For me these were wonderful memories generated by Graham Perry in this piece remembering Joe Mercer. However he was using Joe for an analogy to defend Arsene Wenger. But those were different times. The fans wore flat caps at all the grounds and the players earned wages not all that more than them. We all felt part of the team.
We felt an affinity with the players and they represented us on the pitch. There was no kissing the badge then. They didn`t have to. Our heroes played for the jersey. In some ways it was like the time when your big brother fought for you in the playground and you loved and worshiped him for it.
Heroes came along who were out of the ordinary, such as Joe Mercer. He was a loveable man, who would have a chuckle with you and play his heart out on the pitch. For those of the present generation, they may share great occasions in the future courtesy of Sky and they will marvel at the millionaires playing for their team, but they will have missed out on the days when Wolves, Aston Villa, Bolton, Burnley, Blackpool, Preston etc. were big clubs and the fans turned up on foggy winter days to watch them play.
Those fans had their clubs in their blood and sadly many of their clubs are now shadows of their former selves. The ghosts of Billy Wright, Peter McParland, Nat Lofthouse, Jimmy McIlroy, Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney still inhabit those grounds.
Arsenal has endured throughout the duration of the first division and latterly the Premiership. For you and me, and many others it has been a privilege to support our team during those years. Arsene Wenger came to Highbury to the legacy of a great club and the memories and traditions of great managers and players left behind by years of tradition. He grabbed it with both hands and raised us up to a new level in keeping with the modern game and with a certain panache which identified his philosophy of how the game was played.
For me, I will always be grateful to him for taking us to the top, but unfortunately, he has been unable to keep us there. There are many contributors to the Arsenal Blogs who are now sadly admitting that he has come to the end of the road. For the last 10 years we have declined and in this year when we had a golden opportunity to win the Premiership, our points tally confirms that we have declined even further. If he values his own achievements he should admit to himself that he cannot produce another title winning team and leave while he still has the love and respect of the supporters. He is assured of his place in the history of Arsenal but he is risking having it devalued by obstinately refusing to recognise the interminable repeat of the team`s failings and to condemn us to mediocrity once again.
Arsene is still saying that this team has the ability and the mental strength to fight to the end until it is impossible to win the league. We all know (even the pro Arsenites) that this team has no such thing, but it gives you an insight into his mindset. He hates to lose and he will not admit to defeat until it is over but for the realists, we have known since early March that with this team, it was over. He really needs to take a step back and take a look at the situation and to recognise that his best efforts are not good enough now.
I am not going to lambast him in this reply or to revile him. I am just so sad that he cannot see what everyone else sees. I just wish that someone on the board would put his arm around him and say “Arsene, it`s come to the end of the road” and persuade him to go with dignity. David Dein may have been able to had he still been there. I believe that self-interest is at play here on the board.
In the half century that you and I have supported this great club, this is probably one of its saddest times. The decline of the club and that of one of its best (if not the best) managers has coincided. I cannot foresee any improvement in this situation which does not include Arsene`s resignation.