In the aftermath of the Chelsea defeat, a loss that made Chelsea odds on to win the title a lot has been made of Gary Neville’s comments about Arsenal fans, in particular the ones who interview after the matches on Arsenal Fan TV. Neville called the channel ‘embarrassing’ and called a fan who brought a sign to the game an ‘idiot’. He should know full well that fans are the lifeblood of the game and as a former player his comments are disappointing on many levels.Football is a global force. Make no mistake, there is nothing of the sort that has a uniqueness in uniting the people than our beautiful sport. It is the world’s game, it is the language we all speak, the religion we all follow. Arsenal alone has over 88 supporters clubs all over the world representing 88 different nations, and an estimated fanbase of around 30 million.
These fans are not only great in number but they are extremely dedicated, especially the ones that feature on Arsenal Fan TV. These fans are not only season ticket holders of the most expensive tickets in the country, they also travel up and down the country to away games, not to mention fly around Europe for Champions League matches. There’s also the fans from all over the world who will wake up in the middle of the night just to see boys play. They purchase the new expensive kit every single season, sometimes both home and away. Their loyalty knows no bounds. Their time, effort, blood, sweat and tears are all for the Arsenal.
With this unconditional love naturally comes emotion. The euphoria of a last minute victory can turn a fan’s week around, while a last minute defeat can make a grown man cry. To say these fans live and breathe Arsenal is an understatement. They know more about the club than your average pundit because they have been to every single game, they’ve been through all the highs and lows. If ever there was a person or a set of people who should have a say in how the club is run it’s the fans, who put in everything for seemingly no return.
Without the fans, there would be no TV deals, and without the TV deals there would be no pundits on Sky Sports and Gary Neville would be without a job. What Gary Neville has essentially done is the equivalent of an employee telling his boss that he is ‘embarrassing’ and an ‘idiot’.
What is embarrassing is Chelsea fans singing “Arsene Wenger we want you to stay”. What is embarrassing is 7 points in the last 21 away games against the top 6. What is embarrassing is a manager who isn’t pragmatic enough and hasn’t won the league in 12 years. What is embarrassing is an owner who doesn’t care about winning titles.
When that fan brought the sign to Stamford Bridge which said “Enough is Enough Its Time Go” it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to an albeit poor display that day. It was 12 years of agony, frustration and anger at a regime which has let him and many of us down time and again.
If the so-called expert Gary Neville cannot put things into perspective, if he cannot understand how fans are the very foundation as to why the game even exists, if he cannot understand the frustrations of Arsenal fans in particular, then I think we know who the real ‘idiot’ is.
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