Why Arsenal Fans Should Stand Behind Mesut Ozil Instead of Criticizing Him

H Andel@Gol Iath @gol_iathAnalyst IIIFebruary 20, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal misses from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and FC Bayern Muenchen at Emirates Stadium on February 19, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Journalists need to complete their quotas. Those pages need to be filled up, so any well-beaten horse will do, like Jeremy Wilson's piece in the Daily Telegraph about how Mesut Ozil is not worth his £42.5 million switch from Real Madrid to Arsenal or Jonathan Harwood of The Week's view that Ozil is becoming Arsenal's new Andrey Arshavin.

All this is nonsense, of course.

First of all, a number of reporters are in the business of being nasty. Refer, for example, to the confrontation between Andre Villas-Boas and the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton.

I felt the attack was uncalled for and AVB was well within his rights to react as he did. In the same way, many reporters target a player and continually ride his back for a time.

For instance, the Daily Mirror's John Cross has been going on about Ozil for a while now.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Mesut Ozil of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Fulham at Emirates Stadium on January 18, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

This, of course, helps destroy a player's confidence so that a player who hitherto has performed well in other leagues is suddenly shorn of confidence upon his arrival in England. The Arshavin situation is a good example, as is the case of Gervinho. One may add others, such as the case of Denilson.

Right now, Ozil is the one under attack.

No one is saying that reporters should not write whatever they choose, only that they should do so responsibly. This means examining a situation objectively rather than sensationally just to stir up the pot or create waves.

More responsible writers have noted that a number of players switching to England from foreign leagues often experience a dip in their first season.

Even Bergkamp took time to settle at Arsenal.
Even Bergkamp took time to settle at Arsenal.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In a number of cases, the player never lives up to expectation in this period. Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, David Silva et al. are all good examples.

If this is so, why is Ozil's situation any different?

He has played in virtually every one of Arsenal's matches since his switch from Real Madrid. Is it any wonder then that he might be a little worn out, especially since common consensus is that the English league is more physically demanding than other European leagues?

Moreover, Ozil appears to be experiencing the first-season dip that has been problematic to other superstars in the past. Should that not call for cutting him some slack?

There is another dimension to all this: the effect of Arsenal's fans on their players.

My observation is that fans' reaction to a number of Arsenal players in the past few years has caused more harm than good.

Good examples are Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal (11) celebrates with Aaron Ramsey as he scores their fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

On this very website, I battled for an entire season the notion that Walcott isn't good enough for Arsenal and therefore should not be offered another contract, but instead should be sold off.

I believe only few would say so now, even though I am convinced that Walcott has yet to fulfill his full potential.

In the case of Ramsey, the abuse was nasty to the point that some took to uttering ugly sentiments, which should not be echoed. The gist was that he isn't Arsenal material.

Is there anyone in his right mind still thinking so?

Before Arsenal, Gervinho was superb. At Arsenal, constant abuse and criticism shattered his confidence. After Arsenal and now at Roma, he is flourishing.

GervinhoPaolo Bruno/Getty Images

This has nothing to do with any notion of a more difficult league in terms of technical quality, it has more to do with an acerbic bunch of fans who are intolerant, impatient and inconsiderate.

If the complaint hitherto has been that Arsenal have not in a long while signed a world-class player, now having signed one, has the player suddenly gone from world-class to dung? If so, why is this the case?

Is Arsenal a bigger club or a higher challenge than Real Madrid? If a player distinguishes himself in a club that is arguably of higher pedigree than Arsenal, should we not pause to ask reasonable questions if he is seen to fail at meeting his potential?

This is where the inconsiderate and impatient fans have failed, and this is where irresponsible journalism shows its ugly face.

But whereas fickle reporters might perceive their job as consisting of tearing down individuals, should Arsenal fans join them in doing so?

To do so is clearly foolish, especially since we know that a number of past Arsenal heroes displayed the same symptoms now manifested by Ozil.

In other words, his dip isn't unnatural or inexplicable, nor is it tantamount to failure or going from quality to dung.

Should Ozil have converted the penalty against Bayern Munich in Wednesday's Champions League match? Of course.

Arsenal fans should show Ozil support.
Arsenal fans should show Ozil support.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Did failure to do so affect his confidence? Naturally, as should be expected of any human being. Should Arsenal fans therefore jump on his back, mock, cast scorn upon or beat him down? No, because that would be foolish and wouldn't be helpful to the remainder of Arsenal's season.

As a good and properly functioning family, Arsenal fans should rally behind Özil, encourage, cheer up, assure and support him, tell him it is normal to experience some dip in form in a physically tasking league, that other great stars before him have experienced the same.

This is the proper thing to do. As for the journalists, they only show their real colors. Good ones will always be measured and objective.


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