Wenger's departure: A gut reaction
This is no longer breaking news as you’re reading this, as I’m writing it however it very much is. Unfortunately, Foul Throw was not yet live as this news broke.
About fifteen minutes ago – in my time – Arsène Wenger announced he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of the season. As a 21-year-old, lifelong Arsenal fan, the prospect of an Arsenal I’ve never known dawns.
I don’t want to get into any ‘Wenger In/Out’ nonsense here. I will certainly find the time over the coming weeks to write in more depth about Wenger’s reign (and what this development means). Suffice to say, the highs we had were dizzying, and far outweighed the lows.
Putting aside the football, and his revolutionary impact upon the game, I want to talk about the man.
Arsène Wenger was and is one of my great heroes in life. Also, and this is no coincidence, he is one of the few people that I would go as far to say that my dad genuinely idolises. It’s a well-trodden path but indisputable, I am an Arsenal fan because my father is. My father is an Arsène fan.
The Arsenal of my lifetime is a club built in the image of Wenger. I say that with no small degree of pride in the football club I love. Arsène Wenger made loving Arsenal an adventure. He had a set of principles, a philosophy, and he abided by them. He put his faith in people, and constantly took the bullets that would otherwise have cut them down. He was stubborn and resilient in the face of abuse and pressure. More often than not, in the long run, he was proved right. Given recent years that’s all too easy to forget.
There’s more to this than trophies too. If it sounds trite, I apologise, but there are life lessons here. Wenger stood by his beliefs, defended those under his charge to the hilt and always worked to serve the cause. For me, that’s an integrity and passion to aspire to.
He was a revolutionary, full of compassion, wit, ambition and a genuine love of football. He believed there was more to football than just winning, he’s long since convinced me too.
I believe the right time for his departure has indeed come and perhaps it arrived a while ago. That doesn’t matter now. It was with a genuine and deep pang of sadness that I read his farewell statement. Obviously, he will still lead Arsenal until the end of the season. This was the first of many goodbyes.
Lots of people will say about needing to win the Europa League to give him the perfect send off. Of course, that would be brilliant. Really, it’s a competition we need to win anyway. It won’t change the lasting perception of Arsène though.
He is a legend of Arsenal, and of football. He is a model of integrity and loyalty.
Thank you, Arsène Wenger. For making me love being an Arsenal fan. For what you have done for our club. Thank you for giving me so much to talk about with my dad.
Love and support for ever.