Has Arsene launched a ‘scathing attack’ on Arsenal fans in the wake of Goodison Park’s belly-aching?
I don’t think so, not really.
The boss is quoted by the Guardian as saying: “What hurts me is that at the important moment of the season we played in a sceptical environment.
“I think after the Tottenham game where we played a very good game with 10 men against 11 and came back to 2-2, I couldn’t understand why – at the moment when you need everyone behind the team – we had to hit that storm.
“From the media, OK. From our fans? It is a bit more difficult to take.
“I never complain about critics, especially when they are turned against me. But we have to get the fans behind us with our attitude, and make sure that they stand behind the team until the end of the season.”
Is this really him turning on the fans? Not for me. I think he is making a simple appeal: Whatever you think of me, don’t take it out on the team, we’re are giving it everything.
I understand where he is coming from. Arsene doesn’t want the distractions of banners, unsavoury chants, and in-match tirades impacting on the mentality of his players – fragile as apparently they are.
The players, the coaching staff, the boss, they are all flat out trying to turn performances into results. Wenger’s work-ethic is well publicised and not in question.
But, at the same time, it would be churlish of Arsene to ignore the fact that he has had a far easier ride over the years than almost every other manager in the Premier League. Fans have been patient, understanding, and tolerant, swallowing years of underachievement and pretty crushing disappointment.
Is it asking too much for fans who have parted with their hard-earned cash to expect a better return? Should they have to stay silent while they watch their team limp from lamentable defeat to lamentable defeat? Absolutely not.
As to the well-publicised banners unfurled at Hull and Everton, I don’t really know how I feel.
On the one hand, it’s not for me to tell ticket-paying fans what they can or can’t do – within the confines of the law and general good manners, of course.
That said, banner-wielding fans generally only stoke the flames of the media shitstorm, providing journalists with easy ammunition to fire at a clearly irked Wenger.
These kinds of things make for quick clicks for news and sports websites and really only artificially inflate the sense of unrest at the club, a feeling that must clearly filter down to the players.
Fans are unhappy, of that there is no doubt. But are really in a state of turmoil? Of crisis?
Remember, there is still a prize to play for this season. As tenuous as it is, the team still has a shot at the Premier League title. If that goes, becomes mathematically impossible, perhaps that is the time for the process of protest to really gather pace.
Until then, and even if you vehemently believe it’s time for Wenger, Kroenke, or Gazidis to go, I say get behind the team. Give them every chance of success. Don’t let anger make an improbable task entirely impossible.