Due to the captivating online success of ArsenalFanTV (left), the public perception of Arsenal fandom has become a resoundingly associated with incensed outbursts and furious monologues that the great wordsmith William Shakespeare would have once been proud of.
Having watched my beloved Watford produce one of the upsets of the seasons by deservedly beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates a few weeks ago, I took great pleasure in watching viral videos of a number of Gooners, dressed head-to-toe in the club’s merchandise, turn the colour of their team’s jersey as they expressed their bemusement that their great club could be so comprehensively beaten by little, old Watford. As a history student the rhetoric deployed by these Arsenal fans evoked images of the horror on show at the Battle of the Somme, rather than a 90-minute game of football. While I am well aware that the sensationalist-hungry ArsenalFanTV has an inherent tendency to focus on naturally inflated personalities, it does reveal that there is an underlying feeling of concern amongst the Arsenal faithful.
As a loyal fan of a club that, despite witnessing a particular high point at the current time, has tinkered dangerously close to administration and numerous relegations it seems bizarre that this discontent exists in a club that has had so much recent success. Despite having a guarantee of Champions League qualifications each year and FA Cup success as recently as 2014 and 2015, fans are still unhappy. Arsenal are one of the richest clubs on the planet and have some of the best footballers on the planet on their roster. Perhaps more significantly, Arsenal have successfully finished above their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur every year since 1995. In fact, at the current time of writing it has been 21 years and 277 days since North London was Spurs-white.
So is it really that bad Arsenal fans?
Lets take a look at Sunderland’s love affair with relegation battles. Every single year Su
nderland fans are subjected to the stress of a 38-game slog to avoid the drop. It must be extremely depressing watching your team struggle in the bottom of Premiership for the last 10 years with seemingly no escape from the clutches of relegation. Sunderland have battled and at times rode their luck to stay out of the bottom-three and most fans will be more than aware that this is unsustainable and relegation will one day loom if there is no fundamental change. Sunderland are facing a losing battle with smaller London teams to attract players who are naturally drawn to the attractive prospect of living in London. Sunderland cannot compare league position, finances, Champions League Football or trophies to Arsenal.
It is hard not to feel sorry for Coventry fans, as they are totally distracted from their club’s footballing affair due to the perpetual off-field controversy surrounding the club. Arsenal’s frustrations pale in comparison to the league-one back-marker’s plight, who currently sit eight-points adrift off safety. Coventry do not possess their own stadium and if their tenancy at the Ricoh Arena is not extended they will find themselves stranded without a home for next year. The fans are at war with their owners and are caught between supporting their club and funding their despised owners, or boycotting games and hampering their budget. Not so long ago the Chairman referred to the club’s loyal supporters as “customers”, epitomising the lack of respect or care towards the fans. The club is falling apart before the helpless fan’s eyes and it is heartbreaking to witness.
The recent history of Ipswich Town has been characterised by a dull abyss, in which the club is too weak to secure promotion, but equally too strong to ever seriously face the threat of relegation. As a result Ipswich hold the perhaps unwanted title of being the Championship’s longest serving tenants having competed in the last 15 seasons, with a 16th looking most likely. In Mick McCarthy they also have the longest serving manager in the league. Their current situation is encapsulated by their form this season where they’ve failed to win two games on the trot, and also failed to lose two games on the spin. Fans are becoming increasingly bored with this continual mid-table obscurity and as a result attendances are dropping as hope is dwindling. Adding to their current woes, Ipswich failed to beat National League Lincoln City in the FA Cup, which was resoundingly humiliating on live TV. An overturn of the club’s fortunes will be impossible unless massive changes behind the scenes are taken, with fans looking for a new owner and manager to help the club progress.
So back to Arsenal fans, I apologise sincerely for failing to understand your club’s situation fully, as supporting Watford brings with it very different expectations and stresses. I full appreciate that you are an ambitious club that longs for success but in the grand scheme of things you’ve got it pretty good. Make the most of your ability to watch and cheer on some of the most gifted players every week and please do not take your successes for granted, because trust me there are a lot of jealous fans out there. At the end of the day no one is entitled to glory and as Liverpool, Leeds and Nottingham Forest fans can attest to, success is never guaranteed to continue.