To the Martyr of Arsenal, Wenger,
So this is the end, isn't it? My deteriorating relationship with you has shaken me to my core. An internal storm has been created within; a battlefield where confusion and anger butt heads at high velocity. This feeling of uncertainty has been carried around for months with no path of escape, and with no strong grasp of understanding it.
Football has usually extracted many emotions out of me over the years, with you being the cause of that at times (both good and bad). Yet this feeling I feel now about my boyhood club, Arsenal, will forever be etched in the poorly-lit streets of my memory, indelible like a crack in a pavement. For months I have struggled to deconstruct the unrest inside of me, not knowing how to describe this feeling towards you, Wenger. For years I’ve avoided choosing sides as I didn’t agree with the over-zealous ideologies that both sides presented. I neither wanted to belong to the Wenger Out Brigade, that wished ill on to you nor did I want to belong to the blind faith of the Wenger In camp. Conflict stirred inside me, and I'm sure also for many others.
I didn’t know how to word it in conversations. Asked by friends, and fellow fans how I felt about the direction of the club and about Him in turn, led to a cat catching my tongue hostage. A lump in my throat would grow as soon as I tried to verbalise my thoughts. I’ve always been the brave optimist in my camp though. I’ve always believed that we would eventually escape the mire that we currently reside in. Three recent FA cup trophies would do that to a man. Still, we arrive at this present day. Deeper in the mire, with the weird comfort of rock-bottom nowhere close. Yet, the worse of all this is trying to ascertain where I stand with this man, Wenger.
I didn’t know how to register how I felt until I watched Black Panther. I know what you're thinking, what does this brilliant Marvel film have to do with Arsenal and Wenger? After watching that film, I felt both joy and ecstasy. Glee shrouded my veneer, as being black, I felt truly represented. I stood and clapped at the end of the movie, but under the layers of glee, I felt some sorrow.
I felt T’Challa’s sorrow and anger towards his father’s (T’Chaka) past transgressions. Choosing to kill his brother for his betrayal to his country, and then choosing not to bring his nephew back to Wakanda was a grave mistake. That nephew would grow to become Killmonger and become the antithesis to the plot, aiming to bring down the status quo of Wakanda. Upon finding out about his father's crimes as King of Wakanda, T’Challa’s proud views on his father was forcibly overthrown. All his life he had led this blissful belief that his father could do no wrong. Though, all the teachings he received, all the ideologies imparted on him came crumbling down. And this is where my sorrow lies. This is the understanding that I have regrettably found with Wenger.
I have only ever known this man as the manager of my football club, thus, all his ideologies and teachings he has passed on over the years have now been titled on its head. It has been painful to see him fold in depression with a painful result after a painful result. Still in face of harsh criticism, in the face of his own players giving up on him, in the face of the vile slander launched from the fans, in the face of the consistent mockery, in the face of all of this, he stands his slender frame ready to take the full brunt of it all.
It is an act of martyrdom that I have seen one too many times. It’s an act that I once used to marvel at its sheer resilience. A brave man he is. But now? Where my eyes used to gloss over with glee, has now closed with pity. Part of me wants it to end, though part of me wants to scream at him through cupped hands, “THIS IS NOT HOW YOU GO OUT! KEEP FIGHTING!”
We’re never promised a happy ending, so I don’t expect Wenger being afforded this scarce luxury. So I say this with the heaviest of heart, Mr. Wenger, you have been a father figure to so many fans across the years, your teachings are an indelible fixture in our minds, but it is time to take your leave. They [the fans] don't want you here anymore, and it is becoming harder to drown out those speaking ill of your legacy. Your legacy that you got up on the ladder and decorated the Emirates Stadium with, the legacy that you unfurled like a flag, has been burned to a crisp by people that used to follow you.
The pain you have induced over the years has taken its toll. You arrived here in North London in 1996 and took our breath away. You've managed to hold on to the throne for over 20 years. In that time you have built yourself a legacy that I thought could never be besmirched. Was I a fool to believe this fallacy, or were you a fool to not walk away when the time came calling?
It is evident that you love this club and I just hope respect awaits you when you part because, at the end of this all, the utmost respect is what I have and will always have for you.