Arsenal fans’ anger has scaled new heights recently, as some in the stands are no longer hiding their resentment that manager Arsène Wenger is still at the club.
In a season that initially promised so much for the Gunners, they have been unable to capitalise on their early season form and the poor results of their biggest rivals, and with Leicester just three points away from their first ever English league title, Wenger’s side find themselves in the familiar surroundings of fourth place.
Champions League qualification should be the bare minimum for Arsenal, but with a trip to Manchester City still to come – and with fifth-placed Manchester United finding a bit of confidence – even that is far from guaranteed with just three games remaining this season.
Following some fans’ decision to walk out early towards the end of the team’s 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion last week, supporters groups have decided to take more drastic action for Arsenal’s home fixture against Norwich this week.
Groups REDAction and the Black Scarf Movement are imploring fans to print off signs they have created it and wave them in the air in the 12th and 78th minutes of the game – twelve being the number of years since Arsenal last won (or even seriously challenged for) the title.
If it is successful, it would be – to date – the biggest protest yet against the club’s directors and manager.
— Kevin Whitcher (@KevinWhitcher01) April 26, 2016
The “Time for Change” message, while not directed solely at Wenger, is calling for a change in the Arsenal hierarchy and how the club is run as a whole. The club’s refusal to spend despite having not enjoyed a sustained title challenge in over a decade has riled some fans up to the point where they feel that enough is enough and are demanding change at the top – including, but not limited to, Wenger.
In an accompanying statement, REDAction said:
“We are encouraging the most vocal protest to be after the final whistle, so no suggestion that this should affect the team. And it goes without saying, during the game please give your maximum (and loud) support to the players on the pitch
The Black Scarf Movement added:
“The current season has been one of massive disappointment for Arsenal fans, with the campaign fizzling out in a depressingly limp fashion.
“Over the past few years – massively so in recent months – increasing number of supporters have become fed up with the club.
Basically speaking, Arsenal Football Club has gone stale.”
With Wenger set to stay on next season, the fans involved in the movement may have to get used to the idea of at least twelve more months with the 66 year old in the Emirates dugout – though failure to qualify for the Champions League could have major ramifications in that regard.
Should they qualify and Wenger stay on, a repeat of this season – minimal squad investment and on-pitch stagnation culminating in yet another fourth place finish – then protests like this are going to become far more common among the Arsenal fan base.