A guest post from Arse or Brain (@arse_or_brain)
The answer to this question can be different not only in people’s opinion but also the context in which you ask it. After a very quiet stadium against Crystal Palace I had a very heated discussion with a friend I have been following Arsenal with around the country and abroad over the last 30 years. You would imagine after such time our views would align, much like women’s periods. However, on the subject of whether the fans should inspire the team – or the team should inspire the fans – we are poles apart.
While this issue will never be black and white, each are incumbent upon each other to inspire in certain situations and to a greater or lesser extent depending on what the occasion demands, I feel the greater responsibility should always be on the supporter to do all they can to lift whatever performance they are watching.
Apart from the embarrassment of the small amount of away fans out-singing the rest of the stadium every home game, I feel players should ride on a wave of noise towards the 100% performance to which we all aspire.
It is why home games used to have such an advantage. It is why away teams are told – regardless of tactics – silencing the home fans is first on the list. It is why teams like to attack their loudest end in the second half and it is why many goals are scored in the final minutes when the crowd are “sucking the ball in to the net.”
Will paying players more money increase their performance?
Will guilting them into a performance by booing them work, or will staying quiet, or grumbling, lift their game?
No, actually roaring them on is the most effective way to make them fly.
I have often heard the argument the players should give the crowd something to cheer and in some circumstances I agree. However when a stadium is still from the start of the game, playing at 100% must be more difficult. I would also ask why, with all the modern media around, someone would want to spend money and time not supporting the team? Do you sit mute and wait for something magical to happen or do you sing your heart out to try and inspire that magic?
The problem has been acknowledged by some fan groups with both RedAction and A.I.S.A talking to the club and making suggestions to improve atmosphere. The teen for a tenner section is normally very vocal and the singing section at least produces songs from one part of the ground. These initiatives on their own are not nearly enough and at the moment we have a top class stadium, a top class team but the *HOME fans are bottom of a very poor league.
*The emphasis is on home because our away fans are second to none.