“When you represent a club it’s about values and qualities, not about passports.”

Posted: January 26, 2013 by oranjesky in Exile in London
Tags: , , , , ,

I haven’t written a blog in a very long time. This is mostly likely due to the fact that I don’t really have a lot of positive things to say about Arsenal lately and I haven’t had the heart to put down all my frustrations in writing.

Living here in Canada can make it difficult to be a Gooner, but there are days when it makes it easier. When I’m sick of Arsenal and their constant disappointment, I turn off the TV, shut down my stream, log-off from Twitter and walk away. Watching the game at home or in the pub, I can complain to my friends on Twitter or the person standing next to me: I am allowed the right to yell at players, complain about our defense and even ask Arsene what the hell he is thinking even if it’s only shouting at the ether.

While spending my time following The Arsenal on Twitter, I’ve noticed a trend of “blame the home fans” tweets popping up. I often read them and think how easy it is to make these statements from the comfort of one’s living room. There is no expectation on me as a fan. I don’t have to cheer for 90 minutes, I don’t stand in the freezing cold being taunted by other fans and I don’t have to live with the media backlash for days after a loss. I’m allowed to voice my opinion without fallout or negativity and, most importantly, when I’m sick of Arsenal I can just walk away with no repercussions.

Home fans are there game in and game out. When it’s cold, when it’s snowing, when Arsenal go on a run of incredibly depressing, lacklustre and mind-numbing games, the home fans are there living it. We are all sick of hearing about financial statements and balanced budgets but without the home fans there wouldn’t be an Arsenal. The majority of the money that Arsenal make does not come from merchandise, television, sponsorships or CL money. Our home fans and the money they spend are what our team is built on and for that fact alone they deserve some respect.

Home fans are not responsible for the signing of players, how a player performs, where a player is utilized or when Arsene’s zipper fails. There is a myth of the 12th man on the pitch, that somehow these home fans are expected to be “super” fans who don’t feel the same frustration and disappointments that we do. A belief that if these fans chant a player’s name, he somehow he excels against all odds. These players are professionals. They are paid millions to do a job once or twice a week. They didn’t have thousands of fans screaming their name as they were learning how to play football, they should be able to be talented and productive players regardless of what the fans are doing.

I was privileged enough to attend a game at The Emirates thanks to the generosity of a season ticket holder. Being at The Emirates was an experience I’ll never forget. I attended the very first 5-2 North London Derby and the intensity of the emotional rollercoaster I experienced was overwhelming. I didn’t stand and scream the entire time, half the time I forgot other people where even there. I was so caught up in the game, the emotions and the constant silent pleas to the football gods that we would score, that I didn’t think to even attempt to start a chant.

It’s become commonplace to assign blame, to score points by bashing others, attach an acronym to a supporter with a differing view. The art of conversation and dialogue has been lost, we are a fanbase bitterly divided and it’s difficult to see a way past that. I’m hoping that we can return to a time of rational discussion, to hear and respect viewpoints which differ from our own and understand that no matter where a person watches Arsenal, we all want the club to succeed.

  1. Sandra says:

    you should write more. that is all.

  2. Invinciblog says:

    What she said.

  3. starassassinsnake says:

    as well written as this article is (it argues very well). it totally ignores the average football player. stats suggest that football players believe in themselves more when the fans are being positive. thats a big group tho isnt it? “fans” the opposing team’s fans isnt going to be that positive towards a player of the other side.

    but what about the fans of the same side? yes it is believed by players when the fans of the same team are positive towards the player individually or the team as a whole they feel more confident. how has the data been collected? were players wired up to machines measuring a player’s belief in themselves and or the team? of course not. impossible to do. its just not realistic. of course this does mean that the data collected isnt scientific.

    a number of football players have been interviewed by psychologists (yes them quacky ppl) but it is impossible to ignore such a view from ppl are 1 in the situation (the players) and 2 the view of those that have studied this area with such detail. couldnt the players just lie tho to the psychologists and tell them what they want to hear? yes they can this is known as giving a demand characteristics. or the players could answer in such a way they believe is socially correct.

    majority of players after all usually say thank you to fans after games why? socially acceptable. but i am yet to see any evidence that booing your team and a team’s performance has a positive impact on the team and the players are like “ah yeah that really motivates us im going to score a hat-trick now cos of this”.

  4. Frozen Yoghurt says:

    I agree with most of this blog. Irrespective of whether I agree or not, this is a well-written blog, thoughts neatly organised.

    Now thats out of the way, I wanted to reply to starassassinsnake. I think every fan would rather cheer than boo but fans react to what they see on the pitch. I don’t like booing but don’t agree that it completely destroys the confidence of the world’s best paid professional footballers. I would say being singled out and criticized on National TV is more humiliating. Perhaps, being singled out and given the hairdryer treatment in front of younger players/other players is the most humiliating. Yet, managerial greats like Arsenal and Purplenose do it occasionally/all the time. So, have Arsene and Fergie studied the psychological effects of a rant? Or are they simply expressing their emotions/frustrations to the players who they can feel much more?

    If the hairdryer demoralises players and does not inspire, we would have stopped hearing about it a long time ago. Yet, weirdly (I know!), it does seem to work from time to time. I am not condoning booing though.

    Booing is an expression of discontent. of frustration. Nothing more. Its not personal. Its not abusive. It is different from abuse. I was at the Swansea cup replay and the atmosphere was mostly positive (despite the City loss). Yet, there was one bloke who was shouting abuse at the players, the ref, Swansea players and other fans continuously. That sort of behavior gets no sympathy from any of the other fans. No one thinks “Oh Sweet Jesus! Look at the scorns of contempt from all the other fans on that guy. I must have some of that”…

    It would be wrong to paint all home fans as abusive based on the odd one or two in the stadium and the odd one or two on twitter. That tarring is what we object to.

    We pays hundreds/thousands of pounds a year to support our football club. Do not expect us to be robots. We cheer every goal, we applaud when someone tracks back, we love it when we see passion in our players, we take offense when the national media targets the club, we sigh and gasp at missed opportunities, we feel sad when we see a lack of passion and commitment. We are football fans. Dont drive us away

    • starassassinsnake says:

      im not saying a negative response to someone’s performance never works and positive responses mean a player is going to be getting a “10” rating every single game. nor am i saying fans of a side cant show frustration when their side isnt playing so good. players can get comfortable with positive responses and a reaction from the fans or a manager can really shift them into gear. difference is when a manager does it i do assume they explain to the player/team their criticism of a player’s performance. something like “what the hell was that? what were you doing? you showed the defender the ball so much when cutting inside and thats why you were ineffective. whilst down the wing you crossed the ball at bizarre angles for players aiming to get on the end of it hadnt a chance of getting”. so whilst a manager can be negative surely if they do explain to a player where he goes wrong in a match will be helpful.

      compared to fans who will just do a never ending “booooooooooooooooooo” and the player probably ends up getting substituted. then because of the reaction in the last game hes now going to be much more nervous in the following game. his manager will be telling “got to block out these outside factors to perform well.” which some are capable of doing. the personality of the player and how they respond to a reaction from the crowd are likely to correlate imo. eg (are they an extrovert or an introvert?).

      to boo is a natural human reaction in cases where your team isnt playing well. and no one is saying or has ever said “cheer your side when you are 6-0 down at home with the players unable to hold on to the ball and do more than 3 consecutive passes and every ‘attempt’ at goal is ending up near the corner flag and the tackling/defending being shown is nowhere near the opposition team.

      the key word you put there tho is in the following sentence “We pays hundreds/thousands of pounds a year to support our football club”. can you spot it? “support”. i myself am a home fan been able to make several LC, PL and CL games in the last several years. cant make away games because too far to go most the time,.booking tickets is a nightmare as it is, uni takes up most of my time. every time i go tho i leave with a sore throat due to singing. tho i am a home fan. i am annoyed by pretty much by every home game. there are usually large periods of games where the crowd arent responsive at all. no booing no cheering. just cagey and nervous by the fans and this seems to cause the players to be just as cagey and nervous and its telling with how they pass, shoot, defend, but i am going to stick with my cheering and positive shouting and see how we do.

      the crowd’s response at home for the last 8 years has been dire. the away fans usually seem loud to me. now im not attacking the diehard fans im attacking the ones that go to games and shush the fans trying to encourage the team. the fans that basically want to watch the game on mute. they can do that at home. may be a good several 10-15 mins singing sessions in most games from the fans would affect the team for the better. hasnt seemed fans dooming and glooming has gone much for the team long term tho. ill make this prediction now. the next time arsenal find their winning touch the fans will have been positive for a long while. catch you on the other side when the home fans are being deafening with their support.

      but why do people with degrees largely(they dont all but most do) believe that positive support is better for players along with the players that play in the sport or any sport for that matter as well as the coaches that coach the players. psychologists are they all quacks? or are they just ppl that have studied various areas of life more than other ppl and understand it better than the common person? its a toughie.

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