Mixed feelings abound heading into Arsene Wenger’s final home game tomorrow.
On the one hand, finally seeing the old goat leave after five years of crying into my iPhone screen about him, will feel like a 200lb gorilla taking its knee off my windpipe.
On the other, even the most hardened Wenger Outters can’t avoid using the moment as an opportunity to reflect on all the good (and bad) the Frenchman has brought to the club.
Yes there was the success of the first seven years, but thanks to certain hipster football twitter accounts I’ve found myself yearning for the barren years of 2008/9 and the silky skills of Alex Hleb, whose lack of end product used to boil my piss on the regular, but I now miss like we were separated at birth.
But if this time is discombobulating for your average Le Grover, who could’ve qualified as a GP in the time between first thinking it might be nice if Wenger moved on and him actually leaving, imagine what it’s like for those who up until about six months ago were still saying Arsene Wenger deserves more time.
Those still languishing on the ‘Arsene Knows Best’ spectrum of football nostalgia range from the ‘Wenger is my dad’ types to those who see the flaws but just can’t stop saying thank you for the Invincibles.
The former are already going into meltdown about the lack of RESPKT being shown to a guy whose spent the last five years renegotiating massive contracts for himself while the organisation he led got worse and worse (no socialist wage structure at the top).
The latter’s position is more sympathetic. As years go by, Arsene’s early achievements and the Invincibles specifically, seem less and less likely to be bested and do become more impressive.
However the same people who laud those achievements now as a testament to endeavour and innovation, seem eerily fatalistic about our present mediocrity.
Bang average performances against any team with a manager slightly more technically refined than Alan Pardew have been written off in recent years with a ‘they’re just better than us, what can we do?’
I wonder if this attitude will continue into the new era or we’ll (rightly) demand more from a new coach?
What will become of the AKB/WOB divide in a post-Wenger era? Twitter’s most parochial schism is entering its own existential crisis.
I’d like to think people who wanted Wenger to go will be able to enjoy Arsenal again but still apply the same ruthless standards to whoever comes next.
Never again should the desire to win be subjugated to sentimental fawning and a lack of accountability, no matter how deserved that may seem.
I hope people who still love Wenger will do the same and not use every setback or defeat as an “I told you so” moment.
This isn’t about the club losing its class or its values, it’s about reviving winning ways and shaking the underdog mentality that’s enveloped it in recent years.
As for the game tomorrow, well it’s basically a testimonial so it’d be nice to see some liquid football.
A win would be great but what we really want to see is ridiculous showboating – players trying to walk the ball into the net, rabona corners, scorpion-kick saves etc
Let’s go out in a way that absolutely does define the last seven years, ludicrously good football in a complete dead rubber of a tie.
That after all, is what Arsene Wenger would’ve wanted.
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