September 6, 2012
It’s not that surprising that football fans tend to have very polarised opinions.
Right from an early age we’re asked to define ourselves in the clearest of terms. What are you? Are you Arsenal? Or are you Spurs? And once you’ve answered the question that’s pretty much it. A lifetime commitment. Never to be swayed. Where I grew up the answer was often ‘no, I’m Liverpool’ due to the Scousers’ domination of the league at the time. And of course I still see the odd one occasionally, forlornly talking up the talents of Jay Spearing. And I can’t help but chuckle to myself.
My point is we’re trained to be either one thing or the other. Red or blue. Black or white. We fans tend to be very suspicious of anything a little bit grey. And I’m not just talking about our former captain.
As a daily Arsenal blogger that can make life difficult at times. Because as much as I love this club, as much as I admire and approve of the sensible way that it’s run and idolise the manager and (almost) all of the players, once in a while, I’m sorry to say, there are things that I think we could have done better. And in between the excitable posts about our matches and our new signings and potential formations and our chances against our rivals I do occasionally like to air those views. But in some readers’ eyes that’s tantamount to heresy.
Consider this. I can honestly say that throughout the last 15 years barely a day has gone by that I haven’t at some stage paused whatever I was doing to think to myself how grateful I am that Arsene Wenger joined this club. Pathetic and a tiny bit sad? Maybe. But what can I say? I really like that creasy faced Frenchman. So the amount of times I get emails and comments from readers telling me that I’m an idiot for not showing Le Boss sufficient respect and failing to understand what he’s done for the club is quite overwhelming.
Of course, if on the other hand I write anything to suggest that certain quarters may have gone a bit overboard in their criticism of the squad or our chances in the season I’m barraged with accusations of being an AKB. An ‘Arsene Knows Best’. With my head in the sand as the club collapses around me.
Is it not possible to love the club, love the manager, love the players, really have very fond feelings for the board too but still disagree with some of the decisions that get made? For the record, for those that are desperate to put everybody in a pigeon hole I would define myself not as an Arsene Knows Best, more as an Arsene Knows Better Than A Lot Of Us Owing To His Many Years Of Coaching Experience And His Day To Day Work With The Squad Which Puts Him In The Unique Position Of Having An Inside Knowledge Of The Strengths And Weaknesses Of His Players. That’s right I’m a AKBTALOUOTHMYOCEAHDTDWWTSWPHITUPOHAIKOTSAWOHP.
Stick that in your acronym guide.
In fact I’m thinking of having the full sentence minus the first two words made up into a banner and then I’m going to take it along to the Emirates and drape it next to that guy with the ‘Arsene Knows’ banner. Just to make everybody clear on where I think we stand.
On days when we lose, just to cheer people up, I might also have one that read ‘A Decent Curry Place Down The Road. Why Don’t We All Meet Up There After This And Forget All About It?’.
I suppose what I’m trying to say, and credit to you for sticking with me this far, is that it’s perfectly feasible to love the club, love Arsene Wenger and think that he’s by far the best man for the job, but still disagree with some of the decisions he makes.
I got a comment a couple of days ago accusing me of inconsistency because I was raving about our performance against Liverpool but a couple of days earlier I’d been critical of the club for not making the signings that I, and the manager seemed to think we needed to ensure a sustained title challenge should we face our inevitable mid-season injury crisis. I shouldn’t need to point out that those two opinions are in no way contradictory. Wanting to improve our squad depth isn’t some sort of slight on the players that we already have at the club.
I got another comment recently which basically said ‘Oh here we go. Another blogger who thinks he knows anything about running a football club. Why don’t you leave it to the professionals?’. I don’t know exactly what sort of blog that guy is looking for but I hope he lets me know when he finds it. Surely if we’re going to write about the team it can’t just be day after day of puff pieces talking about what brilliant football we play and fantasising about how nice it would be to go for a cup of coffee with Thomas Vermaelen. What would be the point?
I’m not saying I don’t enjoy all the comments. I love the fact that increasingly this site is becoming a place where fans can openly and honestly exchange views. And I don’t even mind being called an idiot when people disagree with my opinions (well I do. I die a little bit inside every time but hey, football’s an emotional subject). A decent debate is part of what being a football fan is all about. But I do think that we as fans do ourselves an injustice when instead of discussing the issues at hand we resort to name calling or pigeonholing each other as being ‘AKB’s or simply ‘bad supporters’.
We’re polarised enough by our early choice of club. Why marginalise ourselves any further?
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