The Guardian columnist Barry Glendenning fired a shot across the bow of Gooners everywhere yesterday, poking fun at our collective schadenfreude at Liverpool’s loss to Watford and the survival of the Invincibles record for another season. “Happy Arsenal fans are exceptionally hard to find,” he writes, going on to describe Arsenal supporters “habitually miserable.”
I’ll put aside a few maybe-not-so-minor quarrels with some of the other things he says in his couple paragraphs — it’s a recurring format that is intended to be at least a little incendiary.
I really want to tear into him for coming at my people...but he’s not wrong. I think we’ve become a pretty miserable bunch. Doom, gloom, negativity, and malaise have infected the fan base. Part of that is no doubt rightly attributable to the Humpty-Dumpty-esque great fall Arsenal supporters have witnessed over the past few years. The club is struggling, and it’s understandably difficult to enjoy watching oftentimes poor football.
But I think part of being “habitually unhappy” is on us.
A few caveats: I’m not trying to be a bubbleheaded optimist putting lipstick on a pig: things at our club aren’t great by any stretch. And I’m not here to tell anybody “how to fan” — you’re welcome to follow and support Arsenal as you choose.
With that out of the way...it’s about how we frame things as spectators, critics, and fans. Do we focus on Arsenal being in a historically bad spot or do we try to view it as the club working through what was always going to be a rough patch as the club transitioned out of the Wenger era while still having a shot at the Champions League this season? Do we concentrate on the divisive performances of guys like Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette or do we celebrate the burgeoning young talent at the club in Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Matteo Guendouzi, and others?
There’s also the magnificent Arsenal Women. They wear the same red and fight for the same badge. We’ve got great coverage of them here at TSF with Aidan and Kate. The women’s matches are almost all available on FA Player. Check them out! They’ll make you feel great about the club.
More generally, we have a finite amount of free time in our lives. We all choose to spend some of that valuable commodity on Arsenal. If it makes us unhappy, why are we doing it? It seems especially silly when we hold some amount of control over how Arsenal makes us feel or at least how we let Arsenal affect us.
Again, I’m not advocating that we be unrealistic about Arsenal, but realism about the not-so-great state of affairs can co-exist with finding things to enjoy and be happy about at our club. Let’s try to spend a little more time celebrating positive things and a little less on the negatives. It’ll at least help us be not quite so “habitually miserable.”