Alex Vryzakis takes a look at Arsenal fan Piers Morgan’s desire to spark discussion and provoke fans through his tweets about the Gunners.
The ‘WengerOut’ hashtag on Twitter is not for the faint-hearted. A scroll or three reveals everything from nonsensical ramblings to mocking manifestos on removing Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager. Stern-faced emojis stare back, almost goading you.
This is a platform open to anyone with a smartphone and half a braincell, and who better then than Piers Morgan to take centre-stage?
Since his move to America – following his very public sacking from the Daily Mirror after an unsavoury hoax involving forged abusive military photos – Morgan has kicked up a fuss. Barely a week goes by without an outrageous quip from the big-mouthed, blue-eyed monster going viral, wreaking havoc in his favoured social media playground.
In March, he called David Beckham a “jumped-up, tattooed twerp”, telling him to “shut it” after Beckham dared to wag a disapproving finger at Arsenal fans for parading a banner promoting the ‘WengerOut’ campaign. Unsurprisingly, he received an immediate response from outraged fans.
Thing is, they’re just giving him what he so desperately craves – attention.
It’s clear that Morgan wants to be loved, but he will gladly settle for hatred. The vitriol, no matter how malicious, keeps him in the public eye. Recognition is paramount, and it seems that his greatest aspiration is simply to become more famous than he already is. Or, at the very least, infamous.
While his tweets are undoubtably inflammatory, on average they garner over 500 retweets and likes a pop. His 5.3 million followers may well be engaging in a form of ‘hate-following’, but his social media influence is undeniable. His rudeness is but a byproduct of his attention-seeking nature.
That’s not to say he is entirely devoid of morals. To his credit, he hasn’t wavered in his stance on the managerial situation at Arsenal since first pointing the finger of shame at Wenger in 2008, writing paragraph upon paragraph detailing the tragic end of his Gallic love affair with Le Prof.
Morgan is hardly the first celeb football fan. He joins the likes of Delia Smith, Robbie Williams and the Gallagher brothers in his love for the beautiful game. Unlike David Cameron, who can barely recognise the claret and blue of his ‘beloved’ Villa, Morgan is passionate in his support of the Gunners.
His incessant tweeting of buzzwords like “Boom!” every time Arsenal score is testament to this support, and his son has been brought up to share his passion for the red side of North London.
And yet Arsenal fans couldn’t have been more forthright in their rejection. Morgan’s Twitter mentions are evidence enough. A single tweet of 140 characters may not seem like much. Multiply it by 1000 however, and suddenly things don’t seem so insignificant.
Message upon message begins to paint a nuanced picture of the distaste and disgust on the fans’ part, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the end of his tether is in sight.
It has happened before, namely his bust-up with Ian Hislop following a brutal appearance on Have I Got News For You in 1996. Morgan, in typically fearless fashion, attempted to outwit both Hislop and Clive Anderson. The effort failed spectacularly, culminating in Hislop insinuating that the reason Morgan’s jokes were falling flat was that no one actually likes him. The audience roared with laughter; Morgan did not.
Unfortunately for Morgan, he isn’t an easily-pitiable figure.
Much like a naughty child throwing its toys out of the pram, the former editor aims his comments at the Arsenal faithful to display his displeasure and spark discussion. Instead of thinking through the effects his words could have, he launches the acerbic verbal missiles as the petulant child would their rattle.
Both Morgan and the child remain unaware of the ramifications beyond the pram’s edge, metaphorical or otherwise. In fact, in 2012 it was revealed that over 30,000 Americans had signed a petition calling for him to be deported. If Americans can’t hack him, who can?
As Arsenal fans’ indignant replies flood the Twittersphere, he exacerbates the situation by smugly correcting their grammar. Any hopes of garnering sympathy, or even a hint of understanding evaporate before they have the chance to form.
In the end, we’re left with the sense that Morgan deserves whatever comes his way, Jeremy Clarkson’s fist to the face included.
If mild-mannered Arsenal legend Bob Wilson is insistent that you are a pompous individual who drives him mad, it might just be time for an attitude overhaul.
Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexVryzakis