What a difference a season makes.
Last April, against Norwich at home, there was much talk of a protest against Arsene Wenger. It covered social media. The organisers behind the protest had designed it to be as inclusive as possible; TIME FOR CHANGE read the posters. So, leaving The Twelve Pins I walked to the stadium wondering where the fans would show their loyalties lay: with the manager, and by extension the club’s hierarchy and the status quo; or with Arsenal Football Club. Knowing our fickle fan base I wasn’t too sure – there had been talk about protests on social media before that had amounted to little; setting Twitter alight was one thing, actually putting words into action was another.
I personally believed it had long since passed the time for change – now it was an absolute necessity for the good of the club. Not just a new manager, but a new hierarchy too. Wenger resembled a caveman that had stumbled upon a time machine and been transported to the present – utterly clueless in the extreme. Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke isn’t nicknamed ‘Silent Stan’ for nothing. Ivan Gazidis earns a multi-million base annual salary for doing f*ck all. So I was more than happy to take one of the posters being handed out outside the Bridge to the North Bank. Regardless of what you actually wanted to change, surely there was at least something that needed changing that could unite the fanbase, and send a message to the club that we weren’t happy with the status quo.
The stage was set – we were to hold up our posters on the 12th & 78th minutes, to mark the 12 years since we last won the title – that itself is an utter disgrace. The game was a boring, drab, affair, so with the game creeping on at a pace that would make many fall asleep, it finally approached the 12th minute mark. I held up my poster. As did others. But we were few. In fact, we were outsung by chants of ‘One Arsene Wenger’, and indeed, some moron a few rows down from me even displayed a banner claiming that anti-Wenger gooners weren’t real fans. Brainwashing at its finest – surely to Christ if a MANAGER is able to instil this cult of personality amongst his followers it’s a sure sign that he has too much power. Again, on the 78th minute and at full time the posters and banners were held aloft, yet the scoreline ended in victory for Arsenal, and many fans were either diehard Wenger loyalists, or beaten so far into apathy at the state of the club that they just didn’t care.
Fast forward to this season and the pressure on Wenger is growing. Protests before kick off gave drawn ever-increasing crowds. The Wenger loyalists are still present, but I haven’t seen or heard of ‘One Arsene Wenger’ being sung at the ground in what seems like ages. I wonder how many of these fans, though, sung ‘One Arsene Wenger’ – those that did have no right to moan. They were at the game, they had a chance to protest, yet they chose to follow Wenger like sheep to the slaughterhouse. Those that were apathetic to the situation seem to have woken up, and realised that is indeed time for change, and that change starts with the manager.
There are those that harp on about how embarrassing the protests are – have they been living under a rock this last decade? Losing the league cup final to Birmingham, 8-2 to Man U, 6-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 to Liverpool, 6-3 to Man City, 10-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich. Knocked out of the last 16 for the last God knows how many years. No league title in 13 years. Bottling the league to Leicester. Bottling the FA Cup to Watford. An inability to get active in the transfer market and buy what we need, so we end up either getting fleeced or settling for the scraps you wouldn’t even throw your dog. Hell we can’t even celebrate St Totteringham’s day this year, the scum from down the lane have finished above us for the first time in 22 years, no doubt they’ll make DVDs about it for years to come.
The club is in a dire state, and Wenger and the hierarchy have kept it get this way on purpose, like a King hoarding all the food in a famine whilst his people starve, just to emphasise that he has complete power. Wenger is keeping coy about his contract, our 2 best players – Alexis & Ozil – look to be off in the summer and I can’t blame them. A host of our other players become available to sign on a free next January as well, Ox – one of our best performers in this terrible season – among them. The Europa League – that poisoned chalice of freezing Thusday nights in the a*se end of nowhere that wrecks the season – looms due to our terrible performances this season, and it’s highly unlikely that anyone of true top quality fancies travelling deep into the Russian back woods on a Thursday night to play teams I haven’t even heard of, much less have the ability to spell. For years we mocked the Europa League – and with good reason, for it is the very ugly sister. Yet it looks like becoming a reality next season, and thus our already speedy fall from grace will most likely turn into a plummet at terminal velocity.
I can only hope this season ends with Wenger leaving, and us getting in a true top quality manager like Allegri. If that happens then this sh*tshow of a season might actually be worth something.