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Goodnight Sweet Prince: Arsene Wenger Set To Leave Arsenal

Friday 20th April 2018

Sheet music for a four-bar blues. You only have three bars out of four. You keep playing and playing but it never gives you the satisfaction of the finished piece. It’s never enough. One bar too short, it always sounds unfinished – and now we’re wailing the blues.

Wenger has been conducting a symphony of his own in North London for 22 years. The overtures were simply fantastic, but the quality has wavered towards the end of the piece – yet the tragic, of all tragic acts is that this story shouldn’t finish. Le Fin is upon us as the BBC broke the news that Arsene Wenger would leave Arsenal at the end of the season.

This is not a drill. We are not pre-testing the abort button or the evacuation drill. This is all too real. We are in the process of subscribing to every other go-sack-go-happy club in the country. Subscribing to the trigger-happy hiring-and-firing will make Arsenal standout less from the deck of otherwise unnoteworthy clubs. This transition does not please this author.

On a personal level, this is depressing. My interest in football stemmed from my early days watching Arsenal. Having been born in 1991, I cannot remember much about the first four years other than the odd wax crayon. Come 1996, aged five or so, Wenger was a name I could reasonably pronounce. He’s been there ever since. The countless hours I’ve spent watching him on the television set – pre and post-game interviews - I’ve always gone, yes, you are the one.

Needless to say, #WengerOut has never appeared on my social media platforms. The putrid content has often defiled my feeds and I seldom keep those who share it connected.

Whilst some may rejoice at Wenger's departure, may I remind you – for the Nth time – this is no mortal being we are losing. This is the man who won the league in his second year on the job. Then again in 2001/02 and of course… he brought home the golden Premier League trophy in 2003/04. Yeah, a special golden trophy was commissioned for that season because Arsenal was the first team to win the title while going the whole campaign unbeaten. The Frenchman is also the most successful manager in the FA Cup!

Whilst you mock the saviour who gave you all this, you never see anyone badmouth or belittle one of his disciples. Thierry Henry was by the wayside in Turin before Wenger rejuvenated the man he saw in Monaco, turning him into the Arsenal legend that nobody dares to say a word against today.

But Wenger remains fair game? Henry is just as much a product of Wenger as the trophies he’s won for the team.

What next then Gooners? Are you lot from the Wenger-Out camp going to suggest [insert flavour of the month candidate here] again? Only for the said manager to claim he’s not interested. Well all you hate-preachers, you’ve done your job. He’s going.

Whilst I hate to draw comparisons between Arsenal and the knaves of Manchester United, I must at least acknowledge that we are in a very similar incalculable state as when they lost their figurehead, Alex Ferguson.

A snake without a head can still function as sentient being for a few hours. Maybe Arsenal can do that too. Honeymoon period granted, but most new managers perform well initially and drop shortly after. Whoever takes charge next will not take the club out of Wenger’s shadow. There will be no revolution at the Emirates, no celebratory coronation win. We are staring down the barrel of Moyes 2.0.

Drawing back to the tomfoolery up at Old Trafford, they suffered many years without glory. Some fans even say that is still the case. Any club where the manager is there for so long is in for a major culture shock. Some players don’t know what it’s like to have another manager - expect fjords of wilting players.

I don’t even want to talk about a replacement. I don’t want another manager. I want Wenger forever. We are past the point of getting rid of him, only to replicate the headless snake. In the overly ambitious world, I’d keep his head in a jar and have him manage way into the years of Futurama. He’s been there for everything, and in my eyes, he’s still bringing success to the club. Winning trophies is what football is about, right? We’ve won the FA Cup three times in the last four years! Name me another manager that’s done anything like that. I’ll wait. Even if you can, I don’t want him. It’s paradoxical for Wenger to not be with Arsenal. We’ve been through too much together.

At this point, I would like to point out that I am very aware I sound like an alcoholic just urging for one more drink. But, instead insisting for more time for Wenger. I need that hit that I’ve been getting for 22 years. I am at least owed the end I wanted. I remember him one time stating that he wanted to leave the club in a better state than the way he found it. This exodus doesn’t really give us the positive crescendo that he promised.

One thought of solace, Wenger has at least been granted the decision. It’s been his and his alone. The news reports detail and outline he’s emotional to leave. I can at least have a shred of salvation that he has called time and nobody else. His words were as powerful as ever and should serve as a lesson for all those who’ve been against him previously:

"To all the Arsenal lovers, take care of the values of the club.”

Suggesting in the most eloquent way possible that he’s concerned the support hasn’t been in the right place. No truer words have been said on the matter.

That is, of course – he wins the Europa League and announces on the open top bus that he’s staying on for five more years. That’d be a bigger achievement than winning the Champions League. Wolf of Wall Street style… “I’m not leaving…the show goes on!”.

That is my only dream, my only parting thoughts… as I’ll watch every game from now to the end of the season with a bitter sadness and say: “Goodnight sweet Prince Wenger”.

Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.


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