For those who see football as more than just a sport or a business or a game, having to witness your own team form a guard of honor in order to congratulate the new champions is a humiliating and infuriating tradition and ceremony. Arsenal, nonetheless, will probably go ahead and do it as Manchester United play at the Emirates this weekend, with all of the pain it involves.
Because at the end, footballers come and go, and the fans are those who have to stay. Failures, losses and everything that comes along with it sticks much longer with fans than it does with managers and players, who often find another place of work, while a team stays with your forever.
The addition of seeing Robin van Persie, leaving Arsenal for their lack of ambition in order to join Manchester United, leading them to a league title while scoring 24 Premier League goals in the process (so far) might be a bit too much to bear for a big chunk of gunners fans, which might mean they’ll direct their anger towards Arsene Wenger and the team if things don’t go too well in the encounter, which doesn’t mean anything to United, but is of vast importance to Arsenal.
While it’s important for some to keep the whole respect between opposition thing alive, these things never seep through towards the fans, who have a love-hate relationship with the game. Even if players use the logic of “when I’m champion, I’d like to be honored like this”, I think it’s a little bit different when these are huge rivals that have to put on a show for the sake of being respectful.
Everyone knows Manchester United are the champions, they’ve already had their celebrations. There’s no need to make Arsenal players and fans even worse about it.