Hello Fellow Gooner addicts, by Jon Fox
I write this piece as a 71-year-old Gooner, who was brought up from very early childhood to love and put our own club first. And by “first”, I mean before and in front of the feelings of any of our players, managers, directors, owners, or any other individual. Before expanding on this theme, I need to add that I have always, since adulthood, stood in life matters for the need of all individuals, in particular when rogue governments or large organisations harm and bully them.
An example of this thinking currently in the news is the plight of unmarried mothers after the war till around mid-seventies, who were bullied and forced by the STATE, into giving up their new-born babies, simply for the “crime” of being unmarried. This was an evil practise that ruined countless thousands of lives, and should never have happened. Thanks to the huge social progress in Britain, in large part caused by the increasing empowerment of women in all walks of society over the last few decades – we may well have our third female Prime Minister next month – we have massively progressed against cruelty, bigotry and hatred. That paragraph represents the large majority of people in our society today and I am very thankful for that change.
That being said – and please remember I have often said on JA that we are all hypocrites and that hypocrisy is a normal and natural part of our shared human condition, in varying degrees though – I now wish to argue the case why I believe that, when supporting a huge club like ours, we need to put the club ABOVE the needs of our individuals who play for it. In my view, by being a supporter of a club, esp a huge club, it becomes practically impossible, in practical terms, to put the worries of individual players before the success of the whole team or club as a WHOLE! Not if you really want club success.
When our club stupidly, though under massive fan pressure to do so, awarded those crazy financial increased contracts to Ozil, Auba and many other players too, some who were nothing special and who let us down after they has signed them, we put the cult of the individual above what were the needs of the club. What the club needed, I suggest, is precisely the sort of new broom that we now have in Arteta, who after a season and a half of making many false moves; notably William, and to an extent the ageing Luiz, and keeping such as Mustafi and Sokratis, for a time. Then he utterly changed tack and started bringing in committed players, mostly young and lacking huge egos, and ousting such as Ozil, Auba and Guendouzi, all of who were IMO, massively harming our club and any hope for progress.
Many fans, I to to an extent, expressed severe doubts about the direction we were taking during those first eighteen Arteta months. But he has now changed direction, markedly too, and the evidence of our future success is strong, I believe.
I have digressed from the main theme of this article though, partly to keep Ad Pat sweet and to give SOME actual Arsenal content to those who are bored by my wider issues.
So why do I say it’s impossible in practical terms to put the hopes and wants of any particular individual above and before the team as a whole? Because unlike supporting say Tesco, Barclays Bank, BT, or any other huge company, football fans are first and foremost in love, in an EMOTIONAL FASHION with our club. Being in love with a football club is much more akin to loving our partner in life, our parents, children and close family. And also loving our country. Like in Ukraine!!! It is completely different from loving nature, hobbies other than football, eating out, socialising with friends and many other normal and enjoyable activities. Football is tribal and I see no way that any fan who knows about the game we love can deny that.
I could well argue that being tribal is not healthy for our minds and our peace of mind. Angst and deep concern is the lifeblood of this and many other football sites. And on the “terraces” too. That is surely true, don’t you think! It may or may not be desirable, depending on your view, but it certainly exists.
In other spheres of life, tribalism is what leads to wars and bloodshed, hatred, bigotry and many evil things that some humans do. In a sense then, I am arguing against what I really want for mankind and our race. Hypocrisy, remember?!!
But channelling our basic aggressive natures, in particular male aggressive attitudes, into a sport such as football, at least in an ideal world, is I would argue, beneficial for us and we should, at least in theory, be able to channel and dilute our so called “hatred” of opponents by treating them all decently and fairly. Fine then, until that “dirty cheating opponent” tries to break one of our players legs, or dives for a cheating penalty, or comes out in the media with Anti Arsenal rhetoric. What happens then? Well, I THINK WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS THEN, DONT WE! And that is the problem we have with tribalism.
So let us return to the club being above the individual versus club discussion. Why then, having written all the above about how individuals are paramount in life matters, do I promote the idea of always putting what helps the club above what helps any single player?
The answer to that question is complex. Firstly, I must remind you and myself that I, in common with most humans, am often a hypocrite and there is certainly an element of hypocrisy against my own life philosophy, when I advocate putting the club first and the players needs second. That needs to be admitted, if only for honesty’s sake.
However, there is also hope in my argument. You see fellow Gooners, I am an optimist where our common nature is concerned. That hope has been honed by the massive social change for the better I have personally witnessed in my own lifetime. I firmly hope and even expect that in the medium to long term football future, let’s say from twenty years or more in the future, football will once again become honourable and decent. Actually, I hope that this will happen long before twenty years have passed, if only because I wish to live long enough to see that necessary change!
What I mean is that PROVIDED we can turn back the devastatingly harmful tide of gross greed that so divides our game (e,g players earning in a week what fans earn in several years, which is IMO an evil obscenity) the game we love can regain a level of MORAL honour that it used to have, before diving, constant cheating, gross greed, widespread disrespect for refs and routinely labelling them cheats – which to me is frankly unthinking and plain wrong – then our game can TRULY evolve into something even better than we have now. Our game, during the actual matches, is often thrilling and compulsive. Not always but often and the evidence for that is in how popular it is worldwide. I am NOT against good wages, but I am against greedy players and agents holding the rest of us to ransom. So, IMO should we all be, but that is each person’s personal choice.
So let us promote hope and keep faith that things in football will get better and better. The tide of human behaviour outside football, in the so-called civilised world, is getting better as the years roll past. I also foresee practical reasons, as in the struggling world economy why wages MUST reduce, at least as a proportion of the whole football income and also transfer fees.
But above all I see loving a football team as being akin to loving a family, where each person is important and valuable but not more important than the WHOLE family.
Just my personal take, even admitting to a degree, just a degree though, not the whole hog, of hypocrisy in my thinking. For those who have had the patience to read through to the end and actually apply real thought to my wider than merely Arsenal issue, I would love to hear your personal opinions.
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