By Walter Broeckx
When we look at what happened to Manchester United we have a good view what can happen when a long serving manager wants to go out on a high at all costs. The former Manchester United legend got his 20th title and that was all he really cared about.
In fact even by appointing Moyes he somehow made sure that his star would shine even more even after his departure. He left a squad that with the help of all involved (including Mike and his gang) won a title with a squad that was running on its last legs one could say. Mind you they still have a lot of quality in it but as we could find out from retired refs once Sir Alex F-word went, the fear factor that was good for +10 points a season was gone.
Now with us having Wenger as the last of the Mohicans (a long lasting manager) we might think about what will happen when the good man calls it a day. One day it will happen and given his age this day is coming nearer. Too near to my liking as I would love to see him around for a few more years. But we all know one day he will say goodbye to us.
First of all I don’t want Wenger to appoint the next manager like Sir Alex F-word has done. I trust the board completely on who to appoint. After all it is that board that has brought us our new stadium and that has had to guts and the nerve to keep on supporting the manager when he and they were under great fire from the media and the fickle part of our fan base. They acted as wise men then so I expect they will do the same when they have to appoint someone to step in the footsteps of Wenger.
But no matter how I dread the day that Wenger will announce his departure I do have a feeling that he will not do what Sir Alex F-word did to Manchester United. In his long career at Arsenal he has in multiple occasions talked about the long term. He has even talked about the time when he will be gone at times.
He has said that with building the Emirates we have put our club on the rails for the long term and not just for the now. One could say that the now (= past 9 years) have been of secondary importance in order to make sure that the long term future of the club would and will be bright.
I think that Wenger can be said to have lived with the principle that has been said in an old Greek expression : “A society grows great when men plant trees, whose shade they know they will never sit in”.
And I think this is what Arsenal and more in particular Wenger has done and in part is still doing in the past 10 years. He knew we would face difficult times but he was willing to take the blame that he would face. He didn’t run away to a foreign team where he could have spent what he wanted, when he wanted. No he sacrificed his own personal record in order to guide our club through the difficult period.
Wenger has been the main person who was planting the seeds of the new tree that Arsenal. And given his age he probably will not be able to reap the benefits personally. Or not entirely.
But the club is slowly as it should be, progressing in the right direction. FFP does have an impact but not as much as we would have liked of course. But our handicap against the sugar daddy clubs will be reduced somewhat by the FFP rules. One wonders if the combination of the English FFP rules and the Uefa FFP rules would have a bigger impact. But it looks as if the English FFP rules have been abandoned even before they were installed.
But Wenger has been busy planting trees all these years. And as it goes with trees at first they are small and vulnerable. But after a few years you start to recognise the little tree. And with good care and nursing the little tree will become bigger and bigger. But it is a long term work.
But now we are passed the first few dangerous years in the life of those little trees. They start to grow and become stronger and stronger. And all that because of one man looking after his precious little plants.
A man that will be a legend in some 10 years time when his real legacy will be completely visible for even the most blinded now. Well for me his already a legend now.
I hope he will be able to enjoy sitting in the shade of the trees he planted and grew all these long years for a long time even after he has gone. Give his loyalty shown in these difficult years he has shown that he is just a supporter, a foreign supporter. Just like me and so many million others.
We fell in love with Arsenal and that is something that will stay with us forever and I am sure that it will stay with him for as long as he lives. I can imagine the picture of Wenger sitting on a bench with the rest of his petanque team on the village square of his Elzasian town. Sitting in the shade of a tree and when he looks at that tree he will look at it and will see the resemblance with the trees he planted at Arsenal.
And on Saturday he will turn on his TV, look at the French Sports Channel to see his beloved Arsenal play. And he will be as thrilled as us when we win. And if we lose he even might come to Untold. To read what we loyal Arsenal supporters think and he might even spread some wisdom and cheer us up.
Well one can dream, can I?