“I have friends who can go and lay on a beach all day long for the whole of their holidays and I envy them…I just can’t do that. I get bored. I need to be doing something. I need a challenge. I have lived and breathed football all these years and it’s a passion – I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Darren Tulett’s Arsene Wenger interview is easy to miss as it has already been slotted in the lower tiles of The Guardian website. It’s not important anymore. Wenger is out. There’s a World Cup coming up, FFS. Interestingly, not many retweeted the interview either. Again, there’s Jack Wilshere to be trolled, memes to be shared. Wenger is done. Wenger is forgotten. The football world has moved on. The Arsenal fans have moved on. They have because there’s a new outrage in town – Mikel Arteta. Moving on isn’t tough anymore but Arsene Wenger is still stuck at Arsenal.
“It’s just too soon to know what I will do next,” – he says. Come on Arsene, get a hobby. Buy some horses. Build a ranch. He can’t. He can’t because he wants to suffer more. He wants to cling on to his pre-twitter era philosophies and still wants to defend his ideas of football.
Get real Arsene, those ideas don’t work anymore. They’re stale because they saw Arsenal lose 10-2 to Bayern Munich. They’re outdated because they got thumped by Manchester City, twice in a week. They lack ambition because they can’t keep your best player from joining your biggest rival.
Arsenal needs fresh ideas. Arsenal needs an injection of youth, a new voice. Arsenal needs a new face – someone brave, shrewd, cold-blooded, ruthless and of course, someone who can zip his jacket. Arsenal needs someone who will crash the transfer market by spending billions.
Arsenal needs someone who will understand that a football club needs to win. A football club needs big trophies, not FA Cups. Arsenal’s new man should get the fact that it’s not about the community anymore. It’s about the business, the bottom line.
Hang on. Wenger should’ve known that the best, isn’t it? He must have because, for the last decade, he was an accountant. He traded the RVPs for the Chamakhs to pay up for one piece of real estate. He stuck to that fourth place year in, year out. He understood the business better than anyone.
Then, why did he cling on to the human values so dearly? Why didn’t he sell those injured ones? Why didn’t he moan about the budget? Why didn’t he leave? Why did he agree to keep the books for that 60K arena that has sucked Arsenal dry, drop by drop, season to season?
“My type of loyalty probably doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe the dinosaur I became was the last symbol of times that have changed.”
His loyalty and his obsession with ‘doing it the right way’ blinded him to the outside world. Time left Arsene Wenger behind. Football left Arsenal behind. When he finally settled the Emirates accounts, he couldn’t believe how fast things moved on the outside. The football world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. He finally had a 60,000 seater, everyone else had a sugar daddy. The power was with the agents and PlayStation had made everyone a scout. There was no Anelka to be discovered and definitely no Campbell on free. He tried to keep up. He fought hard, got three trophies in four years but the Fan TVs didn’t notice.
He decided not to stay, anymore.
There’s an old picture of Arsene Wenger in a brown suit with tangerine high boots standing amidst the rubbish on the site where the Emirates was being built. It has to be one of the most iconic images in football history because it was supposed to change the fortunes of one of the biggest clubs in England. Instead, it institutionalized Arsene Wenger – “I haven’t even emptied my desk yet and in a way, I am still in a state of shock.”
In a month’s time, a new manager would shift his stuff in the boss’ office at the Emirates. Arsenal, by then, must reflect more Mislintat than Wenger. The ‘Manager’ plate outside the office would have been replaced with ‘Head Coach’ and Ivan Gazidis would have asked for a fresh coat of paint of red and white on the walls. The new manager would walk into a swanky new Arsenal that’s desperate for a new direction. But while going through the drawers of the manager’s table, he might just find a plank with – “Arsene was here…” etched on it.