Arsenal balls: fans who want Wenger sacked should support Spurs or godless Chelsea
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is not going to be sacked, and certainly not dismissed mid-season. Any sane Arsenal supporter with half a memory should concede that Wenger’s Arsenal are a big improvement on much of what went before. The level of expectation should tell them that.
If they doubt it, look at local rivals Spurs.
And any Arsenal fan who wants the club to be like Chelsea, please go and lie down. The money that funds the Blues and has bought success is tainted. Theirs is an ugly story.
Arsenal, the FA Cup holders who boast in their ranks the exceptional Alexis Sanchez, are misfiring. But a 3-2 loss to Stoke City is not the end of the world. True fans know that joy transcends the pain.
Nigel Adkins, the Reading manager, explained what losing means when his side missed out on promotion last season:
“It’s important to feel the pain and the hurt. That way it makes you work even harder. The dressing room is very quiet and I’ve emphasised to the players how important it is to remember this feeling for next season and the future of their careers.”
It’s the pain that makes you a fan not a supporter named Henry in his new Chelsea kit. When Arsenal won the league title on the final might of the 1989 season, it wasn’t the expectation that made your writer explode with joy and run onto the Liverpool pitch. It was the shock that after 18 years of watching in hope more than belief, they’d actually won the thing.
Manchester City fans who followed them up and down the divisions as Manchester United dominated English football, know that feeling of euphoria when they won the Premier League for the first time. And those United fans who called for Moyes to leave are the plastic fools who cannot have understood what it meant when United after 26 years of waiting finally won the title.
Being a fan is not about glory. It’s about pain before the sublime moment of triumph.
Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch might have in advertently triggered the arrival of James Corden and football as another celebrity training ground, but he made sense when he opined: “We simply curse, go home, worry for a fortnight and then come back to suffer all over again.”
Three nil down to Stoke, I turned the telly off. And then 10 minutes later turned it back on. “Don’t leave it late, Arsenal,” I thought. You never know.
And the Stoke fans… Well, they know that even the best teams and the top athletes can lose. They didn’t go to see Stoke win. They went in hope. And it came off. Happy days.
The few Arsenal fans who want Wenger out should looks at his reaction to defeat. He has class. He has been chippy and moaned. But compare and contrast Wenger with Jose Mourinho, whose excellent Chelsea side lost their first game of the season. His response was churlish and childish:
“We wanted to play more football, but it was not possible because of a few things I thought didn’t belong any more to top-level football, but still belong here. The ball disappeared, the ball doesn’t come, another ball comes, the ballboys run away.”
Ask Liverpool fans what they think about that?
The Daily Mail has heard the naysayers, the few monocular Arsenal fans who go only to see their team win and for whom a 3-2 defeat at Stoke was not entertaining enough. Three down at half-time, the Gunners began to play, pulled two goals back, hit the post and then,with a glorious comeback in sight, had a player sent off. If sport is about entertainment and emotion, Arsenal fans should be happy.
But a media narrative is building. The Mail finds a lone voice telling Wenger to “f**k off”. A few people have held aloft banners calling for Wenger to leave.
But it’s all so confused that alongside the Mail’s story of a grandiose fan telling Wenger “get out of my club”, the same paper produces the teaser, “Nobody wants Wenger sacked”:
Well, somebody does. Somebody always does…