My name is Cliff Findlay and I am fondly known as Sonia from my years at Highbury (gets onya nerves). This name was given to me as I was the voice behind the ‘we’re the east stand’ chant. I have been in two books about arsenal. Heroes and villains, where I supplied Alex Fynn with the insight into arsenal home and away games and marble halls where the photographer gave me a double page spread titled ‘were the east stand Highbury’. I only mention this to give you some context into why I found myself compelled to write to you. Hopefully the above shows my ongoing love for our club.
In the last few years I have found myself becoming more and more frustrated by the quality of football I paid to see week in and week out. Often I would find myself thinking that if I had paid £45 for a theatre ticket and everyone had forgotten their lines I would be entitled to my money back. Unfortunately there is no such rule when it comes to a football game however our players often looked like they had forgotten their lines as they strolled around the pitch and provided little to no entertainment, energy or desire.
This season I lost my season ticket. To be honest I was seriously considering whether to renew or not. Arsenal ticket office gave me the answer. Calling me to tell me that they would place it on hold for me only to find ten days later that they had sold it to someone else. They then offered to find me another seat. After informing them that I had, had the same seat for approximately 20 years (yes I bought a seat at the Emirates that placed me in exactly the same viewing position I had at Highbury….sad hey) they said “sorry, nothing we can do”. That kind of made up my mind for me and to be honest is probably the only bright part of this season so far.
I have watched from afar as season after season Arsene continued to play the same game again and again whilst becoming more and more frustrated by the fact that a. It didn’t work anymore as people had sussed it out and b. Well he hasn’t one.
You see Wenger is a players coach. He looks after the players and gets them to love him. Unfortunately in today’s game you need a team coach. Someone who protects the team not the players within it.
I heard someone last season suggest that what made him great, his arrogance and stubbornness, has now killed him and made him a figure of ridicule, and in some quarters, hatred. It’s a shame as he has provided me and many with possibly some of THE most wonderful footballing moments the world will ever see. For three seasons I woke on a Saturday excited. The first to watch Dennis, the second the whole team and the third Bobby. I knew every game I would see footballing genius, we would swat away the opposition, we were like no other. Only Man Utd could even dream of being our equal. It was like heaven after watching the grinding inevitable football under Mr Graham and the hideous groundhog days of one-nil to the arsenal…a song that still makes me break out in cold sweats.
Mr Wenger built this club. He and he alone gave us the chance of being a name, a brand, a club recognised in the same breath as Barcelona and Bayern and he did it at the same time as giving us pure footballing excellence.
Then it all went wrong. I can date this back to one moment. The day David Devin was stabbed in the back by the club. Instead of telling the footballing hierarchy that if they got rid of him he would leave. He asked his friend if he would mind if he stayed. What friend would say yes? And there we have it. Suddenly the fixer has gone. Suddenly Wenger is all alone. Suddenly he rules Arsenal and although he may have been happy at first you can see what a solitary existence it is where you make all the decisions.
The club is now owned by someone who knows that football value, regardless of winning or losing, is just growing as it becomes the single global sport and is only interested in the money. Hey he’s a business man.
The fans have been spoilt and expect the same as we were given the first few years, wonderful flowing football and winning.
The lackeys that work at the club are just on it for the gravy train.
What a shame.
I for one will always be indebted to Arsene for giving me some of the most wonderful moments I have ever seen on a football pitch. But he should have left a while ago. He has lost his way and not changed as football has caught up with him and his tactics, both on and off the pitch, and he is now a man lost.
Wenger out? Of course that goes without saying. Unfortunately I don’t feel it will happen until we have seen another season of poor quality (maybe two) and the Arsenal brand has lost is shine, gloss and swagger that Mr Wenger had so brilliantly conceived so many years ago.
As I said…..what a shame.