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Arsenal Supporters Have Great Expectations for Their Club and Wenger

I am not an Arsenal supporter.  Let me just get that out of the way.  So I do not have any rooting interest in whether Arsene Wenger stays on as Arsenal’s manager or not.  This is not another article debating if Wenger should be brought back next season.  Moreover, this is an article about how our society perceives results in today’s sports. With all of the hype surrounding Wenger’s employment status, I have noticed a common pattern emerging or in other words, a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude.  I find it interesting that the media and fans are so quick to dismiss Wenger’s previous accomplishment.  This occurs not only in football, but with many of the North American sports also.  We have become a reactionary culture in society.

Over the last decade, it is common to hear from fans or media proclaiming that a manager should be fired or a player should retire.  One reason for this could be due in part because of the Internet age, blogging, and tweeting.  Information is allowed to reach people so much quicker without any type of filter. Another reason is that as fans, we have become much more invested emotionally as well as financially with all of our sports franchises.  In other words, fans are forced to fork over so much money for things like tickets and memorabilia that we expect so much more in return.  Not only should our teams win, but they should be creative and dominate as well.  When our teams fail to reach our lofty expectations, as fans, we want an emotional refund in some way.

This happens not only with managers and teams, but with players as well.  In most sports, fans are now allowed to follow players, thanks to the Internet, from a young age.  Because of this, fans create expectations that are so often unreachable that there is usually scorn when a player simply becomes good instead of great.  I have witnessed a player’s jersey being burned by a bitter fan.  This is also the case when a player comes to the end of his career.  Fans are quick to announce when a player is supposed to retire.  I remember when Michael Jordan came back to basketball to play for the Washington Wizards.  Many fans and media commented that he should stay retired because his return would surely ruin his legacy.  My thoughts then and now are the same: If a fan’s first memories of someone like Michael Jordan are of him playing with the Wizards, then that is a “you” problem.  To bring this back to Arsenal, many people are concerned that with the results that the Gunners have produced the last few years, Wenger’s reputation will be diminished in some regard.  But even if Wenger’s side wouldn’t win another trophy under his stewardship, what would his legacy be?  Would it be tarnished even with all that Wenger’s teams have accomplished in the past?

Most Gunners supporters would agree that this season has not ended or lived up to their expectations.  They have dropped points to teams where most would expect Arsenal to pick up points.  They have also faded against the top tier teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.  Even with that said, Arsenal will finish in the top four in the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League again next season.  Many Arsenal supporters look at this as a lost or failed season because there is no hardware at the end of it.  In many supporter’s minds it has become an expectation that Arsenal should win some sort of trophy every season.  But I think that mid-table teams like Sunderland and Fulham would rejoice with the results that Arsenal have produced in recent seasons.  That is not the case, however, because Wenger’s previous success is now a burden on his future.  Anything less than what his side did earlier in the decade will be considered a failure in most people’s eyes.

Will Wenger stay on as Arsenal’s manager next season?  That is the million dollar question for most fans.  To become a successful athlete or manager, a person needs the right mix of ego and stubbornness.  I am sure Wenger encompasses both of those qualities.  But what will determine Wenger’s future is if he is able to adjust and alter his football philosophy to take Arsenal back to level that he is accustomed to.  If Wenger is unable to fine-tune his tactics, will supporters begin to alter their expectations? Gunners supporters are hoping that their expectations remain great no matter who is in charge of the club.

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  1. Gerry

    May 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Why do housewives love Arsenal? Because they stay on top for ages then come second.

  2. sean

    May 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    the “a mid table team would be happy about reaching 4th place” claim is a little silly.the expectation fans have for their respective club is proportional to that clubs talent,stature etc.for example,just because fernando torres has had great spells at atletico madrid and liverpool,should you expect him to play at a cetain level?yes,of course,but a 3 division player would be ecstatic about getting one goal in 15 games in the premier league.i dont support the gunners,but i feel they have every right to demaned changes after so many years without silverware.

  3. RVPFan

    May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Wenger started off being a very cool calm professorial manager who brought world class talents, with stubborn players all having leaders mentality, surrounding skillful players that just wouldn’t give up till their tanks were emptied. And they won for him. Arsenal badge meant something to them. They couldn’t get bullied by anyone else. They got something but they gave more in return, plus with the plethora of exceptional talents, they played some majestic ball with pace, guile and physicality.

    Current crop of players are talented. Nobody doubts that. But they can get so easily bullied around the park, its not funny. They bottled up big time during crucial matches and collapsed. With no single authoritarian leader that could urge them, it’s like the air just came out of the balloon every so slowly and gathering momentum till it had nothing left.

    This has been happening for a long time now and if it carries on, there will be no trophies for the coming umpteenth years. Wenger’s youth policy is remarkable. However, it would have been tremendous help to the youngsters to play alongside some experienced leaders just to inject that little experience surrounding the youth. It’s always a good blend. Yet, Wenger let all the experienced players go. Sole Campbell last year showing what truely an exceptional center back with loads of experience can do. He fought, he yelled, he urged, he showed these young players what had to be done to win. Yet, Wenger let him go at the end of the season.

    This kind of stubborn mentality has brought us Arsenal fans to tell Wenger to at least change his policy and to blend experience and youth. There are few fans that want Wenger out. No doubt about that, but they are only handful of them. We understand what Wenger has done for the club in the past. He has completely changed the DNA of the club. However, 6 years without a trophy for a top club like Arsenal, where the PL teams standing below us are getting stronger every year and almost 7 teams now competing for the Champions League place, has us fans worried and frustrated.

    Thank you.

  4. nicc

    May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

    “They have also faded against the top tier teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.”

    Arsenal won the top 4 mini-league this season:
    Arsenal 10pts +3GD
    ManU 10pts +1GD
    Chelsea 9pts
    ManCity 5pts -3GD

  5. Peter

    May 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I have been a fan of Arsenal for umpteenth years. I have to agree with R2Dad’s views. If Wenger continues with his youth development policy, the coming year is definitely going to be worse what with Arsenal probably finishing 4th and needing to fight through the Champion’s League qualifying rounds. Me thinks Arsenal will implode very early on next year..probably by January or February next year………….

  6. Keith

    May 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I think the “what have you done for me lately” craze is more in response to the news media cycles becoming shorter and shorter. If a player had a bad year, in the 80’s and 90’s it might have been 15 news cycles of reporting but today with a new news cycle every couple days or a week maximum ( look the Bin Laden cycle already is finished) that player might be slumping for 35 news cycles.

    I think when you read more often about someone doing badly you turn quicker on that person. It’s the same with becoming a great player too. For a month Bale was seen as the best player in Europe and untouchable. However looking back now that claim is absurd.

    This isn’t just in the sports world though. I’m a political science student in DC and you see the same stuff. Today’s news is that Gingrich is finished but last cycle everybody said McCain was done in the fall and then a year later nobody really cared that his campaign was broke a year before. Obama was seen as down and out the summer before Iowa’s caucuses and in the 2008 election something like 55% of voters said they’d have a hard time ever voting Republican again because of George Bush. 3 years later and Bush is NEVER mentioned in terms of the 2012 election (or even the 2010 election). News cycles have sped up, either readers need to adjust or owners/players need to learn to be more patient.

  7. robert

    May 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Over the last decade it’s common to hear that a coach should be fired or player retire?

    That’s been going on since teams had fans. You’ve just become aware of it in that space of time I’d guess.

    Good premise to the article though, and Aaron’s on the money.

  8. Harry Redknapp

    May 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I wonder why you cant get French Fries or French Toast in bloody France?Although the proper term for french Fries is chips, unless your a Yank!

  9. Guy

    May 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Good article. It is the nature of sports that expectations rule the judgment of results. Wenger suffers from that more than anyone else right now. He has done a great job, but it seems everyone expects more….”silverware”.

    On the other hand, look at Fulham and Liverpool. Does anyone think their fans are actually unhappy right now? I give you the fans’ thought process for the entire year:

    Fulham & Liverpool: WTF?,…WTF?…Well, all right!

    Arsenal: Well, all right! Well, all right! WTF?

    Such is life in the Prem. Long may it reign.

  10. PaulFromMiami

    May 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I think that it is plain stupid to demand the sacking of Arsenne. Arnenal fans who want him fired are just ungrateful. Yes Arsenne got to change his philosophy but that it is just asinine to ask that he be fired. The one thing i agree with the fans is that Arsenal keeps raising ticket prices even after disappointing seasons.

  11. Aaron

    May 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    This is a very good example of how great it is that fans have no say over how the club is run. I’m glad Kroenke is in charge now as he seems too smart to do something stupid like fire Wenger. That is something an “all about me” type owner would do (Abromovich, Mark Cuban). But I believe Kroenke is in for the long haul, and we as fans should appreciate that. Its not “all” about winning a trophy right now. Sure its painful when we don’t, but far more important is the future of the club. Unlike many “fans” today, I would not trade a 2011 trophy for financial ruin 5-6 years down the road.

    Wenger may not be perfect, but he is a damn good manager and better than anything we could bring in. So, I’m sorry if you are hurt that Arsenal won nothing this year, we all are. But if you want to turn on the club because you don’t get your way (especially if “your way” is bad for the club), you aren’t a real fan anyway.

    • Perry S

      May 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Good comment, fully agreed.

      • GK

        May 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

        I agree completely. Well said.

    • MG

      May 18, 2011 at 12:03 am

      “Unlike many “fans” today, I would not trade a 2011 trophy for financial ruin 5-6 years down the road.”

      Fantastic comment. I agree, massively.

  12. Joe

    May 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I’ve enjoyed watching Arsenal these last few years. Very entertaining. Now I’m not an Arsenal fan but I think when you see how inept they can be when it’s crunch time it is very frustrating. No silverware in 6 years is a long time for a top team. I honestly think it is time for a fundamental change at Arsenal. Either Wenger should change his philosophy and spend money to buy some quality veteran players or the club should bring in a new manager to move the club in a new direction. Something has to give. I’d go with the latter only because I think Wenger is too stubborn and won’t change.

  13. Ren Vassilliou

    May 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Its called the confort zone, it does not matter who came in for Mr Wenger he knows where his bread is buttered , he knows that if he took a post with Barcelona ,Real Madrid , Inter And AC Milan, he would be out on his bike after a season if they did not deliver , he made a promise to the Funs Seven years ago that when we moved into the Emirates we would have the Funds,Resources and Players to CHALLENGE THE BEST IN THE WORLD , We can’t even beat Stoke or Villa at home for crying out loud !!!! when will this nightmare end ??? i for one will give this one final season for my season ticket after that Mr Wenger can stick it where the sun don’t shine .

  14. El Tri 2014

    May 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I don’t doubt is a good manager, as good as Pep, Carlo and Kenny…well maybe better than Kenny. What fans should consider in Arsene’s mastermind planning of Arsenal is that he’s built a fantastic club on the skinny. There is no depth whatsoever. Yes, if the starting eleven are healthy they can beat Barca at the Emirates but not at all fronts while trying to compete for all 4 trophies. If that was the case, he should have dropped out of the Carling, FA Cup and CL and concentrate his favorite eleven for the PL. Not to mention that a lot of his outstanding players are on the fragile side (see Cesc and the glassworks VP). Depth, depth, depth. And the only way to get that is to spend, spend, spend. OR just play for one silverware.

    • Perry S

      May 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Explain to me what your definiton of a good manager is? Pep has the fortune of having likely the greatest set of talent ever at his helm, do you think he could manage to do the same with even 70% of the stock he currently has available? He also is a manager of a club that spends more freely than Charlie Sheen does on cheap whores. I HIGHLY doubt it. Just like Jose and the rest, these so-called “great managers” require a GREAT sum of $$ to buy their trophies just like the Yankees do. I consider what Arsene has done by far and wide greater than any of these managers who purchase trophies and in essence amass large sums of debt for these “amazing clubs.”

      I agree, Arsene does need to spend some this summer, but nothing that would be considered “blockbuster” by most fans. We need to fine tune a few areas, implement some steel in the backline, and Arsenal will be more than set for a very solid campaign next season.

      • Ren Vassilliou

        May 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

        you think so …lol lol lol

      • Mo Omar

        May 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

        Quality article, sensibly thought out comments, no abuse.
        Something doesn’t feel right. :p

    • R2Dad

      May 17, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      I think part of the frustration is that fans can see that Wenger has signed just enough players of quality to replace the ones that leave every year, without really adding incrementally to the bench. But if you look at the side today vs the Invincibles, the gap is obvious. We can see it. Wenger can see it, yet every March Arsenal are within striking distance and every April/May they collapse. This year the implosion was on 4 fronts, all within 3 weeks. It’s beginning to feel like a black hole that sucks the fun out of spring for Arsenal supporters, leaving lifeless carcasses to flail uselessly on keyboards like passive/aggressive zombies of the PL apocalypse. No wait, those are West Ham fans.

  15. Earl Reed

    May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Isn’t it sort of a result of the system and the new media? In today’s media, the extreme is the hook. That’s true whether you are talking sports, politics, or the first 10 minutes on your local broadcast. The extreme is what gets the most attention. Are you going to lead off the 6 PM News with the boy scout who saved a life, or the triple homicide at the 7-11? We all know the answer to that one.

    I think the other part of this added media attention is that there is more analysis of how a team progressed to a certain point. In other words, the hint of a player or manager being “a choke artist” becomes the reason why they will never win. And thus the only recourse is to fire them before they blow any more prime opportunities.

    So yes, I do think that the media has a way of inspiring supporters to call for an ouster.

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