As you all know, today - sort of - is Arsene Wenger’s 20 year anniversary at Arsenal. A lot of words have been spilled, both here and elsewhere, trying to put his 20 years in perspective, and trying to tie a neat bow around a legacy that resists such tidy summing-up. I’m not going to add too many words to that, but I do want to ask one thing of us today, as we reflect on how far Arsenal have come in the last 20 years.
Today, I ask you a simple favor: If you’re no longer enamored with Wenger, put your distaste aside for a bit. If you’re still an ardent Wenger defender, stand down for a bit. Do that for as long as it takes to read this article, because this article is not about agendas, recent events, or disputes. This article is about thanks.
Thanks for changing the game.
Thanks for making English soccer less brutish and more flowing.
Thanks for making players eat better.
Thanks for making players pass more.
Thanks for keeping faith in Tony Adams.
Thanks for converting Dennis Bergkamp from a mortal into a god.
Thanks for repeating that act with Thierry Henry.
Thanks for being able to turn mortals into gods.
Thanks for the vision that lets you turn unpolished youth into fantastic professionals.
Thanks for letting players express themselves and being able to turn that into collective success.
Thanks for creating a whole class of Invincibles.
Thanks for the vision it took to build a new stadium, and for the skill it took to maintain Arsenal’s place in the game while it was being built.
Thanks for having such a singular vision for what you want your team to be - from top to bottom, not just on the pitch.
Thanks for a Champions League qualification streak so long it’s old enough to vote in the US.
Thanks for having the faith to stick by players when they’re going through a dip in form, and for having the trust to know they’ll recover their form.
Thanks for being a decent person in a profession that generally does not reward that stance.
Thanks for not suffering fools gladly.
Thanks for everything, Arsene.