There's only four teams involved in football's top honours these days, so what's it like to win silverware every season? This is the blog of one football fan who decided to, fully and unconditionally, do the unthinkable and change the football team he supported to spend one season at the top... AND NOW HE'S DOING A SIMILAR THING FOR EURO 2008 WITH A MATE BECAUSE THE SEASON'S FINISHED AND THEY'RE BOTH BORED

Archives for: September 2007

Out-of-fashion Serie A is bargain bin treat

23/09/07

Ciao amicos. £9!… Yes, £9! And you can turn up at the ground five minutes before to buy a ticket.

No, I’m not talking about the price of my first Arsenal ticket, but the cost of watching top-flight Serie A club and Champions League winners AC Milan. To put this in perspective, it cost roughly half the price to watch AC Milan play Parma at the iconic San Siro stadium, than it did to watch Notts County against Bristol Rovers last season. Who would you rather watch? Kaka? or David Pipe? Pipe costs twice as much to watch.

OK, so you might witness some fans throwing a scooter on to the pitch during a particularly rough derby match at the San Siro, but this is proof that English football is a massive rip-off. At least it is when it costs so much to watch football at any level in this country.

Anyway, it’s looking more and more like I made the right decision to support Arsenal doesn’t it? Adebayor is class… They’re an excellent team, who play beautiful with low-key players in a cracking new stadium… Who new that, towards the end of last season, all it took to for this team to mature enough would be to get rid of The Pouty One. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I’d seen Henry play in the flesh, but every player seems to be an equal in this Arsenal squad.

So, it’s about time I put some considerable money where my mouth is and watch them play. So, the first league match I can go to? Wigan at The Emirates in November, except I can’t because I have to be a ‘Silver Member’ (sounds expensive). Although if I wait until a couple weeks before the game I can get tickets, provided I’m by the phone at 9.30am and I’m a fully paid-up ‘Red Member’.

Is it fair that this new top club supporting business is already starting to annoy me? Maybe it’s not that uncommon to have to be a member of a popular football club in order to get tickets these days, but I didn’t have to be in Milan. Why do I have to be a ‘Silver Member’ to get tickets for one of the least attractive fixtures of Arsenal’s season? And, most annoying of all, why do I have to sit by the phone as if I’m on speed-dial trying to get tickets for Glastonbury or something?

Someone at work’s just told me his mate lives near the Emirates and can get me a ticket for whichever game I like… he didn’t say how much it was going to be though. Anyway, I’ll try for Bolton at home, or maybe Slavia Prague. Cool! My new team’s in the Champions League. Forgot. I’m excited again…

And the winner is...

14/09/07

It’s been a while coming and finally the decision is made. No not Gisele, but that crass branding behind her. I’ve chosen to support Arsenal this season. The point of the illustration is that, in the end, it came down to beauty, and they football they play. Who wouldn’t want to support that every week? All of The Big Four have strengths on and off the pitch, we all know that, and in recent times all have achieved great things in terms of footballing honours. So, I guess it comes down to the sutble differences between the clubs. I could blather on about the pros and cons of each one for weeks, but from the outside looking in there was only one club who seems to do things differently.

Here’s why I chose Arsenal (reasons in order of importance):

Beautiful football

The best-looking stadium

Youngest team (who don’t tend to get ‘snapped’ outside nightclubs wearing expensive T-shirts with writing on the front)

Arsenal always achieve the most by spending the least amount of money of the four (I think)

I live nearest to Arsenal out of the four

I’ve given it a lot of thought, but, to be honest, Arsenal were the only team I actually found myself wanting to support. The only team that came close to exciting me. Why, I can’t really say. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe no one can actually say why they support the team they do, although I’m determined to find out through those small interviews I’ve been putting up.

The overall reaction from my interviewees is that they think it’s stupid to change the team you support, but they acknowledge that, as fans of clubs outside the top four – be it Everton or Walsall – they know it’s unlikely that they will ever see their team take a major domestic honour in their lifetime. Perhaps more interesting here, is why they decided to support the clubs they did, and whether they would ever consider changing teams. So far most have said they’d never change, but most made their choice during childhood for a reason they would never consider valid now that they’re adults.

With that in mind, here’s Danny talking about Everton… and calling me an idiot for making the change, of course.

Sadly, I’m going to miss my first north London derby because I’m off to Italy now to watch AC Milan, and maybe find out how they do it over there. Although I haven’t bought a ticket yet, so that’ll be an interesting argument with an Italian version of a ticket tout. I wander if they’re all Mancunian as well…

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The Big Four reply! Man Utd are arrogant (shock), but human after all

04/09/07

Drumroll please… The Big Four have spoken (sort of) in response to me asking which one wanted me as a fan the most. Here’s a reminder of the email I sent to a couple of days ago:

“Dear [club],
I have decided to support one of the top four teams in the Premier League, but I’m not sure which one. Can you help me decide?
I would be very grateful if you could get back to me with a few details to convince me that YOU are the club I want to spend the rest of my life supporting.
I very much look forward to being a fan.
Best regards”

So, least bothered first…

Arsenal:

“Thank you for your email. For all Club information and news please visit the website at www.arsenal.com.
Regards
Arsenal Football Club”

Liverpool:

“…” [aka shrugged shoulders]

Chelsea:

“Hi
With regards to your email all details of our club can be found on
www.chelseafc.com
Kind regards”

Not going well so far, but Chelsea’s website did offer a list of anecdotes where people could explain how they became fans. The one I chose was perhaps quite telling… Maybe I’m not the only one playing the choosing without prejudice game:

“All my mates were either Liverpool or United, so I HAD to be something different. Chelsea would do, as Townsend was there, and it was either them or Man City (thank the Lord I made the right choice!). As I started to follow the Blues with a growing interest of not just the team but the game, I was roundly villified by my peers. “Why the fuck Chelsea?", they’d cry. “They’re shite, they’ve no good players.”
At that time, maybe not - Townsend and Wise (in my eyes) excepted. But had they just been a shite journeyman side, I would have found another mast to nail my colours to (ah, the luxury of choice).”

Thanks to some bloke called Alan for that…

And finally, the best reply of the lot…

Man Utd:

“Do we really need to convince you?

Ticketing & Membership Services
24 Hour Ticket & Match Information Line - 0870 442 1968
Ticket Line - 0870 442 1999
Enquiries - 0870 442 1994
www.manutd.com”

My reply: “Huh? Er, yes.”

Man Utd:
“We have no need to convince you. If you look at our history, the year of the treble, all the trophies we have won and our huge success over any other club in the premiership and more so in European games, we are the most successful club in the world, let alone the Premiership.
Our aim is not to win over supporters, you support a club for a genuine reason, not because you decide they have more to offer - its call passion and its not handed to you.
You only need to look at our history to see how great this club is… Plus we have the best support in the world and play some of the best attacking football.
Regards
www.manutd.com”

My Reply: “Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, choosing the football club you support does come from passion. But, as a neutral I’m passionate about football as a whole. Now, I want to back one of the great Top Four teams in the Premier League - it’s kind of a clean slate for me. Following any one of these clubs will probably bring about great excitement throughout any coming season. Utd have the best record and, as last season proved, played the best football, but what of the others? Chelsea are perhaps the most ruthless and competitive, Arsenal play the most beautiful football, while Liverpool’s tactical approach makes them one of the best teams in Europe. All four clubs have their strengths, I was just interested in what each club’s views were on why they are the best to support, above the other three.”

Man Utd:
“…”
www.manutd.com

———————————–

Riiiiight. There you go people. A very official reply from the very official www.manutd.com. To be honest, to get an impassioned human reaction was actually very refreshing, compared to the automated voice response I got from the others. But perhaps most telling is that, whoever was on the other side of the line, as it were, found it impossible to contemplate that someone would be in a position just to be choosing one of The Big Four without any preference (or passion).

In fact, being bollocked by a Man Utd employee is making me think this was a very bad idea. What I am doing? He’s right… “It’s called passion and it’s not handed to you,” he says. I know! I know! I followed my passion; I followed my instinct, and look where it got me… I just want to know what it’s like to genuinely challenge for football’s top honours, but the monopolisation of The Big Four has killed my dream! This is your fault, Alan Sugar, Richard Scudamore, Martin Edwards, Roman Ambramovich, Peter Kenyon, Jimmy Hill, capitalism, Americanisation…

Sorry… In the next post, I’ll reveal my team. I need to hurry up after all, the season’s started. I held back from choosing before the start in case one of the four were particularly shit. Surprisingly it appears to be Man Utd, so far, but that’s not going to last is it… Is it?

I’m also going to put up videos of people’s reaction to my switch, and the reasons why they supported their clubs etc…
Here’s why Ali Berk Osalan decided to supported Besiktas…

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The Silly Season

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