By Louis Gibbon
Last week, Jeremy Corbyn came out in support of Arsene Wenger, proclaiming that the current Arsenal boss was ‘going nowhere.’ A comment loaded with irony, given Corbyn’s own current political standing amongst the electorate and within his own party. Arsenal are sitting nineteen points behind the league leaders and Labour are on just nineteen points in the polls. Both are suffering due to an insistence on adhering to outdated philosophies and neither have a viable chance of winning the ultimate prize they seek. Yet both cling to power and create a toxicity amongst their own camp and their own supporters, ignoring the overwhelming evidence that they are espousing a failing ideology.
Wenger has refused to buy an effective holding midfielder, which Arsenal have lacked since the departure of Viera. It is clear to many that without such a player Arsenal will be unable to compete in big matches, but Wenger refuses to address the problem, believing that players such as Coquelin will suffice. Corbyn’s stance on Trident is similar, where he overrides his parliamentary party and the views of the electorate by refusing to back Trident’s renewal, ignoring those in Labour heartlands who see national security, quite rightfully, as a genuine and real concern in a world of growing instability. These two examples are merely microcosms of the reasons these two men are failing, yet they serve to highlight the similarities between the pair, illustrating their commitment to out-dated concepts and ideas, which effectively undermine any viable change of success.
Furthermore, the structures within the Labour party and Arsenal are not dissimilar. Corbyn and Wenger are surrounded by a group of hardcore followers, who encourage them to stay on despite overwhelming evidence. Whether it be Stan Kroenke at Arsenal or the likes of Lenn McClusky, who heads the Unite union and is one of Labour’s largest financial backers, neither are concerned with winning. Kroenke is happy for Arsenal to keep finishing in the top four without threatening for the title, providing the money keeps coming in. Wenger’s prudence with money protects his investment and reduces his risk profile. Those on the left of the Labour party, such as McClusky, remain unconcerned by Labour seizing power in the next general election, so long as the power within the Labour party is kept out of the hands of those to the centre. The unions wield far more power under a Corbyn leadership. In both instances, these inside influencers work for their own ends by supporting Corbyn and Wenger, both of whom continue to persevere in their jobs regardless of providing their fan base with the results they crave.
Talking to Arsenal fans, the sense of dejection and apathy is very alike to those such as myself who support the Labour party. There is a sense of inevitability and the feeling of losing has now been numbed. For instance, when Labour lost the by-election in Copeland, it did not hurt. In fact, it just made you hope that Jeremy might fall sooner. And in the same way, when Arsenal got battered by Bayern, fans had become immune to the failure, again. If anything the scale of the defeat gave some hope that it could finally be the end of Wenger’s rein.
This is no way for either Politics and football to behave. Members and fans should be engaged and excited by their respective leaders and therefore with whatever dignity both have left, they should vacate their posts and allow younger, more energetic blood to take their places. Results may take time, but at least it will bring a sense of exuberance back to these two institutions which are so poisonous in their current states.
Photograph: Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr