Arsenal Fans At War With One Another?
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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