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20th Apr 2018

Now that Wenger Out is official, Arsene will feel the full force of a love that was always waiting

Farewell you absolute legend

Nooruddean Choudry

Arsenal fans are an odd bunch.

Most of the time they bicker and brawl like drunk relatives at a wedding. Rival supporters don’t get a look in as all negative energy is reserved for catty infighting. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find another fandom that obsess over proving each other wrong and questioning ‘real fan’ status as much as petty Gooners.

And then there is the other side. Despite the poisonous urge to tear each other down at a slightest invitation, when Arsenal supporters mobilise, they really do mobilise. Their worldwide supporter base is huge, but not the largest in the world, and yet they are the most consistently vocal, especially in the social media age.

People laugh about their hijacking of every online poll going, and look forward with glee to their fan videos going viral like no other club’s can. But really these are testaments to how Arsenal’s followers manage to resonate far wider and louder than far bigger, but more passive rival legions.

Undoubtedly the biggest source of Gooner schism has been loyalty for and enmity against Arsene Wenger. The latter clan accuse of former of blind idolatry, whilst Wenger In blame Wenger Out of rampant treachery. Each faction resents the other for what they see as counter-productive behaviour that sabotages any chance of glory.

At the centre of the row is the greatest manager in the club’s history. No one can doubt Wenger’s contribution to reinventing of modern Arsenal. None can question his singular love for the club and its supporters. But only the most blinkered fans would find him totally blameless for the shit storm surrounding his persistent rule.

Part of being in love is knowing when to say goodbye, and thus preserving the memories you shared. Extending a union beyond its natural term only serves to contaminate what you once held dear and turn sweet to bitter. Of course, it is desperately hard to end something you gave your heart to, but to ignore an end is to sully the start.

All look-at-me faux YouTube outrage aside, Wenger is the biggest culprit when it comes to chipping away at his own legacy. Retiring before now would have saved everyone so much ill feeling and left no room for cryarses to prosper. More than anything, Arsene needed a friendly hand on his shoulder and some cruel advice. It was not forthcoming.

Alas, late is better than never, and Arsenal have finally confirmed the inevitable. Wenger will exit left at the season’s end, and it will be sweet release in more ways than one. If he was delaying this moment for the pain it would bring, he may be warmed by the joy it gifts him. Indeed any plans to go gently into that good night would be fanciful.

All righteous anger will magically dissipate; resentment will drop away like chains. Every bile-spewing tat-necked rager will suddenly spill out accolades and croc-teared praise. And as rich as that may seem, it’s kind of fair enough. What Arsene Wenger will get is exactly what Arsene Wenger deserves – a sea of unadulterated love washing his way.

Everyone has been waiting for this moment – Arsene In, Wenger Out, and the hokey-cokiers in between. All can finally praise him like they should. Even rival fans, who missed no opportunity to mock his recent misadventures, will find it hard to deny what we all know and can now focus on: this decent man of great deeds deserves the very warmest of farewells.

As for Arsenal fans, there can be rare truce. They can galvanise as one for the remaining weeks of Wenger’s reign and shower him with platitudes. A full stop needn’t be so much an end as a completion, and Gooners everywhere can celebrate Arsene’s achievements without prejudice. Until of course the next manager, and fresh reasons for fume.