Someone recently said to me “Unai Emery is neglecting the clubs values.” I responded by asking “what are the clubs values.”
I thought it was a simple question, but the response was also predictable; “if you do not know the clubs values then can you really call yourself an Arsenal fan.”
The question was the rephrased as “which Arsenal values do you believe Emery is neglecting” and again the response came back as “as an Arsenal fan you should know,”
This went in circles 5 times until it hit me, the person making the original statement did not have a clue about Arsenal’s values; he just said it is a throwaway statement without knowing how he was going to justify it.
It then got me thinking; what are the clubs values? What are our principles and standard of behaviour?
I imagine the original Tweeter was talking about playing the Arsenal way.
The “Arsenal Way” is an awful statement. Something made up. Just like the “West Ham Way” or the “United Way”. It means nothing.
Some will argue that the Arsenal Way is how we play football. Free flowing, possession based, attacking football. But this is not the Arsenal Way. This is the way we played under Arsene Wenger for about half of his tenure under him.
The double of 1998 was built on defence rather than attack. Under George Graham it was “boring boring Arsenal”. Attacking football certainly is not one of the clubs values.
So I attempted to come up with some club principles, and felt that there was evidence of Arsenal values.
The first is in the club moto Victoria Concordia Crescit. I like many have it tattooed on myself. It stands for “Victory Grows Through Harmony”. The history on this can be found over on The Arsenal History Blog.
Victory growing through harmony. It is fairly self-explanatory. That we succeed in life by working together, working with each other, rather than working against each other.
Before Emery had even over seen a game, he participated in an interview where he highlighted he knows exactlywhat VCC means.
He spoke about how the club, the team, the media and the fans need to work together to get success. That the 4 were legs of a table. That without one leg, you may not succeed.
I imagine he used this analogy during the interview process, and it is a analogy we can all get behind.
The problem is many fans have forgotten about Victoria Concoardia Crescit. They have forgotten that victory grows through harmony.
It started under Arsene Wenger. Fans so willing to crate divisions, labelling themselves and labelling fans who disagree with them. There had never been such a huge division between many fans. We were certainly not working as one to hold up the table.
And that has continued this season.
Fans are constantly arguing with each other. Whether it be over Unai Emery, over Mesut Ozil, or over foreign supporters. It seems some just want to see an argue online all day, creating divisions. Extreme views fuelled by a desire for retweets and followers.
I am not talking about fans disagreeing or having a discussion with differing view points. I am talking about those fans who deliberately go out there and try and be divisive.
Also those fans who are quick to insult someone who has a different view to themselves.
Just because you disagree with me, does not give you a right to label me as a “paedophile” or an “overweight 50-year-old alcoholic wife beater”. Likewise it would not give me the right to say “your view doesn’t count because you are foreign”.
Victory Grows Through Harmony. Fans seems to have forgotten that.
The second club value was something that David Rocastle said.
Fans clearly forget who they are and who the represent.
They forget that on social media, when they have an Arsenal AVI or “Arsenal” in their bio that they are not only representing their views but also The Arsenal.
Recently we have seen a rise in the mainstream media writing “Arsenal fans react” articles. They pick and choose half a dozen extreme tweets in response to something that has happened and use this to create a representation of all Arsenal fans.
We also have the embarrassment of Arsenal Fan TV.
The media and fans of other clubs use them as a stick to beat us all. They act like the characters and actors on the YouTube channel are the voice of the fans. That they represent the fans. They do not.
Look at racist abuse.
When a player is racially abused by someone in the crowd, it is not just that fan who gets hammered, but the entire fan base. We have seen it with Chelsea, whose entire fan base has been labelled “racist” due to the behaviour of a few.
Whilst people will argue that their views represent themselves, and not the club they support, they should remember that when Tweeting or commenting under the guise of being an Arsenal fan, that they are representing the fan base.
Some Arsenal fans, with their abuse of the likes of Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have clearly forgotten who they are and what they represent,
“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.”
Arsenal’s greatest ever player, greatest ever captain, Tony Adams uttered the above words. I feel some of our players have forgotten about that.
In an era of football when players can have a larger following than clubs. When fans support a player instead of a club – and will move their support when the player moves – some players have ended up chasing personal glory rather than team success.
Wenger said in his final year at the club that we will see more and more fans supporting players over clubs. It already happens in American supports, where fans (usually not local) follow Lebron James above the club he plays for.
They supported the Cavs because of him, then moved their support to Miami Heat, now support the Lakers. For them supporting the individual is more important than supporting the team.
Mesut Ozil (24m followers) has a lot of this type of fans. They supported him at Madrid, now support him at Arsenal (14m fans) and will follow him to PSG or China or wherever he plays next.
Ozil is a global superstar. I understand why he attracts many fans like this. But the problem is he, amongst others, tend to end up playing for themselves, playing the PR game for themselves, at the detriment of the club they lay for.
I go back to Emmanuel Frimpong. He became more interested in his social media status than playing for The Arsenal. He was last seen playing for a club in Cyprus.
Players need to remember that if they play for The Arsenal, if they perform for The Arsenal, then fans will remember them.
The likes of Ray Parlour and Dennis Bergkamp and two great examples of this.
Completely different amount of talents, but both are Arsenal legends. Both played for the badge on the front of the shirt, and the name on the back became legendary.
The final value comes from a Denis Bergkamp quote.
“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.”
As a fan you should not be supporting a club for the trophies. Or because they are a “global brand” or due to a single player. You should be supporting them because you have found a place where you belong.
If Arsenal drop down the leagues, end up in the Conference, with XI local boys, no global superstars, you should still support the club.
It is the fans around you watching the game alongside you that makes the club, not the trophies or the players on the pitch.
If you only support the club due to the success, or just to the brand, or due to a player, you will soon disappear if it hits the fan. You are not really a supporter, not really a fan, if the only reason you support The Arsenal due to trophies or a player.
Personally, I think we can all become better fans, more respectful fans, and as a result a more successful club, if we remember the 4 values of the club:
Victoria Concordia Crescit
Remember who you are and what you represent
Play for the badge on the front, and they will remember the name of the back
Do not support your club due to trophies or players, but because you have found a place to belong
Have a nice Sunday