I was very saddened on Monday this week driving along listening to the presenters on Talksport debating which team this season played the most exciting and attractive football. The conversation, unsurprisingly had arisen after Sunday’s thriller, and no I do not mean drab affair at the Vitality. Obviously and indisputably Liverpool and Man City play the best football and we will all have a view on which team edges it in the ascetic and excitement stakes.
As an Arsenal supporter, I find the debate incredibly depressing because for the first time in probably 22, in the last two years, such conversations between football lovers in grounds, in pubs or on phones ins have not included my team.
What Wenger gave us as fans was a style of football that was always entertaining and often unsurpassed, certainly in England, and breath-taking. In the glory years it was power and pace with the ability to turn defence to attack and goals in the blink of an eye and in more recent times it has been the swift intricate passing combinations and movement, we have lovingly christened ‘Wengerball’.
Even in the drought times from 2005 to 2014, I would take enormous pride in the stylish nature of our football and it was a huge compensation for the lack of silverware or glory. I would be proud to overhear supporters of other teams praise the way Arsenal, my team, played the beautiful game. It was common place to hear turns of phrase such as ‘I don’t support Arsenal but they are the best team to watch’ ‘I wish my team played the brand of football they play at Arsenal’. When Arsenal are at their best there is no better team in the Premier League.’
Having become accustomed to having such smug satisfaction in the ‘Arsenal Way’ and relishing compliments from other fans and commentators for so long, it is even more difficult to accept and to stomach the Arsenal of today. The admiring observations have dried up and the pride is reserved for past players and past teams of the Wenger reign. How protective we are of a ‘The Invincibles’ is of course, indicative of this. Yes we get it right sporadically but in recent times the occasions are few and far between if we are completely honest.
Those worried about a potential change of manager are concerned that we might lose our identity and our style. For me I yearn for a change that will allow as to regain our identity and style. For me it is not about greed and entitlement. It is not even about trophies, although they are the icing on the cake, it is about turning up on a Saturday at 3pm (HAHA) with an expectation of being entertained. A simple wish to watch my team playing exciting attacking football, endeavouring to win in style and accepting that on occasion this will backfire.
It was Arsene Wenger that gave us this style and panache so he cannot be upset that what was handed to us so wonderfully for so long, has become an expectation. Sadly for him, the fact that he raised the bar so high may be his downfall. Ultimately it may not what sees him relieved of his duties but when we have been used dining on caviar at his table, eating frogspawn is just not the same.
I want my old caviar back!