I watched a great video yesterday that had some friends of mine who present the Gooner Ramble talk passionately about the current state of affairs at the club, the history of the club, etc, etc.
It kind of got me sad at the way in which the club has declined in recent years but also, it made me think about the good things that I’ve been able to witness over Arsène’s reign and whilst I’m like most of you in my desire to see the manager moved out of post so we can continue the next chapter of the club’s history, I started to remember all of the good memories that we once had.
I remember a 5-0 thrashing of Leeds at Highbury in which Thierry has scored four and I think wanted to stay on because he wanted a double hat trick. I remember thinking “he probably could have had that too” at the time.
I remember seeing him flick the ball up and swivel on it to have it sail above Barthez in United’s goal in a 1-0 win. I was directly in line with the flight of the ball in the East Stand Upper tier and I watched it on line and going in all the way.
I remember being up in Morpeth visiting the wife’s family when we went from two down to beat Liverpool 4-2. I couldn’t watch the game but I followed it on the radio that day and the ability of early Arsène Wenger teams to not lie down and be beaten, to be so full of attacking verve that it felt like they could switch on the afterburners at any moment, was delicious to see as a young man growing up.
I remember being at the 2003 cup final and sitting in a hotel bar before the game talking with everyone about how the FA Cup wasn’t a bad ‘consolation prize’ for the season, although we all accepted we should have won the league. Then to see Bobby Pires score and watch Arsenal win the cup made everything else melt away. I was part of the armchair collective who dismissed the FA Cup at the time, but it wasn’t until I was there and soaking it all up, that I realised just how great it is to see your team win trophies.
And when the time comes for Wenger to move on that is what I think I will hold dear. The trophies. At a time in which some managers are being lauded for their building of teams and ‘putting pressure on’, I won’t forget that within 18 months Arsène had lift his. And then his second by making it a double.
There’s no doubt that he’s lost his mojo. There’s no doubt that the club needs to evolve beyond him. But there is also no doubt that he has helped to contribute to so many joys that I’ve had as an Arsenal fan. And I think when the chord has been cut, when enough time has elapsed (maybe for some it will be years), there will be more people thinking of the Wenger years with more positivity than negativity. At least I hope they will. I will certainly try.
But it does need to happen soon. Sooner than May 2019. For every month that passes the fan sentiment and the ire towards a truly great man grows and grows. I feel it myself growing inside me with every insipid performance. With every baffling press conference. With every opinion on Arsenal I read. It’s time we threw Arsène a life raft and did what he clearly won’t do for himself and pull the plug.
Pull it and let us go back to remembering all of the joy you brought us Arsène. Let’s remember the unbeaten season. Let’s remember the funny press conferences like the “everyone thinks their wife is the most beautiful” retort to Ferguson, the “I tried to watch Tottenham but I fell asleep”, or the “if you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages” beauty.
I have so many great memories and it’s those that I want to choose to hang on to. And I want to bring those back now. I want Arsène to be happy memories. But I also want to get a new feeling about Arsenal and that’s what a new man will bring. Like it or not, that’s where we are at the moment; we want to see something new and even those in the stadium are starting to turn away. I think the club know that and certainly after City and Watford I think the manager and his team probably know that too.
It’s ok to want change. It’s ok to want to put one illustrious part of the club’s history to rest and start a new chapter. Sometimes, it’s ok to move on.