The Importance of the Supporters’ Belief in the Side

By on March 16, 2010

It seems to me that the last month or so has seen a sea change in the Arsenal support. Following the double defeats to Chelsea and United, the anti-Wenger boo-boys were out in full force calling for the Boss’s head on a platter and a swift end to his “personal project.” Five weeks, qualification for the Champions League Quarterfinals, and five League wins later, Arsenal are in the midst of their best chance at a title since 2004-05.

For most of last season and much of this season, a very vocal minority of Arsenal supporters have given up faith in Arsene and do everything they can to let everyone know it. Those of you who frequent forums or nameless Arsenal blogs of that persuasion know what I am talking about.

However, with the prospects of a title as good as they’ve been in years, the deluge of anti-Wenger protests have diminished from the ubiquitous Arsenal newsfeeds. Now, I am not naive enough to believe that just the prospect of winning the title will change these supporters’ minds and I am quite sure that if we even lose the title by 1 point they will be back in full force throughout the summer. Yet, for now, they seem to have gotten behind the manager, the players, and the club.

Of course, there are still a few rogues. 606 played host to one of the most idiotic rants from an Arsenal fan I have ever heard this past Saturday. If you heard it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Others continue to deride Nicklas Bendtner as if the Burnley match was indicative of his season so far obviously failing to realize that he has now scored 6 goals in his last five games including a hat-trick in a second-leg of a European tie and a last-minute winner away to Hull which kept our league season alive. What more can the kid do? Attitudes like that do not help the club.

However, the majority of supporters have gotten behind the club and the players. Perhaps, the incident most indicative of this change involved Bendtner. After one of the most inept and unlucky displays of finishing we have seen in a long time, the supporters at the Emirates stayed behind him, even clapping him off. This was in stark contrast to the treatment Emmanuel Eboue received back in December 2008 against Wigan.

Supporters received a lot of stick in the media following their booing off of Eboue. To his greatest credit, Eboue didn’t put his head down or take the easy way out and ask for a transfer, though he was obviously hurt. Now, 15 months on, he is an indispensable part of the club as the best back-up right-back in the league and a genuine wide-attacking option. His versatility and his spirit have proven invaluable this season.

The contrast between the treatment of Eboue and Bendtner is the single best indicator that the supporters, who over the last two years have almost split into pro- and anti-Wenger factions, have dropped their petty differences to get behind the club for these 13 possible remaining fixtures.

Arsene has always spoken about the importance of belief for the players, but, last year at a Q & A with the fans in May, he spoke of how important the supporters’ belief was to the club. Not only is the side growing in confidence and belief but so are the supporters… and the players know it. They know that for the first time in a long while the supporters believe in them, and that could make all the difference over the last two months of the season.



  1. Comrade23

    March 16, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Great piece as usual. Unfortunately the Grovers aren’t going anywhere. I had a long argument on Arsenal Away Boyz’ facebook page yesterday with someone who was slagging off Bendtner, Eboue and Eduardo. Makes me sick how these people call themselves Arsenal supporters when they don’t support the club so much as look for failure. Buying a ticket doesn’t entitle someone to being a twat.

  2. ArsenalStation

    March 16, 2010 at 11:15 am

    “Look for failure” pretty much nails it. You get the sense that they want Arsenal to fail so they are justified. That kind of attitude just makes me sick. I may be more optimistic than alot of supporters but I believe that they are a minority. But their vocal presence on the web makes it seem as if they are larger in number than they actually are and the media then portrays that way: “Arsenal fans upset with Wenger.” As if it’s all of us that feel like that… that upsets me the most. How much better would it feel to win the title after believing in the club all season even after the bad results and everyone else writing us off than to have slagged the team off for most of the year?

    • Comrade23

      March 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

      It would feel fantastic, of course. But the flip side is that the Grovers would be celebrating just like you and I would, even though they’re the first to lash back at AW and the club at the first sign of a poor display. You may be right that their presence all over the intarwebs makes their numbers appear increased, but I do tend to see a great many of that “sell so-and-so, he’s shit” mentality out there. I hope you’re right. If there’s ever been a reason to get behind Arsenal and cheer them on, this season is it.

  3. pete smith

    March 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

    great article….we should always all be right behind the lads, but now we definitely all need to be pulling in the same direction!


  4. Biggy

    March 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I think we are getting ourselves into a tiddle over nothing. What is this dispute about? That we are now more in agreement than we were a couple of months ago? In just sounds stupid!

    You support a team because you have an opinion and having an opinion does not end there. From ages supporters have analysed the performance of individual players in the team either at the pub, in school or more lately on the net. Some of the criticism to me have been completely unfounded but this in itself does not mean they should be banned from having the opinions.

    As in most spheres of life, a healthy amount of criticism is useful if not indispensible for a viable self evaluation which ultimately leads to improvements.

    Relax guys and have a nice day .. what is left of it.

    • Comrade23

      March 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      The issue is in fact the booing of our own players at matches. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have an opinion on players. Quite often I’m rather down on Denilson and Silvestre. But that anyone can defend the booing off of Eboue is ridiculous. What of Bendtner being clapped off, then putting in a hat trick against Porto? It is NEVER a good thing to boo your own. It’s completely counter-productive and kills the confidence of the player in question.

      • Nick

        March 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm

        Sometimes as a fan you can see that playing someone is just not working out. The frustrating thing is that the player is left there for what seems like ethernity hurting the team instead of contrubuting to it match after match. The frustration builds to an intense level that something has got to give. This is why you see such an unedifying spectacle.

        I would not boo any of our players myself, but I can understand why some would. The question is: ‘is there a middle ground?’ Can one express these feelings at a forum that would not be playing into the hands of our opponents? I believe that this is a more useful debate than wondering why people feel the way they do.

        • ArsenalStation

          March 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

          I believe that there is. I am not in any sense a blind follower of Arsene. I have criticized certain tactical decisions when I felt it was justified. However, after not seeing anything in Song or Diaby and then both of them having greatly improved, I tend to defer to his judgment on players. But I think that questioning moves made by the manager is not playing into the hands of the opposition. However, publishing articles on the web about how Wenger is a liar, doesn’t care about the club, etc… does. I think you’re right that it is a fine line but it’s also obvious when someone has crossed it. When you get the feeling that the person wants Arsenal to fail so their own personal judgment of Wenger is vindicated, that’s going too far and most certainly playing into the hands of our opponents.

          • Biggy

            March 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm

            Thans for pointing out the fact that there is a difference between personal attack and questioning some decisions. I have to agree with you that our manager’s judgement on players is second to none. Indeed I am quite frustrated with Denilson and still bemused at his inclusion in some must win matches. At the same time, I am hoping that the manager’s faith is going to be re-paid fully soon and my resevations are going to be washed away.

            In fact I have seen an article in the past so full of vile and insults on the manager, that I have been forced to reply suggesing that AW had a case for slander.

      • Biggy

        March 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

        It is wholy inappropriate to boo our own players in a match situation. However, this does not mean that one should never voice an opinion.

        Even for those who boo, it must surely be a last resort in an effort to make their feelings known! Eboue was a very influential player, but for some reason his game went to pieces and he should have been protected by being taken off for a few matches and nurtured. Surely Arsenal has a retinue of psychologists and trainers for this. Instead he was left to his own devices and this led to the booing problem. If I am honest with you I would say that I was quite ashamed of this and furious with management for leting it go on for so long.

        I am glad that he has found his form again and he is firing on all cylinders.

      • Daxxjoker

        March 17, 2010 at 8:05 am

        Yeah ! It is that clapping that got him a hat-trick against Porto.Not 2 monkey-chances converted into goals,and also 1 penalty.

        Those that people who buy tickets have every right to boo our players.That will,for sure,let them know that they can not play like that and that they must improve.

  5. spit yo game

    March 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    It seems the booing of eboue done him the world of good,just look at his performances now.

    • Comrade23

      March 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      Are you Chelsea in disguise? That’s Chav mentality.

  6. GunnerX

    March 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    There’ always been descent amongst supporters, however the rise of the Internet and various blog sites and supporters forums where anyone can have their say, just makes that debate very public. Having said that we certainly do not need to knock our team or the manager as there’s plenty of those doing that on a daily basis. But it is good see most Gooners getting right behind out team, win or lose, that’s the only way.

  7. Steve 26

    March 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    It’s not a matter of supporting the club we all support the club, it’s I suppose that Wenger at times speaks when he shouldn’t, getting fans hopes up of a new signing, and then it’s seems sometimes like a lot of smoke signals coming from the board saying we have the means to buy a David Villa type player.
    Honesty that’s what is needed but it won’t come.
    I have faith in Wenger always have even when I want to step away I can’t cause it’s more than a religion it’s ARSENAL!
    Also blind faith in anything or anyone is never a good thing but Wenger deserves a chance to see this project thru to the end… we owe him that, for the beauty of football at times.
    Could you imagine if we had a decent keeper we’d sweep the floor with everyone!

    • Daxxjoker

      March 17, 2010 at 8:11 am

      Not a decent keeper,Steve.We are a top class club – and we need that kinda keeper.
      All the big clubs have one,except Barca and Real.
      Barca don’t need one,cause they can compensate that with every other player on the pitch.
      As for Real – they are only big in Madrid.Someone average like Iker is good enough for them.

      • Comrade23

        March 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

        Daxx, please say you’re being sarcastic. Casillas is average? He’s arguably the best keeper in the world, and Valdes is no slouch, himself.

        • ArsenalStation

          March 17, 2010 at 10:44 am

          He’s not being sarcastic… he never is. He’s deadly serious.

          • Comrade23

            March 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

            I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that.

          • Daxxjoker

            March 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

            Exactly.Deadly serious.If you think that the keeper that doesn’t ever leave his line to pick up crosses (cause he will get lost if he does)and who saves only the shots going straight into him – you are dumber then I thought.

            Real was criticized for not having more players from own youth ranks reaching the first team.So they added Guti and Iker to Raul,and some others.But decided only to stick with those 2 cause they weren’t as bad as Pavon,Mejia and other junk coming from Real academy.

            To say he is the best keeper in the world – that’s just being stupid for fun.To say that he is the most overrated keeper of all time – now,that’s a legit thinking.

            Juventus,Roma,Inter,Schalke,CSKA,Manchester,Chelsea,Liverpool – keepers from these clubs are all better then Iker.With,ofc,Buffon being 2 classes above them all.

            Only we don’t have one,cause Wenger always looks at the worst keepers in the market.Right,,Taylor,Shaban,Lehmann.Almunia,Fabianski and now – we are interested in Muslera – currently the worst keeper in football world.

          • Comrade23

            March 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

            Admittedly, Arsene has had a few misses on signing keepers in the past. But to call Lehmann one of the “worst keepers in the world” is a bit strong for a key member of the Invincibles. Not only that, we have Sczezny waiting in the wings who looks quite a talent. I don’t remember Wenger admitting interest in Muslera, so it may be another tabloid fabrication. I haven’t seen enough of the man to make a judgment as Italian football is mind-numbingly dull, but I find it hard to believe he’s actually the worst in the world since you’re so free with the term.

            However, you must be the only person in the world who slates Casillas this way. I’ll ask you this: Would you have him over what we have right now? I certainly would, not that Real would ever sell him.

          • ArsenalStation

            March 20, 2010 at 9:17 am

            I agree. Seeing you name Lehmann in that group stretched your credibility a bit, Daxx. Lehmann was the kind of keeper, who though prone to the occasional gaff, could win matches for you. I also disagree with your assessment of Casillas. Over the last 2-3 years, since Cech’s accident, he’s been one of the top 2 keepers in the world along with Buffon. At least, that’s my opinion.

  8. jonathan

    March 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I have full faith in Arsene Wenger to do the right thing, he has done so much for the club and as Steve said…we do owe him the chance to see his project through to the end. I hope that he stays for another 10-15 years.

    As for the whole Bendtner situation, I can not lie, I used to talk crap about him all the time! Then I thought to myself, what good is that gonna do? Not that he will probably ever hear me, or read the things that I write, he and the rest of the team need our full support to push them through to victory, not put them down.

    When Eboue got booed off the pitch, it really upset me, and my heart went out to him. I was frustrated with his performance, but he did not deserve that. Just from what I have read it seems that he is a really emotional person and easy to have his feelings hurt. He is apparently a really great guy off the pitch. He has definately proved all the haters wrong, and I am proud of him. Heck…even Bendtner is proving everyone wrong. Good on him.

    I am proud of the whole team this season for really pulling together and overcoming so many things. Just think where we would be if we have had RVP healthy, not to mention all the other guys that got shit on by the injury fairy! Keep the faith you gooners and cheer on the team to a well deserved victory!

    • ArsenalStation

      March 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      I seriously think that if RvP hadn’t gotten injured in a damn international friendly that we’d be top of the league right now. Certainly a guy who had 8 goals and 7 assists in 15 matches would’ve earned the club at least 3 points over the next 20+ matches. Add in to that a decent keeper or less injuries to our strikers and we could have been favorites to win the league by now. Though I worry about Gallas not coming back anytime soon. Can Campbell and Silvestre get the job done over 13 desperately important matches especially against the quality of opponents we will see in the QF and SF of the CL? And can they bounce back physically from that in time for each of the following league fixtures?

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