Many would argue that the last genuine “Mr Arsenal” we had was TA06, that rare breed of a one club man, while others would say that PV04 and TH14 were club heroes in their own equally memorable way. To me such a player is someone who you cannot imagine playing in any kit other than our red and white, can we say that of any of our current squad?
Is it fair to blame the Bosman ruling (and potentially the Webster case) as the reason for the rarity of one club players and/or the shortness of stays at any club for professional footballers nowadays? Will we ever see a world class player of ours who won’t even consider leaving no matter which other supposedly “bigger” club comes knocking?
I was born in the same year as TA06 and also grew up in Essex in the 1970’s so I always identified with him, I could have even have played against him in Primary School football competitions c.1976 but for the fact I had no talent and didn’t get picked for more than a couple of the school’s games. It’s for this and other reasons that I notice the lack of a genuine “Mr Arsenal” in recent years since his departure.
It can be argued that both of the French players I mentioned in the opening line are as close to a “Mr Arsenal” loyalist as “Rodders”, but we were tortured with constant exit rumours every transfer window during the latter parts of their time with us, as we are currently with CF04.
It was a different pre-Bosman era for a significant portion of his career (the ruling being made in 1995) so it could be argued there was less player mobility then, but non the less there was little suggestion he was likely to leave us any time.
Is it an easy bit of xenophobia to suggest that being English he would be less likely to go than the French pair? The career of DB10 would not support that theory as he stayed for 10 years and even at the height of his powers the bi-annual transfer shenanigans we have come to expect as Arsenal fans in relation to our current stars did not come to pass.
Recently I had the misfortune to chance upon one of the latest anti-Arsenal bandwagons Talkspite (aka Talksport) that their posse of shock jocks had made the debating point of the day.
It was the quietness of the Ashburton Grove support and the lack of passion the crowd showed yet my latest match day experience last Saturday was in the Red Action section of the North bank where the more vociferous supporters are located. Now while it’s a cliché to say it’s only Arsenal who ever experience a volume of crowd noise that is less than constant and akin to a power metal concert I felt no need to get unduly wound up by the tired old attempt at a wind-up.
What it did remind me of was the way the “committed” support I was located in berated our players over the slightest of things. Yes, the atmosphere was very lively and the singing almost constant as we were standing up for all of the second half in the lower tier of the North bank, however the “passion” of the crowd led to a less than supportive timbre to the feedback the players would get.
A trip on Arshavin was followed a nanosecond later by our own supporters yelling “Get up for f**k’s sake!”
A forearm smash from Etuhu which felled Robin led to shouts from the crowd around me of “F**king hell he’s injured
again!” and “You’re a waste of f**king money!”
Another incident that grated with me was the sarcastic clapping for Fabianski when he claimed a cross after he’d been beaten by Carroll’s header against Newcastle.
Is it possible that a necessary, unavoidable adjunct of vociferous support is that the negative feedback will be that much more venomous?
A common theme I hear from other team’s supporters is that Arsenal fans slag off their own players more than opposition supporters too as they are spoilt and churlish.
Now I believe criticism of a player’s performance is more than permitted after a game. However, howls of derision at a mistake such as a misplaced pass can in no way spur a player on and are, in my opinion, self-defeating.
Call me selfish, but I’ll do what I can to maximise positive outcomes for myself, so if my team’s goalie scuffs a clearance do I groan out load?
No, because the effect of 55,000+ other voices groaning simultaneously will hardly help a player’s confidence. It can be argued that professional players shouldn’t be affected by crowd noise, professionals they may be but robots they are not. Of course they are going to be affected by negative feedback from crowd reaction and this no doubt has some bearing on our better away record.
It’s ironic that while the Grove is the quieter of the premier League grounds the groans do get gleefully picked up upon by anti-Arsenal media elements such as Talkspite.
Now players make decisions to move on based on a variety of factors; however it is my humble supposition that we can in some small way help to keep our better players if the Ashburton Grove support, and the larger Gooner diaspora, can bite their tongues and suppress groans and moans when players, as human beings, may not perform as expected all of the time.
Gaining respect and support is a two way street but suspending reservations you may have about a player at least during match time is surely better for the positive outcome we should all want.
If you’re not going to sing/shout your support at least don’t make younger less extrovert characters amongst our squad want to hide during the game by jeering and cat calls or, as has been alluded to by a previous post, low-pitched, monotone bovine utterances.
How the crowd reacts after the final whistle, if doubts about any of the player’s capabilities are confirmed, is another question.