Football fans are notoriously fickle. It is commonplace to observe supporters lustily cheering their club and within a week, a day or an hour many of these same fans are booing and slagging the very team they claim to support. Players who are reviled suddenly become heroes and vice versa.
Perhaps the most fickle form of fan behavior is hero worship. Lucky is the Arsenal footballer whose hero status lasts long enough to merit a statue outside the new stadium or a special place in the (very excellent) Arsenal Museum. In this the era of instant gratification, I have observed many newly-crowned heroes become footballers with feet of clay in a matter of weeks, even days. For example, not many years ago Adebayor, Fabregas, Nasri, and Van Persie were the toast of Emirates until they sought pastures new. Almost overnight they were transformed from deity to demons.
Clearly recent history has not been kind to those who became overnight heroes at Arsenal. But that has not deterred the usual suspects in the Arsenalsphere who in recent weeks have accorded hero-status to general manager Raul Sanllehi who is now being dubbed as Don Raul. According to news reports, whenever Raul goes public among Arsenal fans he is in demand for photo opportunities and his praises are being sung loudly in football grounds. He is now the continuous beneficiary of megabytes of favorable articles and tweets in both social and mainstream media. Don Raul is being venerated as some sort of savior of the football club because he was very active in the last transfer market, buying and selling players almost at will.
Not surprisingly all this sound and fury is based on wishful thinking rather than hard concrete facts. A quick perusal of the Transfermarkt website reveals Arsenal was far from being the winner of the summer 2019 transfer sweepstakes.
The winner by any measure was City on both a gross and net basis. Not far behind was Man Utd, a club with infinitely more income than Arsenal. But seemingly Raul and the ownership have decided to join the big boys with net spending of £98.85 million, pretty much equivalent to City. Apparently this has triggered an orgasm among those supporters who measure success by money spent rather than by achievements on the field. These fans now seem happy we are now competing with United who since their last title in 2012 and despite massive spending annually more often than not have ended up in the Europa League with the occasional flurry in the champions league.
At least Raul has succeeded in destroying Wenger’s preferred strategy of signing a few quality players annually to limit the disruption and lack of continuity caused by having to integrate more than three new players into first team annually. Instead Arsenal signed 15 and dispatched 19. Among those gone are top-top quality veterans like Ramsey, who was allowed to go on a free or the likes of Koscielny and Monreal, who both decided that it was better to return home than continue with this new regime. Bye-bye to the continuity and automatism that once characterized the Arsenal-Way. No wonder the transfer addicts are jizzing.
Given the historical fickleness of the Arsenal fanbase, if I was Raul, now would be the time to update my resume while exulting in the adoration from the fans. As always, give it a few bad results and love can easily turn into hate. Uneasy is the head that wear the crown.