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Arsenal season-ticket holder Glenn Allen from Islington: Why I’ll be boycotting Carabao Cup final

PUBLISHED: 18:42 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:55 20 February 2018

Arsenal fan Glenn Allen is boycotting the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley.

Arsenal fan Glenn Allen is boycotting the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley.

Archant

For the majority of Arsenal fans a Wembley cup final is something to be savoured. However a long-serving season ticket holder from Islington, Glenn Allen is so disenchanted with Arsene Wenger he is boycotting the Carabao Cup showpiece against Manchester City on Sunday. Read on for his explanation which will shock many but perhaps strike a chord with some.

Arsenal fans show their support in the stands during the 2011 League Cup final. PA Arsenal fans show their support in the stands during the 2011 League Cup final. PA

As well as being a type of buffalo native to the Philippines the Carabao gives its name to a Thai energy drink that is the official sponsor of the latest iteration of what football supporters once referred to as The League Cup.

As an Arsenal fan I could probably use a can or two because I do not have the energy nor the enthusiasm to attend this Sunday’s Wembley final against Manchester City.

The reasons for this shoulder-shrugging apathy are numerous and shared by a many Arsenal supporters.

Several of my friends, all season ticket holders, have declined the opportunity of purchasing a ticket for the final under the club membership scheme.

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is glared at by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the 2011 League Cup final which the Blues won. PA Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is glared at by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the 2011 League Cup final which the Blues won. PA

A very close friend, who a few days ago made the trip to Ostersunds to watch another underwhelming display in sub-zero conditions, pointed out it will be the first Arsenal final he’s missed since the 1979 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

Looking at the club website we can’t be alone as I noted Carabao Final tickets were now on sale to Red Members.

All this for me encapsulates the strange shift in priorities that has gradually unfolded over the years since the club relocated to the gleaming new Emirates Stadium.

This was the platform whereby we would compete at a higher level, generate bigger incomes and stand alongside the European footballing elite.

Alex McLeish, Birmingham City manager lifts the 2011 League Cup in triumph after beating Arsenal Alex McLeish, Birmingham City manager lifts the 2011 League Cup in triumph after beating Arsenal

Around this time Arsene Wenger generally treated the League Cup with the nonchalance of a manager who had bigger fish to fry and used the competition as a means to blood raw young talent. For Arsenal the competition was one in which the phrase “he’ll play the kids” became commonplace.

In 2007 we reached the final against Chelsea and our manager persisted with his policy of playing the kids and despite a bright start they were inevitably overturned by a strong Chelsea side led by their bruising attacker Didier Drogba.

In Wenger’s eyes this was good experience for the youngsters and while he clearly hates losing any game of football, let alone a final, it was clear this competition was the lowest of his trophy winning priorities.

Four years later Wenger lost the League Cup final again, this time to Birmingham City in one of those hapless and calamitous displays now de riguer for Arsenal. The trophy drought continued and the alarm bells were starting to ring amongst the fans but Wenger still exuded the air of a manager who believed we were pursuing the bigger prizes.

Birmingham City fans show their support in the stands Birmingham City fans show their support in the stands

Eleven years since the Chelsea final in Cardiff Wenger will likely go into Sunday’s game fielding the strongest side available to him. The trophy he has never won would suddenly appear to be of paramount importance to him yet bizarrely of little appeal to a large section of Arsenal fans.

To my mind this is tacit affirmation of a club going backwards and indicative of how priorities have shifted for those powerbrokers at the club who promised us a new dawn on the horizon just over a decade ago.

Now the stark reality is this – dumped out of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest, light years away from competing for the Premier League title with the prospect of Champions League football already seeming like a distant memory.

This demise has not happened overnight and myself and other like-minded fans such as the Black Scarf Movement have been highlighting this steady stagnation at Arsenal for several years.

Arsenal and Birmingham City fans make their way up Wembley Way before the match Arsenal and Birmingham City fans make their way up Wembley Way before the match

The mood at Arsenal is apathy – see the damp squib of the “protest” before the Everton game – and that for the time being Wenger has won the battle to stay.

As a club we are treading water and possibly best encapsulated by the pedestrian, side to side football played out on the pitch most weeks.

I can hear the howls of derision from other sets of fans who would dream of attending a Wembley final and I can hear the accompanying accusations of entitlement.

I understand all this but I write this purely as an Arsenal fan and one of many who feel disenchanted at the direction the board and manager have taken the club.

Arsenal fans in the stands at the 2011 League Cup final Arsenal fans in the stands at the 2011 League Cup final

Please don’t get me wrong I will be watching the final on Sunday and I will cheer if we score and cheer even louder if we win.

I’ll finish by adding the unappealing prospect of attending the corporate bowl that is new Wembley – which similar to The Emirates – is another failed promise and missed opportunity.

I recall attending the 2011 final against Birmingham City and upon entering the stadium my friends made a beeline for the bar.

I explained I was going to find my seat and take in the “atmosphere”.

Bacary Sagna during the 2011 League Cup final between Birmingham City and Arsenal. PA Bacary Sagna during the 2011 League Cup final between Birmingham City and Arsenal. PA

To my dismay the Birmingham fans who had all arrived early en masse were being drowned out by bombastic soft rock anthems and a multitude of pyrotechnics.

My heart sank and I turned on my heels.

What do you think? Do you agree with long-serving season ticket-holder Glenn or are you completely against his decision?

Football League chairman Greg Clarke (centre) is introduced to the Arsenal team prior to kick-off Football League chairman Greg Clarke (centre) is introduced to the Arsenal team prior to kick-off

Join in the discussion at our new Islington Gazette Arsenal Facebook page and tweet your views to Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif @laythy29.

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