Wenger’s Sacrifice For Arsenal

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
May 19th, 2014
21 Comments

The most sublime act is to set another before you.
― William Blake

Wise words from the posthumously renowned English poet and painter. Altruism, in the truest sense of the definition of the word, does not exist as there is almost always an element of self-interest in any altruistic act.

On Saturday, after a tortuous first 9 minutes where Arsenal’s FA Cup dream looked like our worst nightmare, Wenger and his boys lifted Arsenal’s first trophy in 9 years in what many hope is the foundation of a new period of dominance.

For me, it was the culmination of a difficult, but ultimately necessary, period in Arsenal’s recent history in an effort to set the club up for decades to come. It was just deserts for Arsenal and for Wenger. Ultimately they fell short in the league again but the manner in which the club has operated whilst many sold out to rich benefactors and the quality the team displayed before being decimated by injury deserved a trophy.

It meant so much

It meant so much

In the history of this great club 9 years without a trophy is but a blink – especially when compared to other barren periods – but if we are honest, the last 9 years hasn’t been about Arsenal; it has been about Wenger.

It has been Wenger who has gone 9 years without a trophy and how sweet it must feel for him to be a champion again.

I must admit that there were periods I doubted whether he could take us forward – don’t get me wrong, I have always had great affection for the man – and even his biggest fans realise he cannot go on forever and his tenure at Arsenal will come to a natural end at some point. Certain results this season maybe made quite a few people think that time was coming sooner rather than later.

Throughout all of our difficulties I have never lost sight of what Wenger has given to us and that is why I have always felt a little dirty in those weak moments when I thought that maybe his time was up if he didn’t win something soon. He has probably won a few people back around with this cup triumph who promised to judge him on our successes this season and there are those who are unmoved by the shiny new cup in our trophy cabinet.

I’ve been planning to write this post for a long time, over a year in fact, but have never quite found a satisfactory narrative to express what I want to get across but this cup win has perfectly capped off the message I want to share.

I started this post with a William Blake quote and I think it encapsulates what Wenger has done for Arsenal over the past 9 years. Arsène Wenger has sacrificed a lot for Arsenal Football Club and this FA Cup is the beginning of the rewards he richly deserves.

Cup winner again

Cup winner again

Arsène has put the club before his own wonderful reputation and wittingly sullied his good name with a significant proportion of the Arsenal fanbase in his quest for self-sufficient success and stability.

Of course he has been handsomely paid during this time and that is why I mentioned altruism not existing but that has not been the self-serving compensation of Wenger’s sacrifice and altruism for Arsenal.

Wenger could have left Arsenal every summer over the past 9 years and still earned more elsewhere. What we have paid him has been a reasonable cost to keep a manager of that calibre as he could easily have demanded – and received – £10m a season from any top club in Europe. What many have failed to realise with Arsène is his reputation outside of the fans and a few agenda-driven media fools has mostly remained intact and his “failures” at Arsenal can be dismissed by most club owners/chairmen as a lack of investment/quality/ability to challenge big money.

A Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Monaco, PSG or City would look at Arsène and think he would be successful with the resources they have compared to Arsenal and they would get attractive football to boot.

No, Wenger’s self-serving element of his altruism was not the toothsome pay cheques from Arsenal but the freedom and trust to stick to his style of play, his development plans, his ideals and his vision.

He always knew we would have some lean years, maybe not as many as we did, and maybe saw it as a challenge. To develop a winning team and build towards a sustainable future. A few times he saw his plans pegged back by the plundering of his talent but in the end he has done it.

During a period where players were forcing their way out (even Vieira and Henry were calling Wenger regularly prior to leaving begging to be let go) in pursuit of quick fix trophies elsewhere or the “pull of home” the most loyal man of them all stood in front of the club and took every arrow aimed at the club. He allowed himself to be desecrated, his name to be dragged through the mud, his reputation to be shattered into a million pieces and the people who once loved him scream abuse feet from his face every game – all this whilst turning down the advances of wealthier clubs to stay true to Arsenal and to his vision.

The sacrifice was worth it

The sacrifice was worth it

The sheen and prestige of Wenger’s stature amongst Arsenal fans can never be repaired to pre-2005 levels but I think he knows that and is okay with it. At his very best I think he probably had 99% of the fans and the very best he’ll get again is maybe 80% but I believe he believes it was a sacrifice worth making.

This club has never been in such a good position and now they have recent success to build upon and a lot of thanks needs to be given to one man.

Arsène Wenger set Arsenal FC before himself and there is no act more sublime a manager can ever do.

*** On a side note, I have been nominated for some ABW awards (podcast guest and blogger) – check them out and leave a vote for your favourite ***

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About "" - 475 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

21 Responses to “Wenger’s Sacrifice For Arsenal”

  1. Érlick Badú says:

    I agree! Nothing more.

    • InArseneWeTrust says:

      Completely agree! Wenger has been nothing but a blessing for this club we all love.

  2. JSP2303 says:

    Brilliant article.
    Well done Mr W, every true Arsenal fan thanks you for all you have done, will do and what you did on Saturday 🙂

  3. Daniel says:

    This is a very well written and balanced article, it should be, right, you’ve only been penning it for a year in your head.

    But seriously Arsene Wenger is a rare breed of loyal club managers. There are not many around and as he comes closer to retirement(he is 64 now) I wonder if he should not take the big pay-day at another club that he has so richly deserved.

    Whatever he decides to do I hope the Arsenal fans en mass will get behind him and the team again. Remember there are no yearly trophy guarantees in football.

  4. EIE says:

    Still got to go, tactically useless.

  5. bamidele says:

    I got tears rolling down reading this so so emotional

  6. AISHA CONSTANCE NGWAGA says:

    I DO AGREE WITH YOU THAT ARSENS WENGER HAS SACRIFICE A LOT FOR ARSENAL FOOTBALL.PEOPLE THEY ALWAYS CRITISIZE THE MANAGER WHEN THE TEAM IS NOT DOING WELL BUT WHEN THE TEAM IS DOING WELL THEY PRAISE THE PLAYERS,THEY FORGET THAT THE SAME MANAGER THAT THEY CRITISIZE IS THE SAME MANAGER THAT COACH TEAM.WENGER HAS DONE A LOT FOR ARSENAL THIS SEASON,HE HAS A LOT OF INJURIED PLAYERS BUT HE KEEPS GOING WE CANNOT BLAME HIM FOR THOSE INJURIS THEY DO HAPPEN WHAT ELSE CAN HE DO IF HALF OF STARTING LINE UP WERE INJURIED.I DO TRUST IN WENGER WE MUST GIVE HIM ANOTHER CHANCE TO FINISH WHAT HE HAS STARTED,I WISH HIM ALL THE BEST NEXT SEASON IF HE CAN BUY TWO STRAKERS,ONE DEFENSIVE MIDLEFLIEDER AND MUST REPLACE SAGNA THEN HE WILL BE OK WITH THE PLAYERS HE HAD

  7. Fide says:

    Well said! I do not know if it is a simple coincidence, 2 things have struck me. First, this season no key player has left at the end they have won the cup. Second, it makes two or three seasons in a row where Wenger has tried to invest heavily in the squad(almost 50,000,000 each). The results are there for all to see. Let show respect to the man

  8. Sudarsan B says:

    Very well said. 9 years is nothing for a club which is a going to exist for eternity,whereas for wenger it is very big.still he decided to stay at the club,knowing there is going to be a barren run.. I remember parlour telling in a interview,that bankers wanted wenger to sign 5 year contract before sanctioning loan for emirates stadium.
    Wenger for me is the best manager ever in the world and definition of loyalty

  9. anicoll5 says:

    Bravo Daniel and good to see not just a measured assessment of AW but a but of William Blake too.

    I sense Blake was probably a football fan;

    “The Goddess Fortune is the devil’s servant, ready to kiss any one’s ass.”

  10. Zuccaba says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  11. shottagunna says:

    The owners of this club pre and post Emirates know they have a football genius and a workaholic in charge of their investment. They are wealthy and experienced. They never blinked offering Wenger a new contract. Yet, as Daniel says, we have a 20% minority who, to be generous, are wet behind the ears trying to get Wenger fired. Follow the money my friend.

  12. Okey says:

    I believe Arsene Wenger is not just a coach but also a visionary. An ideal role model for me. An epitome of loyalty he is. I must say that I had serious doubts about afc like every true gooner would in those 9 years but always found solace whenever Wenger spoke of the clubs plans for the future in terms of self sustenance and winning trophies. Now it has come to pass and we can all see it and its marvellous in our eyes. To Mr Wenger aka Le Profeseur, I say kudos; more grease to your aging elbows..lol. We love u. Wish u could stay on forever but like you said, we will get rid of you one day but until then,bring on next season. PS: This is quite a write up. Kudos!! COYG!!

  13. Jaygor1 says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily say wenger made a sacrifice. He’s the manager. Very well paid. Obviously agreed to take the club forward , with the view to financial stability being achieved. Now that that seems to be the case with new sponsorship deals etc, I do expect the cup win to be the start of a whole new era gor arsenal. The emotion on his face after the cup final said a lot. Oh(And the club need to cop on with these ticket rises too) Arsenal Forever)

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      How is it not a sacrifice? He could have been better paid elsewhere, won loads of trophies and kept/enhanced his reputation yet stayed loyal to Arsenal and willingly took the flak for all of our collective failures.

  14. Sav from Australia says:

    Great article Daniel.

    One point I would disagree on is the 20% minority – surely the really rabit doomers are few and far between outside of blogs, twitter and selective places like the Skysports comments sections (lol they still have never posted a comment I wrote).

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I dunno mate, most of the Gooners I know in real life are doomers and the positive ones are on Twitter. When I go to games you can mostly hear dissent and discord. In the pubs before and after (even if we’ve won) you can hear people slating the manager. When we are at home the boos are cacophonous yet when we are away you don’t hear a peep of a boo and the away support our our loudest fans. I think there has been a lot of upset over the years and as each game went by in the past 5 years more supporters were “lost”. I’ve seen pro-AW people turn into WOBs and this season was the worst because we promised so much in the league.

  15. anicoll5 says:

    That is because in what passes for real life there is no Block button Daniel.

    Unfortunately

  16. LJB says:

    Van Gaal will show Wenger up big time next season. God anyone would think he had just won the CL not scraped the FA cup against Hull,helped by home draws throughout.I thought cups don’t matter or is that just when others win them? Look at Simeone for a real managerial genius,not the stubborn,tactically inept,overrated Wenger. Any other manager would have been sacked for those hammerings at the hands of Chelsea ,City ,Liverpool and Everton.Not Wenger. Arsenal remains a small club at heart with both management and supporters continuing with the “achieving against all the odds” narrative despite the side put out in the Cup Final having cost 188 mill compared to Hulls 28 mill. Well get ready for 3 more years of beatings at the hand of the big boys with the embarrassingly frail Wenger on the sidelines.

    • Diaby's last chance says:

      LJB looks to be a lost united fan. Hahaha hilarious watching you guys trying to be bullish about finishing 7th or wherever you finished. Wenger is arguably the greatest manager the league has ever seen, bar old red nose, his achievements speak for themselves. The fact that you have deluded yourself into thinking that Van Gaal can come close to having the impact Wenger has had is truly sad. Wenger came to Arsenal brought attractive football, title winning teams, new ideas on player fitness; diet and lifestyle, astute business that would allow the club to pursue it’s goal of being self sustainable. After he came everyone wanted to play like Arsenal, buy all of our players, have a stadium like ours and better our achievements. So if you think Van Gaal is gonna do that for United you’ll be sorely mistaken. The saddest thing about all this, like Daniel said, is that many Arsenal fans won’t understand the true nature of Wenger’s greatest sacrifice.

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