An argument I’ve seen circulating on the likes of Twitter recently is that if we as fans got behind Arsenal more, we’d have better results. Is this true?
Against Crystal Palace on Sunday, the atmosphere wasn’t even frosty. It was bored and then venomous when we conceded the equalising goal, which everyone knew was coming. Not one single person on my timeline felt remotely safe when we were only 1-0 up and it’s been that way for a long, long time. I think it was the 4-4 at Newcastle that did it, where we were cruising 4-0 up and conceded four to only leave with a point. Although there were a few questionable refereeing decisions, I don’t think anyone has felt truly safe during an Arsenal match since. Except maybe the opposing team.
Saying this, it’s different now. On Sunday, the boos for Emmanuel Adebayor were louder than the cheers for our goal and that’s a concern.
The atmosphere at the Emirates has been an issue for a while. Many have complained about not being allowed to sing as loudly as they’d like or stand up, which has led some to campaign in favour of safe standing. However, something has shifted this season.
We’re fed up.
Some may argue that it’s a chicken or the egg situation. Which came first, the bad atmosphere or the shoddy results? In all honesty, as much as they feed off each other, they’re the professionals. They should be the ones to give us something to cheer for. And at this point in time they’re not.
I don’t just mean in terms of results, although that would be nice. I mean in terms of output and passion. None of those players, except maybe Alex Iwobi, who’s still just happy to be included in the first team, look as if they actually care. These are players who look as if they’ve just clocked in to get their pay slips, with the goal of doing the bare minimum and then skipping off down the pub. Some look a little disheartened when they hear the boos ring out around our home ground but they don’t show this when they’re playing – when it’s important.
It’s not just the players. The manager needs to take more responsibility. I realise I’m at risk of sounding like one of the #WengerOut brigade but what do we have to do to be heard? Time and time again the manager and players have harped on about getting behind the team but it’s hard to get behind players and arguably a manager who look as if they’d rather be home with their feet up watching the match on TV (although I’d be surprised if anyone wanted to watch the football we’ve been playing recently).
How do we fix this? It’s hard to know what to say. On one hand, it’s very easy to say ‘just make more noise’ but the people who attend the matches week in, week out are PO-ed. They’re paying huge amounts of money to see no change and it’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. You want to spur your team on but if they’re not bothering, why should we? As juvenile as it might sound: it’s not fair. It’s not fair to expect the fans to magically get behind the team when there’s nothing to get behind.
Wenger isn’t helping matters. Every time he asks the fans to get behind the team, it feels as if he’s patronising or even blaming us. I know that this most likely isn’t the case, but emotions are running high and it’s easy to be a little sensitive. Especially when we’re being told it before almost every match.
Something’s got to give. In my opinion, blaming the lack of atmosphere at the Emirates is an easy cop-out. A way to shift the blame. It’s transparent and naive. The worst part is, I have no solution. I can’t tell people to go spend their hard-earned cash on a team that’s shown nothing to warrant it in recent months. Nor will I dispute the fact that the poor atmosphere probably has contributed at times to bad results.
I just want this season to be over. I want to sit back and watch the Euros this summer and not care what the outcome is. I don’t want to feel that embarrassment and feeling in the pit of my stomach when we once again throw away a lead and we have to listen to drivel about ‘bouncing back’ post-match. And as a football fan, that’s a horrible feeling.