Apparently, now is the time for change …
Just prior to kick off, the above scene presented itself to thousands of fans arriving from the south east of England ahead of the crucial Manchester United encounter. This was a game that had United won, would have seen one of our greatest rivals consolidate their unlikely position at the pinnacle of the Premier League, one point ahead of Citeh, six points ahead of Arsenal and eleven points ahead of the Champions of England.
The timing of the protest left everything to be desired, not least some support, and even managed to clash with the nationwide “£20’s Plenty” campaign to reduce ticket prices for fans of visiting teams.
Positively Arsenal would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the size of the photograph illustrating this article. As you can see, it is a very small banner with an even smaller turnout from the supposedly seething anti-Wenger ‘masses’. Forensic examination of the image reveals as many as nine gathered around the bannerette which reads:
“ARSENE Thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye”.
The image was tweeted just before kick-off, supposedly a contemporaneous scene set above the Armoury Superstore. It’s as laughable as it is inconsequential but it did lead this writer to wonder: just how many people really do want to say goodbye to Arsene Wenger?
Naturally there are many of us not backward at coming forward to express disappointment at the occasional under-whelming performance/near total disaster in Europe. One of Wenger’s greatest achievements is that few of us can actually quite believe our eyes when our boys lose the occasional game. But reading Twitter from a safe distance suggests that there are followers of the club who think it’s time for Arsene to hang up his zip-unfriendly coat and say farewell. After match-day setbacks, the numbers of these fans seem to quell exponentially, as shrilly hysterical on Twitter, blogs and radio shows as their incoherent, and generally random, blunt barbs are hot-headedly inconsistent.
Yet when the team is doing well, these ‘contributors’ to the Gooniverse are largely silent. At such times, the phrase ’empty vessels’ springs to mind and the quieter majority bask in the golden sunshine of an Arsenal era quite unlike any other.
So just how large is their number?
Well, in the aftermath of the Olympiakos defeat, an online petition was launched to have the evil dictator, I mean Arsene Wenger, removed from office once and for all.
“Now is the time for change, do the right thing Arsene Wenger and GO!” exhorts the internet petition, replete with its own little red logo of a cannon and the words ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH WENGER OUT!
Ah-ha, at last, a handy metric for calculating the true scale of this pluckily determined protest group seeking to mobilise the views of the dispossessed, the disheartened and the disbelieving. And, at the time of writing, some seven whole days after the launch of the petition, the numbers signing it have risen to the heady heights of almost 1,300. Numbers seem stuck on 1,265 today and if the instigator of this petition and the carriers of the banner, above, were hoping for support to match the recent Mike Dean petition (106,445 signatories and still rising), then they have been badly misled.
However, all is not lost for the would-be revolutionaries, as there have been at least four other ‘Wenger Out’ petitions in the last year alone and support for some of them have even reached double figures. No fewer than forty end-of-their-tether types have pitched up to sign up to see off Arsene. So the latest petition, with nearly 1270 names has actually done comparatively well.
However, when you consider the official Arsenal Twitter account (@arsenal) has 6.3 million followers and Arsenal Facebook has 33.5 million ‘likes’, then it looks as though the petition has a fair way to go yet. As a percentage of Arsenal’s Facebook following, the petition has attracted almost 0.0037% of the fanbase. By comparison, the organisers of the banner-led mass-protest achieved a far superior result, attracting nearly 0.016% of the estimated 57,000 Arsenal supporters swirling around the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Cleverer statisticians than me (that’s most readers) will point out that even if all 57,000 had joined the banner protest, this would still have been a small percentage of the club’s total global following. But the fact remains that online, there are (virtually) no geographical boundaries, so a petition conducted in cyber-space really should be doing a little better. Indeed, to achieve parity with the laughably slim turn-out at the Emirates, the petition should by now have reached an absolute minimum of 3,500, which would of course, give it 0.016% of Arsenal’s Facebook following.
Yep, all of us hate losing games and most are fed up when the team doesn’t appear to fulfil its potential. A fair number will make a fair racket on Twitter. But very, very few, actually want Arsene Out, it would seem.
So maybe, as far as the Wenger Out Brigade is concerned, enough really is enough?