Arsene Wenger: 21 reasons to love or hate him after 21 years at Arsenal
This article was first published in May 2017.
Arsenal fans have had a love-hate relationship with Arsene Wenger in recent seasons. So, as he has revealed he will be leaving the club this summer after 21 years, here are 21 reasons to love, or hate, Le Professeur. Warning: Some things below cannot be unseen (in a good and bad way).
That zip. It's hard not to feel empathetic towards a man who's been trying to put his coat on for over 20 years and still somehow manages to find himself coming up short on a worryingly regular basis.
Puma's 'state-of-the-art' zip for Wenger making absolutely no difference pic.twitter.com/j9Yvl5WEbT— Tom Embury-Dennis (@TomEmburyD) November 29, 2015
Puma even attempted to produce a special "easy zip" version of their elongated jacket to aid Wenger in his plight -- alas, to no avail.
One of Wenger's more irritating traits is his staunch refusal to bear witness to anything even approaching controversial on a football pitch.
As well as fouls, offside calls, dissent and violent conduct, the Frenchman's myopia also oddly extends to British leisure facilities, as revealed in this quote from 2008.
"I didn't know the English were good at swimming. I have been in this country for 12 years and I haven't seen a swimming pool."
Wenger is the man responsible for inspiring one of the oddest tattoo tributes we've ever laid our eyes upon.
It's the dog that gets me 😂 pic.twitter.com/PNS8Q2yD96— Football FanCast (@FootballFanCast) July 9, 2015
Almost as infuriating as the selective blindness are the endless excuses, with Wenger often stretching rationale to its very limits in a bid to absolve his players from criticism.
After all, we're talking about a man who once attempted to blame a run of tepid performances on there being too many stadium announcements being made at the Emirates during matches, thus "distracting" his players.
Come on. You'll have to do better than that, Arsene.
Wenger has endured several high-profile feuds with his direct rivals over the course of his Arsenal tenure, provoking, sparring and squabbling with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and age-old nemesis Jose Mourinho.
Indeed, the bad blood between Wenger and Fergie contributed directly to one of the most ill-behaved, tense and perversely enjoyable Premier League matches in recent(ish) memory -- the infamous Battle of Old Trafford in 2003.
Two formidable teams reduced to kicking the daylights out of each other. What's not to enjoy? Ruud van Nistlerooy has nightmares about Martin Keown to this day.
The "Out" campaign. What began as a mild irritation at not challenging for the Premier League title year after year has now become a fully fledged, largely embarrassing campaign to oust Wenger from his throne.
Another plane banner protesting Arsene Wenger has flown over the bet365 Stadium.— Standard Sport (@standardsport) May 13, 2017
It reads: "Wenger - Out Means Out." pic.twitter.com/ZbJLDXig4o
The "Wenger Out" movement has a lot to answer for, but it also served to spawn one of the most powerful and iconic protest anthems of our time.
Yet another offshoot of the Wenger Out movement is the rise to prominence of Arsenal Fan TV -- basically a platform for loud fans to spout loud, often incoherent, but always loud opinions about their team, loudly.
ArsenalFanTV with all the useless words removed 😂 pic.twitter.com/0KBZbLu8kU— jee-oh (@Akpommed) March 5, 2017
Alas, the Youtube channel and its breakout stars -- Robbie, Claude, Moh, Troopz, Ty and the gang -- have apparently been a huge hit with the general public.
Another victory for incomprehensible emotional diarrhoea.
Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams, David Seaman, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, etc.
When Arsenal were good under Wenger, they were absolutely superb.
Wenger has shown a malicious streak, having dedicated his entire working life to the flagrant and repeated abuse of water bottles.
It's as needlessly cruel as it is inexcusable.
You may be surprised to learn that Wenger was a bit of a rake in his younger years, with flaxen hair to die for.
In fact, his sun-bleached tousles definitely had an air of "Point Break"-era Patrick Swayze about them.
Much to the chagrin of Arsenal fans, Wenger is keen to remind all about the long list of star players he's come close to signing over the years.
The fabled list famously features the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Yaya Toure, Luis Suarez and Didier Drogba, with Kylian Mbappe and N'Golo Kante both new additions to the squad.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fans have had to put up with actual signings like Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young and Amaury Bischoff.
Out in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, Wenger proved that his old playing chops haven't deserted him during a sprightly game of beach futvolei with one Christian Karembeu.
The Arsenal manager even executed an acrobatic diving header, which was fairly impressive for a man of his years.
But there can be no escaping the fact that without Wenger, we'd never have had to bear witness to whatever this mildly eerie, silent abomination of a fan protest is/was outside London Colney.
A little scene from colney this morning pic.twitter.com/hUfuj00TaV— Pete Mountford (@PMbythesea) April 4, 2017
Chilling, and not in a good way.
Ever the urbane monsieur, Wenger has even modelled for the L'Equipe Sport & Style supplement in the recent past, using a variety of suave poses to show off a range of signature looks.
Arsène Wenger has recently modelled for L'Equipe Sport & Style Magazine. pic.twitter.com/P56xplzcAB— Arsenal Relevant (@ArsenalRelevant) November 6, 2015
Never has a man looked more at home gazing wistfully out to sea.
For being the stuff of nightmares. But only in cake form, of course.
His efforts at Old Trafford were quite simply iconic.
Wenger once bet an Italian journalist an entire chocolate bar that Robin van Persie wouldn't leave Arsenal.
"He will stay at Arsenal," the Arsenal boss told an inquisitive reporter from La Republicca when asked if the striker would move to Juventus in 2012. "There is no reason why a top player, a big champion would want a move to Serie A. If he moves there I will buy you a Caramello."
The hubris of the man! But Van Persie left to join Manchester United just a few weeks later.
Over the years, Wenger has consistently flirted with the FA about one day taking the England job, thus providing one of the most titillating "will they, won't they?" sagas since Ross and Rachel in "Friends."
Speaking last September, the Frenchman said: "England? My priority is to do well at Arsenal. But one day if I am free, why not?"
The little tease!
During an EFL Cup tie earlier this season, an intrepid Nottingham Forest fan vaulted over the advertising hoardings at the City Ground and attempted to deliver a delicious warm steak and onion pie to Wenger.
Strangely, the kind offer was immediately rebuffed before the fan was dragged away by security, leaving the pie sitting forlornly on the wall at pitch-side.
Seriously, who passes up on free pie? Madness.
While he never made it out of the French second division as a player, Wenger has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Chris covers the funny side of the game for ESPN FC in the Toe Poke blog.