By Walter Broeckx
From time to time I get interesting mails from people who send me links or extracts to things they have read on the internet. And I am grateful for this because I do tend to stay away from the serious media as much as possible but in order to be able to write things on Untold it is needed that I do keep my finger on the pulse as they say in my country.
I think we can say that in all the years that Untold has been publishing articles one theme has never been questioned by the writers and by our loyal and regular readers and contributors: the fact that we think and are convinced that Wenger was the best man for the job. Even in the barren years without “trawfies” we never doubted that it was his contribution off the field that kept us in the top 4.
So the other day I got a mail from someone with an extract from a book. And I thought it contained some interesting things. Things that underline the importance of some things and that explain some sentences that have been used to ridicule the manager over the years. Things we understood all the time but some people couldn’t and still can’t understand. And this will or not being able to understand has been a reason for some of them to take cheap shots at our managers.
I quote: “I was part of the initial project to build the stadium and push the club to do it, so I felt as well that you cannot say A end not B, “ he said. “I felt part of my responsibility was to push the club through that difficult period as well as I could. I knew from the start that was linked, our financial viability was linked with us being in the Champions League or not.
What this shows is that first of all Wenger is a man with a huge sense of responsibility when it comes to Arsenal. Sometimes people say it is not Arsène FC. Well in a way it is. Because Arsène feels so strongly linked to and with this club that we can say that Arsenal is not just a football club where he does the managers job. No he feels responsible for the well being of this club. Not just today, but in the long term. A long term that we can see is not important for the moaners. But it is important for the way Untold looks at Arsenal all these years.
And you look at the importance of being in the Champions League for Arsenal. And we quote: “You can imagine how much I did sweat for years in the last three months (of each season). It was maybe not the most prolific period on the trophy side but maybe one day I will look back on it and that will be the period I am most proud of.”
I think this is where the words “4th place trophy” come from. For the board and for the long term planning of the club it was important to stay in the CL places. With no financial means to make the team better of course. You can also read between the lines the hurt it did to Wenger for not winning things. But he knows and so do the clever people (I mean you regular readers of Untold) that this period of transition was the moment where Arsenal would stay near the top or….fall to lower places as EVERY OTHER CLUB THAT HAS BUILT A STADIUM HAS DONE. And I think that in some 10 years time even the most loud ‘Wenger Out!-shouter’ will begin to see what he has done. Perform a miracle is what he has done in my eyes.
I continue to quote : “This club has given me a chance but I think as well at an important period of the lifespan of this club, I have shown loyalty and have turned many things down, and accepted to work with restricted potential, knowing that I had to stay at the top of the game.
I would just say I did that with full commitment. We are all only human being, that means I certainly made mistakes but I still think that the consistency of our achievement shows that we have not made too many.”
We as fans are expected to be and stay loyal to our club. That is what fans do. But managers? Managers don’t stay loyal to a club. Because the real world out there throws managers away when they show the slightest blip in their performances. So managers can get sacked in the blink of an eye. So there is no need for a or any manager to stay loyal to a club.
But we have the exception to that rule. We had the luck to have a manager that realised the difficult task, accepted the difficulties and accepted that in order to help the club in the long term his own personal success would be under pressure. He could have gone and left us for other clubs. And as we have found out other giants clubs were after his signature. But he stayed. Despite the vile abuse from the media and their children’s choir that we have seen on Untold and who come along whenever a result is not favourable enough for them.
Abuse that he didn’t deserve. If he would have walked away on us during those years and go to clubs with infinite financial means and no restrictions it would have been maybe a totally different story for Arsenal and the future.
Arsenal will be the work of his life. He has committed himself to this club like no other manager has ever done before. He had only one thing in mind : to help Arsenal in those difficult and dangerous years. And he even admits he made mistakes. As we all have done. As he said: we are only human beings. But knowing Wenger in his early years, knowing how he loves this club as much as we as supporters do, knowing how he had to balance on a thin cord going from the top of the roof of the North Bank all the way to the Clock at the Clock End, knowing he had to see how much money he really could spend and how it would affect the current season but also the possible future of the club if a transfer failed…. it has been the task that only a giant could have done.
The stress on having to deliver that CL place year after year without any money must have been immense. People laugh about that 4th place trophy. But for Arsenal and for Arsène Wenger it was the difference between keeping a club at the top or a club going down the way Southampton, Middlesbrough and other stadium building clubs have gone.
If ever a man deserves a statue outside the Emirates when he really makes an end to him serving our club it will be Arsène Wenger. Some of the current (younger?) generation don’t understand it now. But I know they will. One day.