I was listening to the Guardian football weekly and they were talking about how great it was that Arsenal supporters are back to having fun and singing about how “we got our Arsenal back”. I agree with them on the first point. There does seem to be a lightened mood among the supporters that I follow and interact with.
The songs about getting our Arsenal back are meant to be tongue in cheek and most supporters are being reserved about going “all in” on this team. It’s not the expected goals numbers that are holding us back, it’s the expected failures.
But it is different and it is fun and that’s ultimately what we want from our club (plus trophies). Fans are singing praises for Iwobi, who last year was considered “crap”, and I’ve heard more new Arsenal songs after every match than I’ve heard in a long time.
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you know that I’m a huge fan of Arsene Wenger. What he did for this club has already been enumerated many times but could stand a brief re-telling:
- Three Premier League titles
- The Invincibles
- Winning the League at Old Trafford
- Winning the League at White Hart Lame
- 229* Thierry Henry Goals
- 22 years at the club
- 20 years in the Champions League
- 7 FA Cups (record)
- Modernized London Colney training facility
- The new stadium
- Hundreds of erudite quotes on the meaning of life, the universe and everything
I love Arsene Wenger and always will. Selfishly, I don’t know if I want him to manage another club. He’s spoken at length about his addiction to management and the toll that addiction took on his personal life. I want him to live somewhere quiet and write books about football and philosophy but I don’t think he will do that and I wish him the best of luck in his next management job.
The problem at Arsenal was that toward the end things had grown stagnant. It took 20 years before teams started to challenge Wenger’s system. There were a few managers who had figured it out earlier (SAF and Mou) but for the most part, Wenger was able to stay ahead of the vast majority of managers until the final two to three years. But those last three years were filled with cynicism and quite a bit of anger.
So, it feels like the dam has broken. Emery is different from Wenger (at the very least in the squad rotation, player changes in a match, and in the way that he gives specific instructions) and the Arsenal supporters are simply celebrating the change. Obviously there will be some element of Arsenal that is anti-Wenger but when (if) he returns I guarantee a warm reception.
Wenger often compared management to a love story and if we stick to that analogy we are just dating Emery. It’s only been a few months! We are in the first few dates phase: emotions are heightened, their jokes are funnier than they really are, their good qualities better, their bad qualities ignored. We are bonding with Emery. There’s no guarantee that it will last but this is one of the fun bits, the early love phase.
*I know what the “official” record books say but you can’t tell me that Scott Dann “own goal” wasn’t on target. That was an Henry goal, damnit.