First up this morning, a thank you to everyone who listens to the Arsecast and Arsecast Extra. This month we’re through the 1,000,000 downloads/listens barrier and I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you all taking the time to put us in your ears on a Monday and Friday.
We’d be shouting into the void if it wasn’t for you guys, so thank you again. And speaking of shouting into the void, or being shouted at from the void, the Internet is a place which generates a lot of … well … anger. Football in particular is something which really tends to spark a lot of angst and unhappiness, and when your football team doesn’t do well people are not shy in making their feelings known.
That’s still very much the case, and there are people out there who are quick to let rip with both barrels when things don’t go as well as they would like. However, something I’ve noticed this season – and it comes on the back of running this site for nearly 16 years, through the good times and the bad, from the Invincibles to the Banter Era – is that the anger around Arsenal is less acute.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s still out there, and in certain quarters I’m sure it’s as intense as ever – particularly if your whole schtick is based on a platform of angry, shouty, finger-pointing, ranting controversialism – but here, and on our various social media channels, it’s far less notable than I would have expected. In comparison with other seasons, and with other periods of unconvincing form, it’s not what it would have been a couple of years ago.
Let’s look at the cold, hard facts. At the beginning of December Arsenal lie 15 points behind the league leaders and even the most optimistic of fans would have to admit that this is another season in which we’re not only not going to win the title, but also fail to challenge for it properly. We have lost to Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd, as well as Stoke and Watford away. We’ve made hard work of some Europa League games, albeit with a second-string team, and nobody can be truly confident about which Arsenal we’re going to see on a weekly basis.
I think that in the past this would have had people absolute fuming, and while I’m not saying there isn’t some disgruntlement it’s not even close to what it would have been if similar circumstances a few years ago. Even the idea of playing in the Europa League would have made people furious, now it’s just what it is.
But look, this is not a call for people to get their flaming pitchforks and to start threatening to burn stuff down, just an observation and I’m curious as to why. Is it because what Man City are doing is so impressive that we view what we’ve done in that context and realise that when you look at the other teams around us it’s not that bad?
Is it because there’s a kind of weary resignation about who we are now and what we’re capable of? Are people simply fed up of being angry and have therefore switched off and/or stopped caring as much? Are we simply aware that this is what we’ve done for so long under Arsene Wenger that there’s no point repeating the same stuff until a new man takes over? Is it because we can look at some of those results and find reasons why things didn’t our way?
I don’t know which it is. Maybe a mix of all of those things. And not only is there a less vitriol and unpleasantness in general, there’s also a sense that people are trying to see the bright side of things. The willingness of so many to focus on the fact we had so many chances against Man Utd as opposed to the fact we didn’t take those chances and self-destructed so easily was something that really struck me this past weekend.
I wonder if people can feel that with appointments like Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi that the club is addressing long-standing issues we feared would continue to be ignored or put on the long-finger. I’m not saying it’s a light at the end of the tunnel, because our tunnel hasn’t been as dark as some would have you believe. We’ve won three FA Cups in four seasons, something we should not take for granted at all – but having experienced the highs and lows of Arsenal life online for so many years now, something is definitely different.
My fear is that part of why it’s like that is because the passion has diminished due to the fact people think they’ve seen this story play out before. It’s not to excuse the anger, because I don’t believe living life with your Rage Amp turned all the way up to 11, and often there’s an attempt to justify name-calling and horrendous language because it supposedly illustrates how much you care, but there’s definitely been a change.
Maybe it’s because there’s so much other stuff going on in the world right now, things that should make us genuinely angry and unhappy because they seem so unfair and unjust and downright daft at times, that we’re looking at football in a slightly different context. Perhaps it’s just me, but I thought it was worth mentioning on what is generally a quiet morning.
The manager has a press conference later in which we should get some idea of what he’s planning for tomorrow night’s game against BATE Borisov. The group is already won, but it remains to be seen just how much he’s going to rotate his squad and how much youth he’ll involve in the team from the start.
We’ll have all the coverage of that and anything else that crops up over on Arseblog News. For now, I’ll leave it there.
Stay cool, and thanks again.