I’ve written before about the interaction between AKBs and WOBs, but having had another six or seven months to think about it I am now amused by the dynamics between the different factions of Arsenal fans. I wanted to draw a big and complex Venn diagram showing how we all interact, but when I started it I soon realised it didn’t really work. You’ve got your Wenger haters and your unconditional Arsène lovers and then you’ve got a bigger group of everyone else. No doubt each of the smaller groups thinks their own group is much bigger than the opposite group, and can’t see why those guys are quite so stupid – I mean, are they BLIND? Wenger is ruining Arsenal! Or saving it. You know – definitely one or the other.
Or maybe neither if you’re one of the ones in the middle tutting at the extremists on one side and laughing at the extremists on the other, the direction of laughing and tutting depending on exactly where you sit on the spectrum. So a Venn diagram looks like this: That isn’t really working. We can’t represent everyone with a proper Venn diagram because there’s no crossover. We are in our factions with our own beliefs. Those on the left of the diagram typically say things like:
- “Who does Wenger answer to?” – rational response: ultimately, us, the supporters. If enough turn on him he’ll go.
- “Everyone knew Diaby wouldn’t last a season” – rational response: just like everyone ‘knew’ Van Persie wouldn’t last a season.
- “History didn’t start in 1996” – rational response: duh!
Those on the right of the diagram typically say:
- “You shouldn’t overreact to losing one game” – rational response: how many years do we have to go without a trophy before you are allowed to react?
- “You want to bankrupt the club” – rational response: no, I just want them to spend the money that’s there
- “If we lose the next 100 league matches, Wenger will still have the best win ratio of any Arsenal manager” – rational response: yes (assuming that’s true), well done for the past, but will you still be saying he’s the best man for the job if we lose the next 98 matches?
I’ve seen all these on twitter just in the last week. I don’t usually bother answering them.
Back to the diagrams, though. (I’m like Swiss Ramble, except my diagrams typically consist of a couple of circles or a single line rather than a lot of well-researched figures. I call this efficiency.) If we’re going to all be represented on the same graphic we need to use something else, like the classic bell curve. I’m sure you’re familiar with the bell curve, they work for pretty much any large group or set of data. Extremes at both ends and everyone (or -thing) else in the middle. At least, that’s the situation with Arsenal at the moment, as we sit at this point in history when we’re neither a successful club nor an unsuccessful one. We don’t win trophies, but we could win trophies*. We don’t drift too far down the table (for long), but we could drift too far down the table and miss out on the Champions League.
I think this is quite an interesting balance. I happen to believe that there are roughly the same number of extremists at both ends of the scale at the moment. Some people are really pissed off with Wenger; some would not be pissed off with Wenger if he ate their babies; the rest can see he has faults but don’t want to sack him. If they’re like me they just want Wenger to learn from his mistakes and moderate his behaviour a bit. They (that is, I) want evolution, but there probably hasn’t been enough evolution in recent years, it had all gone a bit stale (pre-Bould and pre-buying experienced Spaniards and Germans). Without evolution there’s no progress, but if you go too far and have revolution you end up with the loonies taking over the asylum.
Look at the French Revolution: they went too far, tried to introduce a new calendar and ban holidays, and before long the population wanted Christmas back and asked for an Emperor to rule them. In Russia, Bolshevik revolution led to mass murder on an almost unprecedented scale and eventually an unsustainable arms race. Clearly the Arsenal situation is most unlikely to have such grave consequences, but it shows the value of sticking to a moderate middle ground.
Yeah, a load more people would have had enough. Though I reckon there would still be a few expressing unconditional love, because in any big group you will usually get a few who will never change their opinions, no matter how much new evidence you put in front of them.
If on the other hand Arsenal manage to win both the Premier League and Champions League this season, the bell curve will move to the right instead. I wonder how many years we would have to win both before there was no one left in the ‘Hate Wenger’ camp? Answers on a blog comment or tweet.
*Cue comments from the Wenger haters saying we will never win trophies under him.