When Arsène Wenger Carried Arsenal
One night an Arsenal supporter dreamed they were walking along a beach with Arsène Wenger. The sand underfoot felt cold yet a warm, pleasant breeze blew through the air like a familiar song. Waves lapped gently at the shore, foam sending fresh, salty, invigorating aromas to the tease the senses of the Arsenal supporter who had started to walk leisurely at the water's break.
As they walked, admiring the azure sky dotted with stars and a majestic moon they were surprised to see scenes from their life suspended like canvasses in their empyrean gallery. Each scene was a moment in the history of the club they had always loved so deeply it sometimes hurt, the club their soul was bound to for eternity. Tony Adams scoring the fourth against Everton; Overmars and Anelka holding the FA Cup at Wembley; Thierry Henry smiling on the Highbury turf as he proudly displayed his new club's colours; Ray Parlour scoring at the Millennium stadium in front of a roaring crowd; Sol Campbell holding the Premier League trophy, his controversial move vindicated; hundreds of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg goals, each one eliciting excitement and joy as though they were being watched for the first time; majestic assists from Bergkamp and Fabregas paying tribute to the art of the pass; and so much more. Each happy scene filled the supporter with pride and awe.
Along the way they noticed that not all of the scenes were of great memories; there were many low points and days the supporter would sooner have liked to have forgotten. Players bereft at losing the UEFA Cup Final; Michael Owen helping Liverpool to snatch the FA Cup from Arsenal; Highbury being demolished; Arsenal's best players leaving for pastures new; Gallas sitting on the St Andrew's pitch, his team's best chance of winning the league practically ended; violent injuries to Diaby, Ramsey and Eduardo; losing the League Cup final to a late Martins goal; finishing behind Tottenham...
The supporter turned their face, they could not bear to look at the scenes hanging in the air like an executioner's blade. The pain was too much to bear. The good memories far outweighed the bad yet somehow it seemed the bad memories were growing in number the further the supporter walked and they feared for what would come next. They looked at the floor, at the footprints in the sand with the intention of walking back the way they came to revisit some of the earlier memories when something struck them.
Looking along the beach they noticed two sets of footprints, theirs and those of Arsène Wenger who had walked silently beside them occasionally smiling. Something was not quite right though. The supporter noticed that at some scenes, and leading to the next, there were only one set of footprints. The supporter realised that where there was only one set of footprints was always at the scenes where Arsenal had struggled and the club seemed to be at its lowest.
The supporter turned to Wenger, disbelief rolling inside them like a pot of fervently boiling water, mouth dry and voice cracking they spoke. "Arsène, I am grateful for your company as we look back on our time together with Arsenal but I have noticed that at the most trying points, at those times when hope was gone and emptiness filled every aspect of the club there is only one set of footprints. Why, Arsène, why when forced to relive those moments did you leave me?"
Wenger looked at the supporter, and smiled. "My dear friend, my love for this club and the supporters is absolute. I have never left you during times of trouble. When Arsenal was tested, when things looked bleak and you saw only one set of footprints, well, it was then that I carried you."
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