Yesterday’s home game against Norwich, which was frustrating viewing, has been overshadowed by the ‘Time for Change’ protest. I’m going to jump straight in here and give my thoughts on the whole thing, whether some of you agree or disagree is totally your call.
The aim of the protest was to show the club’s owner and directors the discontent felt by the fans at how our club is now being run. It has now been 12 years since we have won the Premier League and every year we show promise, up until December/January, then capitulate with the same consistent failings.
When the owner comes out and states in a publication, “If you want to win championships then you would never get involved.” then clearly something is wrong. Try telling that to Roman Abramovich. It was clear from the outset that he only bought Arsenal FC for the investment, which yes it has paid off if he decides to sell, but at the fans expense. Prices have gone up, we pay the highest ticket fees in Europe for football that is no longer beautiful to watch or competing for titles. We have won two successive FA Cups in the last 9 years, which was a great achievement, but we should be competing on all fronts. Winning mentality stems from the top and it is clear we don’t have an owner with a winning mentality and settles for mediocrity. This trickles down into the board, who get richer every year, the manager, who has less pressure on him, and the players.
Stan ‘Silent’ Kroenke is also the first ever shareholder to take a dividend out of the club. He refused to speak to fellow shareholders at the AGM, which to me shows huge disrespect, and refused to explain what the annual £3 million “consultancy fees” were actually for. At least be honest and say it was a dividend rather than treat us like we are too stupid to understand.
The march before the match was one I did not fully agree with. You had grown men, and boys, targeting Wenger directly and wishing death upon him. This is just wrong, you do not wish death someone, especially one who brought us such great success during the first half of his employment. This is what the media will pick up on more rather than the real meaning of the protest as it makes for a more sensational headline and also makes us a laughing-stock.
The protest inside the stadium demonstrated how divided our fan base currently is and was met with a chorus of boos and chanting. Firstly, I think fans have a right to express their opinions and views openly, as long as it is not mindless abuse like the above example. It doesn’t matter if you pay £50 for a game, £1000-£3000 for a season ticket, own a £16000 share, we are all fans, we are all entitled to an equal opinion, we are the club, without fans the clubs are nothing.
When the A4 pieces of paper were held up I heard a lot of abuse being thrown at the people protesting e.g. “SUPPORT YOUR CLUB” and “SIT DOWN YOU C*NT”. The people who decided to take part in holding up the ‘Time for Change’ signs do support the club and they love the club, the reason they are protesting is because they care about how the club is being run and it hurts to see the decline from the high standard we used to have.
When the chanting started for “We love you Arsenal”, “Arsenal till I die” etc. the people holding up the signs were singing along as much as anyone as it’s the club they love. Now, when the “One Arsene Wenger” chant started, and the protesters of course did not join in, I felt a lot of people in the stadium didn’t quite understand the core reason behind it in the first place. As I’ve already stated it was to make the hierarchy at the club aware that the fans are fed up with how the club is run, a money leeching owner, lack of investment, poor performances and consistent failings. It was not designed to target Wenger or harass him out of the club but for the club as a whole to change their mentality.
One question I do have is why isn’t Ivan Gazidis getting questioned? Ultimately he is CEO of Arsenal and Wenger’s boss so why is he not being held accountable? He turns up to the fan group meetings and gives his spin and deflects questions left and right but isn’t being questioned on why he isn’t putting pressure on the manager or relaying back to the board the need to buck up ideas rather than increase social media marketing.
If people want to protest then they are entitled to, it is their right to express themselves. Before the game, after the game it’s all good but during the game I have a mixed opinion. There are two sides of the coin, you risk unsettling the players whilst we are still fighting for 2nd-4th but it is also when the protest will get the most attention as it is being televised. Either way the team always gets full support when they are on the pitch.
Was the protest a success? Yes and no. It has gained media coverage and awareness, which is a plus for those protesting. The negatives are that the media will twist it into a Wenger witch hunt and the fact only a handful of people took part. I’m sure there will be a lot more to come regarding protests in the future if nothing changes. I personally believe the board, especially Kroenke, won’t even bat an eyelid as long as people are still paying to sit in the stadium. Why would they care as long as the person holding up a piece of paper has paid them to do so.
As for the match, what is there to say? For some reason we started Giroud, who has no confidence and is out of form, and Ramsey. The game was crying out for pace and someone to run in behind the Norwich defence. Ramsey did his usual, slowed the game down, took too many touches and lost the ball. I’d much rather see Coquelin partner El Neny and allow the Egyptian to go box to box knowing he has cover behind.
Everyone was crying out for Welbeck to come on and inject some pace into the team, especially with how poor Giroud was again. When he did come on it was met with resounding boos as Iwobi made way for the England international. Wenger was then vindicated only 3 minutes later as Giroud and Welbeck combined to score the only goal of the match. Giroud then came alive after 60 minutes of falling over and losing headers. The whole team started to play football but we still let Norwich have chances and we have Petr Cech to thank for making some big saves.
There’s not much else to say about the match that hasn’t already been said over the last 4 months so I’ll leave it there.
Enjoy your bank holiday weekend if you don’t have t work!