As fans of rival teams above Arsenal in the league laugh at Arsene Wenger’s men despite their own recent failings, fans of clubs below have started to punch up, hitting out at Arsenal fans as ‘spoiled’ for being unhappy with their team. So at what point is it acceptable to be unhappy with what you see on the pitch and are only fans from certain teams allowed to complain?
It's so frustrating because we have the chances and it's good going forward. Seriously, it's tough to be a gooner.
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) March 1, 2018
It’s fairly innocuous, and said with her tongue in her cheek to a certain degree, but it was picked up by a large Newcastle account and the rest of the evening was spent listening to Toon fans telling us we should shut the f**k up because they’ve had it so much worse and we had no right to complain.
They aren’t the first set of fans to make this point. They will certainly not be the last and this is not Newcastle-specific, a set of fans I’ve always got on really well with.
But they did seem to take it incredibly personally, crying about not having won a trophy since 1955 without a care in the world for Yeovil Town who have never won a major trophy in their history.
That’s the thing with football. It’s all relative. The level of success you’ve enjoyed recently dictates what fans can and will expect.
Arsenal fans are spoiled
Arsenal fans have indeed been spoiled stupid by Arsene Wenger.
We have witnessed some of the finest football ever likely to be played on these shores and we’ve watched our team collect the one and only Gold Premier League trophy, crafted especially for our undefeated title winning run in 03/04 which is unlikely to ever be awarded to anyone else. Not even Pep dreams of going through a league season unbeaten. But Arsene Wenger did, and then he delivered.
He guided us to two decades of unbroken Champions League participation during which time we got to watch the biggest names play at the Emirates while our fans got to travel to some of the most glamorous locations in European Football to watch their team take to the pitch.
He has won more FA Cups than any manager has in the past or is ever likely to in the future, and more than most clubs could ever dream of winning in their history, if we’re honest.
And he guided us to a shiny, state-of-the-art luxury stadium, delivered the whole of English football to a new level, and did it all while being able to converse intelligently in multiple languages about a wide range of topics that had nothing to do with football.
Arsenal fans are, in large part, spoiled because of what Arsene Wenger has delivered.
We know this.
Even in the last four seasons, when Arsenal’s slide was really starting to accelerate, we won three FA Cups and made the final of another. Most fans in football dream of one final, never mind the riches we’ve been bestowed as Arsenal fans.
Away from the highlights that other fans see
But away from all that, away from the Wembley trips and backpage headlines, Arsenal have been developing cavernous character flaws that have went unheeded for years and which now affect the entire squad.
Season after season these problems became more pronounced as Arsenal fans waited for Arsene Wenger to fix them. We took humiliating defeats by our closest rivals because of the promise of what went before.
We took defeats by teams we’d absolutely battered because we hoped it was just a blip on the road back to challenging for the title again rather than simply chasing to be part of the Champions League pack.
We accepted selling our best players for years while we played the kids too soon because we believed that when the stadium debt was paid, we would be rewarded for our patience ten-fold.
This is what the club told us over and over and over and over again.
It’s hard to explain to fans of teams who don’t watch Arsenal religiously every week. They see the scores and the Match of the Day highlights, perhaps, but they don’t see the rest of the game. They don’t see the same failings repeated week after week after week for years with no sign that they are being addressed, only getting worse. They don’t listen as Arsene Wenger explains, once again, that he is surprised Arsenal made so many stupid mistakes while showing no awareness of the problems that run deep throughout the club. They don’t notice the talent being sapped from superstars, little by little.
I look at Barcelona and I see them winning everything. Should they start to slide down La Liga, each season getting that little bit worse before they are no longer in the Champions League, let alone winning it, only picking up the odd Copa Del Rey while some 30 points away from Real Madrid before Spring had even sprung, I would laugh.
I would find it hilarious. It’s always funny when those who have enjoyed what we covet the most lose it. But do you know what I wouldn’t do? I wouldn’t tell their fans to shut up moaning about how turgid the football had become.
Footballing success for fans, as I mentioned above, is relative to the success they’ve enjoyed. It has nothing to do with the success of others.
Barcelona fans can whinge about not being in the Champions League when they are used to winning it, in a way Newcastle fans can’t. Newcastle fans could, however, whinge about not being in the Premier League in a way that Yeovil Town fans can’t. And their fans can cry about being in League Two instead of League One or the Championship but FC United of Manchester would consider that a dream, not a complaint.
As I said, it’s all relative.
So yes, Arsenal fans are spoiled, but this is the team we support and we have as much right to want the best from them as the fans of any other side.
What that ‘best’ is, is determined by our recent history, and Arsenal’s recent history is of challenging for the Premier League while playing exciting and stylish football.
Now they do neither of those things and fans want to know why.
In 20 years time, if Arsenal never right this ship and are doomed to become the new Everton of the Premier League, what we moan about will change, just like it has at Nottingham Forest or Leeds or even Newcastle (though weirdly never at Spurs or Liverpool who always think they should be winning things they haven’t won for decades).
Until then, if you aren’t an Arsenal fan, try not telling us to shut up because your club has it worse.
By your logic, the only fans who should ever be allowed to complain are those who support the worst team on the planet.
After all, if that isn’t you, then somebody else has it worse, right?