Are Arsenal fans toxic? The case for and against. by Jon Fox
It is undeniable that Arsenal are a huge club with a massive global fanbase. As such it would be incredible if we did not have a wide variety of views on almost everything to do with our club. Other huge clubs, esp English ones, will be in that same position.
My mission is to find out the truth or falseness of the claim that Arsenal fans are far too critical and whether or not we are more “toxic” than other massive English clubs. I will examine the case for and against that claim, to decide whether it be true, false or unproven. By “massive clubs”, I mean just the obvious two in United and Liverpool.
I contend that such as Man City and Chelsea, while both are successful teams, neither approaches the sheer size, history and scale of global popularity of those three.
And lower down still, far lower, we find such as Spurs, a team that according to Domesday Book, apparently once won the old English Division One and even the Double. Shortly after that, the meteorite struck the Earth, and all the dinosaurs were wiped out! Sorry Spuds fans, I really did not mean to insult EITHER of you!!
Let us start with social media to find out how our fans think. Not that social media is particularly a true representative sample of our whole global fanbase but as it is global, it does at least give us a chance to see what fans around the world- admittedly a tiny sample only – actually think. It is surely true that even on JA, the most popular Arsenal site BY FAR (THAT’S FOR YOU PAT, though it’s still true, so I’ll happily say it), that we all come from far and wide, and personally I could not hope for a better sample of our thoughts.
For balance, I must, even on ANY subject at all, when social media is involved, you will always find a great deal of critical comments, and that applies to almost anything I can think of, not just Arsenal, not just sport and not just, well make you own list! So, in seeking the truth, we know that many comments will definitely be critical in some ways, and that needs to be built in and allowed for before we even start.
Now, as I do, doubtless a number of other Gooners go, from time to time, on sites belonging to United, Liverpool and other inferior clubs too.
What I notice immediately is sites of those are also massive are also hugely critical and are also global in nature, which is of course good. By comparison, apart from perhaps a few grumpy old gits like me and a number of grumpy younger gits like, well you know who – or perhaps you don’t, but that is not the point – but Ad Pats site is relatively polite, at least to each other. I did say RELATIVELY!! Though it seems very critical of two people; in order Arteta and Edu, followed next in criticism of Kroenke Senior, but less to Josh.
You should see what United sites say about some of their people, esp GLAZERS, RANGNICK AND POGBA! By comparison most Scousers seem to adore Klopp and tolerate FSG with no special level of criticism and a deal of praise. So, we are possibly less toxic than United and far more so than Liverpool, it might seem. Well, yes, if you read only those current sites, as many do.
But I been around the block a few times and back and have been on sites for a long while too, and I have also seen how very much those fan sites change in levels of criticism as soon as their team wins or fails to win a few matches, sometimes even one single match. A few weeks ago, when it seemed likely that MA would get us into CL, the level of direct criticism, for a short while, was noticeably less than before that time, and far less than now.
If you imagine we Gooners are alone in this, then you are very wrong my friends. Because the truth is that humans and esp football fans, collectively, and I stress COLLECTIVELY, are not that different from other teams’ fans. Not those who reside and watch in Britain anyway. There is a noticeable level of what I would call anti cynicism or gullibility, from some fans from certain other countries, which is more to do with culture, with perhaps less stiff and formal attitudes than in the traditional stiff upper lip older British attitude.
However, even that British reserve is disappearing fast, as each generation succeeds the previous one. That is not at all a criticism but simply an observation of how humans are evolving and becoming less formal, more mingled and overall is massive plus IMO. We are all now far more connected to each other, thanks to social media and this benefit is hugely still under recognised by many and undervalued. But I digress.
I have also been on other club’s fan sites, although I will not advertise them here. One team near to where I live is Crystal Palace and I have several friends who are Palace fans. I have even attended three Palace home matches this season- they lost two and drew the other – and their fans never stopped singing and cheering. I was massively impressed by the attitudes of fans of this far smaller club, and it set me thinking that fans of smaller clubs feel less ‘entitled’ than do large clubs’ fans. I have not been to such as Hartlepool and Crawley and that ilk, so cannot say that fans at that level are not toxic but it seems clear to me that the bigger and more expectations a club is and has, the more the fans of that club demand.
West Ham is another club which has been fast improving under Moyes and their fans too are becoming more demanding, and it is common to hear on TALKSPORT, how DAVID GOLD and DAVID SULLIVAN are supposedly holding that club back. Higher expectations and demands you see!
Getting back to Arsenal we need to mention the Arsene Werner factor. Fans who some decades old before the name of Wenger was heard at Arsenal have found it easier, not easy but easier, to bear the fall away from his glory years. But younger fans who only started with or in Wengers time have often seemed to think, some of them, that those great glory years MUST be ours for ever We older fans know that is not how football works. One day in the future, City and Liverpool will find that out too.
All things change and life evolves, and that includes football teams. We at Arsenal, who have been in the top division for 103 years, uniquely in Britain, are extremely fortunate to be Gooners at all, IMO.
I must say, being the age I am, I find the demand from some of our fans to make Top Four or else they will slaughter us in print, to be rage for rages sake. When, as we oldies have done, we remember finishing 17th out of 22 back in, I think 1973, and when, as I was, in a crowd of 4554 in 1966 at home to Leeds when finishing 13th and Billy Wright, our then manager was sacked shortly after that, finishing fifth as we did this year does not seem unbearable, it really doesn’t.
It all depends on what you expect and demand. It is better and wiser not to expect or demand any position but to be grateful for having the sense and good fortune to be a Gooner in the first place and to thank our lucky stars for that.
After all my friends, you might have been a Spud and then had three rather than two Spuds on your plate, mashed of course!
Oh, and that verdict? Well UNPROVEN of course!
Though TBH, If you wish and have you own life views but have not the desire to look at all sides of any case, you can make anything in sport, as in life, guilty or innocent, just as you are personally, please! Am I right!
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