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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.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 25 2008

Time: 12:09PM

Your Comments

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!
I totally agree with the article. Because I am supposed to........ LOL
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
I totally agree with the Eboue point. Because I am supposed to......... LOL No, I really do agree.
With Sendo gone, maybe we can focus on signing a new DM? Anf hopefully it means Djourou is staying.
Pre-conceived ideas and thoughtless bias? It's just like any other walk of life... I was in the Putney stand and heard much of the same, though I don't get upset because its impossible to argue with a mass. The most interesting exchanges are on a one-to-one basis. I’ll happily argue even with an Usmanov-lover on that level, and enjoy the challenge of provoking and being provoked to think. I think the ‘tabloid’ thinking you’re talking about is not going to change and if its unbearable, the best medicine is to find and talk with ‘thinking’ fans on forums like this one.
"It's impossible to argue with a mass." It won't stop me trying!
Little Dutch
I swear Vital Arsenal chuck out a similar article nearly every week. Maybe you need to look at yourself before lambasting others.
If the preliminary reports are true and we have let Senderos go to Milan then I really am baffled. We have a problem defending high balls so we buy Silvestre and let our only defender with anything apporaching aerial dominance go? I was under the impression we'd bought Silvestre for depth, not to offset another departure.
Little Dutch
I totally agree with this article. For the first time I actually took a look at quite a few Arsenal sites and some of the stuff coming out from the fans was incredible - e.g. "what do you think now all you Arsene Knows muppets" (or words to that effect) or "Arsene has lost the plot and should go". These fans need to remind themselves that we have no divine right to win matches and trophies and there's no reason why it might take 27 years to win another title, just like Man Utd had to wait.
Care to provide some links to that effect U4L?
Little Dutch
i am not disappointed that we conceded a goal from corner. anything can happen from setpieces. i am disappointed that we were unable to score against a considerably weak team like Fulham. i support Arsenal and i support all the players, but u have to be realistic as well. i do not support blindly. the central midfielders we currently have ( except for Fabragas, Rosicky or probably Nasri) are surely not good enough to win us the Premier League title. what guarantee do we get that Fabragas, Rosicky or Nasri won't get injured during the season? we definitely need a good central midfielder to strenghten the team.
bit of a sweeping generalisation there - I'm not convinced the majority are as stupid as you are making them out to be. Myself and friends would be modern Arsenal fans, however I would be surprised if they or myself would ever be guilty of judging before watching.
Also I'm really surprised that its like that amongs our away support because I had the impression that they were different.
But then I suppose thats the makeup of the people you know and the debates one generates with ones friends. Although I am aware that the media generate an astonishing amount of bull*****, of which much is happpily digested by the modern fan. I think most people have the intelligence and perspective to not be swayed.
The article is by its nature a generalisation, but I feel it represents a majority yes. It doesn't necessarily represent the psyche of the people I go with, far from it in many cases. But I think football fans who are capable of independent analysis are in the minority. It's not a case, as has been incorrectly inferred, of saying 'everyone should think like me',more that I don't at all have the impression people think for themselves. If that sounds arrogant so be it.
Little Dutch
Once again LD, I totally agree. i think part of the problem is that we are a big club. A lot of people who support the big clubs like Man utd, Liverpool and recently Chelsea is because they win the majority of the games and consequently 'support' them as they are the most popular and when it all goes wrong they show themselves as what I like to call them 'plastic' fans. I have tried to be objective in my criticisms on the Arsenal team but some people are saying 'Wenger out' which is going a bit over the top for just one loss surely? Every one admits, including Wenger himself that we need another defensive midfielder, some one with experience. I don't personally think either Alonso or Barry are what we are looking for to partner Cesc in midfield, but someone of equal experience.
I think the feeling amongst many Arsenal fans is that the problems of this team could have been avoided, if Arsenal were not good enough because Wenger had signed lots of players that didn't work as a team then many fans would have a different kind of disappointment, a resignation to the fact that Arsenal aren't good enough. The anger comes from knowing what the problems were three long years ago and not one of those problems has been aggressively targeted by a solution, knowing what claims were made by the club about how the Emirates would positively affect transfers and then the reality of an underinvested squad that has put in way too many spineless performances, the Fulham game was not a one off, remember the FA Cup last season? The games where we lost the league last season. I totally understand where LD is coming from and what he is trying to do and as always he has good intentions but quite honestly I think Arsenal FC have been asking for it. For me they are playing a very dangerous game and taking liberties with Wenger's genius, I can't think of any other manager who has done so much for a club and is given so little in transfer funds to maintain or build upon his hard fought success. Wenger is having to rebuild Arsenal every season, it's just impossible and pointless and this is where the anger comes from. Why is this happening to Arsenal at this stage of their journey? Didn't Wenger do all this 10 years ago so that he didn't have to do it now?
Professor Calculus
Only Arsene Wenger can keep Arsenal in the top four in Premier League (hence, UCL) with such small budget. some managers have spent a lot, and still haven't achieved anything or a little cup like Carling Cup last season.
The point I think most Fans would argue isn't whether Eboue or Gallas' contibutions were good enough in a very poor performance in defeat to Fulham, but whether they're capable of improving to the level we need to be at, especially in the big games. I think it's telling that some think Eboue looked good in this game, because it shows that even if he plays "well", he isn't able to spark this team. RVP is quality we all know that. I wonder if the performance of the midfield may've affected to forwards? Same for the fullbacks? As far as Gallas goes, I don't think he's the answer. If a team plays a whole game with so little fire and desire, the captain is culpable in my eyes. The job comes with that responsiblity, if Gallas can't handle the reality of that, he should give it up.
If any one is taking risks with Wenger's genius it's Wenger himself. He was the architect of this plan. It was he who pushed for the new training facility - he who pushed for the commitment to the new stadium - he who took on the challenge of building a team that despite all the negativity has still managed to compete at a high level for all that time. If the club and it's manager hadn't taken on the challenge then we would be sitting where Man City, Villa, Everton and Spurs are now. The board are going along with his vision of the club. They have supported him to the extent that we have one of the highest player budgets in the PL. How much more debt is it appropriate for us to carry at the present? It's not a surprise that there is a lack of proportion when discussing football because it is almost only ever dealt with on an emotional reactive level. What annoys most about Wenger is that while his passion is clear he is able to be detached and pragmatic whereas many fans would be happier to see teacups hurled about the room. Yesterdays game, and the reaction to it, is a perfect illustration of an inability to maintain perspective. Look around and you'll see claims that we were 'bossed' in midfield (verifiable nonsense), that this is the worst ever performance in recent times (other than the scoreline it's no worse than Wigan away last year when Cesc and Flamini were our midfield pairing) and you'll even discover match ratings which give Hangeland the highest ratings and make him motm. In any way it's the emotion that makes the game what it is and I suppose that means it is unrealistic for supporters to be emotionally detached. Not that that should prevent anyone applying just a little more thought now again or excuse them for personalising a debate whenever anyone else attempts to do so.
LD - super article.. I couldn't agree with you more. I would also appreciate it if you would go through this article which I've written on a similar subject: Let me know what you make of it.
On the issue per se, I'd say that fans who say bring Usmanov et all back are fools.. they don't understand the dynamics of the club.. and certainly don't understand where the club is going from where we were.. it's just, as you've said, spoiled Arsenal fans who think that the club should simply shell out cash because other clubs are doing so.. it will certainly get us into a lot of trouble.
@ Amos. I get where you're coming from but at the same time Arsenal FC have also made a lot of emotional claims, many fans are influenced by the culture and personality of the club and manager, Arsenal have not been churning out cold hard facts to their fans, every piece of info delivered by them has come with emotional intent and yet I don't see articles reacting to that in the same way even though you could argue it's the same kind of over reaction at the opposite end of the spectrum. I kind of don't know what people want from fans? Fans who emotionally prepare for matches weeks in advance, travel, sing, invest their heart and soul into a team, all this and more is expected of them and then at the same time they are supposed to walk away from a game like Fulham and just be reasonable. I don't think so. I don't think it's possible to have passion and emotion on tap then simply turn it off in the post match analysis. It's asking a bit much for regular fans to show the same duel functionality as someone like Wenger. Being a fan is not in the least bit sensible or reasonable, it is entirely emotional and personal and I don't know why people are getting disappointed with post match hysterical reactions from fans when it is that same hysteria that moments earlier during the game was called "passion and love for the club".
Professor Calculus
Senderos has completed a one season loan to AC Milan with the option of making it permanent apparently -
Sorry wrong link -
there is something missing. the players did not seem interested. there was no one whom to look up to, noone who would take the game by the scruff of the neck and try to influence changes. this is what that is so dissapointing.
The one game I keep recalling for some reason was when we went to Chelsea I think in the Invincibles season and went 1-0 down early to a Gudjohnsen goal. Vieira, Bergkamp, Edu et al then took the game by the scruff of the neck and we ended up winning 2-1, I'm sure everyone remembers. I know it's very unfair to pinpoint two different games like this but at the same time we never seemed in any real danger of mounting a sustained comeback against, lets face it, a mid-table team at best.
Why r u selling or loan players so much this season?? Strange.Don't u fell u r doing it a bit too much??? How will u compete then???
You are in large part agreeing with the point that I made Prof., that it is unrealistic to expect supporters to be emotionally detached. I am not sure that renders them entirely incapable of some balance though. I disagree with your judgement that the club has made emotional claims. Maybe I am missing something but I can't recall any claim from the club which would fall into that category. On the contrary it is their cold acceptance of the realities of living within your resources that many supporters find emotionally unacceptable.
Bah! You and your rose colored glasses! That's it, I'm convinced Arsenal won't win a thing with these kids. I'm going to go support a team willing to spend big to match my ambitions. Let's see, there's Totten... Uh, nevermind. ;) In truth I spent a good portion of last night rereading Fever Pitch. I feel better now. The only reason I get to feel so low after Saturday's horrendous performance is because of the usual high that Arsenal provide these days. It's all relative.
@ Amos Emotional claims such as competing with Real Madrid in the transfer market, claims such as the Emirates making possible a new era transfers attracting the best players in the world. These are either emotional comments, deliberately misleading comments or they have misjudged the situation and got ahead of themselves. I tend to think that the Emirates new stadium was such a remarkable achievement that they got caught up in the emotion of it and even they underestimated the affect it would have in terms of running a tight ship, this of course was not helped by a billionaire bailing out a bankrupt rival club. Nevertheless it was Arsenal FC that brought about the idea of the Emirates being a new era of financial power, the fans didn't start this idea because I clearly remember many fans being very concerned over the debt, yes they were excited about the new stadium but they also thought it would take time to get back on track. It was Arsenal that countered these fears with the "start of a new financial freedom" comments.
Professor Calculus
I think if you look at those quotes it was never anticipated that the stadium would produce financial results that would enable us to compete with Real Madrid within 2 years of the stadium opening. Frankly it shouldn't even be neccessary for them to explain that any payback was going to be a little further down the line than that. Certainly Charlie George was aware that it would take another 3 years or so before we started to really feel the financial benefits 'cos he told me so himself last January! He understood it and I guess he was passing on what he had been told by the club. We have just completed our second financial year at the stadium. The first year generated nett profit before tax of £5m or so after exceptional costs associated with the stadium financing. So after one year in the new stadium we were less than £5m better off. We will have completed only our second year at the end of May. Full year figures will only be available in November but first half year figures show an operating profit of £20m. The club still has to complete commitments on its property developments but clearly though profits are moving in the right direction it will take a little more time to feel the full benefit. Deloittes forecast over the next 5 years is that we will generate operating profit second only to Manchester United ( whose nett profits are likely to be sharply reduced by interest payments). The era of financial benefit is upon us but it is extremely naive for fans to believe that a £400mn capital project which took 8 years to complete from conception would pay for itself in the first 2 years. That's where I think the emotional detachment of supporters from the mundane business side has prevented them from, what I think, is the relatively simple task of listening to what the club has really said instead of just hearing the good news bit that they like.
Imagine this, we play West brom on the opening day of the season, we play poorly for the first 60 minutes, then in the last 30 we start playing great football and debutant Samir Nasri scores the winner with four minutes left. Its all happy days then. The way the match pans out and the feeling you have before a match sometimes determines the way you feel about the result. I looked at the teamsheet yesterday and was *****ed off, this made me more *****ed off when the match was *****e. The performance was not as bad as I thought it was, I just made it worse for myself because I was already angry. Like the Ade-bashers. If he misses a chance, he is crap and he should give his money back. If he scores, he is only doing what he should be doing. Its like the players have to do what we want. Eboue has to play ***** for some people to give him any respect, he plays well when the others are poor and we use it as some sort of excuse to show how bad we are playing. "Eboue playing well just shows how crap we were" or "They were so bad they made Eboue look good". Our own un-changable opinions based on previous events are what makes us *********s.
*on Saturday
Tom14 not know or not know and to understand but to not give a s**t
why are not interested in Stephen APIAH? he is a free agent now. he has experience, he is tough tackling. he is 27 years old, experienced and mature. he is a natural central midfielder.
fcd..u should be asking Arsene that question
number14, u have Wenger's phone number?
hello everyone, nice article but having read this and other previous postings, i feel that poster, professor calculus hits the nail on the head everytime. Its quite clear that either the clubs has no cash to invest or wenger is being stingy again. either way, the problems that have been seen in the first two games, were there the season before and most probably the one before last. If fans can see and comment on it, why not the management, whom have a more intimate view (no pun intended) of the players than most supporters. Im sorry to say this but unless new players are bought ( a striker, DM and a DF), this might be wenger's last season with arsenal. OK im taking cover now!
Wenger won't be fired. no other managers can take Arsenal to UCL every season with that kinda transfer kit. He is the only manager that can produce the kinda football that so many ppl fork out so much money to watch. the board needs him more than Wenger needs Arsenal.
I've got some shlt I'm conservative about, I've got some ***** I'm liberal about. Crime, I'm conservative. Prostitution, I'm liberal!
Hartlepool 3 West Brom 1
Wyn Mills

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