Arsene Wenger frustrates and delights in equal measure.
He is by no means perfect, and especially this summer he has tested my and many fellow Gooners’ patience to the extreme. Things never seem to be straightforward with Arsene. When he was given a big budget this summer, as well as a promise that none of the top players would be sold, and a clear commitment by Gazidis to bring ‘super quality’ to the club, Arsene appeared to dither and not make best use of this vastly improved strategic position.
He somehow managed to turn things round in the last few days of the TW, with first signing the Flame and then, when we thought we could hear the fat lady sing her final lamentation – by sheer magic and at the very last minute – he brought us the European King of Assists.
I am more than satisfied with the final outcome but the way things were done over the summer have left me questioning Wenger and the club’s management ‘business skills’ for the first time.
It is always good to question ourselves whether we could improve things for Arsenal with another manager, but when we do so, we must look at what we could gain as well as lose by replacing him.
A few years ago, whilst reading Alain de Botton’s ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ – an easy digestible book about how philosophy can help improve your daily life – I became intrigued by a particular topic. In the chapter called ‘(Consolations for) A Broken Heart’, de Botton explains how we can deal with being unhappy in a long term relationship with our partner. He advises us to go back to the reason why we decided to enter a long term relationship with our current partner in the first place. De Botton believes we enter long-term relationships with our partners because we believe he/she can improve us; and this improvement takes place in our offspring: our kids are to become better versions of ourselves.
For most of us, this is a subconscious, intuitive process, but we appear to pick our partners with the aim of eventually producing children who are a physical and intellectual improvement of ourselves – an upgrade, if you like. Of course, there are no guarantees this will indeed be the case; which reminds me about the famous little anecdote of Marilyn Monroe suggesting to Albert Einstein to imagine what a baby produced between the two of them could be like – with her looks and his brains; to which Einstein responded: ‘but what if it is the other way round?’.
De Botton believes by going back to why we got together with our partners, and by realising that our offspring is indeed an improvement of ourselves, we should be able to accept that we are sometimes bored, or even a bit unhappy, in our long-term relationships: but it is still a price worth paying.
I feel that the club relationship (and therefore our relationship) with Arsene Wenger should be seen in a similar light.
As a club we have gained tremendously from our long-term relationship with Arsene Wenger. Our ‘offspring’ is a number of titles and cups, a very attractive brand of football, a new stadium, but most importantly a totally embedded change of culture and a more or less permanent seat at the zenith of European football, although this is not reflected in our recent trophy cabinet.
We have come through a tough post-new-stadium phase, but it looks like we are finally getting back on track towards silverware. We might not win anything this year but at least we will feel we have a proper chance again, and that is all we can ask for.
It looks like our relationship with Arsene is entering a new lease of life and a further improvement of ourselves is a strong possibility once again.
But the next seven games are likely to be a proper test of the quality of our relationship going forward. Let’s hope we’ll come through it stronger and more joined up than ever before.
Written by: TotalArsenal.