Super Bowl 2019: Why Arsenal villain Stan Kroenke is deemed a ‘hero’ among Los Angeles Rams fans

The American billionaire has helped make the Rams' journey possible with the New England Patriots standing in their way

Jack Rathborn
Tuesday 29 January 2019 08:12
New England Patriots coaches arrive at airport ahead of Super Bowl 2019

Stan Kroenke‘s presence will be firmly in Atlanta on Sunday whilst Arsenal, more than 4,000 miles away, attempt to snatch a result at title-chasing Manchester City to steady their season.

The boat is rocking at the Emirates with fan unrest once more, despite the evident need for patience in Unai Emery‘s debut season in charge.

But whilst there is disdain from Arsenal fans towards the American billionaire, the 71-year-old is held in much higher esteem across the Atlantic.

Kroenke has in fact largely done everything expected of him as an owner of the Los Angeles Rams, who stand on the brink of greatness at Super Bowl 53, though the New England Patriots represent one almight final hurdle.

There’s been a lack of investment at the Emirates, as Emery looks to ignite their season merely with loan deals in the final hours of the transfer window.

Inconspicuous over a number of years, Kroenke’s hands-off approach has outraged those in north London, as well as his reluctance to communicate.

The story is vastly different with the Rams though, where he will forever be viewed fondly in California for correcting what they deem a wrong in taking the franchise away from its home for 20 years to St. Louis.

The Rams resided in LA for 49 years from 1946 but the franchise’s path veered off course in the aftermath of the NFC Championship defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in 1989. The Rams would then tailspin towards mediocrity: consecutive losing seasons saw John Robinson fired as head coach and the arrival of Chuck Knox. But his dull, run-orientated offense – in stark contrast to the electrifying system currently overseen by genius head coach Sean McVay – saw attendences dwindle.

A new stadium was seen as their saviour but financial turmoil prevented much progress on that front, which eventually lead to owner Georgia Frontiere, after a lengthy battle with her fellow owners, sending the franchise to St. Louis.

Sean McVay has guided the Rams to the Super Bowl (Getty)

After two decades away, Kroenke put up the private funding required to develop a new super stadium in the Inglewood area, with the entire cost of the operation surging past $5 billion.

Kroenke is therefore seen as a “hero,” claims Rams reporter Vincent Bonsignore, to many of the hardcore fans who were deprived of an NFL team for so long.

A willingness to gamble, too, is in stark contrast to the recent decisions at Arsenal. Kroenke placed his faith in the talented, yet unproven, McVay in 2017, beating off competition in fear that another team would benefit from his future greatness.

McVay has in fact delivered from the outset, building from a surprise 11-5 season in 2017 to guide the Rams to the big dance at the Falcons’ shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which resembles a spaceship from above. A location fitting perhaps for the futiristic brand of football implemented under McVay.

Unai Emery is hoping to be backed this summer

The 33-year-old warrants a lot of praise, but the green light from upstairs to drive an aggressive strategy in free agency is equally responsible for their success this season. This, especially, ought to rile Arsenal fans given their current predicament.

Aaron Donald was made the best paid defensive player in the league at the time, and was complimented with the addition in free agency of wrecking ball Ndamukong Suh.

There was no Alexis Sanchez or Aaron Ramsey fiasco with star running back Todd Gurley either, who gleefully penned another position-leading contract in terms of guaranteed money.

Emery believes this summer will be different under Kroenke, with more money promised to revitalise a club currently punching below its weight.

A Rams win at the Super Bowl may even help shift Kroenke’s focus somewhat to the arguably greater challenge of bringing silverware back to the Emirates.

It is difficult to envisage the scorn for Kroenke at the Emirates subsiding any time soon, but the American is sure to ignore that and revel in the praise he will be due should the Rams pull off one last win.

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