It is the sense of entitlement of some, many, football supporters that is so unappealing about football. It is almost exclusively the province of The Big Clubs. Whereas supporters of so called smaller clubs want success, they also know their place and understand that success for them will be mere survival. Recent events at certain clubs have been perfectly revolting. For an example, I give you Arsenal.
Arsenal are rolling in money. They now own outright a huge stadium which is sold out for every game, despite eye-watering ticket prices. They always finish in the top four of the Premier League, guaranteeing Champions League football, and they win the odd Cup from time to time. Their owners, who continue to rake in millions, are happy with that and so, until recent years, have been the supporters. What’s changed?
Arsene Wenger has been Arsenal boss for at least 50 years, or at least it seems that way. He has been one of the prime movers in changing English football, not least by not rating English players and instead importing young Spanish and French boys. He has been a driver of sports science, of developing a certain type of passing football and of making a fortune for his owners. If your aim is to finish in the top four every season – and that’s very obviously been the height of ambition for Arsenal – please tell me where Wenger has gone wrong?
Listening to radio phone ins, seeing wealthy supporters hiring aeroplanes to fly flags in the sky calling for the manager to be axed and generally trying to get the man who made what their club the way it is to go, sacked has been utterly sick-making. And the sense of entitlement comes through. “We have a divine right to succeed”, “We’re a massive club” and “We deserve better than this”. The sheer, whining arrogance of it all. I can imagine some of the supporters crying into their Mojitos after the game. Nick Hornby could write a book about it.
We have the same thing in Bristol, albeit in miniature. Not with Rovers whose supporters are riding a wave of being better than we have been for years, but at The Big Club, the City, who, because they are owned by a billionaire tax exile, have the same sense of entitlement. “No manager is good enough for us, you see”. “We’re a Premier League club apart from on the pitch.” Actually, the latter is probably true but that gives no one a sense of entitlement. If your team is crap, then you are not in the lower reaches of the division for nothing, or in Arsenal’s case not in the top four.
I’m quite glad I support a club, Bristol Rovers, where expectations are lower, or rather more realistic. History has shown that we are probably where we are where we deserve to be and we know that, unlike the so called bigger clubs, Rovers are building through evolution. Long may it stay that way. I do not want to hear the radio ram-packed with callers from north of the river attacking the manager and owner for not speculating to accumulate (i.e. reckless gambling) or moaning about us not being in our rightful place.
There is nothing worse that football fans demanding better just because they feel they are a bigger and better club. Real life ain’t that way.