Football is a tricky game to evaluate at the best of times.
It’s almost impossible to treat a game logically when you’ve spent the vast majority of your life judging it emotionally.
This is why it’s taking the majority of Arsenal fans an age to figure out where they stand on the issue of wanting Arsene Wenger to leave or not, because it is proving to be impossible for them to separate emotion and logic.
On one hand, they have the evidence of another season without a Premier League title, a litany of poor performances, and a seeming reluctance from those in charge to do anything about it. On the other hand, Arsenal are third in the league. Third. Not eighth. Not 20th. Third.
Is third in the league enough of a reason to sack a manager?
It all depends on what your personal expectations were before the start of the season, and as soon as subjectivity enters a football debate, all logic goes out the window.
Take the PFA Team of the Season as an example.
Sergio Aguero is the best striker in the Premier League. This is fact.
He’s the joint-second highest scorer in the league this season. He’s scored the same amount of goals as Jamie Vardy, but he’s played seven fewer games.
Aguero wasn’t named in the Team of the Season. Vardy was.
We expected Aguero to be great, and he was.
We expected Vardy to be average, but he was really good, so we rewarded Vardy at the expense of Aguero.
The same argument applies to Dimitri Payet’s inclusion ahead of Mesut Özil. Özil is clearly the better player, but Payet exceeded our expectations by more, so he got the nod.
My point is, those who expected Arsenal to be challenging for the title this season want Wenger to go. Those who think that third place isn’t bad enough to warrant drastic change are content to see Wenger stay.
These aren’t logically thought-out arguments, but purely subjective opinions.
That’s why apathy has filled the fan base over the last couple of weeks.
It’s not out of disinterest, or discontent, but merely a desire to see the season play out before coming to a cast-iron conclusion on whether the season was ‘successful’ or not.
There’s a difference between wanting a show to stop, and waiting around for it to start up again. Arsenal fans want the latter, not the former.
That is why any talk of ‘walkouts’ during a game will only result in failure because the last people who are going to make the effort to walk out on their team are the people who made the effort to be there in the first place.
When a ‘walkout’ occurs, the event that triggers it needs to be a lot more pressing than ‘only’ finishing third in the league.
Even the prospect of finishing behind Tottenham shouldn’t be enough to trigger mass protests. It’s not pleasant to be beaten by your local rivals, but if you can’t handle losing a two-horse race for the first time in 20 years, then that’s more of a problem with you than the club.
A run like that was bound to end eventually, but if you’re 30-years-old or younger, then you’ve never experienced it as an emotionally invested fan.
We’re going to learn a great deal more about our fan base over the next few weeks, as for once, the boot is on the other foot, and Spurs fans will be celebrating getting one over us.
I know that ‘people don’t like losing’ isn’t breaking news, but it’s going to be important to keep this in mind over the next few weeks as the season comes to an end.
A lot of people are going to want to vent at something to get rid of their anger at seeing Tottenham finishing above Arsenal, and they’re not going to care who hears it.
If anything, they’re going to try to get as many people to notice them, and hopefully, join them.
The club has an abundance of things to work on ahead of next season.
With a manager determined to see out his contract and a board unwilling to change his mind, fans might think they can influence change by displaying a banner or walking out mid-game, but all they are doing is promoting their own opinion and nothing more.
Is that a good thing?
Of course not, but over the next few weeks, those fans are going to become extremely annoyed with how little impact they have. More banners will appear, more vines will be posted, more blogs will be written, all in the midst of an emotional response to an issue that they have virtually no control over.
So for the next month or so, bear that in mind when talking to a fellow Arsenal fan.
They may not share the same opinion on where Arsenal stand as you do, but they care just as much.
What little chance we do have of getting the club to act on our concerns becomes even more remote if we spend the whole time fighting amongst each other.
There’s nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, but at the moment, the vast majority of the Arsenal fan base is still trying to work out just what it wants, and it’s going to be a little while before it makes up its mind.
Until then, all we can do is sit down, and watch some football.
That’s why we’re all here, right?