Thursday, April 21, 2011

An American Arsenal Fan's View on Arsenal and Being a Fan

Arsenal fans see their team beat Barcelona
Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself a forum to vent about the teams that I follow. Since I think that I'm the only one who reads this, I feel safe in saying whatever it is that I feel. So, here we go.

Since the Carling Cup loss in late February it has been a very disappointing time for fans of Arsenal.  Rather than go in to the same old details, suffice it to say that too many draws, a weak central defense and the lack of an out and out striker have resulted in a series of results that find the squad 6 points behind ManU (and now behind Chelsea on goal differential) with 5 games remaining.  While this has left myself and other supporters sad, upset, bummed, etc. what I find shocking and don't understand is the scathing comments being hurled at the team from "fans", the press & the pundits.

The entire EPL season has seen massive changes at both the top and the bottom of the table.  The relegation battle is so tight this season that the bottom ten teams are all currently battling to stay in the league.  That is usually not the case. 

Meanwhile, both ManU and Chelsea have been sub par and at times unimpressive, yet they are currently one and two.  Then there are the "title challengers" Man City, Tottenham and Liverpool.  Tottenham have probably over achieved, yet they are still behind the top 4 fighting for the final Champions League spot and ten points behind Arsenal.  They get praised.  Okay, whatever.  Man City, for all their millions spent, have at times looked very average and everyone seems to have forgotten the horrible start to the season Liverpool had and that only their recent turnaround has saved them from total embarrassment.

The point of all this, the distance between the haves and the have nots has lessened.  Therefore I really don't understand the dire mood of a majority of Arsenal fans.  Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for 12 consecutive seasons, they are always in the battle for major trophies and they have been a consistent top team for as long as I've been following them. (mid 90's) Perhaps it's a cultural thing.  I did not grow up in England, I don't have a family history of Arsenal supporters and without living there I can honestly say I am not as informed on the culture of English football fandom as those based in the UK probably are.

However, coming from an American sports fan perspective allows me to look at the Arsenal situation in a much different way.  We are spoiled for sports teams and leagues to support in New York.  There are 10 professional sports teams within 25 miles of downtown Manhattan and outside of the free spending Yankees, they have consistently delivered heartache to their fans on a regular basis. (I'll give the Red Bulls a pass on this category as they are still a work in progress and are definitely heading in the right direction; THIERRY HENRY).

The Knicks have been horrible for 7 years and the butt of so many jokes; the Nets are a non entity without a fan base; the Islanders are just plain sad, the Rangers finally won that Stanley Cup in 1994 and have broken their fans' hearts ever since; the Devils have fallen on hard times after a very successful period; the Jets, while getting closer to being possible contenders, are still remembering the glory days of Joe Namath and the 1969 Super Bowl win; while, the Giants go from bad to good and then good to bad.

Mets fans see their team get off to the worst start in baseball
Of course that leaves my first true sports love, the New York Mets.  If you want to talk horrible, you've come to the right place.  They have started the 2011 season in pathetic style and officially have the worst record of the 30 teams in baseball. Rather than rehash the annual collapses and ineptness of New York's "2nd baseball team", all you need to know is that they have consistently screwed up and put their fan base through torture and agony.  We live in the same city as Yankee fans.  We constantly get grief from them at work, from neighbors, from total moronic strangers.  Yet, we keep coming back for more.  Why, because we are FANS.  It would be real easy to just jump on the Yankee bandwagon, become a Pittsburgh Steelers fan or pledge allegiance to Kobe and the Lakers.  Why do we stick with the Knicks, Rangers, Jets, Mets or whomever?  It may be because we are crazy and gluttons for punishment, but the reason is we are fans.  We win with the team and we lose with the team.

So, long story short, I'll keep supporting the Mets and hoping that things improve (although I expect to see fans with bags on their heads throughout the season) and I will definitely stick with Arsenal and give them the respect they deserve as a wonderfully run club that competes at the highest level EVERY season and consistently gives their fans a reason to believe.  If the Mets performed like this season after season, the fans would be THRILLED.

Yes, I'm just an American girl, but that's how I see things.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jocelyn, only just realised you had a blog so thought I'd take a look.
    It is so refreshing to get a non-Uk perspective on the trials and tribulations of the past weeks. Sometimes I think we UK based supporters get bogged down with the clamour for silverware and the constant pressure of Man Utd and Chelsea seemingly out-gunning(!) us for the past few years. I wish that the doubters would realise just how consistently successful Arsenal have been at such an uncertain time. It really gets my back up when Arsene Wenger is dismissed in such an off-hand way by the media and now even by our own fans. I think he has not only changed Arsenal for the better but English football as well. Without Wenger they'd have been no Mourinho or Benitez. Best of luck with the blog, Jocelyn, and keep on keepin' the faith