It’s no secret that this is Arsenal’s worst season under Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
There are several reasons for this, including a marked failure to significantly refresh the squad over the summer. Our tactics have also made us so undeniably predictable that any team with a modicum of physical talent can easily disrupt us at both ends of the pitch.
In addition, the players themselves seem mostly unmotivated, like Israelites wandering through the desert for what feels like 40 years instead of 90 minutes.
It hasn’t been good football.
Changing two things, namely squad and formation, did seem to work for a while as many predicted. However, things quickly reverted to pro forma as some of the same predictable weaknesses crept back into the side.
Significant wholesale changes are needed if the club is ever to escape the malaise – this is something on which everyone can agree.
The team has been 4-1-6 (WDL) in the 3-month period between 31 Jan – 30 Apr and there’s no real indication of it improving at any time. It’s enough to make any fan disappointed and upset.
The exception is a very small and extremely vocal number of fans that outwardly want the side to keep losing. Their faulty logic: Each defeat brings the club closer to their objective of getting Wenger sacked.
This small group has wanted this for quite a few seasons. However, this season has been different. These fans became extremely active by organising a number of protests outside and inside the stadium, as well as flying banners over games.
An even smaller ‘No New Contract‘ movement has taken this one step further. The group (actually one person taking matters into his own hands) staged sit-down demonstrations whilst wearing Wenger masks outside of the training ground.
Most recently, they went as far as to project anti-Wenger slogans onto Highbury prior to the North London Derby.
All of these actions received full media coverage, as was probably expected. The press, which thrives on Arsenal-bashing for ratings, has taken full advantage in exploiting all of these activities.
This makes it hard for anyone not to notice – including the players themselves.
At the very least, it’s not helping player confidence or a sense of urgency, which has been sorely lacking of late. In the players’ mind, the fans are responding to their performances and are merely taking it out on their boss.
Professionals or not, at some point the constant negativity takes its toll on everyone.
Therefore, it should be no surprise how destructive and counter-productive all of these actions really are. They may not be the sole cause for the team’s poor form, but they are surely becoming a contributing factor if not an unnecessary distraction.
And, it doesn’t make the fan base look very good, either.
We all laughed at how silly fans of other clubs were (such as United under Moyes and van Gaal) as they did precisely the same thing – acting out. This is now how fans of rival clubs see us as they revel in our self-destruction.
Yet with each passing match, despite getting the defeats they are helping to create, the club refuses to address them. They’re still getting paid, so why should they? Arsenal are now a ‘bottom line‘ business, making them an immovable force until profit takes a significant hit.
They certainly won’t deal with what they most likely view as a small group of terrorists as they politely thank us for our interest in the club’s affairs.
The problem is that this non-response makes those ‘fans‘ more and more delusional that they can effect change by escalating things with even more extravagant productions. They become even more frustrated and angry when they realise their latest tantrum hasn’t been noticed and so the self-defeating cycle spirals downward.
Andre Villas-Boas’s negative spiral has finally arrived.
The rest of us sit back and wonder when and where this embarrassing one-sided exchange will finally end.
The answer is that it probably won’t until something finally does change either by force or evolution.
Change of some kind is needed. Hopefully, this occurs before the reputation of the club and fan base hasn’t become a total shambles.