting out the same old media fed crap and refusing to engage on dialogue. Over the course of this weekend I've been called an apologist (twice), a cynic and a pessimist, all since Friday. Such philosophical shapeshifting is simply not possible over the course of a long weekend surely? Maybe it's just a symptom of the fact that Iam able to look at the situation and make a judgement on an individual basis. Like Chris Rock said, there's some ***** I'm conservative about and some ***** I'mliberal about. So is everybody else when they actually think for themselves.
Little Dutch
25/08/2008 12:39:00
Fans are not part of an occult and don't have to think a certain way at all, it's a good article LD but to be honest this superiority complex amongst certain fans is starting to grate, I personally think that there is a lot to be *****ed off about right now, yes the desperate knee jerk hysteria of some fans is pathetic but so is the "Let's be positive for the sake of being positive" response. I think an honest middle ground is what is needed and that won't be achieved by having a go at fellow fans for not sharing the same view as you. Because what you're basically saying is "More fans should be like me".
Professor Calculus
25/08/2008 12:46:00
Not at all, in fact, that's missed the point entirely. That's exactly what I'm going against. I've no problems with people deconstructing any point made, what I object to is that point simply being lumped into a category and dismissed on that basis. You're not at all wrong to say there's a lot to be annoyed about and you in particular present those aspects very well, I have asked those questions quite bluntly on these pages and elsewhere, before and after Saturday. You're correct to say we shouldn't be positive for the sake of being positive, I make that point in the article quite clearly. But I object to people making their minds up before a ball is kicked, because frankly we didn't lose this weekend because Eboue is *****, if more would have played with the enthusiasm he did the result would have been different. It's not a question of people having the same view as me, it's people regurgitating what they're told without thinking for themselves and aligning themselves with these small and fictitious "occults" as you put it. An honest middle ground is exactly what I'm asking for, rather than being annointed with the myriad of labels that have been levelled towards myself and others. I just thought it was interesting that I've personally been lumped with entirely contradictory labels at varying points this weekend. Including in your post.
Little Dutch
25/08/2008 12:58:00
Thanks for that LD. I was just about to run screaming down to the superstore and buy in enough supplies for the oncoming nuclear winter. I don't think we'll see another peformance like Saturday's for another season, where every individual player is off their game like they were. It's obvious that we need strengthening in certain positions, that much is for sure, but I personally think that Saturdays Fulham performance was just one of those once a season games where nothing seems to come off . A little like Charlton when they beat us 4-2 at Highbury a few years ago. In fact to be honest, apart from the scoreline, there was no difference in our performance on Saturday to our win against Everton at the tail end of last season. The difference in, 'grinding out a result when we're not playing well', or the whole world collapsing around us has come down to one inch. That's the difference between Ade's header hitting the post and going in, or hitting the post and coming out. I agree with you also LD with the fact that Eboue was one of our better performers on Saturday. But for being hacked down a few times, some of his runs may have resulted in good goal scoring scenarios. Even so, if Robin's Hammer was working properly then we might have taken advantage of any one of the four free kicks we won. Just can't wait for our next matches now to get right back on track.
25/08/2008 13:01:00
What I'm really getting at is that the next time we lose, the same old identikit points will be made whilst others will be routinely ignored. Each football game is different and while there are issues that govern them, I do wish fans would be more willing to find the middle ground, in victory and defeat.
Little Dutch
25/08/2008 13:02:00
I totally agree with the Eboue point. Because I am supposed to......... LOL No, I really do agree.
25/08/2008 13:10:00
With Sendo gone, maybe we can focus on signing a new DM? Anf hopefully it means Djourou is staying.
25/08/2008 13:14:00
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