Why Arsenal Annoy Me

A wise lady once said to me: Unless you strive for perfection, you’ll never achieve it.

And I think it was economist Adam Smith who said about 200 years ago something like: If everyone was happy with the poorest clothing, worst housing and meanest food, that’s all there would be.

In other words, why put up with a bad situation if there is something that can be done about it, and if you accept second best you’ll always be given second best.

Let me put it another way, because ‘bad’ is relative: Why put up with a less than perfect situation if you can keep working to get closer to perfection?

There are many ways of splitting Arsenal fans into factions, and I think we’ve found most of them. One way is those who moan and those who don’t. I’m using ‘moan’ as shorthand for any complaint (however justified) about the team, club policy, the manager or anything else related to Arsenal. It’s a pejorative term, but it’s just shorthand. If you’re a moaner, don’t take it to heart, because I’m also firmly in the moaning camp.

But I’m not moaning about Arsenal for the sake of it or because there’s nothing else to do. Neither am I moaning because I don’t recognise that there are many fans – the vast majority in fact – who will, over time, have far less to celebrate and enjoy than Arsenal fans. No, the reason is simple: in return for the emotional energy and money I invest, I want the best return possible. If Arsenal are doing well but I believe they can do better, then I want them to do better. I want them to utilise all their resources to the absolute best of everyone’s ability. I want them to use the best players, coaches and methods that they can reasonably afford. I want to see a culture of continuous improvement, to borrow a corporate phrase, because as we all know if you stand still while everyone else moves forward, you are effectively going backwards. I ‘moan’ because I don’t see continuous improvement happening.

People who are happy with how things are say various things to the moaners:

  • “Why don’t you just shut up and enjoy it.”
  • “Even when Arsenal win, you still moan.”
  • “Who is going to do a better job than Arsène Wenger?”
  • “Who are you to criticise? They’re the experts.”

Well allow me to retort.

“Why don’t you just shut up and enjoy it?”
Well to be fair, some people do bang on rather boringly about the same problem over and over again, win lose or draw. But that doesn’t get away from the point of trying to do better – see paragraph one.

“Even when Arsenal win, you still moan.”
If this was “Even when Arsenal win the League/Champions League you still moan” then I would sympathise with it. But winning a league match against West Ham or Stoke is a cause for satisfaction, not celebration, because Arsenal should win against West Ham and Stoke. If we had 90 per cent possession and stuffed them 14-0, no one would moan and we could celebrate a great performance. If we win by one or two goals then there are clearly things that can be done better, so let’s try and do them better next time. You could argue that the team and everyone involved at the club is doing their damnedest to always improve, but in some cases there is scant evidence to support that. They say that defeat hurts and there is no possibility that they could want success more, but then they put in a half-arsed performance next time. So personally I think there’s room for improvement, and thus there is room for constructive criticism. Some see this as moaning.

“Who is going to do a better job than Arsène Wenger?”
Well this is a tricky one, because without the benefit of parallel universes, we’ll never know if someone else would have done a better job for any or all of the time Arsène Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal. Maybe there are parallel universes – as David Devant said, “Was there really only one big bang? Is there just one Kool & The Gang?” Who knows? But I’ll tell you who would do a better job than the Arsène Wenger of right now: the Arsène Wenger of 15 years ago. The Arsène Wenger who was prepared to try new things and spend relatively big money on players with real talent, and who identified targets and went for them without waiting till the last day of the transfer window. (Having said that, Gervinho was bought early in the window, so nothing’s guaranteed. I think he fails on the ‘real talent’ aspect though.)

In summary, we’ll never know whether someone else could have done a better job than Arsène Wenger, but I do know for sure that Arsène Wenger can do a better job than he is now. I’ve seen him do it.

And don’t say, “Times have changed” – I know they have, and you have to change with them, adapt to circumstances and keep trying to get better. If someone else has more money to spend, spend yours smarter. But also concentrate on things that can be done without spending huge money, like tactics and fitness. Get an advantage by drilling the defence until they know instinctively where their teammates are and what they’re doing. Don’t just rely on having more talented players than most clubs and letting the players get on with it, direct them.

And don’t even say “He’s still the best man for the job.” He may be, but he can still do his job better.

“Who are you to criticise? They’re the experts.”
I’m not saying being a successful football manager is easy. It’s clearly not. You need to be very good to succeed at it. But it’s not like brain surgery, where anyone just ‘having a go’ would fail completely; the basics are not that hard to grasp. Unfortunately, because only one team can win the league each season, there is a lot of room for the failures to point to all the mitigating circumstances and say, “Well if I had the money to buy all those players, I’d probably have won.” I’m looking at you, Fat Sam.

But just because it’s not easy to succeed doesn’t mean I can’t see when it’s being done badly, and perhaps even offer a solution or two, even though I’ve never worked half a day in football. Consider this: if I were in a plane that was being flown very badly, I’d know it was being flown very badly. I might not know how to do it better, but that wouldn’t stop me shouting, “FFS do something! No, something different to what you’re doing now, before we hit that bloody mountain!” And then I might offer a few suggestions. In the same way I can legitimately offer suggestions to football managers.

So don’t give me all this “You couldn’t do any better” bollocks, or think that certain people are above criticism just because they’re ‘experts’. Experts get things wrong. Think about some of the expert summarisers and pundits that TV and radio stations employ – do they know so much? Who caused the banking crisis? Banking experts.

So I, and many others, criticise, or ‘moan’ about Arsenal and what the players, management and Board do, because they can and often should do it better. That, in a nutshell, is why Arsenal annoy me.

When Arsenal achieve the perfection of winning every trophy every season, I’ll stop. In the meantime they should be striving for perfection, not just fourth place.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5


27 thoughts on “Why Arsenal Annoy Me

  1. This is a brilliant post!

    Sums up everything the majority of Neutral Arsenal fans (non-AKB and non-WOB) like myself feel.

    I get more annoyed being told things like “we have seen darker days…where were you in the 50’s and 60’s (not born but oh well)…Arsenal don’t have a divine right to win trophies, blah blah blah).

    Yes all of the above may be true to an extent…but with the resources we have available we must aim to do better than we have been over the last few years.

  2. Just out of curiousity – have you ever heard of a single team that is afraid of coming to Emirates because the home fans are so terrifying and loud, so vociferous in their support for Arsenal from the first minute to the last?

    Also how many teams boo their own players out of the country, even utility players that were bought for practically nothing and willingly served their manager’s call right back, left back, right wing and left wing all without compaining (Eboue). How many teams have fans that boo England internationals on their team (Walcott)?

    Just asking, while we’re on the theme of doing your job better.

  3. Moaners are loosers. Moaners are weak-minded, they are always the first to give up at the stadium. Pussies that think they know better by knocking my club. They target a player, put him under pressure by high-lighting mistakes and ignore the qualities. They cannot visualise winning cups, they only picture loosing, see the slightest ‘fault’ and amplify it. If you wanna start winning, you point out the qualities we do have. Have the strength to back- up support and defend your club. This squad is taking shape nicely, don’t knock it! Big-up the away crowd, **** the moaners. TOOO WEAK. I repeat, this squad is the biz, wake up.

    • In reply to Dave Highbury
      And you, too small and stupid, probably a layman who has such a low IQ that he is not aware of the time passing by, nor the lies being told constantly by the damn prof.
      So poor, that he cannot see that the team in the building will continue to be so for the next seven years (at least till Wenger is in charge). Someone who cannot understand that Wenger will not buy a dm because he is waiting for Frimpong and Coquelin (like the time we waisted in waiting for Song and Denilson) to be ready. And when that time comes for them , Cazorla, Arteta, Giroud and others wont be here. Then Wenger will wait for others to be ready. The brainless strong minded Dave will then understand ( at least i hope so) what a crap is the damn prof, who is building a fortune for Stan.
      Would the great (fool)Dave be able to recognise how Wenger is making fun of him by taking his hard earned pennies and keeping it safely in Stan bank account.
      Continue to live in your dreams my sweet little boy and enjoy it till it lasts.


      • Your pen-name and your insults directed at fellow gooners, as well as your poor command of the English language and your trite but irredeemably ignorance about AFC’s finances and management gives you away and reveals your agenda: bash Wenger and anyone with the temerity to offer an alternate image of the man that diverges from your ¨damn prof¨ hyperbole and bias.
        You have strayed from your cesspool at LeGrove website and should return forthwith in order to refresh your hatred and rancour, and please don’t let your ignorance interfere with your prejudice.

  4. My concern with Wenger is that I’m not sure he’s still able to motivate the players – it’s not so much the rousing speeches, second half performances suggest he can deliver a rocket when needed. But the continual fragility of the team’s psychology, the constant slow starts (due to fear?), these worry me. Some transfers work, some don’t. The squad could be bigger and better, but even our first team is underperforming at times. Spending money is an easy option; your point regarding the defending drills etc. is well made. I wonder if someone else would be getting more out of our players- but I have no idea who.

    As far as ziontrain’s comment goes, one of the things I liked about the emirates was the more refined atmosphere that appreciated good football. We do however need to get out of the habit of criticising those on the pitch whilst they are on the pitch. I felt disgusted at the treatment of Eboue, who was a hard worker going through a bad (terrible) patch.

    • “The squad could be bigger and better, but even our first team is underperforming at times. ”

      This is true but in fact these things are linked. Many starting players have little real competition for their jobs, which mean they play too much and get knackered. Was very clear with Arteta and Cazorla after a couple of months. Similary, Vermalen would be more consistent if he knew that Wenger was really willing freeze him for many games if Koscielny performed. Too many cases like this.

      In contrast you can see that competition is bringing the most out of Walcott and Giroud both wanting to start up top. And Cazorla seems to be realizing that Wilshere may eat his lunch. No doubt Nacho man’s arrival will make Gibbs wake up too. If only Szczesny had a real competitor we’d se more consistency from him.

      Squad size creates competition and quality.

  5. Made some valid points, not all of which I agree with, but I agree that constructive criticism is right, we have the right to question the club if all is not well. The only problem I have is those supporters who trying to justify abuse and heckling by calling it ‘moan’.

    Good read though 🙂

  6. I think the term “moaners” is a bit too broad for what you are actually trying to say.

    I’m a moaner too, absolutely. But I also agree 100% with what Ziontrain said. I do “moan” about certain policies and decisions that the club make but at the same time I’ve NEVER criticized Ramsey, Walcott, Eboue (love him, actually) and I’ve given my absolute all in supporting the club at all times.

    Moaners can be devinded into two sub-categories. The one being those, as you mentioned, who moan week in and week out. No matter how well we play, how bright the future looks they just moan the sh*t out of the club. And generally they have the worst grounds/arguments for this moaning as well. They are the WOB. To every rational argument you can give them, they just reply “8yrs trophyless, Wenger Out”. They are idiots.

    But the other class of “moaners”, where I include myself, and I believe the writer includes himself, are just criticizing or “moaning” constructively. It’s plain for all to see that there are a lot of improvements that can be made. That doesn’t mean we want Wenger out or we want Ramsey sold etc etc. I just means that we are not content with mediocrity. We want to see the club try its utmost to succeed and perform.

    I don’t expect miracles. I would just like a better effort. Excellent post, enjoyed it thouroughly.

  7. ” Adam Smith who said about 200 years ago something like: If everyone was happy with the poorest clothing, worst housing and meanest food, that’s all there would be ”

    Adam Smith’s theory is obviously not working … 1 Billion People starving to death … not because we don’t have enough food just because they can’t afford it ! And actually everyone is happy with the poorest clothing , worst housing etc… if we would live to the real sustainable standards we have achieved with technology … you wouldn’t pay for energy , nor would you pay for your 100 percent sustainable futuristic architecture flat. Also no one would die of malaria or starvation … there is enough for anyone… and remember before you just put me away in your utopist ” doesn’t know what he talks about drawer … if someone told you in the middle age the world was round you would have done the same thing.

    ok , now to football … please support another team !

  8. Blind loyalty is exactly that – blind. Right now we are being served greasy spoon food at Michelin*** prices. Anybody who denies this has his head firmly buried in the sand. But let’s direct our moans at the real culprits. The quality of the squad has diminished year on year through lack of investment in top-quality signings and because our best players have been sold off. Deliberate financial policy. Not Arsene’s policy, the regime’s policy, Stanley’s policy. Yes, a good manager can make do and mend – and that is precisely what Arsene has done. Not infallible, not blameless, but you don’t need a parallel universe to surmise it unlikely that another manager would have done any better. So, in essence, it comes down to this: the non-moaners believe that the current financial policy is in the best long-term interests of the Club, whereas the moaners (and I am one of them) do not.

    • You lose all credibility when you begin personalizing the debate with this sort of thing: “Not Arsene’s policy, the regime’s policy, Stanley’s policy.”

      It betrays a tendency to blind rage. The strategy that you would like to dub as “Stanley’s policy” (what is this first name nonsense anyway: some sort of Daily Mail/Sun/Express headline strategy?) is in fact a policy began by David Dein and Danny Fisman. Go back to 2005 or 2006 when Ashley Cole was jettisoned over a dispute of 5000 quid a week, WIltord and Edu allowed to go on free transfers etc.

      Mind you these were the same board that splashed out freely on Sol Campell’s record signing fee and so on. And they stopped spending.

      But somehow people think that after Kroenke forked over the better part of a billion to those two and their colleagues, he would go out on a spending spree? And they want to act like he is a villain. Why? They guy is merely continuing a long term strategy that was laid out and initiated by the same previous board leaders that you insist on canonifying.

      • To deal with your points: the tendency of fans is always to blame the manager – whereas past history indicates that when things go badly wrong, the main culprits are invariably owner/BoD/CEO – eg Rangers, Pompey, Leeds.
        Yes, the austerity policy was inaugurated by Danny (not David) with the screw tightening when Stanley was brought onto BoD as preferred owner 4 years ago and even more since he became majority owner almost two years ago.
        Finally, no, I do not expect Stanley to go on a spending spree: his record with his other sports ‘franchises’ shows him to be cautious, obstinate, unimaginative. His experience is in ‘owner-protected’ leagues and I fear that he is out of his depth in the shark-infested waters of PL and CL. What he seems not to understand is that mediocrity simply will not do here, not if the aim is to remain a Big Club. And no club can stay Big if it fails to contend for major trophies. Negative feedback eventually kicks in, with consequent reduced revenue and subsequent lack of finance for investment in quality players leading to continued failure on the pitch and even less revenue.
        So, to return to my main point, if Arsenal are to become major contenders again, ALL the resources and revenue of the Club must be used efficiently and solely for the benefit of the Club – which is simply not the case under the current regime, and thus we moaners have every right to moan.

      • “Yes, the austerity policy was inaugurated by Danny (not David) ”

        Sorry they are not my friends and I am not on a first name basis. Maybe you are. They were on the board and all fine with the cost cutting – except when the players happened to be clients of Darren Dein who got his money either way.

        Both David Dein and Danny Fisman sold Arsenal for every last penny they could flog it for – in no small part due to their skimping on expenses to squeeze every last bit of juice out of the accounts that the eventual sale would be based on. Anyone who knows the least bit about accounting knows that much. You’ll only hurt your credibility by pretending otherwise.

        Once those two set course on this austerity-and-stadium program and then sold for a high price – giving no shares or other form of control to the Arsneal fans, even though they had originally acquired the club for peanuts – it was pretty much written in stone that the next owner would either have to ride out the stadium payback period – or lose money.

        So why play some “Stanley did this and that” game. It’s childish and uninformed. You want to blame someone find Dein or find Fismans kids who are bathing in money today. That’s your club right there.

        We can gladly talk about what Wenger could have done bettr here and there but it largely an issue of his having faith that certain many players would grow $Øllocks that clearly arent dropping and wont. But again his sentiment and use of the socractic method is what has been his strength as a manager. I just wish he would insist on more IQ and courage tests when signing players. Otherwise not much can be done to top his job under the circumstances.

        In brief this is a matter of the manager coming up a bit short at a time when the club is giving him little or nothing to spend in net funds. And as a natural consequence of the previous owners’ rank greediness. Accusing the current ownership of mismanagement is really not accurate in this case. Face up to the fact of what it meant when Dein and Fisman first turned off the taps then subsequently cashed out to the tune they did and in the manner they did. It all was set in stone from there.

  9. ” If we win by one or two goals then there are clearly things that can be done better, so let’s try and do them better next time.”

    I guess we could do everything right and still win with just the one goal. This is football, goals are spare. And I rather see us winning regularly with one or two goals, rather than the 5-1s and 7-4s followed by defeats. That would show as a team of great strength rather than a team of great potential.

  10. This is the best post I have seen in the past two years. Extremely well written and funny also very true. Just couldn’t help but know a retard would comment “support another team blah” we support and love this club and want it to succeed. We aren’t aliens who plan to destroy the club from inside. We invest money in the club too and emotional energy. We just want to see improvements being made in places that obviously need it. Better team defending? Better squad depth? Squillaci and santos not being paid 50k a week etc..

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