If English football was a company floating on the stock market, its shares would be at an-all time low these days, for so often scandals, controversies and racism have tarnished the reputation of the Premier League over the last 12 months or so.
Saturday added another chapter to the ever-growing book of shame, as Manchester United fans insulted Arsenal manager for ninety minutes at Old Trafford, while the supporters that had travelled all the way from London, despite witnessing yet another lacklustre performance, got behind their team throughout the match.
That, at least, is the impression one gets by reading some of the match reports that have circulated since Saturday, none more so than on Martin Keown’s column on the ever-reliable Daily Mail. Ever reliable, that is, when it comes to telling only one side of the story – Keown’s in this case.
The former Arsenal defender (proof that former footballers can either follow Gary Neville’s example, when entering the world of punditry, or going down the Robbie Savage’s route – no prizes for guessing which path Keown has set off onto) expressed his disgust for “the vile obscenities Arsene Wenger has had to put up with”.
Keown refers to the chants that describe the Arsenal manager as an individual with a perverse preference for young kids and that, despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s “commendable” efforts, fans continue to belt out every time the Gunners visit Old Trafford.
I attended the game on Saturday and, unfortunately, I heard the chants Martin Keown pointed to and like the overwhelming majority of United fans, I agree with his verdict on such chants being despicable, abhorrent, vile and odious.
There should be no place for individuals of this kind at Old Trafford, particularly because with a repertoire of songs as wide as ours we shouldn’t indulge in such a moronic behaviour.
What I find amusing is how Keown failed to acknowledge that Arsenal fans – or at least a good number among them – spent 90 minutes addressing Robin Van Persie with a four-letter word beginning with “C” and classifying their former captain as the Dutch response to Jimmy Savile to the tune of “She said no, Robin she said no”, a rather odious chant that has been escalating through the terraces’ hit parade for quite some time.
I don’t have a problem with Arsenal – or whichever club, for that matter – fans insulting our players. It’s wrong, yes but in the heat of the moment who of us hasn’t vented his anger towards another player? I do, however, have a problem with the sort of one-sided campaigns conducted by the likes of Keown. After a Chelsea fan was pictured making monkey gestures on Wednesday night, the press were quick not to paint the rest of the crowd with the same brush. The same should apply to the large majority of United fans at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Those few idiots that targeted Wenger missed a chance to keep their mouths shut, but so has Martin Keown.