If you have been supporting the Arsenal for more than 12 years you’ll remember the dark days. I mean the really dark days.
Days so dark that you couldn’t even see the tunnel let alone the light at the end of it.
I speak, of course, of the year of the Rioch.
That dreadful year when Ian Wright Wright Wright handed in a transfer request on the not wholly unreasonable grounds that he was a centre forward not a right winger. The year when Dennis Bergkamp hadn’t quite yet got it. The year when the magic back four didn’t quite know how to get the defensive line right.
It was all just an awful muddle and we didn’t even know until the last day of the season whether we would be in the European twiddly widdly diddly woddly cup or not.
So what made it all so wonderfully different?
Of course the big change – the change that overshadows everything – was the arrival of the Lord Wenger.
But let’s leave that aside for a moment and think about the changes that we would also acknowledge as part of the Great Revolution.
With Lord Wenger miles ahead in first place, the second Big Change would come with the introduction (by the Lord Wenger) of world-wide scouting, several hundred million centuries before anyone else ever thought it could be done.
And the third great revolution was the insistence on filling a lot of key roles with ex-Arsenal players. Like Steve Bould, Liam Brady, Pat Rice (who actually was our manager for an historic unbeaten run at the start of the Lord Wenger’s first season), Steve Gatting, David Court.
This gives us great continuity, and this approach has continued with Remi Garde and Gilles Grimandi (for example) doing their stuff as scouts – leading to a position where anyone who is anyone in France, looks first to Arsenal.
We obviously also pick up the best of the kids in the UK – I need only mention Ramsey, Wilshere and Walcott to prove my point.
So imagine a situation in which one of the truly great, great, great players from the Netherlands, who played with such overwhelming majesty for us, also came back in a coaching role. Just think of what that would do to our scouting options in Holland. (Which incidentally are not bad anyway considering we got Van Persie for £2 million.)
I speak of course of Dennis. And I speak of him because on the way home tonight, Dennis popped up on Radio 5 saying that he is doing his coaching course, and when he’s done it and passed the tests, he would love to come and coach at Arsenal.
Now if you recall Dennis B when he was with us, he always spoke carefully, never going over the top, never saying stuff that should not be said. He was forever treated with respect by every other player here – even Henry seemed to realise that here was a God from another dimension.
And that respect still exists for him throughout football.
Especially in the Netherlands.
Bring him in as a coach, and the world of Dutch football, with all its wonderful glorious players opens up to us.
Dennis, yes, please do come back as a coach. Bring the magic you gave us on the pitch into the world of the players you coach. I’m sure I will never have the honour to meet you but if I ever did I guess I’d just bow my head and say one almighty “thank you”. What else is there to say?
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