It’s tough being an Arsenal fan!
In football, as in every aspect of life, every team has its heartbreaks. But the Arsenal seem to be getting a master’s degree in it. How long has it been? 9 years and counting. It’s just another number now.
What makes it even more difficult is that the days of Adams, Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and countless other heroes seem to be fast becoming a blur. When I was in school, Arsenal were rampant. Kings of their domain vying with Manchester United for supremacy in England. Hell, things became so good at one point that we went a whole season unbeaten. The Golden League! The only team to do so till date in the Premier League era. We havn’t won it since. Who would have thought?
Time and again, we have had players rise only to leave for other clubs. Be it for money or the chance of trophies. Shifting to a new world class stadium and being financially reliant on its own earnings rather than having billionaire owners made it difficult for AFC to compete at the highest levels for a long time. Yet, we were always near the top. Having some brilliant players who are now at the peak of their powers. The best midfielder and arguably the best striker in the world right now were, a few years back, playing together in an Arsenal team which went pretty close to the title.
What hurt the most was not winning the title. It was the lack of belief. Players who had been nurtured and given chances through injuries and bad form were suddenly too good for the club. A talismanic captain, worshipped by all the club. Gone, at the drop of a hat.
Today, we are at a point where we have a young team, slowly rising through the ranks, battling near the top and may(or may not) finally end the trophy jinx come May. Which brings me to the life lesson that Arsenal have taught me since I’ve been watching them. Arsene Wenger.
Derided and revered in equal measure in many circles, the man is an absolute legend to supporters who truly know what the club is all about. The man who brought class along with success to Arsenal has been a constant throughout the sea of change. His belief in players like RVP and Ramsey who were cast off by everyone has paid off brilliantly. Sure, he might not have won anything. But ask any football fan if they wouldn’t want Wenger as their coach. Courted by the mighty Real Madrid every season, the man is a class act. And he has shown that loyalty, often tough, has its merits.
People question Wenger. His desire. His will to win. They forget he is the man who taught us the Arsenal way. He made me believe that even though others might leave, we always have a choice. It is up to us whether we give up or we rise above it.
For years, we have been shadow boxing. Now we have Mesut Ozil. Trophy or not, the future looks bright. I will always watch an Arsenal game. Regardless of the many heartbreaks it brings. Because, in the end, the joy that Arsenal brings, no one else can. You don’t choose your team. It chooses you.
You choose what path to take. The rest is history.
Today, life is like Arsenal. Sure, we have our tough moments. But having been educated the Wenger way, I, for one, am not giving up.
Arsenal taught me to believe. To fight when everything in life seems to be a bottomless pit of despair. There is always something new on the horizon.
In Arsene we trust.
Victoria Concordia Crescit.