Wenger should NEVER leave
I’m sending this to you anonymously because, as much as I want to say what I’m about to say, I don’t want to have to deal with the vitriol that will undoubtedly come once fans with a certain mindset read this. I believe Wenger should have a job for life.
People know me around the ground, they know where I drink before and after the match, they know my almost grown up kids. I have to say something about how the fans are treating our manager but I also worry it will turn ugly and that I won’t be the only one to bear the brunt of the verbal and possibly physical reactions from this tribe of Neanderthals.
I was at the Norwich game, as I am at every game, and was one of the thousands passionately singing “One Arsène Wenger” as the planned protest against the club sunk like a poorly baked soufflé. Many of my fellow Wenger supporters are also supporters of protests against the club for supporter issues such as pricing, away travel, atmosphere and facilities. What turns us off and stops us joining in with these concerns being voiced is such things are always appropriated by people with anti-Wenger sentiment. They are often unable to separate the two. Their anger is uncontainable and any form of disagreement with their precise thoughts on the manager leads to confrontation.
You only need to look at the recent social media posts of Mr Banner to know that the threat of violence and rampantly open acts of fan intimidation is real – the menace at times feels like a terror threat, you’re afraid to speak out in case it sets them off. These people cannot be reasoned with and a fair few of my friends have been on the receiving end of a punch, push or aggressive nose to nose tirade for daring to question them or their motivations. Ironically these same people will take to social media and berate non-match going fans for daring to have an opinion on anything yet will attempt to silence dissenting voices from their fellow ticket holders.
Arsène Wenger is the best thing that ever happened to this club and as long as he is fit enough and wants it he should stay here. I remember what things were like under Graham. We had some wonderful years but then he effectively stole from the club. His own greed tainted his legacy and his football suffered for it. The last 2-3 years under Graham were far worse than this season and we can easily say this has been the worst year for the quality of football under Wenger. We don’t know how good we’ve got it.
Leicester have pulled off an incredible and unbelievable feat and should be lauded for that but that doesn’t mean we should be punishing Wenger for not killing their dream. We can’t both love the story and hate Wenger for not ruining it. Of course I would have preferred Arsenal to win the league and yes, there are few excuses for our poor showing this term but we’re not the only ones. City and Chelsea were well above Arsenal in the preseason odds for champions yet at least one, and possibly both, will finish behind us this season. Consistency is an underrated success.
We have a manager who sacrificed his reputation and opportunity for success to sign on at Arsenal to help us secure funding for the stadium. What other manager would have done that? We’ve had a lot of near misses at Arsenal for trophies yet we mark these as failures and forget the effort involved. The fans complain we don’t achieve yet dismiss the fact that we have tried.
Wenger almost led us to UEFA Cup glory in 2000 to be denied by penalties. He got us to the Champions League final with a record-setting clean sheets record and was denied by an offside goal.
His youthful Arsenal sides got to the finals of the League Cup in 2007 and 2011. They reached semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup. They almost won the title. The only failure in this period was not being able to build on those almost seasons because our board allowed us to be pillaged season after season for our best players.
Arsène put up with this because he had more important things to worry about. He wanted to see us through the biggest transition in our history – the move to the Emirates Stadium. This titanic project, years in the planning, will set us up for the next 100 years. What is 10 years of no trophies in the entire history of a club? Arsenal had chances to shorten that barren period as detailed but it was a worthy sacrifice. Although consistently qualifying for the Champions League is a lot more than other clubs can expect. Can Spurs count on finishing in the top four for the first 10 years of their stadium move? Arsène gave his best years to Arsenal to steer us safely through this treacherous period. Every big club wanted him but he remained loyal. They would still take him now, have no doubts about that. If the rabble get their way and force him out he’ll be managing one of the top clubs within weeks.
These clubs do not underestimate his achievements. He has managed Arsenal to become one of the most consistent clubs for Champions League qualification and he has done so with a recognisable and appreciated brand of football. He hasn’t shithoused his way into Europe’s premier competition, he has helped Arsenal glide into it gracefully. He did this year after year as the talents he had painstakingly cultivated and nurtured left for the lure of money. He took their treachery in his stride and moved on to developing the next great player, all the while continuing to turn down Europe’s elite in favour of loyalty to his life’s greatest love – Arsenal Football Club.
Fabregas forcing his way back to Barcelona visibly hurt Wenger though. It was like watching a loving adoptive father wave off the child he had raised from birth as he went to live with the parents who had abandoned him in the first place. Years later the son would return as an adult having found his real parents only wanted him back for the benefit payments and now want him to move out. The adoptive father still loves his son but has a new son to look after now and tells the first he is a man who must stand on his own two feet.
He stuck by Van Persie all through his injury problems when most would have canned him and his reward? Van Persie wrote an open letter criticising him and left him no other option but to sell him.
Throughout the first years of the Emirates move Wenger was abandoned by almost all. Henry refused to stand with him and help carry the team through the hard years that were to come – having won two league trophies, three FA Cups and taken Arsenal to two European finals in his time here he probably had earned the right to be a bit selfish. However, Fabregas, Adebayor, Nasri and Robin had not. What had they done for Wenger? What had they done for Arsenal? They owed him and us more. With each of these departures though, Wenger’s resolved intensified and he made sure we could cope. He is the glue that has held us together the last 10 years, not the rope holding us back.
Things changed for Arsène in the summer of 2013. With new money on the horizon he was finally able to make the progressive signings he had been itching to make for years. His only fault that summer was allowing the dream of Suarez to distract him from signing Higuain. Real Madrid’s 11th hour price increase was the slap in the face that turned Arsène’s nose in the direction of the breeze carrying the scent of the Uruguayan. Ever the economist, Wenger saw greater value in Suarez for the listed price than he did Higuain and we all know what happened after. Liverpool refused to sell Suarez despite his release clause and Napoli swooped in for Higuain.
Years of restricted budgets had perhaps slowed his reactions or dulled his senses as the late increase from Real Madrid was a surprise he did not expect. Perhaps if he had readied himself for that slap he could have just grinned at Real Madrid as he signed the cheque and would never have been tempted to look for value elsewhere. Can we really blame him though? Was it really his fault that Liverpool decided to risk Suarez taking them to court?
It mattered not in the end as Wenger managed to find value in the stellar signing of Mesut Özil – an inspiration signing that buoyed Arsenal to the top of the table in the first half of the season and a first trophy in 9 seasons as The Gunners came from two down to win the FA Cup for a record equalling 11th time.
Dispelling the myths that he doesn’t like to spend Wenger followed up his £42.5m signing of Özil with a £100m spree in the months pursuing the FA Cup win – a summer that saw Arsenal clinch the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.
Another inspirational signing that helped take Arsenal to a record setting 12th FA Cup win.
It was hoped that this season would be the culmination of our rebuilding as we welcomed Petr Cech to Arsenal – providing us with the long-missed world-class keeper we’ve needed and title-winning experience. Things went well to start but then our old foe – injury – struck once again and our best midfield partnership was decimated. In hindsight maybe there were improvements available on the market but in the summer no player moved who you would have thought would immediately improve Arsenal’s first choice midfield – and that is the key point, first choice. Wenger wanted first choice players, not back up players. Had he signed slightly better back up would we be any better off? Had he signed better first choice players then arguably we would have been as our current 1st choice became our 2nd choice.
Sadly, the FA Cup could not provide refuge for another season as Wenger sought to put the finishing touches on a team any successor would dream to inherit. The fans’ had reached tipping point. They had allowed this misplaced and entitled fury to drag them to a precipice and then gave themselves the final show. There were screaming matches on fan TV, Twitter rows and shouting matches outside the stadium – nothing out of the ordinary – but that FA Cup loss, a game we didn’t play that badly in flicked a switch. Violence broke out, people punched one another outside the Emirates, banners were unfurled and the atmosphere became fully toxic. It was not until the ‘Time For Change’ movement attempted to invade the stadium that Wenger received some respite with a rendition of ‘One Arsène Wenger’ – I’ve never been more proud to stand in the stadium than I was at that point. It told me that there was still hope in the stands. Then I walked outside and paid witness to people aggressively demanding fellow fans to explain why they didn’t get involved in the protest.
I wanted to shout “because no-one knows what you stand for. What change do you want? How do you want it? Do you have solutions or are you just crying about problems? Do you want the manager to die or have you just given up hope on him? What precisely do you stand for? If you don’t know what you stand for how can you expect people to stand with you?” That’s what I wanted to say but I was afraid. Most of the protestors demanding answers looked ready to thump someone and a few of my friends have indeed reported a few punches were thrown around their exits.
We should be thankful that Arsène hasn’t looked at these thugs and thought “screw that for a lark, I’m off”.
We never protested Graham or Howe yet we protest the greatest manager we’ve ever had? He has provided us with success and beauty. Few managers are capable of that. His only fault is he hasn’t lived up to the expectations he set and the fans of the club his heart has beat for 20 years for can’t accept the extenuating circumstances that has led to this. The way our fans disrespect Wenger is a disgrace. We should all be ashamed of these people.
People say it’s not Arsène FC but Arsène is Arsenal Football Club. He embodies all the things we love about our club. It will exist once he has gone and if things go according to his plan we will be far bigger than any of us ever imagined. He is building a legacy at Arsenal but as he is the most unselfish manager there is it is a legacy of Arsenal, not of Arsène that he is designing.
When Arsenal win consecutive leagues and European trophies that manager will be lauded as our greatest ever but it will be the foundations set by Wenger that will have allowed it. For what he has sacrificed, achieved and designed for this club he will always be our greatest manager and as long as he draws breath we should pray he wants to take it at Arsenal.
Think you know Arsenal? Test your Arsenal knowledge on our trivia page and see if you can beat the top score.
Don't forget to like us on Facebook, add us to your G+ circle and follow us on Twitter.Follow us Follow our podcast