“This is the end, beautiful friend/ This is the end, my only friend, the end/ Of our elaborate plans, the end/ Of everything that stands, the end…”
If you have a look at the quote above, without context, it could’ve been written by an English Romantic poet.
Or maybe it’s a bad high school poem? Lord knows, we’ve all written some of those.
But most of you know it’s a song, by “The Doors,” and in Jim Morrison’s deep throaty rumble, it’s genuinely mortifying. I’m not sure when he wrote the song, but I’ll look it up.
And when did Jim Morrison die? Sorry, another pause…1971. He was 27 years old.
Jim Morrison. Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Cobain.
We all know their stories. They died young, in their prime. (Too young, most of us would say.) They never had the chance to stay on-stage too long.
Tom Petty and Prince died because of drug overdoses too, but they were in their 60s and 50s respectively, decades removed from their best music. “Raspberry Beret” and “Freefallin'” we’re a long time ago, if we’re being honest.
Whether it’s the “Rolling Stones” wearing too-tight-clothes as grandpas, or Bruce Springsteen starting to sound like a whale, most musicians will keep going out there as long as people are willing to pay.
The sports world is different, yet the same.
Think of how many athletes really went out on top? Or coaches for that matter? Fergie, sure. Michael Jordan, likely the best basketball player of all-time, tried twice to leave at his peak, and still has that embarrassing tenure at the Wizards.
Jim Brown left early. So did Barry Sanders. And Calvin Johnson. (People must really hate living in Detroit.)
When I plumbed my brain, thinking about sports I’ve followed for decades, I really can’t think of many people who jumped before they were pushed.
It almost never happens.
Every other kid in Texas is named Landry, yet the legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry was put out to pasture so Jerry Jones could hire Jimmie Johnson, who immediately won two Super Bowls. (Kind of three, since Barry Switzer was really just a robot with the Jimmy Johnson operating system.)
I was 100% sure Arsene Wenger was done last year, and wrote him a kiss-off letter in this column. But then, like the gambler he is, Arsene rode one last lucky-hot-streak to win the FA Cup and keep his job.
If you imagine him a degenerate gambler in Vegas, the sweaty guy who’s in-deep to the wrong people, but occasionally gets hot, so he keeps gambling, convincing himself he’s going to hit that last big score and dig his way out, but he never really chops down the debt, does he?
Guys like that don’t get the happy ending, unless they pay for it at the Chicken Ranch afterwards.
Does this not sound like what we’ve been watching the last seven seasons?
Now poor-ol’Arsene’s down to his last card.
I believe he won’t be managing Arsenal next season no matter what, but objectively, the only chance he’s got is to win the Europa League.
Given his team’s form, it seems so unlikely. And we’ll know by Thursday anyway. If we get spanked in Milan, like we did last time, the death march will be on.
I don’t think there’s any way we win this game, but I suppose it’s at least possible we don’t get destroyed. Does it even matter anymore?
Thierry Henry is angling for the job in public. Leaks come from the club with potential lists of replacements. Josh Kroenke is living in London.
It’s all real.
I admit, as a part-time pundit, I realized things were done later then Tim, probably everybody at Arseblog, and definitely Pete at Le Grove.
I’m no Nostradamus.
But Arsene Wenger had his chance to leave on top last summer, but couldn’t walk away from the table. It’s against his nature.
Instead, his power has been slowly sucked, while he struggles on the end of the hook. This team started massively rebuilding before we necessarily realized it, but now it’s full-steam, so we have no idea what comes next.
Look at this list: Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Szczesny, Debuchy, Jenkinson, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Alexis, and Francis Coquelin have all departed since summer.
Incomers: Lacazette, who’s out of form and currently broken, Kolasinac, who almost broke someone’s head off in his last game, and is also out of form, Mkhitaryan, who’s had one brilliant game and several that were a bizarro version thereof, and P-E Aubamayang, who’s mostly looked the part. (If a little weak against Vincent Kompany.)
9 first-teamers out, (not including loanees Joel Campbell, Chuba Akpom and Lucas,) and 4 in.
People currently guaranteed to stay: Ozil, Mkhi, Auba… anyone I’m missing? Should we be generous and include Lacazette?
Players who have value, but might move on: Bellerin, Ramsey, Mustafi, Xhaka, Lacazette (We’ll put him in two places for now.)
Players who are old, and cannot be sold for real money: Kos, Nacho, (still valuable,) Cech
Retiring: Per Mertesacker
Permenantly crocked, and out of contract: Santi Cazorla
Young players who might be worth playing: Eddie, Reiss Nelson, AMN, Alex Iwobi, Joe Willock
Squad players who can sold for something: Kola, Chambers, El Neny, Holding, Ospina, Danny Welbeck
Free agents likely off: Jack Wilshere
You might disagree here or there with one of my designations, but this team is less-than-halfway through a full turnover.
We’ve all made fun of Stan Kroenke in the past, for good reason, but at the moment, with the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Rams, it’s looking like he’s put people in place who know how to build things.
What we’re about to watch over the next few months might not be pretty. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE that Arsene might save a bit of grace here or there, but this is the end.
Given how strong the other teams are in the top six, unless Arsenal get extremely lucky, I think even with a hot new coach, it’ll likely take two to three seasons to challenge for that top four spot again.
But Arsenal will bring in a coach with a plan, which will probably include pressing. We’ll get our own new-style-coach who does the tactics, the preparation, runs hours of classroom time, and understands analytics properly. (i.e., passing percentage alone is meaningless, as Tim has always said.)
It will likely be an attacking style of football. (I don’t expect Simeone.)
Maybe we’ll challenge for bigger trophies? Maybe we won’t. But the endless loop that’s existed since I started watching, in Robin Van Persie’s last season, will most certainly be over.
And I expect our fondness for Arsene Wenger will return sooner than you think, once he’s gone.