Wanting your own team to lose is perhaps one of football’s most venal sins. The whole idea of supporting a club is built around the notion of wanting them to be victorious in any game they play. Without that drive and desire, you stop being a fan and start being more of a neutral observer, which is why having a sense of elation when a goal goes in against you is a delicious, dirty sex act feeling. Being disgusted at a heavy defeat or losing at home to a much lesser side is, secretly, tremendous fun. It allows you to pour all your bile and anger at life into what has happened on the pitch. It allows you to focus all of your dissatisfaction on one man: the manager. The useless get. Conversely, your heart sinks as a winning goal goes in and gives ammunition to the idiots who go on about loyalty, continuity, legacy and stability to defend the loser in the big stupid manager’s coat. Boo. Or, having been to the Scottish League Cup final this weekend, to put it in Hibs fans’ vernacular, “f**king boo”.
We regularly hear fans who will say “I almost wish we get beaten today so they’ll have to sack the manager”. There’s no ‘almost’ about it; everyone who dislikes their manager loves to see him lose. Not the club, but him. It becomes a way of insulting him, a drawing back of the curtain on the man’s inadequacy. Dressed up as passion for the club, it frots itself to a climax of delicious despair, releasing sweet dopamine into the synapses. And that’s why it’s so addictive. Nothing pleases quite so much as manager fury.
For the neutral, it also offers much enjoyment. I doubt there were many who, on seeing the Arsenal result against Watford, didn’t rub their hands together in glee at the ire it would provoke in a sizeable section of Arsenal’s fanbase. And they didn’t let us down, howling like wounded animals at the injustice of it all. Hilarious. On behalf of all of us, thank you Arsene.
And they’re not alone in this, we’ve all probably done it at some point, even if we don’t like to talk about it. Once in this state of mind, there’s nothing quite so disappointing as seeing your side win and thus give an unwanted extension to the manager’s career at the club.
What a strange emotion it is to be unhappy at winning and happy at losing, especially if it is a humiliating loss. There is so much satisfaction in being dissatisfied with your manager. Once you’ve decided he’s no good then you can dump all the club’s problems onto him. He becomes a repository of all the negativity in your soul.
Of course, sacking a manager is a simplistic solution, but many football fans are simple souls who want an easy answer to their club’s problems. Once everything becomes about the boss, once you’ve decided they’re the problem, it makes everything more understandable and easy to sort out. Never mind anything more deep-rooted, nuanced or layered at the club, which might also be having a negative impact. Never mind the fat, lazy players. No. The rubbish manager who is stubbornly holding on to the job is a great big blotting paper of everyone’s ire. It’s all his fault.
The dissatisfaction with Wenger seems to have been palpable for at least seven years, with one set of fans furious at the others for lapping up the morsels thrown at them to keep them buying the stupidly high-priced tickets, lapping up their over-priced, corporate exploitation of football, like it’s the same as banking or supermarkets. Every problem, every failure, every disappointment in every season can be laid, rightly or wrongly, at Wenger’s door, if you see him as the problem. It’s brilliant, really. You needn’t look any further for anything else, just jab a finger in the direction of the dug-out.
I’m a great believer in getting rid of managers quickly, just for added entertainment value. They’re only actors on the football stage and it’s easy to tire of them and their predictable ways. The whole idea of being in a job for a long time, as being in any way desirable, is a fallacy. The ‘be careful what you wish for’ brigade try to persuade everyone that the status quo is always the best state of affairs.
But what all fail to understand is the enjoyment in turning on your manager and blaming him for all your ills. It is an important texture in the fabric of your football-supporting life. It might be your own private dirty little secret, an intimate smell on your fingers, the morning after the night before, but you know you love it really. And I’ll tell you this for nothing; the one thing Arsenal fans will really miss when Wenger has gone is be being really bloody furious at Wenger.