Arsenal: 5 Reasons Why Fans Were Right to Boo Arsene Wenger
Arsenal are practicing the virtues of prudence and fiscal responsibility. Some fans don't get it and they are frustrated, but even those who do are unsure how long they can hang on without the touch, the glitter and the prestige of silverware.
Frustration is gathering force.
Last Sunday it exploded briefly in boos directly at the club manager, Arsene Wenger. I don't agree with mindless booing, but booing is not always wrong.
In the following, I discuss five reasons or perspectives by which one could say it was right for the fans to boo their embattled manager.
I hope you enjoy reading them. If you do, please leave constructive comments.
Your Superman Should Not Suck
In the real world of fantasy, supermen do not suck. They always save the world; they always win. This is important because in the real world our supermen suck…always. They suck because we have a warped view of what a superman is.
In the fairy world of our imagination, we accomplish amazing things—we speak seven languages, we get the beautiful girl or the handsome guy; we dazzle our potential employer with our brilliant performance at the interview for our dream job. We rush headlong to the subway track to snatch the helpless victim away from certain death just in the nick of time.
We finally get the chance to appear on Britain’s Got Talent or American Idol, and what’s more, we win the entire thing. We hit a jackpot and donate the proceeds to charity to feed the poor souls in drought-ravaged Sudan, the whole world is astounded and we receive universal acclaim, etc.
The fairy land of our imagination is an unending fantasy that constantly plays in our minds. The hero is always us. Only problem is reality makes mockery of our fantasies. So we get others to act out our fantasies for us—celebrities, sportsmen and women.
We project ourselves to our chosen alter egos—our favorite actors, our favorite sports team, etc.
Like in the incessant fantasy in our minds, we want our alter ego to always win. “Boom, boom, boom,” goes the action movie to our delight. Rambo kills all the villains, manages to dodge all the bullets and grenades. Our crush remains young and beautiful or strong. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, always win.
Only that, like in our personal reality, doesn’t happen. Arsenal lose too many times. What’s more, they can suddenly decide to go on an injury spree (didn’t they ever know that supermen doesn’t get injured?) or on a losing streak.
Having lived long enough in the real world to know life is different from the reel of fantasy in our heads, we don’t mind the minor or odd setback in our alter egos.
We accept that there’s that crack in time when we are shocked to see that our crush is not that beautiful (handsome), as a matter of fact, we find them rather repulsive in that fleeting moment. We are okay with this because this happens only in the odd moment.
It give us the psychological fix that comes from being the underdog, the one trampled upon by the mighty, but who one day shall rise surely to strike the mighty Goliath. So what happens when we beat Barcelona in London?
There you have it.
Now here’s the odd thing: we call Arsenal, “we.” That’s the problem. We don’t lose in our fantasy land, barring the odd wrinkle in time.
The “we” does not go on a losing streak. The “we” always makes the right substitution. The “we” always scores and does not shoot directly at the ‘keeper like Theo Walcott. The “we” never makes defensive errors…come to think of it, the “we” in our dream never concedes any goals.
That’s not totally true. “We” deliberately concede to make for the climatic ending.
Fact is, life sucks. Life limits. Life reminds us too rudely of our impotence.
Our sport teams empower us. They are the rabbit hole through which we gain access to the wonderland of our dreams. Our teams release the supermen and superwomen in us. It is the reason why it’s expedient that our teams do not suck.
When they do, they become useless to us, too mundane, too real life.
Ask any Arsenal fan right now, he or she would say that Arsenal are too much like real life. The superman is really a latex-padded runt.
The real object of the fans' anger isn’t Arsene Wenger per se. If Wenger can somehow revive their superman, make him a true Übermensch again, the boos would dry up to be replaced by the clichéd chorus, “In Wenger we Trust.”
Yes, the fans were right to boo the man they perceive (note the word) as the obstacle between them and the alter ego they know, the one who fulfills their fantasy. They want to be like other nations so who can blame them for voicing this desire in the strongest of terms?
Boos were right.
Losing Is a Defeat of Hope
“Hope endures forever,” says one of the ancient writers. “Hope keeps us going,” we can safely say without risk of contradiction. I was brought up (and I’m sure you’ll relate) to think this.
“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/With peace on earth, good will to men," writes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
When Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea play, the man or woman in India, in Australia, in Ghana, in Mexico joins the brotherhood and sisterhood of fellow fans in a shared experience. That’s the “good will” part.
The teams on the pitch enact on a miniscule scale the big, meta drama of life, where good vies with evil, hope with despair, faith with doubt.
When our team wins, Longfellow’s prophecy momentarily comes to pass. That’s the hope part. When our team loses, we are reminded subconsciously of life’s unforgiving blows and setbacks.
The knowledge that we will win the next match keeps hope alive. We feel assured that the message Longfellow proclaims in this poem is true, must be true. Humanity will prevail. Our teams represent that—hope, triumph, fortitude, perseverance, determination.
When our teams go on losing streaks they contradict this vision of hope. We despair. We are wounded. We feel helpless. We react; we are only humans.
In a sense, when we boo, it can represent defiance in the face of adversity. However, it can just as much represent childish tantrums.
But if we bear the “reaction part” in mind, then we can forgive the fans for booing.
Being human makes it right, even though it may not at times be the right thing to do. What matters is that we recover ourselves; we pick ourselves up and move on. Booing becomes a problem only when it becomes a habit.
Booing can be to spite defeat, that troublesome abstractive monster that dogs our steps at every turn. Often, though, booing is misdirected.
Booing Could Be Democracy
Cheering is approval: We like what you are doing. It represents our ideal. Keep it up.
Cheering can be encouragement: Please keep trying. Hang in there. Is there anything we can do to help?
Booing is disapproval: What on earth are you doing? Goodness, you are a professional, show us you’re qualified to do the job. You better amend your ways!
Booing can be destructive. Many people go on daily shows on television to complain about their father, mother or teacher.
You: There was never a word of approval (sob) from my (sob) teacher (sob)!
Presenter: You felt unwanted…
You: (sob) Yes…I felt unappreciated (sob)…
Presenter: By your teacher…
You: (sob) Yes, (sob, sob, sob) and…
Presenter: This has left a lifelong scar…
You: (prolonged sobbing) Yes…(prolonged nodding of the head)
Pardon me for being too dramatic, but each us may have one or another story to tell about some psychological damage we carry from some thoughtless word or deed.
Now think sixty-thousand people telling you every week (no, every day when you include the media) how terribly you suck; sixty-thousand people groaning whenever you touch the ball; sixty thousand people questioning your every move at every turn, and tell me that doesn’t do some psychological damage. It’s especially so when it becomes abuse.
Booing when applied discreetly is good, when applied thoughtlessly is destructive.
Booing can be democracy, the fans’ freedom to have a say in the club's affair.
It’s safe to say that without the fans the club is nothing more than a collection of individuals who share a hobby. Booing can help put pressure on the powers that be to make adjustment in areas that need retooling.
The key then is discreetness. Uncontrolled hysteria helps no one. Arsenal fans by and large are supportive, so the booing last Sunday is understandable.
Now we all can get back on track supporting the club we love.
Booing Could Be Psychological Release
Oh the tension of 90 minutes. The team throws away the match. You can’t contain it anymore, so you boo and it feels good. There, you got it off your chest.
The players walk off the pitch with their tails between their legs (nothing untoward intended), and again, how good it feels.
Andrei Arshavin? The only way you can get at him for his sloppy play is…yes, by booing him…it feels good again.
Arsene Wenger? How else can you get him to spend a little? That one felt particularly good. Whew!
There’s more, that psychological curiosity where a child (of the house) is punished just to get back at the neighbor! Apply this however you want.
Fact is, it’s not a pleasant think to be serially defeated. It’s psychologically damaging, so who can blame the fans for taking their pound of flesh?
And what’s that?
Booing, of course.
Don’t you know that players run around the pitch with cheers in one pocket and boos in the other? The fans have the prerogative to ask for any of those any time they choose
Sporting Events Are Childish Moments
Adults lose their senses and behave like children. They shout; they rage; they cry; they hug.
Life is too demanding. Life is a meaningless cycle of tedious labors. Sporting events afford us moments of release. Here, we can be happy. Here, we can loosen up. Here, we can forget our prejudices (!). Here, we can worship weekly with others in the colossal temple.
Here, we can be entertained.
Other than the psychological rush that comes from victory and its subconscious implication on life in general, over and above all, sporting events are meant to entertain us.
We are animals who can’t live without entertainment, so we buy entertainment.
One can get it, then, why boos can result when the team fails to provide the entertainment that was hoped for. In fact, one would totally understand it and encourage it at every turn if nothing other than entertainment were involved.
But there is. Loyalty.
Loyalty does not preclude disapproval, it, however, mitigates it. Booing may have been psychologically appropriate on Sunday, but if the whelming emotions are not quelled, they’ll smother and kill the other aspects of fanhood: loyalty and dedication.