Should Arsenal fans put the club above any individual player?

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.


​ Jon Fox

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    1. We have massively progressed against cruelty, bigotry and hatred, would have love to see the writer said racism as ever so often it raises its ugly head.

      Strongly agree against the over paying of salaries to professional footballers, it is spoiling the sports and must be address urgently.

      1. Wouldn’t you agree that racism IS bigotry? Bigotry covers the whole specrum of prejudice towards any type of perceived “differences ” from the so called “norm” .

        Whatever “NORMAL ” means btw!

  1. I always put the club above any individual.
    As long as that individual is helping the club move forward then I will have back them. But this notion of worshipping our personal favourites “no matter what” does not do anything for me..

    I am just glad that Arteta has come in and changed the culture.. Been a breathe of fresh air..

    This is why I have given him enough leeway. And the moment I deem him not good enough or clueless then I will be asking for our club to get rid of him..

    Lets take off our rose tinted glasses when talking about our personal favourites..

  2. Kudos to Jon for a brilliant article as usual. Any big club acts ruthlessly and as we have hired a big vision man with ambitions for a big club he has acted ruthlessly is the last 12 months. Had he not to banish the clowns and masquerades’ we would never have seen Ode or GJ or Saka start for us. A big club can survive without big names – RM survived without CR7 & MO10 (sorry I’m disrespecting CR by adding MO in the same sentence, apologies) and Barca did without Messi. Only stupid folk put player over club as if MO and Laca and PEA won the EL or EPL and even if they did I would never bow down to their whimsical demands and utter horrendous displays on the pitch. For every Laca gone there is a GJ on the rolls. Cheers, we are better without those players and if their cult following leaves so much better. The league table does not lie.

    1. Agreed. Ronaldo, Ozil and Aubameyang were world-class at certain aspects of the games, but an unstable team requires tireless high pressers more

      Ronaldo scored many goals for Man United, but Man United’s defense suffered a lot because he didn’t have the stamina to press frequently. In my opinion, those highly-decorated old players are more suited to a well-established team, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Man City

      Man United were doing pretty well under Solskjaer and now they’re undergoing another transition under Ten Hag, similar to what the Kroenkes did with Arteta, Edu and Vinai. They’ll need more than one season to stabilize if they can’t find a good front-line pivot, so Arsenal would likely finishn above them again this season

  3. “we are all hypocrites and that hypocrisy is a normal and natural part of our shared human condition, in varying degrees though”

    I agree with this, however I would say that we should all be aiming to not be hypocrites to the extent that we can, from a moral perspective. I believe this is tacitly expressed in the article, but wanted to say it explicitly.

    I don’t disagree that it would be “better” if there was less money in football, less greed, but for me the only way that can change is for the sport to become less popular, or at least for people to refuse to spend their money on it. You can’t rely on institutions, themselves swimming in money, to make these kinds of changes, because corruption will always exist where there is so much money.

    I also find it difficult to say we should be capping the amounts that players can be paid etc (not that this is mentioned specifically in this article) – I just wonder where the rest of that money would end up. Is it better for it to stay with a club (and their owner/shareholders)? I’m not so sure.

    Regarding society as a whole, I do think that in some ways things are getting better, but in some ways quite the opposite. The reason for the latter is because certain *principles*, such as the judging of a person based on the content of their character, and freedom of speech (including the ability to *say* “filth” and even “hate” without governmental interference), are not just not being upheld, but are actively being attacked. So there’s that.

    Anyway, interesting article Jon – I did enjoy it!

    1. DAVI we ARE firmly onthe same page , you and I.

      I could have well gone into far greater depth about what constitutes TRUE liberalism to those like me , who fight against FALSE liberalism, such as the profoundly illiberal woke movement and I constantly call, on this very site btw, for the freedom to write freely, without a degree of wokism type censorship.

      What the woke brigade fail to understnd, well meaning though many of them are, is that we do not wipe out bigotry and prejudice by enforced silencing of those who use it.
      Instead, we defeat it by the slow but remorseless forward march of public opinion, who having seen how horrible prejudice and hatred is in PRACTISE, then take up arms against it by taking a TRUE liberal view of how we ALL are and deciding that we are ALL individuals. Individuals with rights, freedoms and we MUST NOT be derided and ostrasised for skin colour, being gay, disability, age and a host of other bigotries/ prejudices.

      You defeat evil by OPENLY and constantly confronting it and NOT by silencing it, through foolish laws or immature wokism.
      On social sites and NOT on JA, (an Arsenal site) this post is precisely the sort of argued persuasion I write and I use, to SEEK TO PERSUADE OTHERS ABOUT THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF TRUE AND NOT FAKE LIBERALISM

      Wokism and censorship is profoundly ILLIBERAL and as such, is my arch foe!

      1. “Instead, we defeat it by the slow but remorseless forward march of public opinion”
        I agreed broadly with your full post but particularly with this short section and the word “slow” – I honestly believe this is correct, but unfortunately it requires patience, and, understandably, many have become impatient. Opportunists (government actors and activists of different stripes) have used that impatience to gain a following to advance their own agendas – to me, this is a big reason for the woke ideology gaining such ground in recent years.
        It’s so sad because I remember growing up believing we were headed in the right direction regarding discrimination – even if things weren’t perfect then, I believed they would just continue to improve until that way of thinking was so fringe as to not even be noticeable. However, recent years have concerned me greatly..
        I am glad to find agreement with you on this.

        1. DAVI, clearly you think deeply. I was always like minded, after leaving childhood behind, with essentially your view too, despite my own parents being what I would now call FAKE Liberals.
          I think that phrase described most indigenous Brits in the 1950s.
          What better technology progess has brought about IMO is a massive demand for more, faster and still faster still progress.
          Hence, we have in todays world, the woke brigade. I do think most of them mean well and mainly though, are young and lack life experience.

          I say you can slightly EASE natural progression in attitudes. BUT you cannot force it to go faster than the main body of any population is ready for or will tolerate. The large majority in Britain despite what the woke ridden media try to persuade us, are FIRMLY AGAINST WOKISM, but they are still mostly liberal in social attitudes.

          I regularly discuss with fellow bowlers, duringtea breaks or after games , almost ALL OF WHOM ARE OLDER PEOPLE and I am heartened how very many, a large majority, are relaxed about social change . Most are grandparents and thus see how their grandkids live and thrive , compared to say the 1950s(One main exception is todays house prices for young folk, compared to we older folks younger days, but that IS an exception).

          Some older folk, though a VERY small percentage, dislike ethnicity and gays, etc, but MOST are happy to be FAR more evolved nowadays than when they were young

          I am the first to agree that right now we STILL have an enormous amount of social progress needed and to come. And I AGREE THAT A NUMBER OF PEOPLE ARE FAR TOO IMPATIENT IN ALL FORMS OF WHAT THEY WANT- SOMETIMES EVEN “DEMAND” – ABOUT WHAT THEY CRAVE.
          But I am convinced about that “slow but remorseless march towards progress”- as evidence, I have seen it happen across my own long lifetime.
          So though wokism IS immature, foolish and an irritant, I do NOT foresee it having any long lasting effect on the large majority of folk.
          I envisage laws against it being enacted under the next prime minister, who will I BELIEVE legally protect free speech. And she, as it will be she IMO , will be massively backed by most, at least on THIS matter.

          1. Yup, I agree with everything you said here up until the last paragraph in which you describe, what I would call a hopeful vision for the relatively near future. On that I’m honestly just not sure – I hope you are right. There is some evidence the tide is turning towards sanity, but it is a constant fight. Schools and particularly universities *seem* to be inundated with wokeness at the moment, and that concerns me.

  4. Nice article jon fox i am quite young but i see where you are getting from. Obscene wages and transfer fees paid to players has negatively impacted the beautiful game. Players now what to run down contracts purely for greed. Passion for the game is dwindling, rich owners throwing money,huge amounts ignoring the equilibrium of sustainability. That’s the reality and it can only be changed with more community / fan owned clubs . As long as individual are majority owners greed is the New order!

  5. I don’t think that curtailing players wages will stop or reduce the diving or cheating that goes on in the game, nor the greed, disrespecting of Referees or people labelling them as cheats.
    This is inherent in most sport. Individuals, teams, managers, owners, most of them will do what they can just to gain an edge or advantage over their opponent.
    As for wages, a player is only worth what someone is willing to pay.
    What I would like to see is a cap on players wages, say £ 20,000
    per week plus a bonus to all team members depending on the result of the game as well as goals scored or conceded. Further bonuses to be paid relating to where the team finishes in the league, any silverware won, maybe even on crowd attendance figures.
    To my mind you play as a team and you all rely on each other, I don’t like seeing one player on say £300,000 a week and another on £100,000. Each player plays an important part in the game and should be rewarded so.

    1. I don’t think there’s any suggestion to limit individual players’ wages, just an effective salary cap at club level.

      I believe that’s what the Squad Cost Rule is for in UEFA’s new Financial Sustainability Rules.

      They’re trying to copy the salary cap that works well in US football (sort of) – it achieves the objective of having different clubs doing well due to making good choices in player selection, negotiating their salaries, good coaching etc.

      The problem is that the “football revenues” rules tend to preserve the status quo – the big clubs can spend more so they stay as big clubs.

  6. Three questions Jin:

    1. Do you think Mikel Arteta was wrong in accepting his reported salary of £8,500,000 plus add ons?

    2. Who are you saying puts any player before the club, as you must have examples?

    3. Are we now going to see a more measured and respectful response from you to others with a different opinion and, likewise, to those players that you deem to be unacceptable, while MA sees them as part of his squad and plans?

    1. Hi KEN, I will happily answer as follows:
      1 No, 2 A number of Gooners, including yourself, who have backed the MORAL rightof the like of OZIL and his so called “right”to give back, in effort, as little as he wished. We can argue about whether his back aches were fake sickies but IMO they were FAKE and IMO he was a lazy team and club harmful player. who gave back the minimum or even less .
      Also 2, Auba, in his last two years, was cheating the club, we fans and his manager , not to mention his teammates and even himself, just as Ozil did too. Both were not trying as they ought and were dishonouring, morally, their new contracts.
      3, yes, and I suggest you read my long post on Dan Smiths article for further clarification.
      Hope that helps Ken.

      1. Mot really Jon.

        1. So your quite OK with MA earning said amount, but criticise players for their salaries that Mikel had a part in awarding.
        How can your one word answer be interpreted as supporting the club and not the player / manager?

        2. You fail to name one single supporter or fan that you claim has supported a player rather than the club… one assumes that you haven’t got any examples, so your article is based on nothing whatsoever.

        I understand your opinion of the players you mention, but that didn’t answer the question did it?

        3. I’ve read that response and will see how you react when Xhaka or Elneny, along with supporters who have different opinions to you, are treated.

        So Jon… let’s see a more meaningful explanation on point one regarding Mikel’s salary and why you view it differently to players?

        2. Any examples of supporters who put a player before the club?

        After all, these two points are fundamental to your article.

        1. KEN I DID mention just one person, yourself but thought it wiser not to further inflame those I am now trying to mend bridges with by naming individuals. But you have many times defended OZIL. I must assume then that you honestly believe he gave 100% commitment every time, OR that you think that 100% was not necessary in his case?

          Either way, it is now well in the past and best left there, though I am entitled to mention it in my post above. which I DID.
          And In my new spirit of moderate speak let me simply confine myself to saying I MUCH disagree with you opinion. It is then a matter of your opinion versus mine Perhaps both are valid. Why not decide that for yourself?

          I sense you are trying to entrap me into futher heated argument but I am resolved not to fall into that way of writing any more. You will either believe or disbelieve that and nothing I can say will alter that comment.

          On MAs salary, I think it WAS generous, possibly too generous, possibly not , depending on your view about how he has done. I will say that he has worked his butt off to earn it though, unlikie Ozil and Auba. So “why do I treat MA s salary, different from players”?

          In a sense, I DO NOT, having just wriiten what I say above, but it is easier to bear when a player or manager, however good or bad he be, GIVES 100 % EFFORT ALL THE TIME. And so that 100% effort factor , is the difference to me. I have never blamed Xhaka or Elneny for being lazy, as neither are.
          KEN, I am tryly trying to mend fences but you make it rather difficult for me as you have a long noticed tendency to read my answers . -across a long period past – but then ignore them, or not accept them as being what I THINK and so subsequently ask the self same qurstion again , with just a differnrt phrasing.

          You either need to accept that what I say to you in reply IS what I think, or it is pointess repeating questions already asked.

          I would seriously like YOUR reply to my Ozil question above, when you have timeof course. I WILLBE KEENLY AWAITING your answer.

          My general views about ALL PREM SALARIES FOR ALL CLUBS, ARE WELL KNOWN AND AS YOU ARE VERY WELL AWARE, I THINK THEM ALL AN OBSCENITY. Perhaps, after all I may have a little bit of “socialism” in my soul. And perhaps not!

          1. I can’t see where you name me as putting player before club Jon, but I’m honoured that you wrote an article about the way I support the club, having no other examples of any supporter doing what you allege I do.

            Ozil : Like Mikel himself, I watched as our club went on a 12 game unbeaten run before the covid intervention.
            During this run, Ozil was a regular and was singled out for praise by Mikel himself…. this still remains (I believe) MA’s longest unbeaten run… yet you want me to accept it was achieved with a lazy etc etc player that he, personally, selected.
            It’s the same with Xhaka, you will not accept that MA sees him as an integral part of his squad and take every opportunity to denigrate him… surely that’s not backing the manager and club…. something you accuse me of doing – it just doesn’t make sense.

            Then, of course, we heard all the other things, China, pay cuts, that were going on and, suddenly, Ozil became the devil incarnate!!

            I have never understood why, what, how, this transformation of a player took place and I asked the questions that I felt were relevant to that situation.

            Of course, like many other Gooners, I felt that Ozil was a terrific player, as his career record would testify…..but that is my opinion and I stand by that.

            All the above doesn’t mean that I put Ozil above our club, in fact the only time Ozil crosses my mind these days, is when he is mentioned on JA!!

            As for your explanation regarding Mikel’s salary, I find that the word “generous” is so toned down to the word “obscene” that you describe players salaries… it’s as if you really don’t want to criticise him, while Wenger’s last two years at £9,000,000 was described by you as “bleeding the club dry”, unless you believe that Wenger wasn’t giving 100%?

            I really cannot align myself with the thinking that supporters / fans follow a player over their club – I note with interest that those who thought along the same lines as me regarding Ozil, are still on JA, still supporting the club, the manager and the players, just as those with opposing views are.

            1. Ken, My comment about you was not in my article, but in my post above.
              On your post above , unsurprisingly we simply see things completely differently But surely , after all this time that cannot surprise you ,as it doesn’t surprise me either.

              I take that as read after all our previous debates. We think so very differently, that we are not going to agree on much at all , being realistic.Though I did agree with you on something the other day and said so too, but cannot remember what it was now.

    2. Jon – if you don’t mind a suggestion…

      If your posts don’t appear (assuming you’re on a PC, or a device with a keyboard) try Ctrl + F5.

      That will force the page to refresh from the server. Better than creating replies with a single letter.

      1. IDKWIC, thanks a lot and I have long tried that, MANY TIMES, BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS.

        I AM NOT A TECHNICAL WIZARD BUT DO KNOW MY WAY AROUND A KEYBOARD. I do think it is something at my end but cannot work out what.

  7. ” we are all hypocrites and that hypocrisy is a normal and natural part of our shared human condition, in varying degrees though.”
    I like this part very much. If u are have been supporting arsenal for a very long time like me, u must have seen managers come and go, players hav come and go and some retired at the club, owners have changed and will still change in the future but the club will be here forever. so its only common sense that we put d club above everything else, but sense is not as common as we think

    1. Well Savage, if you have supported the club through ANY changes, be they managers, players, owners, board members or any other kind of changes, then you MUST be putting the club first.

      It doesn’t need an Einstein to work that out and no matter what opinions one has, that doesn’t make a scrap of differencs does it?

  8. (1) Always put the club over any player(s) or manager.

    (2) Always put what’s best for football over what’s best for any club or individual – or governing body.

    That’s why hypocrisy extends to making excuses as to why big money in football is supposedly ok when your club benefits.

    An old quote, attributed to a number of people including Churchill says “When the facts change, I change my mind”. Sadly, in the modern world, too many people simply try to adjust inconvenient facts to fit their existing world view.

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