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On Wenger, Arsenal fans are anything but fickle

ONE week the manager is being abused by his own fans at a train station, the next having his name sung round the ground. Evidence enough for some to claim we’re a fickle bunch.

The reality could hardly be more different. The reality is that across our fan base when it comes to the manager’s future some people feel one way, others the other way and some in between. The one sense in which a great many fans are united is that they are torn.

From the conversations I have, I detect many of those who want a change do so with the heaviest of hearts and with zero relish. And many of those who don’t maybe would were we talking about anyone else other than him. And a great many others would simply rather not have to think about something so dastardly as removing the greatest manager in our history.

The “One Arsene Wenger” chants towards the end of the Newcastle game were aimed less at the manager, much more at those who want him out. They were louder than any since Wembley in May but they were not about current results. They were not about two decent wins, instead they were a direct retort to those who want the manager gone.

I wasn’t at the game. But on TV they sounded like they went right round the ground but with about 30% take-up.

Inevitably, it is the extremes of the anti-Wenger movement who get noticed: the TV chat show host with his virulent dislike, the fans at Stoke station hurling obscenities. In reality, as revolutionary movements go, this is the most respectful, restrained and unwilling you could imagine.

And if there are people who were wanting change one week and singing the manager’s name the next then that is because they, like almost every other Arsenal fan, would like nothing more than to see the current manager succeed, to prove them wrong. And so if anything a couple of healthy victories are grasped at with undue relish.

The incident at the train station was inexcusable but perhaps not surprising. Why? Because for those who are frustrated, the club compounds it. This was Sir Chips Keswick, the Chairman, at the AGM: “We back Arsene when he has a plan. We stay quiet when he doesn’t.”

The thing is, it isn’t December 2004, it’s December 2014 and we haven’t properly challenged for the title (say like Liverpool did last season), in ten years, let alone winning it. Yet the club and frankly the manager too, appear stuck in a complete time warp, completely detached from reality.

I bumped into a relative, a fan since the 1950s, last week. Inevitably, it came up, as it always does when you talk to a Gooner nowadays. He wasn’t in favour of change, but his view on when the time comes summed it up to me. “It has to be orderly,” he said.

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