If you’d like to read some excellent football writing on Arsene Wenger right now, then please, step right this way towards Tim Stillman of Arseblog, who on a weekly basis perfectly captures the zeitgeist of all Arsenal fans.
But I’m not really here for excellent football writing, even though anyone within a two metre radius recently will tell you that I HAVE A LOT OF OPINIONS ABOUT WHAT’S GOING WRONG AT ARSENAL RIGHT NOW. No, I’ll leave that to the experts, capturing their zeitgeists the way they do.
Because recently I was shown a picture (by the all round excellent Twitter account that is What Up Detroit) of probably the most contentious and maybe also the most openly derided manager in world football at the moment, caught in a flash of such a deeply succulent personal crisis that you’d almost want to shut the blinds the second you looked at it.
Imagine being filmed in unrelenting focus for 90+ minutes as you publicly broke up with your partner and then that being broadcast around the world twice weekly, every weekly, till it made you mewl weakly as your stomach turns from it’s gentle yet ceaseless weekly circular motion. Weekly. That is Arsene Wenger in this moment. That is his face, in High Definition, brought to you LIVE on SKY SPORTS any given SUPER SUNDAY.
But once I’d got past a few things…
Past my current foaming hatred, past this shambles of a transfer window, past getting willingly flogged every time we play anyone in the top six, past the Sisyphusian similarity to our downfall’s season by season, past the tactical ineptitude, past the net spend trophies, past playing with the handbrake on, past telling people that players coming back from injury are like a new signing (LANS), past Squillaci, Santos, Senderos, Silvestre and all the other shit defenders that all have surnames beginning with S for some reason…
Past Sp*rs and Liverpool, who have taken the blueprint that Arsene Wenger himself made in the Premier League; i.e. fast, attacking football built around youth, but who have developed it for 2017 rather than 2004, past the horrifying feeling of untouchable ennui that is loitering around round a club I still love, a club that used to win things with a few alcoholics, a steel toed defence and an unfeasibly large novelty sized bottle of Jack Daniel’s worth of banter, past just generally feeling embarrassed most of the time…
Once I’d got past all of those things, I realised that this face, Arsene Wenger’s face, succumbing to a almost religious moment of inner turmoil during a particularly Wengerish, not Arsenalish, but Wengerish, 4-3 victory over Leicester City, this face wasn’t one I hated, because this face was me. It was my pride, my bravado, my strut, my blag, it was all of those things but without the their much needed skin. It was all of those things but inverted, like those claret, sinewy diagrams of human muscle, only showing the terrifyingly pathetic biological function, without the desperately thin veil of humanity. Allow me to demonstrate.
*waking up on the first Saturday after pay day*
“Gosh, last night was fun! I hope Matt got home OK!”
*checks bank balance*
*ordering two pints*
“That’ll be 11.50 please mate”
“Unexpected item in bagging area”
*after a decade of living in a brutally unequal society characterised by a fatal combination of neo-liberal values and jingoism that’s consistently punctuated by socio-political tragedies*
“I voted Conservative”
Me: I sure was drunk last night, I hope I didn’t text all of my ex’s to candidly share the intimate details of just how badly my life has gone since we split up!
All of my ex’s: We need to talk
When you know you’re dangerously close to the edges of your overdraft but you’ve just ordered a vital hangover McDonald’s and are now waiting to see if your card declines or not:
When you hear MJ Cole – Sincere in the club:
“I’m sorry sir your card has declined”
Thinking of all the happiness and joy I’ve circumvented by dogmatically reaching for the nearest and most easily obtainable form of gratification:
“See most people just think Rick & Morty is just a funny program, but it’s actually way deeper than that. For example it has an incredibly existentialist undercurrent running through it, like did you notice in episode three of season two when…”
You have a new voicemail:
An infinite landscape of relatable combinations is on your horizon, the horizon that looks like Arsene Wenger’s face.
For me, this face, this fragile, vulnerable face, with misery and disappointment visibly grooved into it, looking like it’s braced for yet another bombastic failure, another crushing letdown of it’s own making, this face is me, it’s you and it’s everyone you know.
It’s those times when you know you’re doing something stupid but you just do it anyway and then the obviously bad consequences inevitably come home to shit on your new shoes. It’s those times when you could have prepared to make your future life better, prepared in a simple, non exhausting way, like maybe by leaving 10 minutes earlier or by checking online before you visited somewhere to see if it was open or not, but you didn’t because you just couldn’t be arsed to make that simple, non exhausting effort, and now you’ve totally fucked your day up as a result. It’s losing, and knowing the reason you lost is because you haven’t learnt from your past mistakes, and knowing that you probably never will learn, and that you will keep losing, perhaps forever.
This face is all of humanity and it’s never ending attempts at just fucking trying to get by, but not being able to because it’s own humanity has some stupid inbuilt habits, some stupid fucking human nature, that keeps dragging it backwards, then a tiny bit forwards, but mostly backwards, back back backwards ooh little bit forwards oh and now you’re dead.
And your dying face? Let me get that for you: