I became an Arsenal fan in 1999 and you are the only Arsenal manager that I have known. You stepping down is quite the shocker for someone like me, Arsène and Arsenal were synonyms for fans like us. People may talk about the trophies you won, pin you down to winning stats, however like Einstein said: “not everything that counts can be counted”, what you have given us is beyond numbers.
It’s the joy, the joy of watching a dynamic team. Once dining at a restaurant, a match was projected at ridiculously low resolution on screen. The blur rendered the score illegible, the only thing I could make out was a team playing in a dark blue jersey against some team. However just five minutes of watching the game, the passes, the movement and dynamism, I exclaimed, “they are playing like Arsenal!” and to my surprise it was Arsenal playing in their third kit. You gave Arsenal an identity, distinctive from the rest. When Arsenal were playing, they were ‘playing’, it is an exhilarating watch.
I must confess that I did not agree with everything you did, few signings, letting some players go etc. However, as the classic poster goes, ‘In Arsène we trust’, I trusted you. The trust was born of a realization of how much Arsenal mattered to you.
A few weeks back when everyone was pounding you, I wrote how much I admired your resilience. You were class, always smiling, taking all tough questions, no tantrums, patient, you defined dignity in face of adversity. I wished that I see one more season from you, I wanted you to break free of all shackles and give us fans one more season. However you have resigned, and I respect it. It feels improper, unfair, but you inspire us to stay dignified and respectful. After all, you have defined leadership for us.
As far as the wins go, we all know they will be just numbers, and in a few years they will be part of the record books. Do we really remember the great teams of 1960’s or 70’s, but we recall the names of the legends, Pele, Maradona, Why? because they stay in our memory, not as a number, but as a story. And you Arsène, are not leaving behind a mere story, you are leaving behind an Odyssey. You are a legend, and you will always fondly stay with us.
Hopefully you will stay with the game, find another team to coach, and you will have one new follower of whichever team you choose. Jerry Maguire was the ambassador of Quan for Rod Tidwell, Arsène you are the ambassador of Quan and much more for the fans.
Wish you best luck for the future, and