The end is here, after 22 years in charge of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger bids farewell to the home fans.
It’ll be emotional. It’s a one of a kind moment you’ll never experience again. If you’re lucky enough to attend, cherish the afternoon because you’ll never see another manager like him.
He was the master innovator, he brought the swagger, he made foreign managers cool, he made sexy football a thing in the Premier League, he made boring Arsenal the best ticket in the world. He gave us trophies, art and an unbeaten season. His intellect was refreshing, his class unmatched, his impact on Arsenal will never be forgotten.
Think of the players he sent our way (I’m about to borrow Andrew Allen’s format from Arseblog here)?
I’ll never forget how exciting Nik Anelka was, that pace and coolness was electric to watch. Patrick Vieira was a colossal presence in our midfield, and those Roy Keane battles are the stuff of legend. That Marc Overmars goal away at Old Trafford. Freddie Ljungberg getting snapped up after England played Sweden, to score with a cheeky lob on his debut against United. Selling Anelka, and bringing in Davor Suker (who was a bit disappointing for the most part). Not signing Patrick Kluivert. Passing on the De Boer twins because of class reasons. Building a new training ground. Signing Thierry Henry and Robert Pires who were Championship Manager heroes. Giving life to the famous back 5. Petit and that porn flick song. That gold kit. Ray Parlour in the FA Cup final. Pascal fucking Cygan. Igor Stepanovs. Ashley Cole busting into the first team. Lauren from defensive midfield to right back. Thierry from the wing to striker. That goal where he set himself up and lobbed Barthez. The Dennis/Theirry axis of amazing. Sylvain Wiltord and that pirouette thing he did. Signing Nwankwo Kanu and that hattrick against Chelsea. Kaba Diawara vs Leeds United. Alex Manninger saving penalties. Wenger doing a madness and signing 8 players in a summer. Richard Wright being shite. Gio Van Bronckhurst. The FA Cup finals and the wins. Learning to love Cardiff because we fucking owned the place. Jen Lehmann being our only transfer move. A whole season unbeaten. I could go on…
The second half of his tenure wasn’t quite as grandiose. But look, Arsenal fans are a weird old bunch, in ten years time, the hipsters will be watching back classic banter years games with a weird fondness.
Yaya Sanogo starting against Bayern Munich. Andrey Arshavin was the most explosively talented lazy boy. What the fuck is a Park Chu-young, Julio Baptista. Nik Bendtner on the right wing. Silvestre. Emmanuel Eboue at right back. Emmanuel Eboue as a right winger against Wigan. Wellington being a pizza eating tubbo. Hiding Fran Merida in the mountains. Waiting 2 summers to sign Chamakh. Robin Van Persie binning us off after one good season. Cesc Fabregas and that ponytail. Fucking up 2008. Rosicky scoring that screamer in the World Cup before we signed him to replace Robert Pires. Fucking up signing Cahill. Manuel Almunia as our first team keeper. Denilson being defended as a good player. Andre Santos as a serious signing. Carling Cup being proper fun. Top 4 Trophy. The Best Finances in the game. The War Chest. ‘One or two signings’. Abou Diaby revisionism. Flappyianski. Samir Satan. Adebaywhoooore. ‘Wenger is good at tactics’. BRING BACK DEIN. Christmas injury pile-ups. Gervinho’s hairline. Sol Campbell back at the club. Usmanov. Beckham training with the lads. Thierry back at the club. Lehmann back at the club. Sign Da Ting. Chezzers rollies. WENGER OUT. Planes with banners. Banners in general. Last 16 PTSD. Playing top 6 PTSD. Stan Kroenke OUT. AKBs. WOBs. #TeamPostiveGooners. Queen of Suburbia is a King. LOLgrove. Owen Coyle. Cash piles. MESUT OZIL. FA Cup Finals. Trophies. Spurs still shite. North London still red. JUDGE ME IN MAY. THE WINDOW ISN’T EVEN CLOSED. SEASON HASN’T STARTED GIVE HIM A CHANCE. PLAYERS LET HIM DOWN. Santi Cazorla. Aaron Ramsey. Hector Bellerin. What even is a Sporting Director. Commentating on transfer deadline day. The ‘we nearly signed’ world 11. Scorpion kicks. Assisting the assister. The Wenger smirk. Kicking water bottles. Brexit musings. That L’Quipe photoshoot.
You’ll be sad when the 70th minute lands and subs have already been made. You’ll be bored when our transfer business is done early and it’s good. You’ll roll your eyes when the next coach does his caterpillar coat up at the first attempt.
For all the craziness of the last ten years, you’ll never forget the Arsene Wenger ride. Even in his darkest hours, he’s capable of dropping a next level, is the next level, is the next level quote that’d make you laugh, cry, or reach for the internet to understand the reference. Wenger is a one of a kind, and I truly can’t believe this is it.
The timing is right, it’s been right for 6 years. There’s no looking back. This move is more epic than the one we made from Highbury to Ashburton Grove. This decision is the biggest one the club has made in 100 years. It’s the most exciting test of our future. I can’t wait.
I’ll be sad, sure. But I’ll be happy in the way you are after a relative dies a painful death. You celebrate what was, but you’re glad it’s over. The last 5 years have been unbefitting. I’m glad it’s coming to a close.
The club is starting to leak intentions of their next move to the internetz. Mark Ogden over at ESPN dropped a piece yesterday.
But the club are also keen to assess the options at the other end of the experience scale, with Manchester City first-team coach and former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta under consideration, and Julian Nagelsmann, the 30-year-old coach of Hoffenheim, another name in the mix.
Sources said the move to give serious consideration to a young coach is being driven by Kroenke’s son, Josh Kroenke, who is a non-executive director at Arsenal. The 37-year-old is also the president of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, both of which are also owned by KSE.
My loins are moistened, and my fears are starting to ease that we’re not going to make a move on a caretaker of the bland variety (Carlo, Löw, Enrique, Pards, Buvac). What makes this leak particularly interesting is it’s come from ESPN, so I’d imagine the source is one of Stan’s people.
It’d be a balls-out decision to go for a Tier 3 manager, untested comes with risks, but if the club has done their due diligence, the rewards could be massive. I’d be game for a risk. People are calling that sort of view hipster, I’d say it’s pretty f*cking smart. Josh K and Stan have already had a taste of youth in the US with Sean Mcvay and the press they’re receiving is incredible. Let’s see if this is real, or just clever cover to throw us off the scent of an Allegri or Jardim. Key point in all of this, no one has a fucking clue what is going on. Ivan gonna drop a new name like Beyonce drops a new album… gotta admire that as an advertising guy.
I want to be excited about my team again. Today’s game against Burnley is the changing of the guard. As some of the old school fans would say – we’re getting our Arsenal back – because be honest, Wenger has made the club all about him of late, and it hasn’t been good.
The team need to put on a magical show for Wenger. I hope the fans who are saying they won’t stay for his lap of honour reconsider what the great man has done for the club during the totality of his tenure, and sing his name loud and proud for the last time. I hope the day sticks in the memory, much in the way it did when the great Dennis Bergkamp called it quits.
Today is about Wenger and giving him the send off he deserves, enjoy him while you can, because next season, we’ll be throwing our support behind the future, and I cannot wait.
P.S. Horrible to hear about Sir Alex, our thoughts are with him and his family. Hopefully, he pulls through. One of the greatest in sports history.