Home Sports 2019/20 – A season of mental abuse towards Arsenal players analysed

2019/20 – A season of mental abuse towards Arsenal players analysed

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“Whenever I go into the England dressing room there does always feel a lot more pressure. I don’t know what it is, but you do notice guys find it much more difficult to relax.

“We talk about physical fitness. We never really talk about mental fitness. We all need to stay mentally fit, none more so than professional athletes who have got to have their heads razor sharp as well as their feet and legs.’

That’s a quote from none other than Prince William who this week continues his excellent work of trying to grow awareness about mental health.

With this week’s Cup Final renamed The Heads Up Cup Final I thought it would be a fitting time to share my worries about the behaviour of a section of our fan base. It’s why I have written numerous times that there are Gooners out there who don’t deserve to see Arsenal win a trophy. Really, I should clarify that.

Some verbally abused the greatest manager in our history and yet still can’t see that we have gone backwards since he’s left, like in every way they have been proven wrong that life wasn’t so magical without Arsene Wenger.

He warned us that he would never forget ‘the disrespect’ he had been subjected to by certain fans and that we as a fan base were in danger of losing the values, we used to care about.

This is not to be provocative but, like a bully can’t cope with being pushed back, maybe some will benefit from seeing how far abuse goes and how it might affect the recipient more than you realise?

I knew that the Duke of Cambridge would be using sport platforms this week to encourage discussions about how we treat people and how we feel. So if at this point all you’re going to do is be negative in the comments stop reading now, this article isn’t for you.

So, my plan was to break down the season and highlight how worried I am that shouting and swearing at your own players has become the norm. Of course, unwanted behaviour exists at all grounds.

That a generation of fans are growing up thinking it’s okay to call someone the C word if they misplace a pass. This of course is heavily influenced by social media where you can say what you want and share it around the world within seconds.

The internet has created two things that are ruining this world. Instant gratification and everyone thinking they are an expert.

When I grew up sport was about winning or losing. Yes, you could be sad if you failed but not angry. You were not owed an answer or explanation. There wasn’t the need to blame. You didn’t have a sense of entitlement no matter how far you travelled or how expensive your ticket. You have chosen to support your team who can only give the best version of themselves. Sometimes in sport you lose, you know that when making that emotional investment.

Yes, you debate with your mates who was good or not good enough, but I never remember adults using language that I probably can’t put here. I love the Gunners as much as anyone, but my education tells me that it would be offensive to write certain words, so what’s the difference if you’re on YouTube or Twitter?

Now if I’m going to do a review of the year, it’s only natural that AFTV are going to be referenced, as they are the largest fan channel in the world who claim to be ‘the voice of our fans’ and want to be treated equally to the media. I have zero agenda, but have to treat them like I was watching Sky Sports. If a pundit said something, I disagreed with I would highlight it.

So, if you’re just going to say Justarsenal are jealous, etc, stop reading now. That’s called deflecting, where you know who you’re defending has been wrong, so you try to create another argument to take focus off the original point. If I lie then challenge me, but if it’s you simply not liking the truth, that’s not my problem.

July 19- Unai Emery makes it clear Arsenal’s preference would be to sell Mustafi. It seems the defender is one of many players on such a high wage no one will buy him. In an attempt to force him out of the club, some fans boo the German in pre-season friendlies. This is at the same time we are questioning his centre back partner Koscielny for not showing gooners more loyalty. See the irony?

August 19- In what is becoming a yearly tradition we are heavily beaten at Anfield. In another sense of irony, the same man who this month asked to stop being criticised less than a week after a racial slur, calls our manager a ‘clown’ He manages to swear 10 times in an interview which lasts 4.40 seconds

September 19- Because of what he will do a month later, many forget the September that Xhaka had. I of course have the benefit of hindsight, but there was evidence that his relationship with our fans was at boiling point.

He seems to get the majority of the criticism for Arsenal throwing away a 2-0 lead at Watford, even though it was a back pass from Sokratis which gifts the Hornets a goal and Luiz who concedes a late penalty. Those two seem to escape any abuse, with the scapegoats being the usual Xhaka and Ozil (despite Ozil claiming a part in the second goal and the team being 2-1 up when he’s subbed).

Our then captain shows he’s aware of the tension by celebrating goals the following Thursday with a ssshing gesture, which gets him further abuse online. He is then booed when subbed at home to Aston Villa to the point Unai Emery tells supporters ……

‘My opinion is we need our supporters and we need our supporters helping each player,”

But for me he is a very important player for us.

“He knows sometimes we are criticised. We need to be mature and continue working. I am going to support him. He’s a good player.”

October 19

A defeat at Bramall Lane makes Unai Emery one of the favourites to be the next manager sacked. He is now being mocked for his accent and inability to master the English language. Weird to think now, but one of his crimes is his refusal to start Ozil who is vocally backed by away fans at Anfield in the League Cup (he created two goals).

At the end of the month, some in the Emirates cheer and verbally abuse Xhaka as he’s subbed at home to Palace. Our skipper responds by cupping his ear, swearing back and throwing down the armband. The same people who think it’s okay to swear at him seem very offended that he dares swear back.

To sum up the contradiction, a fan on AFTV says, ‘Hey Xhaka, go F yourself’…… Then has the audacity in the next breath to say, ‘How can he behave like that……kids are watching.’ The irony?

Outside the stadium, Xhaka is subjected to having coins thrown at his car, and a video emerges of another player getting verbally abused as he’s driving home……a certain Aubameyang ….you know the same striker we are expecting to be loyal to us.

November 19

Having clearly refused the club’s advice to apologize straight away, Xhaka waits nearly a week to write a statement. He doesn’t say sorry, but does give an explanation of why he reacted in that manner.

We learn the true scale of the online abuse he has been dealing with daily, and that he’s been offered therapy.

“My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply. People have said things like ‘we will break your legs’, ‘kill your wife’ and ‘wish that your daughter gets cancer’. That has stirred me up, and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.

Emery doesn’t manage a single win in that month and is sacked .Things have become so toxic towards the coach, that The University Campus Of Football Business feel it’s not safe for him to attend an agreed lecture due to the horrible comments the guest speaker was getting online from students.

December 19

Arsenal managed one win under the temporary charge of Freddie Ljungberg, the lowest point coming when Brighton deservedly won for the first time at the Emirates. With no Xhaka to blame, fans again turn on …….Aubameyang.

‘Willock has gone for a through ball & Aubameyang didn’t read it. He didn’t deserve the blocking Aubameyang gave him. If Ozil or Lacazette done that Aubameyang wouldn’t have said shit. Jus easy to shout at a young lad, U would never c Adams Vieira cesc Rvp go at the young lads—ThelostbrazilianMoshe (@DaLostBrazilian)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should never have been appointed captain in the first place, by the way. — AS (@ArsenalScot)

Aubameyang is not a captain. Incredibly frustrating that Emery’s final act was to give him the armband. — Steve Hills (@Merse10)

Outside Goodison Park where Arteta is in attendance to check out his new team, the host of AFTV is confronted by fans chanting ‘ AFTV get out of our club’. Police have to step in when things get shamefully physical. ‘ AFTV out’ is also graffitied on a wall outside the Emirates

January 2020

Having not started in the Prem all season under Emery, one of the first things Arteta does (and briefly Freddie) is to bring back Mustafi. The defender though rightly feels the need to give an insight into how certain verbal abuse has affected him mentally. He confirms after years of trolling he got to the point of shutting down all forms of social media as it had got to the point where he was being blamed for defeats even when he hadn’t played .One Tweet Includes, when sending his condolences to the family of the Leicester City owner, he was private messaged ‘ I wish you were in the helicopter with him’

Meanwhile Arteta confirms he is trying to change Xhaka’s mind about leaving in the transfer window, saying the player doesn’t feel loved by the fans.

February 2020

The Gunners have started the year unbeaten under Arteta and put together their best winning sequence of the season (with Ozil starting every game by the way).

A debate online commences though when Arsene Wenger accepts the honour of having a stature put outside our stadium. Yes, that’s correct, some gooners were angry that we should pay respect to the greatest manager in our history. Some even wrote to me arguing that he wasn’t.

The claim was for some it was ‘too soon’ or ‘too raw’ to celebrate the legacy of a man they hold responsible for the ‘mess’ he left.

To translate, we have gone backwards since he left , the grass hasn’t been proven greener and as I said at the time, ‘Be careful what you ask for because you might get it’ but some fans find it hard to admit they’ve been proven wrong.

If I’m honest, this was the moment I felt let down by some fans and started to say some of them deserved what was happening as I couldn’t believe that, even when gone, some couldn’t give Mr Wenger any credit.

March – May 2020

Even with zero football, fans still had a way to snipe about Ozil when the club leaked that he was one of three players to refuse a salary reduction. He rightly wanted to see, before sacrificing his own wealth, what our Billionaire owner planned to do with the money he was about to save, to which we have had zero answer.

Telling someone what to do with his own money seemed to concern them more than 4 players breaking social distancing rules

June 2020

Despite trailing to both Man City, then Brighton, Ozil doesn’t come off the bench in either and hasn’t made any squad since. Him sitting in the stands with an umbrella at Southampton became a meme.

He’s now getting the lowest scores on any season ratings I have watched, based on being greedy for being paid so much while not playing, yet refusing to leave the club.

Yet it’s not his fault he’s not playing. If a manager has been ordered to not play him what’s the player meant to do? Oh, and by the way you know the other 20 odd peeps who finished 8th….they get paid thousands of pounds a week as well.

Quite frankly, because it’s Ozil very few have asked how did he go from starting every game pre lockdown to not even getting in squads post lockdown?

The game before we had a 3-month break, we beat West Ham, thanks to an …. Ozil assist.

So why would he suddenly not be in Arteta’s plans? Common sense would say something must have happened during the break?

Oh wait…. he refused a pay cut because he feels it’s not his job to save a billionaire more money. Simple.

Anyways Ozil is being treated the worst that any player has been treated by Arsenal fans. In one rating he got a 0……Reiss Nelson a 5?

July 2020

Arsenal Football Club feel obliged to release a statement following a racial slur made on AFTV. Let me repeat that for those who accuse JustArsenal of having a conspiracy…. .Arsenal Football Club feel obliged to release a statement following a racial slur made on AFTV. This also makes national press

The club statement read: “We are aware of a video on social media in which an Arsenal supporter uses a racist slur towards Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min during Sunday’s match.

“We operate a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination and we unreservedly condemn this unacceptable racist behaviour. The platform in question has no official association with Arsenal.”

The Comment was made on a Sunday, on Tuesday the guilty party with defiance refused to apologize, only doing so the next morning once the channel had lost sponsors and he had been essentially sacked.

That very evening he was back on YouTube and with his new hosts realising they were getting more views than ever before; he went back to blaming others for ‘getting him off the channel’, and taking zero responsibility for his words. Just 3 days after making a racial comment he asked for people to stop judging him.’

Also, on AFTV one of the contributors who I’m a fan of (but I just couldn’t ignore the irony) claims anyone who criticizes Arteta is doing it for attention and views.

That person literally has his subs and advertising money, etc from verbally abusing our greatest ever manager.

Let me stress, these are not ‘all Arsenal fans’. The majority of gooners are great but I have seen a change in what is being tolerated. Yet I felt it was important that readers know what has been going on so we can all challenge these people, make the Emirates less toxic, and a place where players know they can come and be backed like the family club we used to be.

I fell in love with Arsenal when we lost that FA Cup semi Final against Man United. It broke my heart, but it was a game that had everything.

As a child I was able to be disappointed but never entitled. I stuck by those players and we went again. To me that’s what football is, the journey, the chase, the fine line between success and failure.

If that semi-final happened in 2020 this is what would happen….

On YouTube Bergkamp would be called the C word for not scoring that penalty.

Our back 4 would be told to ‘F off out of my club’ because they were too mentally weak not to foul Giggs.

People would ring radio stations saying Vieira is over-rated because he just passed the ball to Giggs.

We would justify Petit getting online abuse because he’s earning a lot of money.

Maybe verbally abuse Parlour as he stops to take a picture, swear at him with his wife in the car.

It never used to be like this.

The Majority don’t do this, but we accept it.

It’s easy to say it’s the minority but clearly enough for Arsene Wenegr to say he was hurt, for 2 players to talk about how they been hurt mentally.

Just think about that, two of our players have said how low they have been thanks to THEIR OWN FANS. These are someone’s sons, brothers, husbands, dads. They are being mentally hurt because it’s perceived they are not good enough at their jobs. Yes, have an opinion of course. Yet we know that people go beyond talking about one’s ability. I hope I made you guys aware and I hope you help me stand up for those values Mr Wenger spoke about.

To most gooners, wear your yellow ribbons and enjoy Saturday.

But to everyone …….. we have to be better at being kind to one another

Dan Smith





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