The State of Decay: Arsenal and its Decline
Arsenal are in a tail-spin. Arsenal have lost their identity. Arsenal have lost their voice. Arsenal are shadow of their former selves.
Oh. I am sorry. I missed a few words there. Let me try again.
Arsenal “fans” are in a tail-spin. Arsenal “fans” have lost their identity. Arsenal “fans” have lost their voices. Arsenal “fans” are shadows of their former selves.
It’s time for a moment of unabashed, cognizant, and reflective honesty. The club has its problems. Right now, it feels as though the main problem is the fanbase.
Is this tough to hear? Is this tough to read? Are you wearing your blue, zig-zagged lightning kit with a 19-year old’s name on the back, fingers perched above your phone, ready to sling epithets my way? Well. Perhaps you should continue to read.
The life of a fan is often a lonely one.
We, as fans, claim to have one goal: to support and cheer on this gargantuan club. We buy the tickets; we buy the kits; we buy the… cryptocurrencies? We offer our time, money, energy, and emotional well-being in support of an institution of men and women playing for a badge. That badge, remember, was fashioned out a group of men working in an armaments factory looking for a way to blow off steam and get fresh air following a long shift in a sooty, smoky, loud factory. That badge was established for locals to rally around, for locals to let off their own steam after long days of work. Today, that badge’s purpose remains the same. It’s a symbol of those whose free-time is given to a club. An icon we can use to blow off steam after long days of work.
We feel every win; we feel every loss. We lift trophies in spirit; we mock those clubs who haven’t seen trophies since the days of Churchill.
We feel entitled to this club’s laurels.
Just a Feeling
Here’s the rub. We’re not. We’re not entitled to anything. We, as fans, have as much entitlement to the trophies and medals as the lad that put up the exterior fence.
Does that burn? Does it sting? Yeah, I cringed writing it. I am not happy about it. I don’t revel in writing this. I’m not laughing. I’m devastated to write this.
Because the fanbase of this club has reached a boiling point. The joy and love; the laughter and celebrations; the undefeated season; the records — all are at risk. This fanbase— this electric, passionate, and undying fanbase— has become a group of vitriolic; shambolic; and incessantly negative gallery members.
“BUT YOU’RE GENERALIZING! I’M NOT LIKE THAT.”
Yes, I am generalizing. I am indeed. Would you like to know why? The loudest and most heard voices are the ones that become associated with an identity. At the moment, our loudest voices are:
- The lads shouting at a departing Audi carrying our Manager (and former captain) out after a loss;
- The idiot shouting at Edu in the stadium during the match (seated next to his wife and kids);
- The mass of individuals messaging hate to Edu’s KIDS on Instagram;
- The “fans” who messaged both Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale the day they were announced, spewing hate and vile comments. So much so, by the way, that Ramsdale limited responses on Instagram.
- The “fans” who have openly been celebrating the fact that our Manager may get fired.
- “Superfan” Troopz screaming at a television in a crowded bar for Arteta to “get out of my club.”
That’s the voice of Arsenal Football Club at the moment.
Don’t think that voice is so prominent? Ask yourself: why has Xhaka’s contract extension not been announced? Oh, yes, perhaps it’s because of planning and timelines. Or, maybe, just maybe, the club feels that it shouldn’t announce the extension as Xhaka, his wife, and his children have received death threats in the past. And to put the Xhaka family in the limelight wouldn’t be the best idea. I could be wrong. But, I guarantee that a discussion about when/how to release the news of extension to prevent a fan response has been discussed.
State of Decay
I truly don’t care if you think this club is being run into the ground. I don’t care if you’ve been to every match since the days of George Graham and your father was the pitch maintenance man at Highbury. If you’ve engaged in any of the behavior listed above, you’re playing as much to the state of decay off the pitch as our team is on the pitch.
We’re not entitled to anything as fans. We’re not. We’re not entitled to wins, trophies, record-breakers, homegrown stars, or big transfer windows.
We’re privileged to support this club. We’ve been lucky to see amazing patches of success; incredible managers; one-in-a-million players; trophies; and match-winners. It was an honor to watch every moment of Wenger-ball, every moment of class from Emery, every outstanding interaction between Arteta and his players.
There’s not a mandate that you have to support this club. It owes you nothing; you owe it nothing in return.
With that said, let’s be clear. If you are harassing the staff of this club, if you’re screaming at the manager, or creating videos of you screaming in you car at the “state” of this club, you should perhaps find a new way to let off steam after a long week. You should perhaps find a new club. You should find a new team.
Until then, the rest of the fanbase will continue to do what we do. We’ll feel the joy of positive moments; we’ll feel the pain of the negative. We’ll support the team that suits up each week. We’ll critique when and where we can. But, at the end of the day, we’ll gladly head to the grounds to give voice to those that the represent the badge and those of years past. Until then, we as fans of Arsenal Football Club will recognize that we aren’t entitled to anything. But, we’ll be damn glad when the good times roll again. As those moments will feel sweeter than any of the pain before.
You must forget the motto. Let’s remember.
Victoria Concordia Crescit. Victory Through Harmony.
Arsenal Til I die.