Feb 17th, 2017 by 'holic
The car was in for an annual service and MOT today, so I got to have a holiday and catch the Arsene Wenger press conference live. I’m not quite sure what people were expecting to hear, or rather I probably do, but it was never going to be more than a demonstration of him putting on a brave face and trying to get people to focus on future games, not recent horror stories.
He confirmed that he had said this week that he would make a decision about his future in March or April. Whether he will share that with the wider public then or at the end of the season remains unclear. A friend who knows him far better than I ever will thinks it will be the latter as Arsene would never want it to be about him, and I understand that. Arsene remains totally committed to the club and his beliefs about how the game should be played.
There are those who wish that he was a little less principled in this instance and give the supporters an opportunity to reunite and show their appreciation for the amazing things he has achieved at our club in a stay that will stretch to nigh on 21 years. Perhaps he gave us a hint with his insistence that he would be managing somewhere next season, even if it were not at Arsenal.
There followed on social media the demonstration that the divide is still very much in evidence, but changing somewhat. The belligerence of those who would want him gone is still stark and saddening. However there is a softening on the other side as a number of those who remained staunchly loyal have come to accept that now the time probably has arrived for the ultimate change to be made.
As one of those who have turned through 180 degrees I have to say I have done so with a very heavy heart. There is still that tiny forlorn hope that the players who have let Arsene down so badly finally realise their potential in the final three months of the season. Thirteen consecutive Premier League victories would take us very close but it is difficult to imagine this group rediscovering form and confidence for more than a handful of games before weakly submitting again.
More realistic would be a third FA Cup triumph in four years. Four more wins would deliver that and it is incredible to think that some would deny him even that. Those who do should take a long hard look at themselves. If you want Arsenal not to win trophies because you want the manager to go then you are not what most people would consider to be an Arsenal supporter.
Even if we do end the season in style however it would be better for it to be a glowing celebration of Arsene’s tenure. What he achieved in his first decade will always mark him out as this club’s greatest ever manager, and that he managed the transition from Highbury until the renegotiations of the major sponsorships in 2013 will also stand the test of time. He has had the chance to spend the club’s new wealth but we appear to be no nearer to seriously challenging for the major prizes than we were then.
We’re not entitled to win anything, but the club made that momentous move to ensure we could continue to compete at the highest level. We haven’t made that step up though. When Ivan Gazidis said we would compete with the likes of Bayern Munich he must have prayed we would not be humiliated by them in consecutive seasons this far down the line. It’s time for fresh ideas in the boardroom. It’s time to say thank you and good luck to the amazing man who brought us to this point.
It’s time to write the next chapter, painful as that may be.