With his patient, penny-pinching approach promising to pay dividends, it’s about time I apologised to Arsenal’s greatest ever manager.
“Jose to #Arsenal. The time is now.”
“The #arsenal board said Wenger was accountable to the supporters. This summer will test that sentiment with Mourinho/Capello available.”
On January 29th, I sent around nineteen tweets, including the three above, to the 197 followers I had at the time. It would’ve been about 201, although the four I’m not counting were the ‘phantom hoes’ that were monitoring my paid-porn potential at the time. You know the girls, straight-talking saleswomen from Ohio dealing in happy endings. They barge into your lives, leave a spammy mess everywhere over the course of a few days before pulling out of your list of followers, and your lives, forever.
During the course of our home tie to Aston Villa in the FA Cup, my rage was so uncontrollable, that I lost a few more followers. We actually won that match 3-2 after an apocalyptic first half, but for me the damage was done in those initial, spineless 45 minutes. It was irreparable.
And so, like a rabid Alsatian, I sank my teeth in, and started pulling at the flesh.
That performance was not, however, an isolated incident. The 45 minutes of the previous match proved the closest the Emirates has ever, and will ever, come to full-blown internal and external revolt, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, arguably the biggest threat against a visiting Manchester United side, was hauled off just as he started to smell blood.
But fast forward to the present, and on the eve of a visit to an Everton side having yet another miracle massaged into their over-achieving joints, this similarly over-achieving Arsenal ensemble find themselves just a point behind third place Tottenham. And I am, therefore, starting to feel like a bit of a t**t.
Beyond a season that is starting to look far from disgraceful, this summer now presents the most intriguing we’ve experienced since the club upped sticks and lethargically lumbered across Drayton Park, from the intimidating cauldron of Highbury, to the sterile, but highly profitable hundred quid a ticket super-soccer-fun-arena that is the Emirates Stadium.
If I sound like I’m knocking it as a ground, well, I am. But as the hand that feeds us, I certainly won’t be biting it any time soon. In fact I’m done with showing my teeth, and using the same tissue that mopped up the mess left by my filthbag Twitter sisters, I’m dabbing at the foam that once flowed so freely from my cynically laced, frenzied jaw.
And so, it comes to pass that, Mr. Arsène Wenger, I apologise.
With the season some 10 games from completion, we’re in the mix for Champions League qualification, being linked with a number of accomplished internationals of proven quality who are actively sounding the club out, we’re even telling the press Robin Van Persie is staying next season.
He is now the Tony Montana of elite football management. Obviously, in place of a mountain of hard drugs will likely be a modest helping of muesli
Now, I’ve heard this one before. Wenger shows his balls, Manchester City show theirs. Deal done. However, this one feels different. And no, I haven’t got a handful of clammy testicle. What I do have, in my hands, head, shoulders, knees and toes is a renewed belief that Arsenal’s greatest ever manager has ridden the most defining, yet highly toxic wave of the club’s history. And he’s once again getting into the groove.
With the Van Persie declaration, Wenger has backed himself into a corner. He is now the Tony Montana of elite football management. Obviously, in place of a mountain of hard drugs will likely be a modest helping of muesli, but those climbing his walls to dismantle his empire are real. And Wenger seems ready to show his teeth.
Wenger, for the first time, seems to be placing the onus to deliver firmly on the shoulders of his board. And whereas his efforts to hang on to Samir Nasri felt as much about pride as they did commercial protocol, he is turning the spotlight on who is coming through the gates to claim a squad number, rather than freeing one up.
But before we consign RVP to Arsenal past before the season has even reached its conclusion, let’s not forget something just for a minute. This is Van Persie’s first season of true delivery. Consistent delivery. It has taken time for his brittle, gawky frame to adjust to the demands of the English game, and at every twisted, strained and frustrated turn the club are there, much like they are for Abou Diaby, to piece him back together and tirelessly thumb another ride to the injury table. And so, to suggest it is right for him to leave, in search of easier riches and pre-packed glory elsewhere, after his first season of sustained injury-free performance, is utter bol**cks.
Change, it would seem, is therefore both inevitable and essential.
However, not for a minute has the man declared that he wants to go, and with the captaincy somewhat predictably but altogether strategically thrust upon his shoulders he knows his decision is far from straightforward. And should his manager assemble a truly dangerous, and durable side ready for a sustained title challenge next season, he may feel that he is at the right club after all.
Change, it would seem, is therefore both inevitable and essential. And more obviously than ever, the “future project” legacy is heading for it’s final period of association with the club. Bendtner, Denilson and Vela are all heading for the permanent exit door, with those who seemed to catch a break whilst Wenger’s mid-term crisis took hold – most notably Fabianski, Squillaci, Chamakh and Park Chu-Young - looking more and more isolated as the weeks fly by. The fear of a chapter new even gave the world the old Tomas Rosicky back, having been embalmed in mediocrity since 2006. Welcome back, Tomas, kurva o čas. That bit means ‘about fu**ing time’ according to Google.
Although he’d never publicly undermine his side’s current momentum, Wenger’s attentions will be turning to a summer of evolution, with the most intriguing change shifting the sand closest to his feet.
With Pat Rice gearing up for a well-earned retirement, the case builds for Steve Bould to take the whistle and marshal the team’s day-to-day progress. The former centre-back would represent not only a popular choice, but also the most notable change amongst non-playing staff since the departure of David Dein and the passing of the much loved and respected Danny Fiszman. And with his arrival, you’d think, will come fresh ideas and a calm, understated strength typical of the player in his prime. Above all else, Bould could represent the most astute signing of them all.
Wenger’s attentions will be turning to a summer of evolution, with the most intriguing change shifting the sand closest to his feet.
In daring myself to believe that we are embarking on a new era, I have declared that the seemingly baron summers of the past few seasons will cease to exist as abstract periods of inactivity. That soon they will present themselves as the building blocks upon which a period of sustained competitiveness was always planned.
I have declared, with financial fair play riding into town, the Manchester City’s of the world to be nimble-wristed sperm donors, frantically stuffing their socks full of all the talent they can.
And I have declared, with the hangover of a failed ideology finally riding out, one much-maligned Frenchman might just be biding his time to combat those furious masturbations by spending what he can, just as his rivals are forced sit on what they can’t.
And if I’m wrong on any of that… F**k it. In Arsène I trust.
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