Whilst Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly the best and most loved Chelsea manager, could it be that Arsene Wenger runs a close second as every Chelsea fan’s second favourite manager? Hear me out because with a packet of crisps and a cheeky smile, I’m going to argue that Wenger should be on all our Christmas card lists.
You see, beneath all the fantasy football and tiki-taka brilliance, Wenger is slowly ruining Arsenal. From being Chelsea’s greatest on-pitch nemesis throughout the ‘90’s and early 2000’s, Arsenal have disintegrated to become a pale shadow of their former selves. Since our quarter final Champions League victory in spring 2004 (against the ‘Invincibles’ lol), we’ve beaten them across the board – Semi Finals, Cup Finals, Highbury, Emirates you name it.
For this writer, the reasons for Arsenal’s decline are glaringly obvious. Wenger inherited the team that George built and overlaid it with fantasy football and players of the ilk of Henry, Bergkamp & Viera. The combination was breath taking because it added the finest features of George Graham’s team with the best that Wenger could offer. Arsenal smashed the Premiership between 1996 and 2004. (I sat at Highbury in 1991 when John Bumstead scored to win us the game 1-0, but I didn’t see us beat Arsenal in the league again for the next decade, either home or away).
Yet as George Graham’s defence – Keown, Adams, Dixon, Winterburn, Bould – aged and withered away, Arsene Wenger didn’t have the managerial nous or talent to replace it. Neither did he have the coaching expertise to bring the best out of the players he did bring in. The result? Since 2005, Arsenal have won nothing.
The genius of Wenger, and the reason this writer would gladly buy him cheese & onion crisps (but not near a school playground), is that his team always flatters to deceive. Better still, like a gambler desperately hoping that the next spin of the wheel will bring up red, the Goon fans always believe that ‘this time it will be different’. The result is that Wenger is given the keys to the Emirates whilst slowly decimating his team. All beneath the loving and watchful eyes of his adoring fans.
You can’t make it up. Even a mammoth could spot that Arsenal needed a hard tackling midfielder and striker in the summer but instead the Goons’ boss squandered £42 million on a very talented, but unneeded tiki-taka midfielder Mesut Ozil.
Every year is the same, and 2013 has been no different. A few months ago there were murmurings and whispers of discontent amongst Arsenal fans, especially in their pre-season game against Napoli and after their Villa defeat. Yet eight victories later and fantasy football against lower quality opposition, the good times were back for the Goons – made all the more special with Barcelona-esque goals. Cue Wenger rising from the bench with a cheeky grin, and post-match interviews riddled with Gallic ‘special quality’ and ‘I believe in this team’.
So do we Arsene, so do we. In fact as soon as Match of the Day was over on the weekend that Jack Wilshere slotted home his fantasy tiki-taka goal, many Chelsea fans were rubbing their hands with glee at the imminent visit of Borussia Dortmund. The smart money was betting on Lewandowski wiping the smile of Wenger’s face, and so it came to pass – in the 81st minute to be exact, along with kicked water bottles and facial grimaces from the Goons’ bench. Priceless.
Wenger labelled his team ‘naive’ but it’s you that’s naïve Mr Wenger. Every year you seem to think that beating Wigan 5-0 in the Capital One Cup will translate into 3-0 victories at Old Trafford. If only it were that easy. Mate, wake up and smell the coffee, you need a defence. Still, as long as you slowly build up the hopes of the Islington hordes only to dash them every year on the altars of the Camp Nou, San Siro and Stamford Bridge, you’ll get my vote every time.
See you at the Emirates on Tuesday night Mr Wenger. I’ll be the one in Row 6 eating the cheese and onion crisps and sporting a cheeky smile.