Dennis Bergkamp once asked “I really like Arsenal but you, do you like Arsenal or Arsenal with trophies?” It is one of those in your face quotes. A quote that should sting all the Arsenal fans. Do we really like Arsenal or only the trophies that Arsenal win? I would like to stress that I am accusing no Arsenal fan in particular, it’s a question that I have long asked myself. Do I really love my club?
Each supporter has his own way of expressing his love for the club. Some are fortunate enough to be in England so they travel the length and breadth of the country following Arsenal week in week out spending their hard earned money and time. While the fans who are at a geographical disadvantage (States and Asia) compromise their health and time by watching the game at odd hours especially the European and midweek games. Most importantly all fans irrespective of his/hers location invests their emotional wellbeing in the club. A win liberates from our stress while a defeat will add to the misery.
Love and passion can make us do crazy things, we may not be superstitious in general but I can bet my life that most fans have certain pre match rituals. I, for instance, sit in a particular position the entire 90 minutes, don’t speak to anyone till half time and a recent addition to my existing ritual is that I always ask my friend for wishes before the game and trust me it has worked 100% so far. Lucky charm.
But not all we do is in support of the club. In this age of social media almost each and every minute in a game is scrutinised, one defeat leads to a crisis, one bad decision from a player leads to him being castigated and there is no longer a satisfaction within the fanbase. There’s no better example than Arsenal as no club has such a divided fan base than us, we conflict on opinions of Arsene Wenger, Stan Kroenke, some adore Ozil while others dismiss him as a luxury player, and so on. While we may have differing opinions the common thing we share is the love for Arsenal.
So is it mandatory that the Gunners should offer anything in return for our love (i.e trophies). Yes trophies and Championships are absolutely vital without a doubt. But isn’t love supposed to be unconditional, does it not become something of a trade if we demand something in return for our love? I am not saying trophies are inessential, but it’s not our birthright to win all the competitions we participate in. Arsenal are fortunate in the sense that they have the resources to have at least an outside chance of winning the league and at a distance, the Champions league.
There is more to Arsenal than mere trophies. We are not funded by a Russian oligarch or by a Dubai billionaire. We are self sufficient and we spend only within what we earn. That’s something to be proud of as an Arsenal fan. We always do things the right way, we follow FFP rules better than any top club and in Arsene Wenger we have a manager who has been such an ambassador of the game never mind the club and we play football the way it should be played. Not fans of all clubs can boast of such virtues. Arsenal is a special club and so is our love.
I believe I have rambled enough and my heart feels lighter. It’s a question that has perturbed me for days and I have finally found an answer to it. My conscience is clear, I don’t really expect the Gunners to sweep away everything before them, winning trophies and accolades although a trophy or two wouldn’t be bad. There is so much to love about Arsenal than just trophies.
I really like Arsenal, how about you?