It was Arsene Wenger’s last home game in charge on Sunday against Burnley, who had been on a pretty good run of form leading up to the game, so everyone was hoping our team would actually show up from the initial whistle. It was a strange feeling outside the stadium and continued inside too – this was the end of a 22 year era, a lot of the younger supporters have only known the Wenger way! Just under half of my life has been the Wenger years! For me, he should have been allowed the final year of his contract to play out – yes results haven’t gone our way, but he has the ingredients in the current team to succeed with a few culls and additions in the Summer (Iwobi I am looking at you!)
The boys did the Gaffer proud stomping out a 5:0 victory that really should have been more – and there lies the rub I guess, a little too much tarting around without just trying to stick the ball in the net. This worked in the Invincibles era, Pires, Bergkamp and Henry to name but three all capable of threading the ball through the meanest of defences, but hasn’t seemed to work as well in recent years. We’re starting to see the glimpses of it happening again with Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang linking well (previous Dortmund experience naturally) with Lacazette also providing options – when Wilshere actually shows up and stays on his feet, he also can be lethal! With Ozil in the side, this picture is a very rosy one indeed.
It is obvious Wenger has been shown the door, and chosen to walk through it gracefully rather than being drop-kicked by a board that shows little interest in football and Arsenal. How I wish David Dein would suddenly announce himself as majority shareholder – wouldn’t that be great. It was also brilliant to see a packed Emirates and not a single boo for our greatest ever manager. It was just great to be singing ‘There’s only one Arsene Wenger’ again, perhaps if us fans as a whole had gotten behind him a bit more things might have been different. Who knows, but a toxic atmosphere is not helpful for club, manager or players.
The man showed his class as always by wishing Alex Ferguson well following his surgery, and I echo those sentiments – the man was a thorn in our sides, but you cannot deny the success, charisma and hole he left in United’s management tier. Following this an emotionally charged speech, culminating with him saying ‘I will miss you’. Yes, Mr Wenger I for one will miss you too. The next manager has a huge task ahead of him, winning round the so-called fans of the club that have been so derisory and putting their own spin on things while maintaining the Arsenal way. It is clear the Arsenal way needs a solid defence behind it, for me this includes at least one new centre-back and definitely a new keeper (Jack Butland for me would be great, quality keeper at the wrong club currently) – we also need a solid and physical centre midfield player, someone of Gilberto’s stature, or Vieira in physicality. Attacking options both in midfield and attack are not a problem area, it’s the spine of the side that is lacking and has been for a few seasons.
So, who next? Ancelotti and Enrique have been touted often, neither of which I would like to see at the club. I personally want someone with clear passion, the likes of Simeone at Ateltico Madrid for instance – someone that isn’t going to let deadwood like Iwobi (he must be a God in training or something!!) get away with it. But then, who knows, a new manager might make substandard players into Titans! Ya never know. How do I feel? That’s an odd one to answer, on the one-hand I am excited for change, but a big part of me is guarded and pessimistic about this new era we are about to embark on. Time as always, will tell.
Two more games and a very poor (by our standards at least) season comes to a close. Ah hah, but we have the awesome distraction of a World Cup to look forward to. I predict England will make the last 16 but bow out at this stage – the host nation (Russia) won’t make the last 16. The winners will be………………… Germany! :O)