Wednesday morning, the internal break hasn’t even kicked off and I’m already bored of it.
It’s funny because when we lose I view the internationals as either a painfully slow creepy death in terms of football (i.e. you can’t get ‘back on the wagon’ with a result), or a momentum killer (i.e. what happens if you come back and suffer because the players don’t have the cadence of working together more regularly?), but either way I get to a couple of days in and I’m already wishing my life away. From a footballing sense, anyway. When I get to the weekend and I have other things to distract me with then it’s very different, but as it stands this right here is a proper ballache.
All the chatter appears to be about the Arsene Wenger documentary. I haven’t been able to get an early copy to have a watch but I will do; the great thing is that people who read his book and – like me – thought it was an average at best attempt at an autobiography, have all been saying positive stuff about this documentary. Probably because it’s been left in the hands of other people to manage, rather than Arsene himself. But I’m looking forward to reliving some of those glory days when I do get around to watching it.
I was at Uni from 2001 until 2004 in the North West and so when you are surrounded by northerners all supporting United, Liverpool, Everton, etc, what you can really do without is a stumbling and bumbling London club that you’re a supporter of. Thankfully I didn’t have that in the slightest and those three years were a delight in terms of the ‘bantz’ with different fans. I remember a Liverpool fan – mature student about five years older than most of us – telling me to ‘drink it in because they won’t always be this good’. My response, as a 22-year-old upstart with the arrogance and swagger of a fan whose team and manager was blowing everyone away, was just to respond with a ‘nah – best manager, best team, we’ll be at the top for decades’.
Time teaches you many things, I can tell you that. But those three years were amazing and going to the pub in Lancaster to watch The Arsenal usually ended up in joy. In 2002 at the end of my first year I was in the Graduate bar (a college for all of the students studying a Masters or above) to see Arsenal beat United with that Wiltord goal in which I thought he was standing up with his fist in the air and Kanu had jumped over it about eight feet in the air. In 2004 I was back home for a couple of weeks when we clinched the title at The Scum, watching before I travelled back up north for my leaving set of parties before the end of my tenure at Uni. On both occasions I was in ecstasy at what a fantastic couple of teams we had and whilst Arsene and his demise at Arsenal is still too fresh for some people, my appreciation and thankfulness remains for one of our greatest ever managers.
There’s been some chat online about a statue, or naming a stand after him, which I can understand all he has given to the club. I’m not sure about a stand being named after him, but he should probably get a statue at some stage. I’m not sure right now is the right time though. I don’t really have a proper answer why, but in my head I feel like Mikel is starting to build something with his current crop and there is real potential in this team, so do we really need the physical and metaphorical spectre of a Wenger statue looming over us? It’s probably me being too sensitive but I just wonder if it is something the club should revisit at the end of the season, or even the season after, when things don’t really feel as tense. What I mean by ‘tense’ is how delicately balanced everything is right now. A win and we’re top of the world, a defeat and all the worries come rushing back. When we play Liverpool in a week-and-a-half’s time it’ll probably be a ‘free hit’ but when we rock up at home to Newcastle the week after that, a defeat at home to them would probably have a lot of people getting frustrated again too. Including me I hasten to add, because I feel like I’m usually in line with what most normal Arsenal fans feel; in that I don’t have a stupid “kick him out” mentality regardless of what the football is doing because I want to get a few more clicks to my YouTube channel, or the swing the other way where you have to support him regardless of how turgid the football is. I’m just a guy who wants to see Arsenal win at all times but I have a moderate view of where we are at and what is success and what is failure.
So for me I think the statue debate for Wenger is one that should be had, but maybe not yet, with perhaps him returning to watch a game the next step because there will be appreciation, etc, when that happens. But even that needs to be timed right. Imagine we’re playing a game in which we need three points at the end of the season to get in to the Champions League, or Europa League and Wenger turns up, only for the crowd to chant his name, etc, etc – it would feel like a bit of a distraction, no? I think it would and in a tense atmosphere you don’t need that. What we need is a final game of the season in which we’ve already hit our objectives, it doesn’t really matter what the scoreline is, so if there is a bit of a distraction at home to Everton, it doesn’t really have an impact.
Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen. But until then we focus on us, Wenger focuses on his role at FIFA, but we should all have a little moment to thank him and tip the cap to a man who brought us so many happy memories.
Catch you all tomorrow.