Arsenal’s 3-1 opening day defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the fans who have waited patiently all summer long for signings they were promised by the manager and the club.
At the beginning of the summer chief executive Ivan Gazidis assured the fans who were already frustrated and disillusioned after another disappointing season that the club could and would pay big money for the best players to prove their ambition.
The manager has insisted he and his negotiators are working to bring in quality players but so far those words have yet to be upheld by the actions to go with them.
The fans booed the team off the pitch at the final whistle on Saturday – that anger was not aimed at the players but at the management and the board – but this ‘negativity’ has been building up for a long long time.
One could argue it’s been building in the eight years since Arsenal last won a trophy. One could argue it’s been building each and every summer that the club has sold it’s best players to direct rivals. One could argue it’s building since Arsenal became the most expensive team in the country to support.
Is it just one bad result? Is it just one bad result off the back of some dubious refereeing decisions? Or is it one bad result that follows a summer of promises yet to be fulfilled with time running out to deliver, after a season of inconsistent performances, no trophies, and no possibility of a genuine title challenge after selling a star player. Again and again and again.
The cast vaguely changes every year but the script remains the same at Arsenal. The club and the manager insist the club are ambitious but by the time the season kicks off their words are unconvincing. What we saw on Saturday was not the consequence of one bad result. It was the result of patience worn thin by almost a decade of compromise on the part of the manager, the board and the owner.
The fans don’t want to see compromise – not from the players on the pitch and not from the money men upstairs, especially when they’ve gone to great lengths to boast about their resources this summer.
Ultimately, if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League and strengthen adequately before the window closes, their defeat on Saturday will be viewed in a different context – it’ll be just one bad result. However, if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League and fail to bring in at least three or four quality signings before the window closes there will be hell to pay.
The club now has a choice on how that defeat is viewed. In history there are trends and triggers. The fans’ disenchantment, anger and frustration has been trending for several years, slowly simmering and now it has reached boiling point. Saturday’s game will be considered the trigger if the club don’t bite the bullet and add the some guns to their arsenal.