In the end, they did it. After 38 games and a...
Arsenal Axiom to the Pygmalion and Golem effects
So Arsenal drew. . .again. Might as well be a loss it feels like it. We aren’t winning but we aren’t losing and you know that that makes us? Mediocre.
13 games in and we have our lowest point total of this point of the season since 1994. That’s pre-Wenger for those who don’t know about life before the Frenchman was here.
What is galling about the mediocrity isn’t just that the team is mediocre. It is our acceptance of the mediocrity. I saw people on twitter last night saying, we all have to reset our expectations because this squad wasn’t going to win the league anyway.
Very true. But we seem all too ready to accept that as being okay. It shouldn’t be okay. With the supposed resources at our disposal we should be competing for the title. But because we don’t use those resources wisely we aren’t competing for the title.
It used to be that we’d look to a draw like last night and say “Everton will be more happy with that point than Arsenal.” Well, we’re the ones now saying “Arsenal are more happy with that point than Everton.
I am now going to warn you that I am going to get a little psychological in that I am going to focus on two terms that focus on performance related to the level of expectations. In the study of performance related to expectation there are two areas of study that have proven that performance is directly related to the level of expectations set on people.
The first is called the Golem effect – a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations placed upon individuals either by supervisors or the individual themselves lead to poorer performance by the individual. This effect is mostly seen and studied in educational and organizational environments.
The second is considered a more positive corollary to the Golem effect, it’s called the Pygmalion effect. It’s usually studied in education where teachers are told that a particular student is “bright” or “dull.” The students then perform in line with their labels.
The point of the psychological bibble-babble? To prove that what we are seeing at Arsenal is a true and studied phenomena.
We’ve come to accept that we won’t challenge for the title or that fourth place and financial health are good enough because it’s the level of expectation that has been foisted upon us and sold to us. And on the surface qualifying for the Champion’s League is a good thing and being on sound financial footing is admirable. But those cannot be the only thing Arsenal are focused in on. And on the surface that looks to be all we are set for. As long as we remain “competitive,” then things are honky-dory.
But they are not. The expectations of supporters are greater than that of the club. The supporters want to win. Not win at all costs. Arsenal supporters I’ve chatted with aren’t looking for success via the route of Chelsea or Manchester City. But they are looking for success within the means the club has.
This is not some rinky-dink lower-tier club. Arsenal have a long proud history and tradition. The expectations from top down should align with that. But to a growing number of disgruntled Arsenal supporters (me included) this doesn’t seem to be the case
We don’t hear from the club hierarchy that anything less than fighting for first place is unacceptable. We don’t hear that players who don’t perform won’t play and (now for the most controversial part of this) managers who don’t deliver won’t be here.
No, I am not calling for Wenger to be fired. I am calling on the board and/or the majority owner to say that if we aren’t competing for the top spot then you’re tenure here (as a player and as a manger) will be reviewed and in jeopardy. For the product on the pitch it always has to be about the performance and not one based on if we get 4th place we’ve done good enough. We can’t and by “we” I mean the whole Arsenal “family,” can’t settle then anything than the top.
It’s about setting the right expectations. Since we have set the expectation that achieving Champion’s League qualification is the bar we must reach we assume that just getting into 4th place is good enough. The fact that we set the bar for such mediocrity means that performance actually mirrors that.
It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And sadly we’ve come to find that’s okay
About the match.
I am sure the match has been dissected by numerous blogs, news sites and various sundry so I am going to dwell on it too much. My simple read on the match is this:
We were outplayed. We’ve been found out by teams and as such we don’t have the ability to fall back on “our beautiful style of play.” Once a badge of honor about Arsenal it’s no longer the case. We lump the ball forward more, we look for high risk long passes rather than crisp short passing. And because of the high risk passes we no longer seem able to string 3 passes together. This is achieved because opposing teams put such high pressure on us. The problem is last night and every night, we don’t seem to have an idea how to beat that.
We figure that out, we may just figure a way to win more than we draw.
Support for BSM (www.blackscarfafc.co.uk)
Tomorrow we’ll release our normal pre-game write up for the Swansea match but would likely not have anything related to the “walk” “march” or whatever it really is being led by the Black Scarf supporters group.
For those that don’t know about it, the Black Scarf momvement will hold a walk to starting at the Cannons Public House and ending at the Bear Roundabout outside the Armoury. The purpose as they’ve defined here:
The objectives of this walk are to heighten the Board’s awareness in the following areas:
- We want Stan Kroenke’s commitment not to take money from the club.
- We want Peter Hill-Wood off the Board. He has become an embarrassment to the club and its supporters.
- We want Red & White Holdings to be offered a seat on the Board. Ivan Gazidis called for us to all come together and work in the same direction but how does this work when a 30% shareholder in the club doesn’t get to have a say? In what other large business would this blocking of a major shareholder happen?
- We want action from the club to stop poor allocation of our money. From wasting money on players we have to write off a year later, to handing out huge contracts to players who we can’t then sell on because nobody will match what we pay. It’s mismanagement and it’s the fans who get hit in the pocket because the club fails in other revenue generating areas such as commercial deals.
Finally, we want the club to deliver the initiatives we’ve previously put to them, which would greatly benefit match going fans. These include:
- A ‘lite’ version of a season ticket with no cup credits
- A short-term staged repayment scheme for season ticket renewals
- The ability for season ticket holders to downgrade to Silver membership
- Move away fans to the upper tier, thereby providing cheaper seats for Arsenal fans
- Introduce season tickets in the Clock End at Emirates; recreate the atmosphere of the famous old stand at Highbury and improve the Emirates atmosphere on matchdays.
- Introduce safe standing. This continues to be investigated by more and more clubs across the country but continues to be ignored by Arsenal.
- Cheaper tickets at Emirates Stadium. If you can afford to sit on £70m of cash in the bank, you don’t need to charge fans the highest ticket prices in football.
All of this is a positive. I see nothing wrong with what BSM is championing. Yet is being classified as some as an anti-Wenger march or an anti-team march. It is nothing of the sort. Over the last two weeks we’ve discussed on this blog about the lack of ambition by the club, the poor communication from the club and the low expectations being foisted upon us. Additionally, we’ve questioned Stan’s true motives with Arsenal and the club’s overall performance – all things BSM as well as other Supporter Groups are championing.
Any group that works to enact a positive change in such a negative time needs to be given support. Any group that strives to change the entrenched mentality that places greed before performance should be applauded – so long as the means isn’t disrespectful. In other words no riots, etc. BSM does not conduct itself that way and their Kick Greed Out of Football march last season is proof of that.
There will be people who disagree with marching on the club. They seem to picture pitch forks and burning torches. The think it will reflect badly on the club. You want to know what reflects badly on the club, a board that has set profit over performance that allows its manager to be dragged through the mud in the press every day because he has to defend the inane policies – that reflects badly on the club. The number of hatchett jobs seen in the press that focus on Arsenal should make anyone associated with the club pissed off but because of how the club is being run and the performance across the board we are now regular fodder for the journalists to take pot shots- that is what reflects poorlyon the club not a march by a supporters group.
What’s up with YAMA lately.
Over the last few weeks I’ve taken a more frustrated slant in my writing. I really wish it weren’t so. I try to always remain bullish on this great club. But right now things are broke and need readjustment. I am still not on the Wenger out bus because that doesn’t fix the problems established by the board. Wenger has to be judged at the end of this season. Many gave him a pass for getting Arsenal back into the the top 3 last season after a dysmal start. Well, the challenge seems to be even more daunting now.
The things I am writing about are things that I feel can be changed at the board level. That is where the focus of my frustration will lie. I think you do have to question Wenger on tactics and he isnot teflon he should be challenged when his decisions cost the club points. If the performance continues to drop this season the questioning may grow. But the positive I can see is that the club is still picking up points it has no business picking up – like last night. We’d have lost those matches before. That has to be because of Wenger and the team.
Overall, I will remain bullish on the team. But the board is fair game and I will continue to rant even if I am the only one listening.