Arsenal Fans At War With One Another?

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jan 16th, 2014

We’re not at war with one another but if you looked at twitter sometimes you could be forgiven for thinking we were.

Somewhere along the line people started defining others by acronyms and initialisms like AKB and WOB. People then pollute others like BSM and AST because they disagree with a person or people who are affiliated with those groups.

We all argue with each other and throw out worn retorts like “I’m entitled to my opinion” because someone disagrees with us but then refuse to accept that the other person is entitled to theirs too. A well-used statement, often used to diffuse a situation or heated discussion, is “We all want the same thing”.

I agree, that in a very basic sense, we all do want the same thing. Arsenal success. Where the arguments continue is the manner in which we achieve that success or people’s inability to accept changing and developing opinions or to forget old ones.

Essentially the argument boils down to some form of elitism. The old “my brand of support is better than yours” argument. There are variations of this ranging from AKBs vs WOBs, Spend more’s vs Trust in FFP’s, Locals (some not all) vs Overseas fans.

Today my attention was pointed towards a timeline of a chap who, along with many of his friends, found great issue in the podcast I co-host and the content of it. They also took pleasure in swapping invectives pertaining to our podcast which had some irony as the reason, they claimed, was they felt attacked by some of the vituperative views aired on the podcast.

As part of this discussion I ran into a chap, Mikey, who despite us having polar views (although we have not delved into specifics) proved that respectful discussion and dialogue can be had without the unnecessary “my brand is better than yours” crap coming into it.

It was refreshing to engage with Mike today because it is rare for people from, for want of a better phrase, the opposite camp speak to me without insulting me or attempting to assign me to a different species. I am sure the same goes for Mike. I am certain that as many people insult him for holding his views, past or present, as I have had for mine.

I am often told I am an AKB with my tongue firmly up Wenger’s ass whilst simultaneously cupping Ivan with the gentle but confident touch of a familiar lover. I am told I am a sheep, blind to the realities of Arsenal “predicament”.

I’m not. I am not an AKB nor am I a WOB. I refuse to be defined by a set of initials. Like politics, supporting Arsenal is far too complicated for any rational and intelligent person to be so unerringly pro-one party and the entirety of their views and policies.

When I vote, I vote for the party that best fits the majority of my ideals but even then I find myself dissatisfied with many of their other ideals. How can I vote Conservative when I fundamentally disagree with their treatment of education and public services? How can I vote Labour when I disagree with their use of fictional characters as party leaders amongst other things? It’s far too complex to say I am one or the other. I vote for what is the better fit.

And it is the same for the unofficial Arsenal parties. Whilst I can understand many of the arguments made by those that want to see the back of Wenger I cannot agree with their reasoning when I consider all of the facts and indeed the circumstances surrounding the root cause of those issues. How can I agree with those who unwaveringly believe “Arsène knows best” when I disagree on choices he makes or feel he is involved in too many things?

Well, I lean towards the opinion that best suits my own. Do I want Wenger sacked? No, I do not. Does that make me an AKB? No but it does mean I identify more with their stance. Most of the time I am in the middle.

One such example is views on Arsenal buying established players. One camp will tell you he is right to stick with his young players and the other will say he should be buying established players to keep Arsenal competitive. Both arguments have merit but I am somewhere in the middle.

I think there is a place for bringing through your own talent as there is a place for buying talent. My issue with Wenger’s stance (and I accept it is not his only stance) is when he says “if I buy this player it will kill this other player”. I completely disagree with that. I believe that if he trusts in their potential that much but this other player could immediately improve the team then he should buy that player and trust the potential of the young player will still see them get game time.

If the young player wishes to get into the team he will have to prove he has what it takes rather than walk into a team unbarred or he can choose to leave. If he chooses to leave then he wasn’t right for Arsenal anyway as we want players willing to fight not those looking for an easy life.

I could never fully be WOB or AKB as I think both are flawed mentalities. On one hand, people want Wenger out regardless yet struggle to come up with compelling arguments why and on the other you have people who believe he is infallible and should never be questioned which leads to complacency.

On the podcast I mentioned earlier, I made an impassioned defence of our overseas Gooners, as I have on this blog on many occasions, and also spoke of those who told Wenger he doesn’t know what he is doing. I stated that these people are idiots and I stand by that. It is not intelligent to tell a man of Wenger’s stature and experience that he doesn’t know how to do his job.

If they said “I disagree with the way you are doing things” or “I don’t believe your plan is working” then I could understand it, I might not agree but it wouldn’t be a stupid thing to say. To tell a man of 30 years experience he doesn’t know what he is doing, especially when you have no experience of doing the same job, is just stupid. It’s like telling a chef of 30 years experience he can’t cook just because you don’t like the meal he served.

The Goonersphere Podcast was accused of being too positive and unbalanced which may be fair criticism but we’ve also been told by others that we aren’t positive enough. The fact is, like everyone else who spouts their opinions online, we say what we are feeling and issues that are entirely subjective will always have an element of unbalance.

That said, we probably could do more to have people with different opinions on the show but that suggests everyone who has been on the podcast shares the same opinions which if you listen to them all and read the blogs and TL’s of the guests you’d know isn’t true. If you have a different opinion to what you think we usually say, get in touch, we’ll have you on the podcast.

The point of Goonersphere was to create a blog and a podcast that is accessible to all and provides a platform for all to express their views, regardless of what they are. It is entirely coincidental that the majority of the content has been “pro” or maybe it’s not, maybe Arsenal aren’t giving people anything to moan about?

Back to war. It seems like we are warring because we’re always swearing at each other or putting down other groups of supporters because we disagree with their views and we are all guilty of it. No one can say they aren’t. I’m guilty of it, I don’t want to be but I am. I like to think I don’t discriminate based on opinions but I do. I do because I don’t assign much merit to poorly constructed arguments. Does it make their opinion less valid? It shouldn’t but sadly it does.

How am I supposed to agree with someone who contradicts themselves or uses incorrect information or urban myths to make their point? That’s the elitism I am guilty of and it is the elitism we are all guilty of because you can only truly accept an opposing view if it is well-presented. That’s why I enjoyed talking to Mike. I may not agree with him but he articulated his views well and I respect that. There are many “everything is rosy” fans whose opinions I can’t respect because they are drenched in sycophantism and poorly constructed. My dislike of poor arguments isn’t exclusive to the anti-Wenger crowd and nor should anyone else’s.

I’ll never be able to accept a poorly constructed argument but I’ll also never think I am a better brand of fan than someone else.

To me it doesn’t matter where you live, what language you speak, how many years you have supported Arsenal or what your views on the manager are – I’m no better than you and you’re no better than me. Debate is what highlights issues and presents solutions. You can’t have debate without differing views.

I’ve said this on this site a few times before when talking about what makes a true Gooner and this applies to everything to do with supporting Arsenal in my opinion and it is: If an Arsenal result can make or break your week then you are a true Gooner.

Your opinion on the manager, location, gender or time served as a supporter does not affect this.

We don’t have to be at war but we don’t all have to think the same.

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About "" - 508 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

10 Responses to “Arsenal Fans At War With One Another?”

  1. Jon says:

    I supposed I’d fall closer to the AKB brigade, but to suggest that this means I support him 100% is a bit of a straw-man. Look at how Man U have stumbled under a new manager and ask yourself, what would our transition look like under whoever might come into replace him? Would we bring in the likes of Michael Laudrup, as some suggested last year during Swansea’s fine run? Would Jurgen Klopp be available–or interested?

    I’d borrow from the idea that the badge on the front matters more than the name on the back (with modifications, of course, for the manager’s style). While I tire of the notion that he’s kept us contending while being outspent–it’s become a bit of a fig-leaf–it is true. Supporting the club differs from supporting the manager, but, given how he’s changed the game, and how money has in turn changed it again, I’m actually more confident/excited about where we’ll be post-FFP (and post-Wenger?) than I have been recently.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Indeed. After any manager has been at the helm for such a long time a new man will always take time to bed in unless it’s a similar appointment (Klopp and Wenger similar in many respects) or you try for continuity by promoting the assistant but new men have new ideas and new ideas sometimes take time to stick.

      I actually think Wenger is trying to build something to leave his successor instead of what Fergie did and leave on a high after squeezing everything out of an ailing squad.

  2. A.N. Other-Gooner says:

    I think the truth is your ‘somewhere in the middle’ stance is held by the vast majority of fans.
    You’re clearly very keen on social media, something I’m not beyond reading & commenting on blog pages.
    I’ve not once experienced anything beyond what I’d class as a passionate but good natured debate on any of the issues you raise above with human beings meeting face to face.
    It strikes me that Twitter in general is one fucking ginormous magnet for gobby tosspots so if you choose to take the ‘keyboard hardmen’ as representative then you are making a big mistake. Obviously not everyone who uses it is a ringpiece but the percentage of the total that are dwarfs that in real life.
    Arsenal have hundreds of thousands of fans globally. I doubt you could fill a pub with the number of genuinely abusive posters on Twitter.

    Chillax, all is rosey in N5

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I’ve had at least 50 different abusers myself but I don’t consider them to be representative of the majority of Gooners.

  3. A.N. Other-Gooner says:

    Validates my point.
    To keep the maths simple lets say Arsenal have half a million fans.

    The number bell-ends that got brave with you from the safety of their iPhone represents 0.01% of the fan base.

    Best thing you can do is adopt a policy of just ignoring them.

  4. A.N. Other-Gooner says:

    Whilst I’m gassing I’d like to add that the latest podcast was hilarious as usual but it did get a bit unnecessarily sanctimonious about the ‘not born & bred in Islington’ fan thing. Once again I think you’re guilty of extrapolating out from the views of a tiny minority that choose to engage with you on Twitter. In the real world fans nearly all acknowledge & respect fellow supporters no matter where they are from. You do get quite a few tedious old giffers who like to play the ‘I was there’ card but most accept that it’s unreasonable to expect people from afar to bankrupt themselves to get to the ground regularly.

    There’s one caveat, & I happily accept accusations of hypocrisy when I say I exempt Arsenal fans as you rarely meet one, but for me the people who go into Room 101 are those that are lifelong English residents from an area that has a local top level team to support but choose to swear allegiance to a top side instead. Think ‘Cockney Reds’. These people had several London clubs to choose from but went glory hunting. There is no lower form of life.

    I’ll give a partial exemption if your Dad is from Manchester/Liverpool/wherever. But if you are from Yeovil, Cumberland, St. Ives, Basingstoke, etc…. support who you like.
    (I’ll let you have Bristol so long as you are too young to remember when their clubs were last in the top division, it has certainly been a while!)

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Well I’m actually from South East London and Woolwich was my maternal family’s team. Also, my dad moved from Scotland aged 8 and watched Arsenal beat Palace at Selhurst Park 1-5 in ’69. It was his first football match and despite Palace being local he chose Arsenal because of that match.

      It’s true, I was extrapolating from the views of a few idiots but as I have made many friends from the ranks of our overseas fans and I’ve seen them abused online for having opinions on AFC and being foreign I saw red.

  5. A.N. Other-Gooner says:

    Credentials far better than mine (born in Devon, no connection to any major team through family, chose Arsenal aged 5, moved to London at 18, stayed there until I was 43 attending as many games as poss – inc a couple of years as season ticket holder). Now live in Cyprus & enjoy the vastly superior to Sky/MOTD Al Jazeera coverage.

    I suggest you just pull rank on these Islington parvenus

  6. finsbury says:

    Good post, thanks.
    To date I have yet to discuss football with someone who has described themselves as an “AKB”. Not one.

    What I have seen on the internet is people being attacked for not being local fans, for years. When I first commented on an Arsenal blog I gave myself the name “finsbury” because I did not want to waste my time chatting footy with such souls. That was about six years ago.

    “Arsenal is a local club for local people” – The League of Extraordinary Football Fans

    “Arsene knows best” was an endearing self deprecating joke used by Arsenal fans, never saw anyone preaching this and I have never met or heard of anyone who took it to be a mantra. The notion that there has been an army of Arsenal fans who believe that their manager is incapable of making mistakes when all as in all managers make mistakes (probably in every game!) is so immature and unsubstantiated and so stupid that ultimately this petty logic only reflects upon those who choose to use it.
    Truth is that the term AKB has been used to create an artificial debate in order for some fans to insult and attack their fellow fans who did not belive that their manager was a senile Scrooge hoarding his Wonga beneath the lonely Mt.Doom, with fans that they have not agreed with. There’s plenty of evidence on t’internet for this conclusion.

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