Arsewars: Episode IV - A New Scope
After a season of very little ups and an awful lot of downs, the ArseJedi find themselves wandering the premier league looking for points in order to secure champion's league qualification. A win against Manchester United has gone some way to lightening the mood around the Emirates Stadium and the rumblings calling for Arsene to depart have diminished somewhat due to a slight upturn in fortune.
A large faction of the Arsenal faithful are still levying for Le Prof to take his leave and many are still divided on where they stand. Allegiances to Arsene are still strong across many of the followers, but there exists a chasm of chaos in the boardroom and protest marches materialising on the streets of N5.
Even though a small respite is now being enjoyed, something is still very wrong with The Arsenal. Something very wrong indeed...
This season, eh? Not been a good one really. Not one jot. Whichever way you size it up it's been about as good as being stuck in a lift with Miranda Hart and Jamie Redknapp whilst Scouting for Girls is stuck on repeat at a volume that makes your ears bleed. The performances have been poor, the results have been disappointing and the division between the fan base has been extremely hard to deal with at times. At points it's been similar to two children arguing over who loves a teddy bear the most; pulling it apart at the seams in order to prove they love it more, causing the innards to be exposed to the world. Now we're all waiting for the season to mercifully end so we can just stop the pain!
The in fighting and arguing does show one thing about this club's fanbase: we all bloody love the club. We all want to see it soar. We all want to see it be where it deserves to be. However, it also shows we've got some bloody disrespectful and spiteful individuals who should learn how to conduct themselves like the gentlemen they profess to be. I'm talking about the type of Gooner who bangs on about the class and history the club has (which it does) and then acts in a way which is directly in contradiction to what they spout. You are allowed to want change, to want Arsene to leave, to want our board to have a backbone. You are also allowed to be an adult about it and voice an opinion without vitriol.
Before I continue with this short (and it will be kept short) blog, I want to make my own stance clear...
I am Wenger out (ish).
I'm Wenger out to the extent that I don't want to see him sign a new deal and want to see someone else come in and take the helm. He's given this club everything and has earned the right to move on to other things without our fanbase hounding him out. He's always put the club before himself and maintained the club's classy way of doing things.
I love him, respect him and want him to win another league title with us. It's just not going to happen though. We’ve had too many groundhog day defeats and season ends for us to persist with what is sadly a failing formula. It pains me to voice this externally, but I’ve formed my opinion after long consideration and careful thought. It's not been spat out after 9 pints of Carling and written on the back of a box of 20 Marlboro Lights.
And now back to the main narrative of the blog...
Our fans are a reflection of modern football opinion; polarisation of the highest order and extreme hyperbole. At one end of the spectrum we've got the staunch AKBs. Any criticism of Arsene is seen as a sign that you're a bottom feeding moron who couldn't wipe their own backside if their life depended on it. At the other, you've got the militant WOBs; a group who perceive any defence of Arsene as a slur on the grave of Chapman and that you're nothing but a kale smoothie loving quinoa botherer. The AKBs see one win as evidence that he's the man to lead us until he slowly disintegrates into The Emirates, and the WOBs see every loss as a summation of every single one of his faults. Imploring anyone of these factions to take results and behaviours in context is about as futile as asking Bergkamp to get on a plane. It's this very polarisation of opinion that has caused us to become a meme for other fans.
Yet, I don't blame either party for wanting to shout louder than the other. We shout to be heard. Because we have an opinion to get across. Both sides will only continue to get louder if they continue to be ignored by the club. The WOBs have been making rumblings for years about the board, Arsene, Kroenke, ticket prices, transfer policy. Has the club listened to them? No! They've clearly been on the money about the direction of the club. We left Highbury to compete with Bayern (the club's words, not ours) and we've been repeatedly spanked by them in Europe's elite competition for the world to see. We've got a Charlie Chaplin impersonator for an owner and Lord Lucan for a CEO. I get their need to protest march. They've got no other ideas on how to make their voices heard. Some say “well, don't go to games!”, but that's not an option for some people. Arsenal is a massive part of people's lives. It's their release, their escape from work, family, their time to see friends. Simply going to games may be their only release.
The AKBs want to shout back in order to protect a man who would willfully throw himself under a bus for the club. He's never once outed the players for their awful performances and has taken all of our failings on himself. The board have hung him out to dry and left him out in the cold, standing there alone to fend for himself while the goading press pick off his credibility piece by piece. They're the only ones left backing him and they're the voice that's shouting for people to respect him.
It's sad to say, but both sides have some of the club's issues neatly wrapped up. They just don't have them tied together.
The manager, the owner and the board are quite obviously a cocktail for coasting and you simply can't pick one out in isolation to blame for everything. The manager's been covered time and time again, so you don't need me to point out the bleeding obvious. The owner; Silent Stan. A man who couldn't care any less about The Arsenal if he tried. He's got a track recorded of buying teams and turning them into investments and leaving them to stagnate. We all thought he'd be a good fit for us, leaving the football to the football guys and staying out of the way. But that's not been good enough. We've needed an owner with a firmer hand, a hand that can be put on the shoulder of the board and the manager and say “look, have you thought about doing this?” The board are rudderless and treat the fans with contempt. Their flippant and lip-service-like statements released to the fans are a slap in the face to those who spend their hard earned cash. “Thank you for your interest in our affairs.” It's not your affairs, it's OURS.
So, what do we need?
We need an etch-a-sketch style shake up. You know, after you've cocked up the drawing of the house, left a trail where you've tried to get into the corner to draw the sun and think “FFS” and shake the crap out of it to start again.
We need to leave some of the foundations in place though. The bedrock needs to stay. The fans, the stadium, the fundamental infrastructure. The philosophy.
We need to put up a few walls to make the house less open plan, separate the kitchen from the living room, put a toilet in under the stairs. One man roaming around the house trying to clear up everything isn't as effective as getting in a whole crew to specialise in their own role.
We need a new landlord. A landlord who ignores your texts that say “Help! The boiler's buggered and the walls are covered in damp!” is of no use to anyone. We need a landlord who won't let himself in when he wants, but who knows when it's sensible to intervene because the heating has packed up. A house in decline is not a house worth owning.
We need a new housing committee. A committee that doesn't just sit about drinking tea and staring at the custard creams, tutting about the noise outside and wondering why they're being asked to actually bloody do something.
We still have something to play for. Liverpool's mini cock up and recent wins has given us a slither of hope of reaching fourth place on the last day. We also have an FA Cup final against Chelsea to play. Winning it would put a gloss on a very poor season, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go all out for it. Beating Chelsea and finishing with more silverware than Sp*rs in their best season in recent memory should be a massive motivating factor.
The uncertainty surrounding Arsene's future isn't helping anything, but that's clearly out of our hands and just isn't worth worrying about. We've got two massive games to focus on for now and we need everyone to be giving it their all.
May the force be with you.
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