Goodbye Arsene Wenger, Thank You For Helping Me Feel
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In the outpouring of eulogies surrounding the end of Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal, you’re going to read two popular refrains: (1) the beginning was better than the end and (2) there’s some degree of face-saving in his decision to walk with a year yet to go on his current contract.
Very hard to add anything meaningful to the excellent stuff on Wenger already today, but having read everything felt compelled to offer my thoughts. pic.twitter.com/W7ppaRrVSH— Max Rushden (@maxrushden) April 20, 2018
The ultimate goal this season was to sustain a title challenge whilst reestablishing the club in the top four. Manchester City are 33 points clear of the Gunners, and the Europa League is the club’s only pathway to the Champions League.
And so the Professor has failed, and Arsenal’s next manager will inherit a side that’s lost more matches than Burnley and conceded more goals than Newcastle United.
But they will still be manager of Arsenal F.C., a statement loaded with profound ethos given the work of Wenger.
Essentially, for a 10-year spell between 1996 and 2006, Arsenal were unmissable. If you wanted the finest representation of artistry on the pitch, you tuned in to the abnormally intimate camera angle provided by Highbury, vicariously breathed in the autumnal air photosynthesizing off the ground’s immaculately kept pitch and assimilated the cacophony of noise reverberating around the Art Deco stands.
This was football, as interpreted by Wenger and purveyed by Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg. It was impossible not to fall in love. Wenger didn’t deliver the title over his last 14 seasons at the helm, but he never failed in delivering his ultimate goal:
“I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art,” Wenger once said. “When you read some books that are fantastic, the writer touches something in you that you know you would not have brought out of yourself. He makes you discover something interesting in your life. If you are living like an animal, what is the point of living? What makes daily life interesting is that we try to transform it to something that is close to art. And football is like that.”
Not being an Arsenal supporter, I wasn’t a party to all the pain and disappointment suffered by fans over the last decade (and I certainly understand the sacrifice — both with regards to commitment and monetarily — Gunners have made over that period).
Even the most hardened Platonist would admit that it’s time for change. However, in my 15+ years of following the EPL, one constant has been that I’d never turn down the opportunity to watch Arsenal play. I would certainly hate to see that change following Arsene Wenger’s exit.