Arsène Wenger is fed up, and I think he has every right to be.
As Richard Jolly reported from Goodison Park in The Guardian on Sunday after Arsenal's fine 0 - 2 victory over Everton, Wenger is frustrated with some supporters:
"I think after the Tottenham game where we played a very good game with 10 men against 11 and came back to 2-2, I couldn’t understand why – at the moment when you need everyone behind the team – we had to hit that storm. From the media, OK. From our fans? It is a bit more difficult to take."
Clearly, most of the staff here at The Short Fuse has experienced some of this same frustration this year. Wenger has made very few moves and relied on some squad players this year, and the team's position in the table hasn't improved all that much. We've analyzed Wenger's moves, his style, and the drawbacks of those to death in recent weeks.
The supporters in the stadium, I think, should set aside their protests. I have never understood the "boo your own team" approach to motivation (perhaps I'm not alpha/ripped enough). Surely it is possible to have reservations about ownership and management while still going to a football match and having a good time, and indeed, most of the supporters are able to ride in this ambivalent zone. The Purists of Protest, though, I think, should consider a few factors:
The club already has the ticket money.
If one's contention is that the club's ownership only cares about maximizing profits, then I do not see how giving them one's hard-earned cash before protesting is going to sway their feelings about how they run the club. As long as there are 60,000 butts in seats, not much is likely to change. The clear counterpoint here is "screw the owners, I know that I've paid them, but I'm not going to let those jerks stand in the way of me seeing the Arsenal." That's fine, but it won't make the protest any more effective.
Claiming consumer rights undermines the anti-capitalist nature of the protest.
Those who jeer often trot out the line that, because they've paid, they can do what they want. This is true. However, this also concedes that the relationship is truly between a consumer and a product, which is precisely the point that the Kroenke Out movement seeks to destroy, no? Arguing that the club should be about community and support and passion, but then acting against the spirit of those things in stadia around England and Europe because one has paid for a ticket and therefore has the rights of a consumer seems to pretty much cede the fundamental point to ownership: we are your customers, and we may not be happy, but here, have our season ticket payment for next season.
Booing is a valid emotional reaction but does not win matches.
I would not argue that booing is childish or petulant, or even entitled. I do not think, though, that booing motivates the players. These players know when things are not working. They are not acting like everything is fine. Booing is understandable, but also the support equivalent of trying to knock over a building with a ballpoint pen. It is not the best tool--and there may not be one.
So, while the frustration is real, Wenger is right to be a little frustrated himself. He knows there are problems, and whether he can fix them or not remains to be seen.