So, my title is of course lifted directly from Monty Python. In case you’re not up to speed, Life Of Brian is one of the landmarks of British film, and you should check it out. But that isn’t the point. A group of dissidents are sitting around and and one of them says:
They’ve bled us dry, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, not just from us, from our fathers and from our fathers’ fathers. And what have they given us in return?
And after a heated discussion:
All right … all right … but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and public baths and public order … what have the Romans ever done for us?
I only bring it up because it all seems horribly familiar. (Note – these are not my thoughts, but stuff I’ve read across the internet in the last few days.)
He refuses to buy a centre back, he really loves Denilson, he actively hates goalkeepers, he thinks Almunia is better in goal than anyone else in the world, he’s blinkered, he’s lied to us, he’s deceptive, he deliberately sold Hleb and bought Nasri to upset us, we should have kept Anelka at all costs and we haven’t won a trophy for 5 years. He’s lost the plot. He doesn’t have a clue. He’s tight. He refuses to buy the players we need. He’s playing with us. He hates us. He’s past his best. And what has Arsene Wenger ever given us in return?! SACK HIM!!!
Which depending on your particular level of lunacy may seem like fair points or idiocy because:
- He bought in Patrick Vieira. Well, he demanded the club sign him before he signed, but it’s the same thing. If it wasn’t for Wenger, Arsenal would never of had Patrick Vieira.
- In his first full season he won the Cup and League Double. Only our second double in our history. We won the league that year by overturning a 12pt deficit.
- In his second full season we came second, missing out by 1pt.
- ’00 saw us reach the Uefa Cup final, 2001 the FA Cup final. (I was at both, a heartbreaking two years.)
- 01/02 saw us get our second League/Cup double under Wenger, the third in our history.
- 02/03 we won the FA Cup making us one of only 6 teams to win back to back FA cups.
- 03/04 we were the Invincibles. We went an entire season unbeaten. We scored in every game. Only PNE have managed this in the top flight of English football, and they played 22 games. Significantly less than our 38.
- 04/05 FA Cup winners.
- 05/06 Champions League Final
- He is our most successful manager ever
- He bought Thierry Henry to AFC
- He rejuvenated Tony Adams
- He was (as of 2008) the only Premier League manager with a team playing European football to make a profit on transfers
- He’s qualified for the Champions League for 13 consecutive seasons (a record).
- He bought us Cesc Fabregas
- The team that went 10 consecutive CL games without conceding a goal on route to the 2005/2006 Champions League Final cost less than £5m to assemble.
- He masterminded the clubs (and now England’s main) training ground at London Colney
- He masterminded the move to the Emirates.
The man even has an asteroid named after him.
Do not underestimate the challenge to a football club of funding and building a brand new stadium and making the move, without going bust. Barcelona couldn’t afford to pay their players over the Summer and Portsmouth couldn’t afford to pay the electricity bills. Neither club have had to make such a move – in that context, the fact that we have managed such a complex upheaval and not financially collapsed, or resorted to private ownership, should be treated as a major accomplishment in itself – and it is something that would have been impossible without Wenger.
All right, all right, but apart from bringing in Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry and reigniting the careers of Bergkamp and Adams etc, apart from winning 2 League and Cup doubles, apart from winning back to back FA Cups, apart from taking us to a champions league final, apart from qualifying for 13 consecutive champions leagues, apart from being our most successful manager ever, apart from taking us unbeaten through an entire season, apart from the new stadium and training facilities, apart from all that – what has Arsene Wenger ever given us?
So before you start getting all hysterical from behind your computer screen in future, just sit back, breath deeply, stick on your Invincible’s DVD and think “wow, aren’t I a lucky bastard to be following such a magnificent team!”. If after all that you’re still angrily smashing stuff and demanding Wenger’s exit, maybe you should try a club like Chelsea or Man City – I hear they’re both still accepting applications for spoilt supporters who have a false sense of entitlement.