To the untutored eye the typical Gooner doesn't seem to have much in common with Peter Barlow, only one of them being a bell-end*. But he does. Both show the importance of hedonic adaptation.
What I mean is that, from one perspective, Gooners should be relatively happy with their season. Back in August, many pundits thought Arsenal would struggle to finish above S***s. Had you told them back then that they'd enter April seven points clear of S***s, nearer to second place than fifth and with a clear run to the FA Cup, most Gooners would have been reasonably content. This is especially as they are competing with a massive handicap; their three main rivals have collectively spent over £800m more than them.
But they are not so happy. One reason for this is that they've suffered some painful losses. Another is that Arsenal were for months at the top of the table, and that success raised aspirations. Rather than think "we've proved the naysayers wrong again", they think "we were going so well and now it's fallen apart. They had adapted to their good position in the winter, and so now feel miserable,
This is of course a common phenomenon in football. Many coaches have been sacked because they've improved their teams fortunes and in doing so have raised expectations to unreasonably high levels and so left themselves vulnerable to disappointment.
This is where there's a parallel with Peter Barlow. You might imagine that a man who'd copped off with the world's most perfect woman** would be pretty satisfied, especially if he's bringing as little to the table as he is. Rather than rejoice in his luck, though, he's doing the dirty on her.
What we have in both cases are examples of hedonic adapation. We quickly become accustomed to happy circumstances, and so take them for granted and want even more - even to the point of jeopardizing what we have.
So far, so clear. But here are two complications.
First, not everyone hedonically adapts. Many Gooners are reasonably content with their team. There's heterogeneity here.
Secondly, although such adaptation is sometimes costly - it makes us unhappy and (as Peter Barlow will discover) can lead to behaviour with costly payoffs - it also has an upside. It is the desire for more that drives economic growth and progress. If Steve Jobs had taken my attitude ther moment he'd made decent money - "sod this for a lark, I'm retiring to Rutland" - we wouldn't have the iPod or iPad.
* We must distinguish here between the median and mean. Although the median Gooner is not a bellend, the average one is. This is because Piers Morgan scores infinity on the bellendomoter, and infinity divided by n equals infinity.
** Alison King is of course yet more evidence that all the best things in England come from Leicester and its environs.