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Thank you Arsene Wenger
Recently my young nephew Jon-Paul told me,” Uncle. Patience is a virtue”
Perhaps my nephew as young as he is knows me better than most, because that is something I do not have when it comes to situations, which I believe can be corrected quickly in the interest of the majority.
On Friday morning when the news broke that Arsene Wenger was resigning as Arsenal Football Club manager at the end of this season I must admit that his decision caught me off guard. And yes I know since 2015, I have been calling on him to step away and give someone else a chance, all the while Wenger managed to win the FA Cup three times in the last four years.
Now that reality has struck I'm both happy and sad and if I sound like a playwright here please forgive me.
There is no doubt that the 22 years of his leadership have been the best Arsenal years, not merely in terms of achievement (3 Premier League titles, 7 FA Cups, 7 Charity Shields and a Champions Cup final lost 1-2 to Barcelona with 10 men). Naturally among his greatest moments will be the 2003/2004 “Invincibles “.
And for that I truly thank Arsene Wenger because during and after that period Arsenal played the most attractive and eye catching football anyone could appreciate. The movement off and on the ball was exemplary and the touches and goals both memorable and classical. When you said – Arsenal, it always meant style, and while others will deny it.
We all know that there were many occasions when as Arsenal true followers, it was almost as if they wanted to pass the ball into the net for a goal. For me, my history with Arsenal dates back to the late 1980’s early 90’s when as a student in London, through a very good friend Everard Mahadeo we would gather to watch BBC football special after a Saturday night KFC run (our highlight in Hyelm), Peter Gittens, and John “ Hero “ Sampson were the remainder of this dynamic quartet. It was the best of times watching and enjoying sports.
I remember the joy when Arsenal needed to defeat Liverpool to win the title and with the last kick Michael Thomas gave Arsenal the title in 1989 with Tony Adams leading from the front. Wenger joined Arsenal in October 1996. And while the Champions League defeat to Barcelona is still hard to swallow after all those years for one reason or another, Barcelona has been the stumbling block to Arsenal success.
Who can forget the 2-2 draw at Home with Cesc Fabregas playing on one leg or for me that marvellous come from behind 2-1 win with Andrey Arshavin brilliant winner in 2011 after Robin Van Persie had equalised.
But years before that, it was just a cauldron of greats in Red for Arsenal in the early 2000’s that led to the Invincibles - Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell, Fredrik Ljungberg, Ashley Cole and Jens Lehmann.
Perhaps, I should remind everyone that Wenger gave professional debuts to 16 top African players, none more so than Liberia ‘s George Weah, who never played for Arsenal, but played with Wenger at Monaco. He said on FIFA website, "Everytime I go on the pitch playing for Arsene Wenger I wanted him to know the ways I could pay him back. I could break my knee, my face, my hand for him – just to win a game.”
Weah went on to become the only player to win the African, European and World Footballer of the year titles in one season – 1995.
“He took care of me like his son, I could not believe it. When racism was at its peak, this was a man that showed me love.”
So while we can remember these times within the last four years and specifically the last two years, the Arsenal team has clearly lost its stride, not only in performance, but also in style and certainly in the quality of players on display.
So as he waves good bye to many of his fans and supporters, let us all hope for a new beginning with Arsenal, starting with a clearing out of the following; Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Grant Xhaka. These are not the players needed at this time.
So on behalf of - Ian Lee Sing , Jason Williams (JW), Richard Smith, Imran Daniel, Mark Anthony Scott, Asha De Freitas, Ishamali McKay, Khalea Roberston, Everard Mahadeo, Roger Moffat and many others we look forward to the dawn of something new but we say – Thank you Arsene Wenger.
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