Arsenal supporters have thick skins.
The club has constantly been the subject of cheap shots since Arsene Wenger took over. Success breeds jealousy, of course, but the jibes have never been particularly football-related especially when it’s Tottenham on the other end. No English core, too many foreigners, too many Frenchmen, too many youngsters, too many Spaniards, too empty a stadium etc ad infinitum.
Now, Chelsea lifelong fan Ashley Cole has predictably gotten on the bandwagon with his book, claiming that the influx of foreign youth at Arsenal resulted in the death of the club’s team spirit and an immaturity in Arsenal’s play,
â€œThe brutal truth is that too many people played for themselves,â€ he says. â€œI saw too much rubbish, lazy players who didnâ€™t pull their weight and schoolboy errors.
â€œSome players were letting us get kicked and allowing team-mates to get bullied. Too many people took constructive criticism too personally and wouldnâ€™t talk to you for a week. So I learnt to say nothing.â€
â€œI remember feeling how fragmented weâ€™d all become when Robin van Persie spoke up at training about Freddie Ljungberg, saying: â€˜Why doesnâ€™t he talk to me?â€™ Social occasions used to be a big thing, but I couldnâ€™t tell you a thing about Kolo [TourÃ©], [Emmanuel] EbouÃ©, JosÃ© Antonio Reyes, Cesc [FÃ bregas] or Senderos.â€
There is certainly logic behind his words in addition to the bitterness, the French contingent of Arsenal was famed for their unity but now the side is fragmented by nationality and personality. When a club isn’t winning, the players need more than a team chat from the manager to unify them and fight through it – Arsenal have not yet truly displayed that siege mentality and sheer will that saw them go unbeaten. It’s a rare trait in seasoned professionals, even rarer in the youngsters that make up most of Arsenal’s first team.
So, blind rage (Arsenal) or bias (Tottenham) aside, should Arsenal supporters be worried about what has, or is happening to their team?