Similarly to a number of fellow Gooners, our capitulation against Bayern was the straw that seemingly broke my camel’s back (in fairness, I’m from Morocco). My disappointment was such that I haven’t been able to watch highlights or read analyses of the game, which is unheard of. I never thought I’d be capable of so much hostility and rancour to the boss, which has been my general mood since Tuesday night.
Nonetheless, I woke up Sunday morning with my opinion having taken a slight twist. Although this mess is squarely his fault, I’m not yet ready to fire or lapse Wenger’s contract. It wouldn’t be satisfying. Basically, the way I see it, we Gooners are (uniquely in football) in a quasi-married relationship with the boss, and for many of us it’s long-term and personal. We’re a 20 year old married couple that has lived a great love story, with incredibly romantic and reassuringly stable stretches.
Unfortunately he’s clearly not performing like the young buck he once was. Worse, the former intellectual is slowly becoming a repetitive, boring, almost senile version of his former self. So many of his habits just make us cringe: the same types of players, the lack of tactical acumen, the same insane Groundhog “strategy” in CL playoffs for the past 7 years …. all of these behaviours are basically passive aggressive indifference, or gambling the paycheck. He’s gambling our household’s earnings on a shitty strategy while the kids are home hungry and we haven’t paid the mortgage. Naturally, I/we feel betrayed, especially as it keeps happening over & over again.
When betrayal happens, I think most couples’ first reactions is to seek a sincere apology, not necessarily a lawyer and divorce check. For my part, far more than a replacement, I want to see sincere remorse, a mea culpa, a heartfelt admission of guilt. I have feelings, I think we collectively have feelings, and we want a sincere commitment, in front of witnesses, that he is worthy of our trust and won’t let his nasty misplaced naivety get the better of him, again. If that’s not possible, then perhaps it is best we amicably and respectfully separate, no regrets and no bitterness.
To speak literally, I believe we the fans deserve a frank discussion with him, one where we would speak our minds respectfully but unreservedly. Most importantly, I want it now, before he leaves, before Amy Lawrence (;D) or someone else convinces him to write an ex-post autobiography. I’m aware it’s impossible to have a 60,000 person Q&A at the Emirates, but that would be the general idea.
I will never take away from him that he’s earned the right to gamble, what with him being the boss during all the good years, and that he stuck around during the difficult years; but so too were we right there behind him, paying our respective tickets and cheering him on cold nights in Stoke and Copenhagen. Regardless of what happens, I really think he and we both need closure for these past years of underperformance, and it has to come in the form of a frank talk.
Finally, and most controversially, if he does admits guilt and promises to mend his ways, I’d be willing to give him a Christian second chance. I sincerely think there is a potential turn of events where this isn’t quite the car-crash ending of his reign, but rather just a strong wake-up call. IF (and only IF) he admits his errors, I believe we could be in a great to position to win the league while Chelsea and the Spuds build their new grounds. It’s weird writing this as I am so not religious, never mind Christian, but forgiving someone who admits a mistake is the right thing to do. If he does, I’m ready to give him another chance, and finish this truly incredible story with the fireworks and champagne (football) we, and he, unquestionably deserve.
(Other fans make fun of intra-gooner feuds, but to be fair no other club is in our case. We’re not post-Fergie Utd firing David Moyes or Van Gaal. We’ve gone through thick and thin with the man, living some of our most exhilarating moments together, and I for one derive a lot of what I do and believe outside the stadium from “teachings” first learned inside. College or business school didn’t give me the conviction that one must have sound, strong bases, capable of soaking up the pressure (even the terminology…) -that came from watching our illustrious back four’s. An attraction for a certain amount of flair in my work partners (‘team’): that comes from watching Bergkamp and Pires. Hell, even my first email address ever, back in the mid 90’s, was email@example.com! )
Thanks to Othman Tazi for this sublime guest post. Othman can be found at @bizmarock.
Although he had initially been a fan of the Arsenal through his father, Othman truly fell in love with the Gunners following Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival. He spent 5 years living in N5 but has returned back to his homeland Morocco for professional and family reasons. He regularly flies back to London for a game and catch up with friends. Arsenal notwithstanding, he is married with a 2 year old, and works in mattresses (always up for sleeping advice).