Villa thoughts from the East Stand: the fans aren’t happy 17 May, 2011Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
This is usually the part where I apologise for disappearing again and round up what I have missed. Well I’ll tell you where I’ve been, I’ve just come off the back of one of the busiest working weeks of my life, so busy that I didn’t have time to write a blog, didn’t have time to catch up on the news and didn’t even have time for the luxury of sleep. I could’ve written on Friday or Saturday to preview the Villa game but frankly I felt inept having not read a line of Arsenal news in the week prior and I was catching up on some much needed sleep! Plus i went to watch Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield on Saturday in the League One Play-Offs for a bit of a change of footballing scenery.
It’s not like me to have avoided Arsenal news for so long, I’m sure that you’re just the same spending every day on different blogs reading up the latest news, gossip and opinion. It was kind of weird not having that last week but I guess it was a bit convenient as it sort of comes at a time when Arsenal isn’t exactly all bliss and wonderful. Since we last spoke we’ve gone and lost to Stoke and Villa, just two more losses to add to the huge pile of disappointment this year.
I was at the game on Sunday and it was a rather strange atmosphere, it all kicked off with the protest march outside the ground before the match, which almost set the tone for the day. I was in the ground with about half an hour to go until kick off and the stadium was rather empty at this point. In fact by the time we had kicked off it still hadn’t filled up and that was the way it stayed. It was still about 80%-90% full but there were empty red seats scattered all round the ground which just goes to show unless there’s been an epic flu outbreak in the North London area then a great deal of fans have seen quite enough for one season.
Then of course we were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes and that never turned around so people were pretty grumpy, including myself. Then late in the second half came the usual announcement of the attendance, which they claimed was 60,023, which is an absolute joke. I’ve been to the ground enough times to know what 60,000+ looks like and that was not it on Sunday. That number denotes there being a packed-out stadium to the eye and that’s not what we had, it was definitely a 58,000-59,000 number yesterday. They’ve done this all season though; they announce the attendance as the number of tickets that got sold not the number of people that turn up. Why are they doing this? Are they scared to show that they’re losing support or are they just unaware of the definition of the word attendance? The number should represent the number of fans that attend the match, not including those that had a valid ticket for the game and didn’t bother going along.
Anyway it’s a silly thing to get caught up on but the announcement of this number sparked a large portion of the crowd to start the boos and jeers. You could hardly hear the announcer say, “Arsenal Football Club would like to thank you for your continued support…” for all the boos ringing around. This led on to chants of, “6%, you’re having a laugh!” And, “Spend some fucking money!” There were others that I couldn’t quite make out but there was definitely hostility being directed at the directors’ box and bench. I’ve since heard that you could tell Wenger picked up on these chants and looked like he felt quite uncomfortable by them. In one way I want to say ‘good’ but another part of me feels bad for him.
I can’t remember this well another time when I’ve seen such a majority of fans turn against the club like I’m seeing at the moment. The disappointment on the pitch combined with the price hike in the stands has left most fans bitterly angry. I have this strong feeling that we’re starting to become more like customers to the club than fans and sometimes that gets to me.
I’m not trying to say that I’m part of that percentage of fans that are actively campaigning against the club and I’m not one of the thousands that booed the team on Sunday but I’d say I’m in the large majority that feels like something isn’t quite right and I’m utterly disappointed. Unusually for the final home game of the season there were fans leaving with 10 minutes to go this weekend, any other game I’d just think it was normal but not this one. Then on the final whistle it seems the majority was heading for the exits and only a few stayed behind to watch the ‘lap of appreciation’. Given the opportunity, I have always stayed behind for this, I don’t know why I just quite like to see the players off one last time ahead of a boring summer but this time around after the final whistle I upped and left. I was pretty gutted about our performance and it typified the way we had failed this season and I just didn’t see any reason to hang around this time. You could say I was a bit depressed with the way everything had gone, I was genuinely upset walking up those stairs and although I had to think for a minute whether I wanted to stay or not I think I did the right thing.
I think this was the feeling that most felt however some did stay behind. Some stayed to applaud the players off as they came round and thanked the fans for their support however a staggering number seemed to stay behind simply to boo their team. I’ve seen videos and highlights from this lap and you can hear boos quite clearly through the applause. It’s a bit sad really I think, I mean as fans we have every right to show how we feel but for those people to go out of their way to boo the team was a bit wrong. I think what those people should’ve done what I did and head for the exits, I think the shock of the amount of empty seats for the lap would’ve hit home to the players and manager much stronger than a few boos. That’s just my opinion.
I’m not going to lie but earlier on Sunday I was thinking ‘this is our chance to wave goodbye to Cesc’ but I didn’t stay to bother. It’s sad thinking that I might not ever see him play again but oh well. His season is over, he wont be playing at Fulham either so we may have just seen the last of Cesc Fabregas in an Arsenal shirt. It’s going to be an interesting summer and he is just one of a few that could be going through the exit door at London Colney.
It’s set to be a busy, busy summer for Arsenal. In terms of transfers we desperately need to strengthen yet again and especially with the price rise fans are going to be angry if we don’t spend that extra money. I’m not quite sure who we might look to bring in yet, but there are a few names already being talked about for the exit. Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Bendtner, Arshavin, Rosicky, Gibbs, Denilson and maybe a couple others all have some probability of leaving this transfer window. Over the next few weeks Wenger will be having talks with some of these players about their futures and don’t be surprised if a few of those names are no longer with us come August. If there are to be departures I hope they are sorted out quickly though, I can’t be arsed to go through a whole summer of speculation and I the sooner they’re gone the sooner we can look to replace. All this talk is for another day and another blog post though.
It feels very much like the end of the season but we’ve got one more game to go away to Fulham. We’ve got pride to play for now and the small matter of automatic Champions League qualification which is now out of our hands.
Thanks for reading.