Debate – Should Arsenal hold open training sessions?

It’s interesting to hear Xhaka talk about the differences between English and German Football. He seemed to be suggesting that the Bundesliga hold more open training sessions, giving players a chance to interact with their fans.

Xhaka said in the Guardian: “On one side I understand the fans, because they always want the players to perform, but on the other side they have to understand us as well. It is not always easy. I think this is the biggest difference [between] Germany and England, because [here] we don’t have the [close] connection with the fans. In Germany, for example, you have open training sessions, the fans come and [talk to you], ask you why.

“Here, everything is closed. So, for me, it would be good this time to explain to the people what is not going good or bad. But it doesn’t matter now. Now we have to enjoy, that’s the most ­important.”

Our midfielder perhaps feels that if he had the chance to interact with gooners about how he was feeling as a ‘human’, recent events could have been avoided?

It’s a lovely idea but life is not all rainbows and unicorns. As much as it pains me to say it, we have a culture in this country where this would been seen as dangerous and naive.

I’m not talking about a day in pre-season where a club will shamefully charge you to watch your team train. Xhaka means more like the laid-back style in Spain where you have access to the players for pictures and autographs. Fans sit close enough to observe squad practise but do so in a respectful manner. This of course has been passed on through generations.

Fans have a lot of power with La Liga and Serie A clubs, but have a clear understanding , if they want to be invited to the latest Galactico-doing-keepy-uppies, they need to show tolerance.

The modern-day fan in the UK believes they can act how they want in the confines of a stadium. That is highlighted by the increase of arrests made on match days.

With the impact of social media, where the world thinks they can be as hurtful as they want because it’s their free speech, society is not ready for a player to have an open discussion about how they feel. Plus, the club wouldn’t allow it.

Their priority is the welfare of their staff and the public having open access to them is high risk (especially after what happened with Ozil and Kolasinac).

Because, while the majority of our fan-base are decent, there is a minority who want to hate for the sake of a few views.

So, if Xhaka one day walked over to a group of fans reading a statement about his mental health, there will be one moron provoking a reaction which they want to record for their YouTube Channel. If that happens once it becomes a headache that the club don’t need.

Security already warn players not to unwind their car windows after games to interact with supporters. Xhaka did once and was verbally abused in front of his wife.

In Germany he could approach his fans after training. In England he gets abused at traffic lights.

So Gooners, do you think is it practical to have more open training sessions?

Would you feel more of a connection with your players? Or can some fans not be trusted?

Dan Smith


  1. i understand the sentiments of the author
    I clearly feel that Germany has a lot better fans than England in fact Germany probably has the best fans in the top 5 leagues with Italy and England being the worst.
    fans from England don’t be hurt, the worst fans are mostly the hooligans and other minorities

  2. Theoretically speaking Xhaka is right and I agree with him, but it’s not a practical option in UK. Every nation has a culture n a way in which their crowd behave. Unfortunately England does not have a good reputation when it comes to this type of front. They have always been labelled as trouble maker even when they are not in the ground…we don’t have to go far, look what happened in recent world cup inside UK forget about abroad. So I think for club players security is most important like it should be for any employer. One solution could be to let kids interact more with our players n probably allow them to watch open session with parents. It will be more secure environment for both the little fans n players plus a new generation can be inspired.

  3. I like the idea, I must say, but also agree with author that you couldn’t just open it up for any fan to make use of it. Also there is a concern for tactics before a game, you don’t want the other coach seeing what we’ve been working on. Did we not used to hold open training sessions, I thought we did and English managers used to ask Arsene could they come and watch. Redknapp in particular.

    I’ll choose to believe that Xhaka means this rather than it being a PR lesson (no hard feelings so now let’s move on and become stronger for it)

  4. No British are not ready for it for the exact reasons you stated,even if it is a minority,as a club I wouldn’t take a risk on the safety of the players,manager and staff especially after a loss or worth after a bad run.

  5. You only need to read some of the comments on the websites to know that opening up training sessions to the public would be a bad idea. British culture unfortunately does not allow it, and it has nothing to do with minority groups as one commentor sadly put it. Just a couple of beers at the local pub between a few fans while they “encourage” each other will do the trick.

  6. A really interesting and rather different from the usual boring articles on here (about made up or far fetched incoming player rumours). I thought Dans summation was just about perfect and shows the huge and welcome cultural differences around various countries.

    Football is a game steeped in tradition and that is one of its main appeals. We tamper with enjoyable and well accepted tradition at our peril. Witness the too many and generally foolish changes to our wonderful and world famous FA Cup, which have only succeeded in downgrading and harming that fine competion.

    This crazy mania for constant change , driven largely by corporate greed as we can all see, is a mortal danger to our sport and should be resisted tooth and nail.
    I do NOT mean , obviously, (before some retrograde “turnip” brain tries to put words into my mouth that I have not said) that ALL change is bad. Of course it is not. But senseless and needless change that only enriches agents, corporations and players but irks and inconveniences fans is bad for all of us. It is also short sighted, backward “thinking” and the enemy of us all and the sport we love.

    Congrats on airing something of much importance, Dan!

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