We all know the story: Arsène Wenger speaks five languages. Which is five more than “Sir” Alex Ferguson. While “Sir” Alex berates Manchester United’s fans for being at a funeral, Arsène thanks Arsenal fans for their magnificent support. When commenting on the Arsenal unbeaten season “Sir” Alex makes bizarre comparisons with the Rangers team he played in (which did not manage to go all season unbeaten, even in the low-intensity Scottish league), Arsène Wenger on the other hand always gives generous praise to his own team, and outlines the quality of the opposition. He never ever talks them down.
All this we have known for years. He’s polite, reasoned, intellectual, knowledgeable. So what has happened?
Well something has – because he has started blaming himself.
In regards to Birmingham he said that he did not get the preparation for the game right. On the subject of Theo Walcott he has said that he was wrong to try and turn him into a winger. And with Robin van Persie he has now said that he was to blame for bringing him back too quickly after the injury in the international.
This notion of apologising is new territory for all of us – and we might start asking, “what next?”
Will M Wenger tell us that Reyes was, all things considered, a waste of time? Or that Stepanovs really was a barn door and he should have remembered to put his contact lenses in when thinking of signing him? Or that in buying a strange Englishman with jug ears who occasionally wandered around the penalty area and answered to the name Francis he made a total balls up?
Actually I rather doubt he will say any of those things – and that leads me to my point. We don’t need you to apologise M Wenger. You have given every Arsenal supporter the Earth. Not to mention the sun, the moon, the planets, and most of the major galaxies this side of the Axis of Evil (which in case you are not an astro-physicist is a big black hole that it rather hard to explain in cosmological terms).
My father watched the Arsenal in the 1930s and in my childhood regaled me with stories of their sheer majesty – of how they rode into town for away games and the local populace turned out to watch the coach carrying the greatest team the country had ever seen. Of how they could lose the entire first team squad for international duty, put out the reserves and still win. (They played internationals and league matches at the same time in the 1930s).
For most of my life my Arsenal experiences existed in the shadow of such memories. OK we won the double in 71, but it wasn’t quite the same – it wasn’t something that we kept going year after year. George Graham gave us a couple of victories, and one (in the year when the FA tried to take it away again by docking two points for the type of pushing and shoving at Old Trafford that you see at every other game these days) was particularly tasty. But it didn’t last. We never stayed at the top.
You, M Wenger, have given us infinitely more than we had any right to expect. You have nothing to apologise for. It has been my profound good fortune to live through your reign. Long may it continue. Apologise for nothing. Just keep doing it. Fulham 0 Arsenal 3. Nice one. More of the same please.
Copies of recent blogs are below. You can read more articles about Arsenal and football in general on www.emiratesstadium.info If you want to write to me you can do so at Tony at schools.co.uk The blogs are written by Tony Attwood
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