To Criticize or not to criticize: what is the role of the supporters? Guest post by Viera Lyn
If you believe that voicing one’s opinions is tantamount to treason, it’s time you recognized your role in the lowering of expectations at our once great club. One needs to look no further than at those teams who currently dominate the footballing landscape to understand the obvious correlation between having a learned and outspoken fan-base and experiencing a period of sustained greatness.
Besides their obvious financial contributions, the 3rd estate must keep one eye fixed squarely on the talent and the other on the hired help. Without the necessary checks and balances, those in charge have a tendency to turn inwards. If this goes unchecked for too long it invariably leads to a variety of organizational problems.
The fans, albeit prone to flights of fancy or fury, provide a necessary foil for anyone within the hierarchy attempting to monopolize control over the club. After all, truly great leaders should never fear being held accountable for their actions. They know full well that one of the great downfalls of any autocratic regime is that it can have a stifling effect on creative thought and constructive criticism, especially when those in charge start to surround themselves with a menagerie of like-minded individuals.
Once the boardroom becomes dominated by “yes men” differing views are generally discouraged, for obvious reasons. When this malaise infiltrates the organizational environment, the club in question usually stagnates, as the focus of management tends to shift from advancing the footballing agenda to papering over the cracks. It is at this point that the relationship between the club and it’s paying customers usually disintegrates quite quickly. If the supporters feel that the club is more concerned with protecting their own interests over the interests of the club as a whole, trust erodes to potentially dangerous levels and tempers flare until massive changes occur. If no significant sackings are forthcoming, the fans have the right, in fact the obligation, to utilize whatever peaceful means at their disposal to force the issue.
For those who disagree with my assessment about the current state of our franchise, I welcome, even encourage your dissenting views, but your continued refusal to engage in a healthy debate over our differences certainly hasn’t helped the cause. Instead of adopting a logical point/counterpoint approach, most simply reiterate the same nonsense ad nauseam without care or concern for the changing truth. Of course, there are those within the anti-Wenger camp who have taken to social media in the heat of the moment or after having a few and vented their frustrations without the use of a filter, but surely by this point enough former Wenger supporters have come forward and openly voiced their displeasure with the direction of this club that the debate has moved from the realm of knee-jerk reactionaries to a place where rational thought trumps sheer bravado.
If you truly believe that maintaining the status quo is the path to glory why are you so quick to attack those who hold differing views. Should you not have enough confidence in your convictions to avoid openly engaging with anyone who may think otherwise so that you don’t stir the pot unnecessarily and/or provide an easy target for those just looking for a fight. For me, this usually suggests weakness or uncertainty. Maybe you aren’t trying to convince those with opposing views, but simply searching for other like-minded individuals to help convince yourselves that all is well. It’s obvious the powers that be are squarely in your camp, otherwise the past couple of off-seasons would have seen some major changes at the club.
On the other hand, maybe you’re just incredibly selfish and you just can’t stand when anyone threatens to potentially disrupt your weekly Arsenal fix. Do you really enjoy the sterile environment at the Emirates that often feels like a glorified country club where stuffed shirts meet for cocktails and a little side of football? If so, please keep in mind that many of these individuals care far more about the cache that comes with owning the most expensive seats in town than competing at the highest levels.
Whether for taking current or potential clients, friends, visiting family members or potential mates, simply to impress, seduce or to conduct business deals, their interests in the club are intimately tied to their own personal gain and not the greater good. Obviously every club must have their fair share of suits in the seats for logical financial reasons but when the pendulum swings too far one way you run the risk of offending and/or alienating the real fan-base who have supported the organization over the long haul. Beyond filling the coffers, the true supporters must hold the organization accountable for their actions so that when things go awry necessary changes are made sooner rather than later. Now this isn’t to suggest that the club should be held ransom by the seemingly endless whims of it’s supporters, but when issues arise and a general consensus is formed it’s incredibly negligent on the club’s part to not even attempt to redress their concerns or even offer any honest commentary on the matter.
If after all this you still believe that the fan has no functionally imperative role in the running of a professional team, minus blindly clapping and handing over your hard-earned cash, you’re likely someone who knows no other Arsenal than Wenger’s Arsenal. If this is the case, you’re probably deathly afraid of change, much like the manager himself, so any talk of a post-Wenger Arsenal leaves you in an incredible state of despair. It’s quite likely you don’t even really follow football, besides Wenger, and as such it’s reasonable to assume your understanding of the game and it’s players begins and ends with the man himself. His words are like gospel and you are his unquestioning disciples, unwilling to accept that this game could functionally exist without his presence. If this is the case, it’s highly unlikely that you will gain any valuable insight from this article, instead you will likely respond with your usual bevy of excuses, much like your aging mentor, then slag anyone who doesn’t prescribe to your antiquated vision, then the meaningless cycle you have enabled will simply begin again.
Does our guest writer have some valid points? Are the stands over-filled with the wrong type of ‘fans’? Does our club give us unrealistic expectations?