House of Cards: The Arsene Wenger Story by Vieira Lynn
Regardless of how you feel about Wenger today, no one wanted to see him become such a pathetic version of his former self. At first, it affected me deeply to watch this once proud man transform into a bumbling old fool. One might even call it tragic, if it weren’t for the prominent role he willingly played in his own demise: his countless lies, the disrespectful manner in which he treated the fans, the myriad of tactical blunders, the seemingly endless barrage of excuses aimed at everyone and everything besides himself, the amount of times he literally boasted about failing to sign a plethora of up and coming stars, for allowing business decisions to negatively impact the selection process, for selecting oft-injured bench players and “yes men” as team captains in recent years, for not being able to make even the simplest of halftime adjustments, for his general ineptitude when it came to facing any of the top clubs, for allowing several key players to join our nearest rivals, for his cheeky Suarez bid, for not cultivating an environment where strong personalities could co-exist with the manager, for the shocking way in which he has mishandled player contracts the past two summers, for the utter selfishness he displayed regarding his own contract situation, for the way he used the press to undercut fan support for Sanchez before and following the Liverpool debacle last season, for his failures to replace either Van Persie or Vieira in a timely fashion and for the downright smarmy way he can look into a camera and continually spew the same tired cliches time and time again.
For those of you who still see Wenger as the honourable, mild-mannered and cerebral manager who roamed the Highbury sidelines in the late 90s and early 2000s, you are sadly mistaken. Don’t think for a second that this man was similarly duped, by the likes of Kroenke and Gazidis, and that he didn’t enter this triumvirate with his eyes wide open. Now maybe he didn’t actively participate in the public campaign, like Gazidis, to deceive fans into believing that the move to the Emirates would ultimately allow us to compete financially with the best of the best, but he clearly played a prominent role in the “shell game” being perpetrated by this club. In fact, his role was far more nefarious because unlike Gazidis & Kroenke, who may or may not know anything about the game itself, Wenger was the man who lured the customers to the seats knowing full well what was really going on behind the scenes. In this way, he was the real human connection between the new corporate Arsenal and it’s fans because there is no way Kroenke and/or Gazidis could have manufactured such a rouse without a well-positioned front man. Now that it’s been exposed for all to see we have witnessed a myriad of former players, rival managers, pundits, analysts and supporters making disparaging remarks about our manager that would likely never have seen the light of day during his heydays. Can you even imagine the public reaction if a manager of Jose’s stature had ever coined the phrase “specialist in failure” during our early days at the Emirates. The firestorm could have possibly ended Jose’s managing career, as former and current players, managers, well-respected journalists and the like would have earnestly come to the defence of this once respected man. Now turn the page, flash forward 6 or 7 years, what was the response to those exact words. Not only did very few truly chastise Jose, except for the usual “old school” industry types who see no place in the game for such disrespectful remarks, many would suggest that it was refreshing to see someone say the things we’re all thinking. For myself, this was a real eyeopener. It seemed to suggest that many insiders had known for quite some time that something was up within this club and that those involved weren’t going to be ignored and/or protected anymore.
The real issue at this club is respect, a word that appears to be entirely lost on those within our hierarchy. This is the starting point from which all great relationships between club and supporters form. This doesn’t mean that a team can’t make mistakes along the way, that’s just human nature, it’s about how they choose to deal with these situations that will determine if this relationship flourishes or devolves. In the case of our club, the powers that be sees us as a necessary evil. If they could figure out a way to take our money without ever having to deal with us they would, instead they simply gauge our concerns then manufacture an aggressive PR campaign addressing said concerns so as to sell season tickets. This is why this team doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt, this is why they don’t get a pass when they screw up and this is why they don’t deserve our respect when it comes time to show them the door. In the meantime, how does one deal with such an untenable situation. Do you simply shut-up and hope for the best, do you place the best interests of those with only self-serving agendas above the collective and pray that karma eventually catches up with them, do you run away with your tail between your legs and only return when things have ultimately changed, do you keep trying to find silver linings to justify your very existence, do you lower your expectations by convincing yourself it could be worse OR do you stand up for what you believe in by holding people accountable for their actions, especially when every fiber of your being tells you that something is rotten in the state of Denmark…
Your thoughts fellow Gunners?