“You Either Die a Hero, or you Live Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain” – Harvey Dent- The Dark Knight (2008)
That excellent quote from quite simply one of the best films of all time, The Dark Knight, and it in turn ends up being ironic that public figure Harvey Dent, who starts the film as one of the rare heroes, quickly finds himself a villain.
Image of Aaron Eckhart as Two Face from the film The Dark Knight, image from Batman Wiki
Sadly Harvey Dent dies a villain- something not too dissimilar to the Premier League at the moment.
There can be no denying that Arsene Wenger is one the Premier Leagues best ever managers (after Sir Alex Ferguson of course). He was the first foreign coach to win the Premier League, and helped take Arsenal back to the top- making unknown names like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas into legends. Wenger has coached the team to the title on 3 occasions, including leading the team to Invincibility in 2003/04, manager of the month on 15 different occasions, manager of the season 3 times, and has the best win rate of all 23 of all Arsenal’s managers. In his 790 Premier League matches, the team have won 457, 193 draws and 140 losses. Their biggest wins have been 7-0 against Everton and Middlesbrough, with the team regularly being in the top 5 of the league, highlighting how dominant Arsene made the team.
Daniel Craig, or Arsene Wenger, image from the Mirror
At the peak of his powers, he could quite have easily packed it in, moved to a nice beach on the south of France and relaxed.
However Arsene is too much of a proud man, and has since seen his legacy turn into rot at the club. Though there may have been big wins, there have been humiliating defeats: the 8-2 loss against a Manchester United second string team sticks out like a sore thumb, as well as the 6-0 loss away to Chelsea. In more recent years, Arsenal have been the nearly men: not able to challenge for the league title. Though before 2017 they had consistently been able to get top 4 and Champions League football, the run was finally over this season as Wenger’s side slumped to their worse ever Premier League finish.
Image from TalkSport of a Time in Arsenal’s History they would pay to forget
There can be no denying that Arsenal’s football isn’t attractive- their goal against Norwich in which Jack Wilshere scored a few years ago was pure football porn. The way they can play their high tempo football, pass it out from the back and score so quickly from counter attacks is truly mesmerizing. However people have sussed them out: teams such as Swansea, Everton and more no longer travel to the Emirates frightened, but in the knowledge that should they keep to their homework and tactics, they can get the result. Add in the emergence and money of Chelsea and Manchester City, has made it tough for Arsenal to be the dominant side they used to be.
Wilshere’s goal from Gifrific, against Norwich
Wenger constantly blamed the Emirates Stadium being built and a lack of funds as to why his team struggled so much between 2006-2014, and it has seen the Frenchman sell some of their key starts: Viera, Henry and more were all sold with similar replacements brought in. Others such as Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure and most recently Cesc Fabregas are just some of the names that left North London and won the Premier League elsewhere. It’s a constant struggle that Gunners fans face, one which leaves them with sweats during the night: the fear their stars will be attracted to trophies elsewhere. More recently it is Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez who are looking for moves away to play for top clubs, where they won’t have a manager who loses the plot for a whole month, which inevitably drops them out of the title race. It is going to be a long summer for them as they ponder just how long their star players have left at the club.
Image from the Telegraph of just some of the great talent Wenger has let go for mere Pittance
Which takes me back to my original quote. As I said, there is no denying that Wenger is one of the Premier League’s greatest managers: he helped to break Manchester United’s dominance, led the team to 3 league titles as well as invincibility and settling into a new stadium. However he has been there too long- long enough to see his legacy turn sour, and to allow the rot to get deep within the clubs foundations. Granted, there aren’t many that could do better and who are in the right position to replace Arsenal’s greatest ever manager. But that time has to come sooner rather than later, and Gunners fans will feel that the longer he stays, the more it benefits their rivals and the less it benefits the club.