Iíve only ever known Arsenal under Wenger

By Sam Drew

But even a 14 year old is getting frustrated that the club no longer contend creditably for honours

As an Arsenal fan since I was born in 1996, Iíve only ever supported a team which Arsene Wenger has managed. This has some pros, but obviously some cons. For example, with the amount of success Wengerís had early on (like the league and cup doubles of 1997/98 and 2001/02) itís been great to bask in the success when itís come, however, the high expectations make failure even harder to take, even the little ones like simply losing a game. A lot of the time a draw isnít the result I was expecting, so thatís a down-side. Another con is that a lot of the time, I struggle to see past Wenger and to Arsenal getting a new manager Ė if we do that soon will he have a similar mind-set to the young players, or to the financial side of the club? But then I reassure myself; Wenger will most likely have a say in who replaces him when the time come, and Ivan Gazidis loves Wengerís policies just as much as the next guy, so weíre not exactly going to appoint Jose Mourinho and tell him to play hoofball and buy whoever the hell he wants.

Bergkamp: Those were the days

A pro is that as long as Iíve been an Arsenal fan the Arsenal that Iíve watched week in week out, as a proper supporter, whether at Highbury, Ashburton Grove, on TV or on a stream, has been enjoyable to watch. Each Wenger generation, from Adamsí to Vieiraís to Fabregasí, has been a joy to watch, each in its own way. We had such good team spirit back in the late 90s and early 00s, and we always got in other teamsí collective faces and battled until the end. You could tell the likes of Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon just loved playing for the Arsenal, while there were players like Bergkamp and Overmars who would really run riot at times. Then Vieiraís generation, similarly had hard fighters but also had flair players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, plus some players who overlapped generations like Bergkamp, AKA God.

And now the current generation. Everyone talks about how stunning Arsenal are in full flow, and the great thing about our style Ė when we win of course Ė is that itís such an entertaining game of football, in that both teams will probably score once or twice at least. One of the best examples of that would be the fairly recent 6-2 over Blackburn. It was a game in which Cesc Fabregas (whoís been my favourite player since I saw him dominate the midfield at Highbury against Patrick Vieira and Juventus in the Champions League) absolutely ripped Blackburn apart from start to finish. We played flowing, attacking football, and it was summed up by Theo Walcottís goal. A Blackburn attack suddenly collapsed, and the ball fell to Fabregas inside his own penalty box. Instead of swivelling and hoofing it clear as some players might do, he slipped the ball through his markerís legs to Andrey Arshavin. He raced down the wing, and in the end cut inside past, I think, Diouf and passed to Cesc who did the simplest of little lay-ons into the path of Walcott, who barely had to break stride to perfectly slot home. †

That kind of football is the only kind that Iíve witnessed from my team as a fan of Arsenal. But as I said, itís getting more frustrating when we fail to deliver, season after season. Yes, we have come close during the silverware drought, with some fantastic Champions League runs Ė this team is much more suited to that competition I feel Ė and some domestic quarter/semi finals. But for a club of this stature we should at least be consistently finishing second and consistently reaching finals. Indeed, for the amount of money this club generates, we surely have some to spare? But I guess itís not as easy as weíd all like to think.

24th February 2010 09:00:00


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