I’ve wanted to write a blog for a long time now, but where do you
start? Arsenal, more so than any other club, it seems, already has hundreds of
regular bloggers, covering everything from transfer rumours, to tactics and
But there is one key issue that I
feel needs addressing, urgently. It’s a huge gripe of mine and it’s a massive
problem at Arsenal Football Club. It has
nothing to do with transfer fees, wages, tactics, or the board room. It is much
more serious than any of those issues and something that needs to be addressed as
soon as possible; the rise of the acronym supporters!
Any Arsenal fan that’s been on
Twitter for any length of time will be aware of the two groups of Arsenal
supporters that I’m referring to; the Arsene Knows Best (“AKB”) and the Wenger
Out Brigade (“WOB”). These supporters are polar opposites, and seem to be able
to summarise their support by reference to a three letter acronym about our
manager, Arsene Wenger. So, firstly we need to look at the extremes of each
group in turn to see what they’re about.
The AKBs, as you can probably
tell from their name, think that Arsene Wenger is the best thing since sliced
bread. They think that Arsene Wenger can do no wrong. Regardless of what has
happened, how badly the team, or Arsene, has messed up, they come up with an
excuse for him. Because obviously, Arsene knows best.
The problem with this ridiculous phrase
is that Arsene doesn’t always “know best”. Nobody does. If Arsene always knew
best, Arsenal would never concede a goal. Arsenal would never lose a game. We’d
win every single game and every single trophy comfortably, and all transfers
would work out, if indeed Arsene knew best. AKBs regularly defend all sorts of decisions
made by Arsene on the basis that he knows best, despite evidence to the
This is likely to be
controversial, but case in point, Aaron Ramsey. I’m a huge fan of Ramsey. I
think he gets a ridiculously rough ride from certain sections of the Arsenal
crowd. Like many before him, he’s become a scapegoat. However, over the last
few months, when played as a central midfielder, he’s reached a level of
consistency that most thought was beyond him and was key in our end of season
run in. However, earlier this season, Arsene Wenger persistently deployed him as
a right winger. It was clear to most fans that Ramsey shouldn’t have been
played there. Apart from one game against Man City, in which he actually played
very well, the move to RW was disastrous. His confidence didn’t just dip, it
took a bloody run and jump off of a huge cliff. The fans got on his back, and
in some cases, actually booed him. Arsenal fans booed their own player. Just
think about that for a moment.
A lesser player might not have
responded the way Ramsey has since then. He’s shown “little bit” exceptional
mental strength to bounce back, and credit to him. Yet despite this, the AKBs
claim that Ramsey’s recent good form is a direct result of Arsene choosing to
play him out of position (mostly to the detriment of the team I hasten to add),
as it has taught him things that he’s now adopted in his central midfield role.
This, despite Ramsey having played to a similar level before his injury, and
more importantly, before he was played out of position. Yet again, Arsene knows
The AKBs will blindly defend
Arsene Wenger in the face of extreme, and often justified, criticism. I
completely appreciate certain fans have an extreme loyalty to Arsene Wenger,
but there really does come a point where that loyalty becomes naivety. Apart
from a strong run in, which was reminiscent of a George Graham Arsenal side,
last season was an absolute shambles. The results simply weren’t good
enough. There were of course mitigating
factors, losing our best player (I refuse to mention his name), a new team
which needed to gel etc, but it doesn’t change the fact that we lost a lot of
games that we shouldn’t have lost. The teams that we sent out against Blackburn
Rovers and Bradford City should not have lost those games, and they wouldn’t
have lost them if Arsene really knew best.
Arsene is a fantastic football
manager, and a hero of mine, but he doesn’t always know best, and there is no
harm in acknowledging that.
Now onto the Wenger Out Brigade.
These lads are on a different level. Whilst the AKBs are completely blind and
naive to the fact that Arsene, like any other human, has faults, these lads
think that Arsene is the worst thing at the club; an illness which needs to be
cured. Despite evidence suggesting Arsene has had his hands tied financially;
Arsene is to blame for everything that is wrong at the club. No Money? WENGER
OUT. Not many signings? WENGER OUT. Ticket prices are too high? WENGER OUT.
Regardless of how well Arsenal
play, the WOBs will see the negatives. We win a game 2-1; they’re annoyed that
we conceded a single goal. We win 4-1,
they’re annoyed because we should’ve won 6-1. We lost to Bayern Munich, the now
European champions, on away goals, and these people are still annoyed. WENGER
The WOBs love certain buzz words.
No matter what we do in the transfer market, David Dein is the answer to
everything. David Dein is the mythical saviour who would’ve ensured that
Arsenal would’ve won leagues and cups over the last few years. We sold Robin van
Persie? David Dein wouldn’t have allowed this, WENGER OUT. We lost to
Blackburn? David Dein wouldn’t stood for this, WENGER OUT. Is this the same
David Dein who sold his shares to Alisher Usmanov at colossal profit, leaving
the ownership of our glorious club in the ridiculous mess it is today, with two
majority shareholders who’ve had an absolute gut full of each other? Yep. WENGER
One of my most shocking memories
of last season was of the first leg against Bayern Munich in the Champions
League. It has nothing to do with how badly we played, or how poor we were
defensively (although admittedly, it was an absolute shit show). I was watching
the game in a pub with some friends. At full time, we were all obviously beyond
disappointed. We knew that we were out and it was heartbreaking, even against a
side as good as Bayern Munich. As the game ended, I went to the bar to drown my
sorrows. There was a bloke at the bar, and he was an absolute state. The sort
of bloke who takes his shirt off and walks around town centres in the British
summer sun, despite the fact that he’s wearing jeans and has a jumper tied
around his waist. As I got to the bar, Arsene was on the television screen,
presumably giving his post match comments. This bloke stood up from his chair
and shouted this at the screen:-
“WHY DON’T YOU F*CK OFF AND DIE,
YOU F*CKING FRENCH C*NT. YOU NEED TO FUCK OFF NOW”.
This, supposedly from an Arsenal
“supporter”. An extreme WOB, if ever I’ve seen one. I didn’t even have the
energy to begin to engage in a conversation with the bloke (mostly because he
looked and sounded like an absolute lunatic). You can’t reason with somebody
who thinks like that about the greatest manager our club has ever had. Admittedly,
this really is at the extreme end of the spectrum, but sadly, he’s not the only
WOB who says this sort of nonsense about Arsene. Twitter is a great social
medium for fans to engage with each other, to talk football, films, or whatever
takes your fancy. But it can also be a
dark, dark place, filled with keyboard warriors. I regularly see Arsenal
“supporters” tweet about Arsene Wenger, and it genuinely saddens me. I’ve seen
him called a “w*nker”, “c*nt”, “French prick”, as well as countless other
things. Some of the more extreme WOBs (there is a scale of WOBishness) are
worse than Spurs fans.
Arsene isn’t beyond questioning.
He’s made many mistakes, and questions should rightly be asked. But some of the abuse and negative agendas
peddled by some of these so called WOBs is outright disrespectful, and really
quite upsetting to see.
So, who is in the right out of
these two groups? Which set of supporters is correct? The answer, quite simply,
is neither. They’re both as bad as each other, but in completely different ways.
The fact is that Arsene doesn’t always know best. He has faults, like every
manager before him and like every manager will after him. He’s stubborn, strict
with his philosophy, rigid in approach, inflexible, among many other traits. But
he’s also, in my opinion, the best manager we’ve ever had. He’s brought us
flair, style, intelligence, and most of all, class. Arsene Wenger is class
personified, which is somewhat fitting for a club which prides itself on its
class and values.
I’m not quite old enough to
remember much of the George Graham era, bar the last couple of seasons. Arsene
is mostly all I’ve known as an Arsenal fan. I both love and respect the
man. Regardless of your current views on
Arsene, there is absolutely no doubt that he revolutionised Arsenal Football
Club, and helped to elevate the Premier League to the level it is at today. As
a direct result of his management, we have the best club stadium in the
country. We have a state of the art training facility and academy. We’ve been privileged
enough to watch players like Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Marc
Overmars, and more recently Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla, on a weekly basis.
We’ve seen him turn unknown “kids” into world class superstars in front of our
very eyes. Amidst all of the negativity and diatribe said about Arsene, people
seem to forget this.
For all of the positive things
I’ve mentioned above, Arsene certainly has his faults and he does deserve to be
questioned, when appropriate. He’s been here for 16 years. Recently, some of
the team’s performances simply haven’t been good enough. Some of the player
recruitment hasn’t been good enough. Some of tactics selected haven’t been good
enough. We shouldn’t be naive to this and it doesn’t make you less of an
Arsenal fan to raise legitimate questions, or to criticise when it’s justified.
But likewise, being naive to all of the good things that Arsene Wenger does,
simply to satisfy your negative agenda of wanting Wenger out, isn’t right
either. A balance needs to be struck, and a middle ground found.
Nobody’s support should be
summarised by these ridiculous acronyms, AKB or WOB. Support Arsene, by all
means, but don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore the very real problems
and mistakes that he makes. Likewise, if you genuinely want Wenger out, then
good luck to you, but be able to back up your views with logical arguments,
rather than resorting to disrespectful name calling and outright abuse, both to
Wenger, and to anybody who dares question you. Don’t be completely naive to all
the good that he does for the club simply to satisfy your agenda. Form your own
views on how you feel about Arsene Wenger, based on logic and reason, not on
pre-determined acronyms. Arsene has
frustrated me beyond belief at times, and I have spent many an evening ranting
on Twitter, but I always have and always will remain respectful when judging him,
rather than sticking to a three letter acronym to satisfy either a positive or
Now is not the time for
negativity. We had a very solid end to the season and the future of the club is
looking bright. With the new commercial deals in place, it finally seems as
though the real financial restraints that Arsene Wenger has been operating
under will be lifted. I, for one, am excited for next season and cannot wait to
see what business we do over the summer; regardless of how torturous or slow it
seems right now.
There is only one three letter
acronym that should be able to sum up our support for our glorious club, and
Feel free to comment and/or
debate with me on twitter: @attwood10