Arsene Wenger: For the Ned Stark of Islington, the winter has arrived

Wenger

“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate. We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart.”

Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick released a statement after a horrid month for the Gunners. Someone had to speak. Someone, other than Arsene Wenger, had to say something.

Cue,  the Arsenal media management team.

Read the above statement again. The conclusion is crystal: Arsenal’s media management is worse than their first XI’s game management. No quality, no substance, no style; just dry words wrapped in corporate bullshit.

In some way it depicts the rot that runs through the club. It sheds light on the poor governance that’s led to the decade-long stagnation. The fans are angry. The players unsettled. The manager weary. And the club comes out with a ‘we-know-what-we-are-doing’ press release.

It’s absurd. It’s hilarious. It’s a new low. But hitting new lows is the ‘in’ thing for this Arsenal. If anyone thought 8-2 was bad, try wrapping your head around 10-2. Yes, that’s the new banter number for the Gunners.

Teams lose all the time. In sport, you lose more than you win but what sets teams apart is the way they lose. Arsenal aren’t just losing. Arsenal have lost faith. Arsenal have lost substance. Over the last decade, Arsenal have struggled. Arsenal have struggled bad. But Arsenal never grovelled.

Arsene Wenger is adamant about ‘the good shape’ of the club. Financially, Arsenal are stout. Debts under control, stadium liability paid off, money in the bank — the Gunners are one of the most stable corporate set-ups in European football.

Sportingly though, they are on their knees. They lack a blueprint for sporting success and that impotence has created an unrest amongst the fans. Player rifts have raised their ugly heads and Arsene Wenger isn’t in charge of the dressing room anymore.

Once upon a time, he was. He never was tactically brilliant but his vision, innovation and man management skills catapulted Arsenal into the top tier. His arrival ushered a new era in the Premier League. His teams created history and his ideology changed the way football was played in England.

20 years on, he forgot to change himself.

Now, he’s the Ned Stark of Islington – a man stuck in an infinite loop of his own ideals, morals and the code of honour. Great qualities to admire but we all know how it ended for the Warden of the North.

However, the Professor’s delusion isn’t the biggest problem at the Emirates. It’s the set of self-serving Greyjoys he has fostered at the London Colney.

.Alexis

Over the last month, experts and social media have waxed lyrical about Alexis Sanchez’s fighting spirit, his winning mentality. People writing Arsenal’s obituary have gone on about how a ‘loser’ club doesn’t deserve the Chilean. May be they don’t. But after the second leg against Bayern Munich, neither does he deserve to wear the crest on his chest.

Alexis is a great player but his smirk that night left fans around the world in shock. You want to leave, fair enough but why ridicule those who made you a superstar? The Catalans didn’t care about him because they had Lionel Messi. Alexis was Arsenal’s Messi. Alexis is a winner but he wants to win alone. A real ‘winner’ never whines and gives up on his troops, no matter how inferior they are. He digs deeper, takes control and fights harder to elevate the ones around him to the next level.

The Theon of the team, Mesut Ozil, has the ‘Fabregas’ flu. He goes bowling the night before the game but is never fit enough to play. He’s taken advantage of Wenger and hid behind his trust. And now with the club on stranger tides, even £ 280,000 per week isn’t enough.

The less you talk about rest, the better. They aren’t Arsenal quality. They have the skills but they haven’t got the shoulders to carry legacy of the heavy cannon.

Hence, it’s not November pain or flimsy February  anymore, Arsenal are in free fall. The season’s gone bust. Even the ‘top four’ trophy is eluding their grasp. For the first time the furrows on Le Professor’s forehead are deeper and are crying out for help. Sadly, the Tomas Rosickys aren’t on the bench anymore.

Can Arsenal survive this? Of course. They are too big a brand to fold and have deep pockets.

Can Arsene Wenger survive this? He might. A new contract is on the table but signing it might destroy him forever because for Arsene, the winter isn’t coming anymore, the winter has well and truly arrived.

Forgiven – a letter to the Ex!

Dear Ex,

I hope you’re doing well.

I know you’re doing well because I can see how happy you are in your new life and I am truly happy that you’ve found someone new.

Seriously, I am.

Does it hurt anymore?

It did for sometime, but now, no more. Now, I no longer even ask myself the dreaded question – why?

I don’t because I know.

Of course, there are moments when I lose my mind, dive into my past and get furious at you for hurting me the way you did.

I held on to the grudge for some time and whined at your heartless act but as time passed by, I became smarter. Holding on to the grudge only made me sad and I realized that my sadness didn’t even reach you because you never looked back.

So, I revoked the right you had on me.

You hurt me. You hurt me bad.

Then again, when I look back, I realised that over the years, I have let you hurt me.

I was blind. I was possessed. I did everything I could but you weren’t happy. I gave you all the attention but you weren’t happy.

I even tried to hold on but you wanted to leave. When I asked you to stay, you threw your tantrums but I stayed quiet because as I said, I was blind.

All those years, you were the assassin and I handed you the dagger.

Then, you left.

Of course, I couldn’t stop you because I didn’t have the means.

The day you walked out on me, I was broken. I was stranded thunderstruck as I saw you turn your back on me. I wanted to stop you, ask you to reconsider but deep down, I knew we were past that point and you had no other choice.

Neither did I.

So, I forgave you. Truly, I have.

Forgiving you and moving on was the only sensible way because I realized that if I didn’t, I might not ever let anybody else in – someone, who might understand me a touch better than you did and consider me a little more valuable. Someone who will not make me feel so insignificant.

And I didn’t want to miss out on that because allowing you to keep a hold on my psyche would have only blinded me and I would have missed the signs when someone special came along.

Last year, our paths crossed again. You said you weren’t happy anymore. To be honest, I was stoked. I really wanted to see you, meet you again – the possibility of being with you fired up my imagination and sent my adrenaline into an overdrive.

After the initial euphoria, I suddenly realized that I already have ‘the special one’ in my life and choosing you now would be an act of disloyalty.

I just couldn’t be cruel to someone who trusted me more than you did.

This time, it was me, not you.

You also chose well. In fact, you chose wisely – a more pragmatic choice than last time and although, I don’t appreciate your choice, I do understand the reasons behind it.

I am happy for you and in the end, ‘us’ was a lesson well learnt even though it hurt a bit.

We made mistakes. You did. I did.

We learnt from them and moved on.

All I remember now are the good times we spent together because those memories easily outweigh the not-so-good ones. And forgiving you has lessened the pain because as you know, mercy is twice blessed!

This Sunday, you visit my place and we meet after a long time. You have changed a bit but you still have your charm.

Don’t worry there would be no bad blood or awkwardness, anymore.

Hey, I want you to meet someone – my ‘special one’.

When we meet, I would greet you with a smile and say – Cesc, meet Mesut and yes, welcome to the Emirates…Again!

oz-fab1

Battle between Oz and Fab: Torn Gooner Hearts!

Take care and play well!

From,

Once a fan, always a fan!