Almost there. We’re in that Arsenal phase at the moment; on the cusp of success but in danger of falling short.
It’s the penultimate post of 2017 but there’s one more to go before we can call it a successful year’s blogging. The review of the year will have to wait until after the game against West Brom because I’m sure that’s important in the context of the past twelve months.
My memory is failing me and I genuinely can’t remember but I bet I’ve done reviews of the year before; I must have because the calendar is so important in modern football. We’ve won the league twice this decade on that basis and Harry Kane is a world-class player according to the calendar yardstick. He hides it very well when he plays for England; the corners at Euro2016 still brings shivers to my spine.
However, that’s not the point of today’s post and I’m not even sure there is any link to it. Beyond being about things which have happened although this is more about what might happen: Arsène’s legacy.
Mention a legacy and the ordinary man in the street will think of his dear, departed aunt Maud who left him £250 and the dead potted plant on the windowsill. But this is not about an ordinary man; this is one who reached for the stars, overshot his mark and landed on the moon. The gravity boots failed and now he’s falling to Earth.
Barney Ronay in the Guardian talks about the very subject. The mention of Sir Alex Ferguson always brings to mind the time we failed to land him as Arsenal manager before George Graham’s appointment. How different would the club’s history be? Arsenal’s board mishandling the appointment of a new manager? Who would dream of such a thing?
Arsène’s legacy means different things to different people. For some, it’s Wengerball, the long-lamented style of play which soothed the failure to challenge for a title as the first decade of this century came to a close. For others, it’s the structures within the club.
Nobody can argue that Wenger changed the club; he was the ideal man to modernise Arsenal and the force of his beliefs. To me, that’s his legacy. Don’t go looking for something now; it’s obvious with recent appointments that Arsenal are preparing for the future and he isn’t the driving force behind these changes.
Which underlines how Wenger’s legacy is already in place. Fads in football come and go; Wengerball is a fad, it’s a way of playing which others have taken and improved – yes, City play ‘Wengerball’; if you can’t see that, if you only view the ‘oil money’ or ‘Invincibles’, I feel sorry for you. Appreciate good football when you see it and be relieved that it’s triumphing over the numbing dullness of Mourinho’s ‘win at all costs’ mentality.
The Invincibles; there’s a piece of Wenger’s legacy. Records in football are there to be broken. The great things in the game don’t need records, they exist because they are great. Setting a record at the time means they are never forgotten. If being the only Invincible team matters to you, it’s because there is precious little joy around Arsenal on the pitch at the moment.
The game at Selhurst Park is the perfect of ‘late-era’ Arsenal. Imperious and untouchable with an unhealthy dose of vulnerability. It’s nothing new; it’s the same Arsenal we’ve seen for the last three or four years although this season, we’re taking it to a new level – or depth if you prefer.
Talk About The Past
No matter how Wenger’s reign ends, the memories of the good times will surface. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t remember George Graham’s time fondly. 5th April 1987; White Hart Lane a month earlier; winning 2 – 1 like it was going out of fashion in the North London derby; 26th May 1989, ending that wait; 1990-91; the Cup football era. Go back to Bertie Mee, to Billy Wright and his youth team which formed the spine of the double-winning squad.
If you want to denigrate these men and their contribution to the club, you don’t support Arsenal; it was, is, and always will be Arsène FC for you.
Wenger’s good times ensure history will remember him as fondly but like Graham, Mee and every other manager since the war, there are seasons where eyebrows will be raised and a weary tone enter the conversation.
Arsène’s legacy is already in place at the club. The Premier League era is his unless someone truly phenomenal comes along. We won’t have another manager who is in charge for two decades; I don’t think the board – whoever it is made up of – will be so awestruck in future. Not having seen the antipathy which engulfs the club at the moment.
Now, we’re at the point where Wenger’s record is about football and success. We’re a great cup side at the moment, but hopeless by comparison to the past in the league. There’s no factory of youth players coming through, so the legacy isn’t about the state of the squad unless Arsène is leaving us in a similar mess to the one Ferguson left United.
That as Ronay says in the Guardian article above, is the lesson Arsenal must absorb.