Peter Hill-Wood, Vedran Corluka, And The Stupidity Of Fans

Amidst all the excitement and discussion about the Kroenke takeover, I chanced upon an amusing news article yesterday. The headline caught my eye and I ended up laughing for a few minutes after reading it.


These were the words that had me in splits,

I told one supporter he was an idiot. He was moaning during the match when he should have been supporting the team. I told him to support instead of criticising.

While it is always comical to hear a Tiny Tott fan being called an idiot, the words coming from a Spuds player made it all the more meaningful.

More importantly though, it left me wondering whether this is how the players often think in re the supporters. It seems quite pertinent in the Arsenal context.

For instance, put yourself in Fabregas’ shoes. If one of your teammates isn’t having a good day and there are some fans in the crowd booing him, how would you feel towards the fans who are affecting the performance of the team? I’d certainly think of those fans as idiots and quite a few writers and commentators on the internet have already said so in better, more colourful words.

The Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, recently created a PR gaffe by airing a similar opinion. It was interesting to note, and this point was missed by many, that Hill-Wood didn’t really say anything that was wrong in itself or something that others haven’t said before. I certainly don’t think the AST achieved anything constructive by releasing that statement but they definitely did cause some damage. From that point of view it was undoubtedly a stupid act.

The problem for the Chairman was his position and the implication of his words. Fans in football have a special place. They can criticize anyone for anything but they are above and beyond reproach (except amongst themselves). Players, managers, or club administrators cannot think of criticizing the fans without creating a negative story often leading to mass hysteria even if their actual point has merit. Even many journalists and bloggers like to sit on the fence because they are afraid of losing their readers.

Of late, ever since some Arsenal players have taken to twitter, I have noticed the players put in the effort to praise the fans. Every time I read a player saying thank you to all the fans or that the fans were wonderful, I wonder whether they truly mean that or is it just a PR exercise.  Perhaps they are just being polite, certainly nothing wrong with that.

After games like the one against Barca at home such words seem justified, but after many matches one gets the feeling that the atmosphere at the Emirates was really flat and gloomy. On such occasions, words commending the fans seem hollow and contrived.

I don’t wish to imply that all the fans are stupid or deserve to be criticized. 60,000+ fans at the Emirates are not all idiots. Otherwise we would have an unbearable atmosphere at the stadium. It’s just a few who lose the plot but unfortunately these seem to be the most vocal ones. Similar arguments can be made for the millions who support the club from afar and on the internet.

Nonetheless, all fans seem to have a protected status by virtue of being fans, and this can be said about the supporters of all clubs. People like Corluka and Hill-Wood cannot air their views without reproach even if they honestly believe in them.

The media obviously plays a key role in this relationship and can instigate an uprising of sorts by manipulating the words out of context. As we saw in the case of the Arsenal chairman, words specifically directed towards some fans and a particular event were twisted out of context to include all fans in many reports. Even in this age, some gullible readers continue to fall for these tricks.

Arsenal had to issue a public comment to appease the fans.

Our fans are at the heart of what we are here to do and that will always be the case.

When I read such statements I feel these are words without any meaning and just said for damage control. Thankfully, some fans that are naive enough to fall for the media tricks are easily won over by empty one-liners.

That doesn’t mean it’s not true. Fans are at the heart of a football club. They are the ones who convert a seemingly pointless exercise of twenty-two men chasing a ball into a passionate, lively, and beautiful game. It is very similar to a vacant building being converted into an adorable home by a loving family. In that sense the fans are the lifeblood of the game.

I’m not saying this to win any brownie points. Those who didn’t like the idea of someone like me watching from a distance and calling the fans stupid probably stopped reading long ago. I’m trying to establish that these two conditions can co-exist i.e. fans can be the soul of football and some of us, on certain occasions, can be incredibly stupid.

At some level most of us understand this. Who hasn’t had an argument with another fan that ended in both holding a pretty derogatory opinion of the  other? Many of us also understand that oftentimes stupidity is the direct result of passion as emotions ride high and rationality is misplaced. But it is hard to take such criticism from the other stakeholders in the club even if they are more involved with the game and business of the club on a day to day basis.

I doubt very much a day can ever come when players and managers will be able to air honest views about the fans, without fear of distortion and manipulation and with confidence that their opinions will be respected, even if others don’t agree with them. Still the dreamer in me hopes that one day common-sense will reign supreme. Till then we can just enjoy the sincere lapses like the ones by Corluka and PHW.

46 Responses to Peter Hill-Wood, Vedran Corluka, And The Stupidity Of Fans

  1. Phil23 says:

    Another top article. The best way for Arsenal and the players to prove that such fans are stupid is to keep winning. Then these voices are quickly muted.

    • Uncle Mike says:

      There was a coach in American football named Vince Lombardi. When he took over the Green Bay Packers, they were horrible, and he said, “We may not win, but we won’t be losing with the same people.” He got rid of the donkeys (as we would say in this kind of football), developed the players whose courage was not yet the equal of their talent, and won 5 league championships despite playing in a small city. (Think if Derby had Wolves’ 1950s glory but had fallen, and then Clough had stayed and added his Forest glory to them.)

      My point with this cross-cultural reference: As long as Denilson, Diaby, and the once-great but now washed-up Rosicky are trusted, we will be failing to win with the same people. They need to go. (I might add Bendtner and maybe even Arshavin.) If their replacements (who may already be here, i.e. Ramsey, Lansbury, et al.) also fail, admit it and get somebody new. But what’s being done isn’t working. I’m hoping that the recent halftime subbing of Denilson is a sign that Wenger is going in this direction.

      • WafflingWenger says:

        I don’t think you should doubt the fact that a number of players will be shown the door at the end of the season (provided the price is right) as is almost always the case at Arsenal.

        But the majority of the players you mention are still young and thus should be given time…MORE time. I remember everyone calling for Adebayor’s head before he went on to have a phenomenal season next. Similar story with Song. If Wenger had listened to the fans and media and not persisted with them in the tough period just before their breakout, we would not have reaped the football and financial benefits of that rise. Are you 100% certain that Bendtner, or Diaby, or Denilson won’t step up in the same way? How much would it cost you to keep them in case they do? How much would it cost you if they blossom after they’ve been shown the door?!? Diaby (and bendtner to a lesser extent) has developed in spits and spurts, but has shown that he may yet develop into a world class player. Next season will be theirs.

        As I understand it Rosicky was very close to leaving last summer, but the deals didn’t eventuate. Additionally, Almunia wouldn’t be here any more if we could find someone to take him off our hands. Arsharvin may be shown the door due to Walcott kicking on, but he may be kept for another season due to Walcott’s injuries unless a younger replacement is brought in.

        Arsene knows what he’s talking about. His moves are very claculated and planned well in advance. Every position has a carefully selected and groomed understudy and when that understudy is ready, the older player will be sold on.

  2. Rosdan says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, but that doesn’t mean I always agree with your opinion, people make mistakes right, but, I fully agree with you in this part, maybe criticizing can build some kind of good changes, but condemning own players is quite idiot 4 me 😉

  3. 037 says:

    Desi, you should write a post about the new ownership situation 🙂

  4. Come on Arsene says:

    Desi, you forgot to write an article with your views on Wenger`s comments in the interview where he said that he does not care about the fans’ opinions and that he would take 2nd place in the league for the next 20 years.Was he taking the piss or he was feeling hurt and said things he did not mean? It does not sound like a winning mentality, does it? We see it on the pitch with some players.Fergie would never say these things.It pains me to say it but Wenger transmits complacency while Ferguson- fighting spirit.
    Desi,I remember you were praising Wenger in the summer for his ability to question himself but where is that? He needs to realize some things and change his ways.I believe in him.I hope he learns.We will play Man Utd in 3 weeks and Ferguson’s players will defend deep then send a ball to Nani, one on one with Clichy and a goal for the n-th time in a row.If this really happens again, I swear …… I give up on him.Some fans are stupid but as Einstein said if you (in this case wenger) keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results,it is insanity.My point is that he has to stop with this slow tiki taka approach and play direct football like Real Madrid,Man Utd,Dortmund and Porto.It is much more exciting than passing the ball in midfield without any penetration.
    Check this podcast please

    • URAHotSpudInDisguise says:

      If you really want “Direct” football like those teams you mentioned, perhaps you should go and cheer for them. For I want to continue to be awed with the Smooth Silky football that is Arsenal.
      Hell with the “Glory Hunters”…

    • WafflingWenger says:

      Wow. I think he is serious.

  5. Nischit says:

    I’ve noticed the players usually appreciate the fans after an away game. I think they’re just appreciating the effort made by the fans to travel to an away game.

    • rockofgilberto says:

      Generally speaking, I think it’s more because our away fans are vocal in support of the team. Every away match I’ve been to has been that way. At home, there are thousands of “supporters” who don’t open their mouths unless they’re giving the players stick, and those who want to cheer on the Arsenal are told by stewards to sit down and be quiet. It’s absolutely silly. Why go to a football match to be told to sit quietly?

  6. boozy says:

    you can as well call everybody on legrove ‘stupid’ because thats what you really want to say.

    the same fans that put banners saying ‘in arsene we trust’
    the same fans that have stood by wenger over the years.
    the same fans that have bankrolled over the years.

    these same fans say they are not happy, and you call them stupid.

  7. boozy says:

    you can as well call everybody on legrove ‘stupid’ because thats what you really want to say.

    the same fans that put banners saying ‘in arsene we trust’
    the same fans that have stood by wenger over the years.
    the same fans that have bankrolled the club over the years.

    these same fans say they are not happy, and you call them stupid.

    • rockofgilberto says:

      I do think everyone on Le Grove is stupid. That vocal minority of fools who all play Football Manager and think they’ve got it all figured is exactly who PHW was referring to, and in this instance he was right. If you’re not there to support the club, stay the F home.

  8. […] interesting reads. As always the ‘holic catches the mood of the last few days. There’s an interesting piece on Desi Gunner about fans and the way they react to certain statements. I make no comment as to the specific […]

  9. Damian says:

    What rot i,m an Arsenal fan have been 4 20 years and just because someone anyone calls an idiot an idiot i couldn,t care less millionaire owns holding onto something that is now a Multi Billionaire,s toy and not being able to compete because of it thats another story pS Kronke is a billionaire not a multi therefore almost nothing will change

    • rockofgilberto says:

      Stan Kroenke’s net worth is 2.7 billion, and his wife is worth 3 billion. Either way, two is more than one and therefore “multi.”

  10. Tristam says:

    After the Blackburn game, I started thinking that maybe our home fans have something to do with the fact that we are a much better team away than at the Grove. The players seem to be more hesitant, more afraid of making mistakes at the Emirates. There is a perceivable lack of enjoyment and freedom in the game. If every misplaced pass is greeted with groans, you unconsicously start making safer passes. At the same time, our away support is fantastic and players obviously notice and appreciate it. It may be speculation, but I have a strong feeling that with better home support we would have been able to turn some of the draws at the Grove into victories.

    • Swagger says:

      I agree with you. After the blackpool game, the players went to throw their jerseys to the away fans but u’ll never see that in the emirates.

    • thierryhenry says:

      I just wrote to Arseblog saying the same thing. I really agree with this. Our support at the Emirates is still in its infant stage and therefore very weak. Its hard to not notice that we have been a lot better away from home and like you said, play without the handbrake on.

      • rockofgilberto says:

        It’s not in its infancy, we’ve been in the Emirates for 5 years. The problem is the fans themselves, as well as the fact that the supporters who are more vocal and enjoy the singing and shouting and cheering on the team were long since priced out and replaced by the prawn sandwich munchers who turn up 15 minutes late, go get drinks well before halftime and leave 15 minutes before the end. Disgraceful.

  11. you’ve really missed the point.

    Think about this, I dont earn a lot of money but I piece together £3000 – which is A LOT considering my salary to watch my team play.

    But I have been subjected to seeing my £3000 + hundreds of extra pounds to support the team in Barcelona and Old trafford in away games, being thrown towards giving Diaby Denilson and Rosicky pay rises and new contracts when none of them could even lace a boot of the invincibles.

    And to top it off, after watching all my money go towards paying them, I am subjected to abuse by an old Etonian c*nt that rakes in the money and smokes his pipe and you’re questioning my “mass hysteria?” give me a break!

  12. munawwar says:

    congrats on getting mentioned on arseblog. please get on twitter! thankyou!

  13. Kevin Rowe says:

    Excellent post – not much moreto say as I agree with nearly every word!


  14. george rodger says:

    In order to understand the club you have to have a grasp of rather more than just the score at the end of a game.
    The problem is the less intelligent of us do not see a bigger picture and just shout “I want to win things”.Unfortunately these people could be classed as idiots.
    I have never met or spoken to an intelligent Arsenal fan who does not thing that the club and the team is in good shape for the future.

  15. Alex says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point of the article.

    No one is saying you can’t criticise your club, the way it’s run or the players.

    The point is that there are certain people who come to games with no intention of supporting the team.

    I was at the Emirates for the 0-0 draw with Sunderland a few weeks ago and two people sitting within my vicinity really summed up the difference between sets of Arsenal fans.

    The bloke a few seats to my left spent the entire first half spewing bile towards the team. C*nt this, c*nt that, the team were pathetic, Wenger was a fucking idiot. Arshavin was a midget Russian c*nt etc etc. When we came back to our seats after half time he had left and missed a much better, but ultimately futile second half performance. It’s completely his right to leave, but I fail to see the point in abusing players in that manner.

    On the other hand we were also treated a beautiful piece of amateur comedy from a vociferous supporter of the team. During one particularly flat period of the first half, and it was a pretty flat half, he got to his feet and addressed about 5,000 people sitting around him.

    “Right, it’s not that fucking difficult. Here’s how it works, I say RED ARMY, then you say RED ARMY. Get it? Ok, everyone, all together now” And it worked, after a while.

    The point is that the relationship between the players and the fans is a symbiotic one. We all want the team to lift their game. We all want to see the players and results improve. But we play a role in that. And we could do with having a hard look at ourselves and the role we play on match day.

  16. Trennon says:

    Tristam, you nailed it on the head! Listening to the crowd in the Blackburn game was unbelievable. There we were in second desperately needing a win and the only time we heard them was when a mistake happened. Moaning, groaning and calling our own players CNTS. When one section of the club continuosly tried to urge the team on by chanting “Come On Arsenal” there were fans that actually sneered as if getting behind the team was some how beneath them??
    These fans are idiots. These fans spend the whole week bitching and moaning about the team and Wenger and then for 90 minutes cannot even muster up a little positivity to pass onto the team. I bet its because if Arsenal do well then what will they have to talk about?

    • goonergal says:

      I had the misfortune to be at the Blacburn game and had to endure 90 minutes of some fan behind me moaning about wenger, nearly everyone of the players, and how if we had bought samba we would be ruling the world, I had not been to a game since highbury and I was soooo sad, the emirates is beautiful but has no heart and soul, the doomers have taken control, I heard the boos, why why would any real arsenal fan boo our team with the whole world watching, feeding the journalists more tasty morsels to chew over and over again, I am not surprised our away record is so good this year our away supporters are magnificent, the atmosphere was horrible and I have no intention of going back, but I will always support arsenal regardless of the billionaires, doomers and prawn sandwich brigade, arm chair fan I might be, but I do get to read excellent posts such as this along with all the other dross that is floating on the world wide web.

  17. afrogoon says:

    been a while desi…..seen you are still fighting the good fight……funny how the people that shout abuse the most and keep saying they have a right to criticize are the first to jump on PHW shut the fuck up bandwagon….how dare he criticize us??spend more time in abusing the players than supporting.I am tired of the arguments.Personally i think we have what we deserve.Some Brilliant fans and players and some shit fans and some shit players……lol…a match made in heaven.

  18. Otis says:

    Excellent point. It amazes me how many fans of various clubs never seem to get when their manager refuses to publicly criticise their players, but then I guess that’s why they don’t understand the idea of getting behind the team during games too.

  19. cbinlondon says:

    Interesting issue and article. The relationship between a fan and their club can be complicated – makes me think of being devoted to someone who doesn’t give the same back to you.
    Most fans realise that the club are not going to do exactly what you want, all of the time but will be happy as long as they feel like the people making the decisions at the club are doing their best and have the best interests of the club at heart.

    The so-called ‘idiots’ can’t simply stop being fans of the club, that is like trying to stop loving someone. Many fans have become increasingly frustrated with certain players, decisions, repeated mistakes, etc. Everyone has their breaking point and some fans are sick of being hurt or disappointed by the club and they need a forum to express their opinions but would be much better served by leaving negative attitudes at home when they go to a game. The solutions are far from simple but I think the relationship could be improved if the club communicated more often and more honestly about some of the decisions that are made.

  20. kenyan_gunner says:

    desi, glad you are back, we were starting to get worried. I agree with most of your article. i also think there are some mistakes that the team keeps repeating that frustrates me sometimes. In the grand scheme of things i think that arsenal fc is going in the right direction. The style of play is the main reason i became a gunner n i thus dont want it to change even though there CAN be improvements.. Otherwise desi, Keep up the good work, am proud to be a supporter of the same team as you!

  21. Odinist says:

    I feel great shame everytime i hear Arsenal fans boo their own players even when they are underperforming like crazy.

    We should always be supporting our boys even more when they are not playing well.

  22. Addinn says:

    I saw a link to your blog on Arseblog and it’s a good reading.
    I’ve noticed the spark in the away crowd for a while now. Usually new songs about players starts at an away game, and you can hear it so loud and clear on the TV that it sticks with the player. It’s understandable though that the away crowd is so passionate. If I want to travel to England to see Arsenal play, I’m not going to do it when they are playing an away match. Imagine how many people only ever go once to see Arsenal play at Emirates/Highbury. My old man has been a supporter for over 40 years but he never managed to go enter Highbury and has only once been on the Emirates.

    The point I’m trying to make; Hardcore local fans who know the chants and are there to make noise travel with the team, star struck tourist fans are more likely to go to the Emirates. It doesn’t make them any less of fans, they are just more comfortable with sitting and watching the game – in silence. Also it’s easier to sing your lungs out when the guy next to you is also doing it.

    So what I’ve been wondering… I know there is some family section where people come with their kids and you are not supposed to swear and stuff, what about the exact opposite? Is there a section in the stands, where loud, chanting, swearing fans group together? A section where those away fans would join forces? Like the mugsmasher’s kopites at anfield…

  23. Ansar says:

    Congrats on getting a shout out from Arseblog! Evidence you are doing a good job. Keep it up! – another desi gooner

  24. G4Life says:

    Great article DesiGunner. You are right about the fans and their behavior, and that will always be. Only one thing will change such a some championships.

  25. Sandeep says:

    Came here via the arseblog link. I don’t have a comment about this article per se, but been happily browsing in my spare moments throughout the day. This is a superbly written blog which seems to have slipped under the radar. Very measured and very cute tactical analysis. Keep up the solid work.

  26. Willy young says:

    The difference is the players and board are getting paid huge sums of money from the people you call idiots!! I case they : I am for paying money to watch Diaby and co make the same lazy mistakes each week
    The fans are the customers and so need to be respected or else ask Gerald Ratner!!!

  27. Claver says:

    Quite a point,

    If ever there was a team that needed our support it’s Arsenal.

    There are too many fake fans purpoting to support Arsenal who get themselves into influential positions, yet truth be told, they will be at the betting shop placing bets for ManU.

    It goes without saying that supporters support. The bigger the club the bigger the support.

    Who cares if Denilson plays or Wilshere? As an Arsenal supporter, it counts for nought. We had Edu and Parlour in the same team before.

    Of-course, if I was secretly a ManU supporter I would boo our team very loudly indeed.

    The most effective way would be to buy tickets to the Old Trafford and boo very loudly indeed.

    That’s why Desi, I don’t believe for a second those who say Wenger ought to leave, or that Denilson is rubbish.

    Such people are doing the ‘Devil’s’ work.

    Does it make any sense that anyone would want Wenger to leave? Knowing full well he has just been voted Manager of the Decade? Or knowing that Denilson held the team together through some dark times?

    Those who boo loudest work hardest for the ‘Devils’. We really don’t need their money.

  28. […] Peter Hill-Wood, Vedran Corluka, And The Stupidity Of Fans Amidst all the excitement and discussion about the Kroenke takeover, I chanced upon an amusing news article yesterday. […] […]

  29. Joe Bloggs says:

    Somebody should start writing some Arsenal songs for the fans to sing. What about a club anthem played before the game like at Inter Milan?

  30. thawwab says:

    im a gooner from botswana(thats in africa folks) and iv been supportin arsenal since before i can remember… I do agree with the blogger that the fans are the lifeblood of the club, Without fans the club is not a club, BUT i hav my reservations about how certain sections of fans criticize players ESPECIALLY during the course of a match… I myself play football semiprofessionally, and as im not blessed like some of the players i do often hav a bad day and hav been on the recieving end of stick from supporters. And i can tell you it doesn’t help. Not one bit. The best thing a fan can do during a match is get behind the team. If one particular player is having a bad day then encourage him, or cheer for other players. The positive effect of this was seen last season when we played burnley(im not sure if it was burnley or not) in the game before the champs league 5-0 thrashing of porto. Nicklas B had a torrid game n missed enough chances to easily score about 4goals, but the fans still cheered him n even gave him a standin ovation wen he was subbed. Next game he scored a hattrick. Its evident that encouragement n positive thought has an extremely beneficial effect on players. Gettin on their back just breeds doubt in players minds n the long term effects can be devastating. So as fans i encourage people to stick with the team n players thru thick n thin, and stop trying to manage the team from the couch. There is a reason arsene is the manager n that players r professional footballers. Let the pros handle the pro work, and may the fans get behind the team in good times and bad. I dont just throw around the phrase “win or lose, always a gooner” lightly, and neither should anyone else…

  31. thawwab says:

    Win or lose, ALWAYS A GOONER

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