Arsenal fans have seen their star players leave, bad performances, have staged protests and put up banners, now they are absent for games and perhaps rightly seek changes.
At first, the problem seemed a temporary one when empty patches of seats emerged at the Emirates Stadium during games. Initially, it was thought of as a little retaliation from fans who had just seen their team efficiently surrender any lingering hopes of a top-four finish, as well crashing out of the FA Cup.
The home game against Manchester City represented a perfect example of what fans want from their side. Of course, there are instances with every football club, big or small, to see fans leave in numbers when their team is underperforming or losing to the opposition, but seeing this picture right from the first whistle has been a first time experience for Arsenal Football Club.
The Manchester City game would have, in previous seasons, represented something of a crunch tie, but an unenthusiastic Emirates crowd, coupled with Arsenal’s miserable performance on the pitch dominated proceedings as the Gunners were deservedly thumped by the then champions-elect.
In recent games, however, the feeling has grown to a likelihood these fans holding those expensive Arsenal season tickets would undoubtedly be missing and they were. The puzzling thing was their absence for the crunch UEFA Europa League quarter-final against CSKA Moscow last week, and it happened against Arsene Wenger’s predictions that they will eventually turn up, which they did not.
But why is this happening? Are the fans of tired of this season and do not care how it pans out, even if Arsenal go on to win the Europa League? Or are they trying to send a strong message to the management, to change things around? They apparently look like they’ve had enough.
On the contrary, Arsenal fans have been there for the club through the most difficult of times in the recent past. These are the fans that saw the invincible team broken down, seen title challenges falter, a captain sitting on the pitch crying, defeats to fellow European giants and the list goes on. The point being, there are no complaints against the Gunners’ base for lack of support, they have given their all, a generation that has seen the rise and fall of Arsenal
Ian Wright recently pointed out the total discontent among the fans and the fact that they have tried different ways to voice their opinions and need for change at a club which was once regarded a powerhouse in the country and in Europe.
His point of view is that Arsenal fans have seen some of their great players leave, teams that have been incompetent on the pitch, lose title challenges including the recent one to Leicester City and their inability in the transfer market. Finally, some much-maligned internal politics that have also derailed the team’s seasons were to blame. Arsenal fans have now taken the extreme measure in the hope their message reaches those in power to make the changes happen.
The fans are calling for changes: a change of manager, some of the players who weren’t there when needed the most, probably even a shift in approach or style which, although a thing of form, but one that lacks end product. Arsenal fans are not coming to the stadium as a sign of displeasure of the results, but to rebel against their beloved club.
They are unhappy because their team, despite being giants of English football are written off from the title race even before the season begins. Arsenal have become something of a hit and miss team because of their inconsistent displays on the pitch.
Gunners faithful are discontent because their team, once a feared side are becoming toothless as time passes on. If this approach continues into next season, there is a great danger that Arsenal will have problems filling up their stadiums for home games and might even lose their faithful away supporters, who despite the team’s abysmal form on the road, have stuck with their support for the team.
Arsenal cannot afford to wait for Wenger to run down his final years’ contract, they have to let go of players who are not performing and show some grit and fight to become a powerhouse again. Everyone knows a title win may be too much of a dream these days, but the fans expect a fight for it, they want the team to show the desired hunger to win games, they need their Arsenal back and firing.
Until then expect empty seats at the Emirates and a total lack of support from the ones that are present. Arsenal are a club heading towards turmoil, and the ball is lying still in the club’s court, but they seem reluctant to pick it up and play their turn.
Will Arsenal fans bring the desired changes with their protests? Let us know in the comments.