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Wenger: my reflections

“Vieira, Vieira, give it to Vieira” was the call from the most talented footballer in the year. It was late 1996 and a few months earlier we had started studying for our GCSEs but life wasn’t yet so serious that we couldn’t meet for an 8am kickabout in the school playground.

Fast forward 22 years and I was introducing my eldest to the Invincibles. He was silent for around 30 seconds and then asked simply: “who is that wearing number 4?”

And when you look back at it all, of course you remember the unbridled joy of Henry, of Bergkamp, of Pires but really if all you you’d ever seen of Arsene’s glory years was Vieira, well, you knew a fair amount of what you needed to know.

In latter years Arsene would talk about the handrake being on or off. But the young Vieira didn’t do handbrakes. It was raw, thrilling and at full throttle. He encapsulated it.

In May 2004 a few of us met for a drink before we beat Leeds 5-0. “Enjoy it because it will never be this good again” Richard said. He was saying that before Henry scored four. He was right.

But for me, the most glorious thing about today has been to witness any animus that was inside me drain away in an instant. As for any lingering hostility over the fact he carried on long after the curtain fell, it simply doesn’t exist.

In an instant, his glory, his achievements suffocated all negativity.

The first draft of history will record that his closing years were characterised by fan discontent. But later drafts will see that this was the most polite, the most respectful of revolutions. There were those who shouted loud and they were well within their rights to do so. But ultimately it was the silent majority that really killed things. It was the thousands of season ticket holders who had paid long ago for their seat but simply couldn’t bring themselves to witness the next home game.

The remarkable thing, I’ve long felt, was not the hostility towards him but in fact the lack of it to a man who I think the vast majority of people knew had had his day.

Thank you Arsene.

10 Responses to “Wenger: my reflections”

  1. Elvis says:

    Now let’s stuff Atlético over two legs and then play in the final like we did against Chelsea last May to finish Arsene’s reign with (unbelievably) his first European trophy.

  2. PD says:

    Well written Goodplaya. A sad day, but a necessary one.

    Sad to see some of the extremists talking about how the ‘fans’ (their invested commas, not mine) should be ashamed of themselves for forcing Arsene out. What absolute garbage. Only at Arsenal would Arsene have been let go out with so much dignity.

    Thank you Arsene….for so, so much….

    Really pray we can take Atletico now. His last game, in a European final, in France….you could not make it up. What an occasion it could be.

  3. slc gunner says:

    Agreed PD, I think that sums it up Goodplaya. A few things that I’ve noticed in the last few days:
    When did Arsene switch from glasses to contacts (I assume he must have)? In the early years, the specks conveyed that professorial image.
    Interesting to see how he has aged over the years. Definitely a lot more grey now than early on.
    Did the man ever eat? He is dangerously thin – and I think he has eaten less and less over the years. I think those 7-day weeks have taken their toll.

    Thank you for all the memories Arsene. The first 10 years, in particular, are unlikely to be surpassed. I hope you get to go out on a high with a Europe League triumph.

  4. Elvis says:

    1-1 at home to Atletico who played with ten men for 80 minutes. It’s not going to be enough is it?

    To be honest, Atletico are a much better side than Arsenal and we can’t complain. It would have been horrible to get soundly thrashed with the tie completely done before the return leg. At least the aggregate defeat will not be a total humiliation as against Bayern Munich in the CL when the second leg was a waste of everyone’s time.

  5. PD says:

    We haven’t lost the tie yet but we lost a great chance to put the tie to bed. We weren’t bad as such on the night but we were very late-Wenger Arsenal.

  6. PD says:

    And so it ended in the way we should have expected it too. Not terrible, but juat a bit lifeless & dull. Throw in a stupid defensive mistake & the best paid player in the club’s history disappearing when most needed yet again…
    Disappointed for Arsene but you know, It’s his team so hard to feel too sorry for him.

  7. Elvis says:

    It’s going to end with a match against Burnley in a two-way scrap for sixth place with them, and a couple of away fixtures in which the club attempts to avoid half a season of consecutive away defeats.

    If anyone doubted that it’s finally time for change, here is the indisputable evidence.

    I have ten times more interest in Stoke going down than what Arsenal do the rest of this season. If they are relegated I will celebrate it like a trophy.

  8. Elvis says:

    Fantastic. Stoke are down and it all came down to a terrible mistake by… chief Orc Ryan Shawcross! Yeeeeeeeeeessssssss!!! Good riddance, hope they go straight down to League One and then get put into administration.

    So happy today. It has been an awesome season after all.

  9. slc gunner says:

    No surprise in Madrid. Performance was typical of the season. We should have won it in London. Fair play to Athletico though – they are the best defensive team in Europe – look at their goals against in recent seasons. And they have made two CL finals as well. That said, I thought we could have shown more invention in the final 3rd on Thursday. Conceding a goal was not a big deal – we needed to score anyway.
    The end of the season is a huge anti-climax. As Elvis states, the only consolation is that the orcs are down. There is a very slim possibility of Spurs missing out on Top 4 as well.

  10. Delve 348 says:

    I can still remember when Arsenal had a defence as mean and streetwise as Atletico Madrid’s. The 1990s. We had Ian Wright up front and David Seaman in goal. The only problem was the midfield.

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