Saturday, November 27, 2021

Arteta: Strong opinions are great, but we need to reflect on abuse

Steve Bruce left Newcastle this week, an inevitability really following the takeover by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

He – a lifelong Newcastle fan – spoke about the kind of abuse he’d been subjected to during his time as manager, saying, “By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me, but it has been very, very tough.

“To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever. And it was from day one.

“It does take its toll because even when you win a game, you don’t feel like you are winning over the supporters.”

For many, sympathy for football managers is in short supply, especially when they don’t deliver to expectations and because of the highly paid nature of the job, but there is, of course, a human element at the end of the day.

It was something Mikel Arteta was asked about at his press conference ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Aston Villa on Friday night, and he admitted he felt for the 60 year old who has said this will probably be his final job in football.

“I was really sad after reading that statement from Steve,” he said.

“First of all, because I know him personally, and secondly, because of what he transmitted in his words. You’re talking about somebody who has been in the game for over 40 years as a player and as a manager.

“He’s managed over 1000 games and he’s telling you, with that experience, with that level of expertise that he has – because you have to to be able to sustain yourself at that level – that he struggles with that kind of situation, with that kind of abuse.

“I think we have to reflect. We can’t take for granted and accept certain things because they are how they are. No, we are here as well to improve them and change them.

“We have to think about the fact that one of the most experienced managers in England’s history is telling you that, you can’t just ignore it.

“For me, it’s a very serious statement and it’s something that has to change and has to start to change.”

It was then suggested that this was something to pin on football fans, that their voice was somehow too powerful, but Arteta dismissed that, extolling the virtues of supporters and their opinions, but urging people to remember there is a person at the other end of it all.

“No, we can’t blame the fans, guys,” he continued. “It’s not the fans. Football is in an industry that is that big, that has such a big impact in society that everybody has an opinion and it’s great.

“To have a strong opinion and be so convinced about what you see and how you judge how people act, you don’t have to study. You don’t even have to be able to play football. You can just give a strong opinion and that’s it.

“You talk about chemistry. You don’t do that. You talk about law and in law you don’t have that opinion because you have to study and then you don’t say anything.

“But [with football] you can say anything about that and it’s good because it creates debate, it creates opinion and it’s great, but when you cross the line, I think it becomes really difficult because it’s a man.

“It’s a man, it’s a family, it’s his loved ones, it’s the environment and I think we have to reflect. I was really impressed with how he explained openly how he felt and I didn’t like it to be fair.”

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Unfortunately, Social Media is like a knife. Everyone thought opening a platform for people to express themselves will result in more constructive debate, help unheard voices to speak etc. etc. All of this happens, but the knife is also tearing up good, it is like a monster where people thought it would target evil only, but that’s not how the world works. It has dredged up and exposed everyone to so much evil – men, women, children, old, young all alike and is behind a lot of unsavoury things in this world. i’m not saying SM is responsible for everything… Read more »

Teryima Adi


Disarmed Gunner

Social media was never created to “target evil”. It was made for one purpose: money. So long as big tech profit from social media via advertising etc you’ll never see it change. We’re all hopelessly hooked to information in the palm of our hands. Just consider how much actual time you spend per day looking at your phone? Google, Microsoft, Facebook are the real evils. But we are all enablers. Damned with them, damned without them.


Not all of us. I don’t use Google, Microsoft or Facebook but I agree with your point.


To be frank here, I dont think this is solely a social media problem, abusing football managers and players was happening long before any of those giant tech companies were around — so not sure its something that can simply be attributed to Facebook, YouTube etc… Ultimately its a social problem, but I do agree that social media has made it much more prevalent, or telegraphed, whereas perhaps down the years those sorts of opinions wouldn’t have really been shared outside of the pub walls, or away from the terraces like it does now. So all those garbo opinions that… Read more »


Well said. It’s definitely a human problem, one that the social media and tech monoliths amplify and exaggerate to dehumanizing degrees.


I thought that it was a bit rich of the journalists to try and immediately pin all of the blame onto the fans, when they themselves have been fanning the flames for years.

Then we have the many television stations who employ a myriad of ex-professional footballers whose sole purpose it seems is to to talk utter garbage, poison and to subvert the sport that gave them a great living.


You have to wonder if it will ever change. Hatred is so deeply ingrained in football that without it you would have to question the foundation of the sport itself.
However, for every abusive prick, there’s 10000 kind-hearted folk who keep quiet. Amplification, that’s the issue today. Sh1t floats to the top.

Johnny 4 Hats

Weirdly for me, when I saw Unai back at the Emirates with Villarreal and the impressive way he set his team up and conducted himself, I felt infinitely guilty for speaking about him in derogatory tones. It was a real turning point for me. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t always work for managers at a club. And there can be lots going on behind the scenes (Bruce would know a lot about that) which means you can’t do the job as well as you would like. But without exception, no one takes a defeat as hard as a manager.… Read more »

Teryima Adi



I remember my moment as an American during the Bush administration. Jon Bon Jovi, JBJ, was interviewed on Colbert. He spoke about differing beliefs and politics and about being purple, combining the red and blue of opposing parties to create a United purple America. JBJ talked about how denigrating and debasing (my words) the leader of the leading democracy worldwide backfires and weakens democracy. JBJ was not a fan of Bush, he would openly speak on why yet he refrained from debasing Bush, himself and America when speaking. JBJ now is often seen washing dishes and serving free food in… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

Great post! ❤️ I saw this thing a few months ago which got me really teary. It was a letter that Bush Snr left for Clinton after he beat Bush after his first term. Even a whisper of this kind of attitude could save us all from this ideological civil war. Jan 20, 1993 Dear Bill, When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too. I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

We can criticize managers, demand that they be sacked but it should always be about football and never hating them personally.


What – even Mourinho?!?! 😉


That eye gauging, female physio abusing bellend deserves everything he gets.

A Different George

It’s legitimate to say you believe that Mourinho has acted in ways that demean his players or others, to say he is disrespectful of Wenger. It’s talking about actual occurrences. That’s very different from the kind of anger, even rage, that Emery got from some Arsenal supporters–and yes, that Wenger himself faced at the end. Is anyone really surprised he has not come back?

Teryima Adi

There’s a thin line between giving your opinion in football and abusing the main protagonists like the players, managers and owners of the game. And most of the stakeholders in the game, especially the fans, don’t know when they cross the lines. I believe you can express your opinion on the game without being abusive- that’s called courtesy and respect for your fellow humans in spite of how you feel.


The rule of thumb is if you would not be prepared to say what you think to someone’s face and own it, then don’t write it.


Okester…that is not enough now. I wish it was but we are past that. There comes a time when consequences must be combined with good examples to steer things in directions. One way is for a tsunami of direct Un approving response in a blog for a bad behavior, despite agreeing with the opinion…freedom requires self governance. Blogs and others are required to routinely perform this…it would be interesting to get his opinion, compare posts from years ago to now for us all to see. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.


You can blame the fans. Afterall its the fans doing the abuse. Its not just them…but there is no point in sugar coating this fact.


Absolutely – so much hypocrisy on this subject, even in this comments’ section. How many people who are condemning such abusive behaviour, have themselves been abusive, ON THIS BLOG, towards Xhaka, Ozil, Mustafi, Willian, Arteta, Emery, Wenger?
And calling people horrible names isn’t the only type of verbal attack that constitutes abuse; false accusations can be too. Remember when some people said Arsene Wenger was a fraud, only sticking around to collect his £11m a year? To some people, that’s worse than name calling.


I remember a time when football pundits would only mildly criticize players and managers. Everything was said with a certain level of decorum. Nowadays the more polarizing your views, the more in demand you become. Us as fans are also responsible for this. We watch more extreme opinions and deem them interesting, and in turn our views have become more polarizing too. Lose 1 game – is this the start of the end for Arteta? Win one game – is this the turning point of the season? Draw a game – 3 steps forward and 3 steps backwards lads. These… Read more »


You’re right to bring up punditry. Funny how the media seems to escape any blame for this, and it’s ONLY down to the supporters. Those analysing on television, radio, and in the papers are the ones inciting fans to behave like this. If it’s not wrong for Keown and Souness to portray Ozil and Pogba, respectively, as lazy footballers who are not trying (but have won the World Cup), would it be much worse for an ordinary member of the public, who isn’t restricted by Offcom, to go a little bit further in his/her attack on them? And if it’s… Read more »


Sorry, but what Bruce is describing is not really abuse – it’s criticism (okay, being called fat and stupid and a cabbage head is borderline, but it’s also pretty common and something a manager of his experience shouldn’t be surprised by).

What he’s complaining about is the fact that Newcastle fans were opposed to his appointment from day one and never warmed up to him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s received abuse, but that’s not what he’s describing.
He’s describing a fanbase who thought he was a bad manager because he’d failed to convince it otherwise.


Fat, stupid, cabbage head is not abuse?
How about: “I hope you have COVID and die!”?
Is that borderline as well?


or cancer, Hkaka’a daughter…

Johnny 4 Hats

Just putting this out here as a bit of devil’s advocate, but is it ok for us to call Stan a cunt then?

I know you’ll snap back and say he’s proven himself to be a cunt. But cuntishness is pretty relative. I’m sure Stan’s kids and wife don’t think he’s a cunt. They probably see a businessman just trying to do the best he can.

How do we know that Stan’s mental health isn’t affected by constant abuse?

In short, at what point can “cunt” be deployed? And who is the moral arbiter of this?


Probably the Kroenkes’ mental health are affected, though they have other shinier things to focus on. Not so much the case for players and managers. As for the Kroenkes, they would just retaliate at one point by charging more for tickets and drinks at the Emirates. Or even worse, turning the Club into an amusement park and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Alan Sunderland

Why call stan a cunt? He’s put money back into the team, it just hasn’t been spent well. Arteta seems to have final say over transfers. If the money’s being wasted it’s his fault. We got very lucky with Wenger, it’s going to be a while before we find another like him no matter who the owner is.


Sure, but his example of abuse included being called “tactically inept”.

Clearly, that’s a legitimate opinion.

If Bruce feels the need to mention that, he’s bundling criticism with abuse and thus – in my opinion – taking away from legitimate abuse.

The Beast

Being called a fat, stupid cabbage head and aggressively labelled a failure at a job before getting a chance to do the job by complete strangers is abuse.

The fact that it’s common place isn’t evidence that it’s not abuse, it’s evidence that it’s a big problem. Claiming otherwise kinda seems like you’re trying to justify that behaviour so that you don’t feel like a cunt when you do it.

Disarmed Gunner

You can call me all that and more if it means I get a 7 million pay off like Bruce did. Words don’t hurt. It sure isn’t right or acceptable to personally abuse someone on the net (not to mention a fruitless endeavour) but as a manager, or anybody in a high profile job, it’s to be expected.

The Beast

No thanks, I’d rather not.

And it’s not really for you to say whether words hurt someone that’s not you, is it?

Bruce got paid because Newcastle Utd decided to pay him to manage their team, not to take abuse from idiots that’ll never achieve a fraction of what he has in the game.


Well, these Steve guys could coach for free as they’re passionate and ground into the game, so the 7mill is not the biggest factor. If u’re earning that high, u’d know.
This is like criticising Tim Stillman or the Arseblog team about the work they does at for The Arsenal simply coz of the privilege of being lead supporters, club access and popularity they have got.


Do you think you writers on this blog are innocent of this kind of behaviour, yourselves? A certain comment about Mustafi helping Arsenal win two F.A. Cups by not playing in either final comes to mind.


The greatest fallacy in the world: words don’t hurt. “I’ll speak daggers to her, but use none.” From Hamlet to your own mother, you’ve been told throughout your life that words injure. Use them with care. Yet we’ve all done it, we’ve all seen the pain. And on the internet and on social media, we treat each other as less than human — the medium is the message. A black mirror, indeed. There is a difference between criticism and abuse. If you intend to cause hurt, to diminish, to belittle, to dehumanize someone, you know damn well what you’re doing,… Read more »

A Different George

One thing Bruce said that impressed me was how all the abuse hurt his family because “they’re all Geordies.” I don’t now this for a fact, but I am willing to bet that when Bruce’s uncle or his cousin shopped at the market, people berated them.


And that’s clearly wrong, but that’s not what he was complaining about.
He was complaining that fans called him a tactically inept cabbage head.

The Beast

I really hope none of that’s actually happened but it’s clearly upset his family according to him.

Imagine being that entitled to think you have a right to personally abuse someone you don’t know & their family because you think they’re a poor manager. Fucking boggles the mind.


I know I’ve been pretty critical of the manager and one current and some previous players, but I try to avoid criticizing appearance. I’ve called Arteta a mediocre manager (I believe he is), but I haven’t called him anything to do with Lego, as I feel that’s uncalled for. I believe I might have mentioned Xhaka’s and Mustafi’s intelligence, with regard to their consistently poor decisions on the pitch. But Bruce, having been involved in football for so long, can’t possibly have been taken aback by being called fat. He was more likely taken aback by the fact that the… Read more »


I know, eh? I mean, fans have been denigrating each other and everyone in the game for decades. So what if that vitriol is magnified thousands of times and amplified across the internet and social media to unprecedented proportions? So what if someone wishes death by covid on Steve Bruce? This human dignity thing is far, far overrated …

The Beast

Don’t think we’re gonna see eye to eye on this one.

You seem to think the range of abuse Bruce got, from calling him stupid or fat to death threats (strange you haven’t acknowledged he received death threats even though it’s been pointed out), shouldn’t be considered abuse as he’s a manager, where as I do think that’s clearly verbal abuse despite what his job is or whether or not he’s in the public eye.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.


I’ll admit that my opinion is probably colored by Bruce attacking journalists earlier about all the articles saying he’d be fired (duh), which was completely legitimate from them and completely out of line from him. To then read a complaint about abuse which reads: “To never really BE WANTED, to feel that people WANTED ME TO FAIL, to read people CONSTANTLY SAYING I WOULD FAIL, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever…,” I came away with the conclusion that what really got to him was the barrage of negativity and… Read more »

Disarmed Gunner

No arguments here, but Arteta might not want to ever watch AFTV talking about him if he is sensitive to this kind of stuff.


I think anyone that cares for their mental health (especially Arsenal fans, ironically) should probably avoid AFTV.


I think any reasonably educated person with an ounce of self-respect should avoid AFTV! Robbie Lyle and his mob have played their part in building this culture of abuse.


Says he, safely from behind the comfort of a pseudonym…

Heavy Gunner

Okay- we can blame it on social media platforms and the whole digital communication revolution, whatever that is, but when it comes down to the bare bones, it’s all about the human cognitive universe. How many of us would face our ‘adversaries’ with expressions that are more than ordinarily abusive? A bit like the bloke down the boozer who calls you a c**t just to wind you up, hoping to find an excuse to whack you on the nut with a bottle. I thought a few years ago that digital communication would enrich us all by revealing much information at… Read more »


Top post.

There is, however, nothing wrong with calling Mike Dean a cunt. Because he hates The Arsenal. A lot. That, my dear fellow, makes him a cunt. 😉👍🍺


Mike Dean makes pretty much impossible, to not call him a cunt, because I truly genuinely believe that he absolutely is indeed, a cunt. Of course I only do this from the stands where I don’t think he can hear me, would never bother to do the same on social media (if I was on one of those platforms), but I would be tempted to ask him why he referees like a cunt if I were (un)lucky enough to happen across him in the street.


As with everything these days, immediate polarisation and over the top sanctimonious witch-hunts are the order of the day. What we have here is a social problem; football merely becomes a media for it, the same way as the press go over the top and ‘the bloke down the pub’ elsewhere. It’s nothing new in football either; I remember being taken to Highbury by my father in 1970 and hearing Jon Sammels get dogs abuse from certain individuals on the North Bank. Again, a problem of society; not everyone in the crowd was shouting it, just a few idiots who… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

We all say things in the heat of the moment regarding football but most of it is purely related to said game not a personal attack on the person although it can be interpreted that way. I seem to remember the serious abuse Arsene wenger got up and down the country and by his own fan base which went above and beyond what was acceptable and was absolutely disgraceful a lesser individual may have succumbed to it.


The abuse is partly just bad behaviour, but its also partly the relationship between club and fans being frayed to breaking point – everywhere, even in the ‘winning’ clubs. When we pretend that a game is ‘worth’ the billions of pounds being force-fed into it effectively overnight, while the fans in general are ‘worth’ roughly what they were 100 years ago (or even less, in some senses), the temperature rises. In that situation, the manager has an impossible task of explaining/accounting for things beyond their control such as profiteering owners and the rising cost of attendance. Never directly, but through… Read more »

Man Manny

I get the sentiments here; Steve Bruce was in a situation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I am glad, for his sake, it is all over. But I still think Arteta is doing a poor job at Arsenal. There is no discerning pattern, and I feel players are getting worse under him. The jury is still out. At the beginning of the season, our lack of European football was seen as an advantage in some quarters: “it will give us more time on the training pitch,” many suggested. We are still having the disjointed performances. Arteta out: Vieira… Read more »

The Beast

Don’t think anyone’s claiming that sort of criticism is anywhere near abuse. That’s not what what Bruce or Arteta was talking about, is it?


I find the idea of being a cabbage head and getting £8m for being fired a massive disconnect.

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