You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. Everyone has heard it.
“We want our Arsenal back! We want our Arsenal back! We want our Arsenal back! We want our Arsenal back!”
Those five words, repeated ad nauseum, have become the fans’ way of displaying their frustration at how the team is performing at the moment, and it’s a powerful statement. In fact, it’s much more damning than the cries of “Spend some bleeping money!” that started to spread through the terraces a couple of years ago, as the latter is more of a request than a demand, but the former is far more critical of those in charge of the club. Unfortunately, it would appear that such chants will always be bound to fall on deaf ears, and in essence, crystalize the problem.
It hasn’t been a pleasant few months for Arsenal fans, what with seeing our captain being sold to a team with whom we spent almost a decade dominating English football being the turd cherry on a crappy cake. (Slices of said cake are on sale in the Diamond Club for £11.90 a piece.) Combine that with the ever increasing cost of going to matches today, and the practice of the board and the manager of not spending all of that money that fans gave up in the direct hope of seeing a better team in the first place, and you’re left with a rather disgruntled group of people.
This isn’t the problem though. Fans being unhappy about how a club is being run is commonplace. Hell, even when we’re winning, we’re still complaining about “something”. That just how football fans are, we want to be the best at EVERYTHING. We’re conditioned into reducing every possible argument with rival fans into the tiniest of minutae, just so we can claim to have “prevailed” over them. So when nothing is going according to plan, we lash out at whoever is in charge. Usually it’s directed at the manager, but with most Arsenal fans still uneasy with criticising Wenger publicly, the chants get aimed at the board instead.
You see, fans are a demanding bunch, but they’re a forgiving bunch too. Yes, they hope the team wins every game, but losing will be tolerated under certain circumstances. A fan will forgive their team for not winning, but they’ll be far more critical if their team isn’t trying everything in its power to win. After all, a fan would try their hardest in that situation, and it’s virtually impossible for them to accept why a player wouldn’t do the same. So when Arsenal fans see the board go out of their own way to not spend all resources available to them, resources that were obtained from those same fans, then that’s a far more serious offence to them than just losing.
And here’s where the problem develops. The fans want the club to try to win, not necessarily at any cost, but at least use whatever resources are available. That seems completely reasonable, right? But what can fans do when the board consists primarily of a single individual who has bought two thirds of the club as an investment and is keen to minimise financial expenditure as much as possible? Those are two diametrically opposing philosophies, and as with many other facets of life, money talks. So as long as Kroenke is in charge, the club will always be trying to win, except not only will we have one arm permanently tied behind our back, but we’ll have tied it there ourselves.
That’s why we hear people chanting for the return of “their” Arsenal. They want change. Exactly what that change consists of will differ from person to person. Some will want a change of manager, others will want a new owner, and there will be a few who will want both. And there are pros and cons to all three of those viewpoints. I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting that any of them are either right or wrong, after all, football’s most powerful effect on people is to that a game can be seen by two people and they can come away from it with wildly differing opinions. If you think Wenger should go, then that’s your opinion. If you think Usmanov should buy the club, that’s your opinion. I disagree with both of those viewpoints at the moment, but it’s more than possible that I’m wrong.
But will a song ever convince the board to change their approach to running the club? It’s highly unlikely. We can sing about “our” Arsenal all we want, but when the person who actually call Arsenal theirs is un-interested in even meeting fans, how probable is it that he’ll placate them once they start singing a few unfavourable songs? As long as the owner and the manager are happy with Arsenal’s budget, then us fans just have to accept it. And as long as that budget includes a little something for the owner himself, and that little something is badly needed to help the team, then fans will NEVER accept it. It’s that simple.
And the worst aspect about all of this? All our options from here on out are bad ones. If the current board stays in control, then we’re destined to always play it safe and keep falling just short of our footballing goals yet continue to be financially successful. And if Kroenke sells up? Well we’ll either be taken over by another investor looking to use our profits as a personal pension fund, or we’ll be at the mercy of a billionaire’s daily whims, either one being far from ideal. So if you’re a fan right now, you can do one of two things; either hope that the current form is just a blip and that we beat Tottenham this weekend, or stop going to games and keep your hard-earned money. And at the moment, the first choice seems delusional whilst the second feels almost like betrayal.
The joys of being a Arsenal fan……------------
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