Arséne F.C or Arsenal F.C?

Posted: August 26, 2011 by oranjesky in Exile in London
Tags: , , , , ,

 Loyalty is a concept bandied widely about in football. Its definition hard to pin down and tricky to see.  Supporters all use different versions to fit their needs, and it’s difficult to pigeon hole exactly what makes a supporter, player, or even a manager loyal. This summer at Arsenal , loyalty became an almost painful word as we watched players like Clichy and Nasri slip away to our rivals, watched as our former Captain struggled with his own internal loyalties and then  said goodbye as he headed home.

Somewhere in this painful process loyalty began to take on a proud meaning for Gooners.  We saw a devoted player with true love and passion for Arsenal become our Captain. We’ve cheered the joy of a young Carl Jenkinson fulfill a life goal to become a Gunner. Us Gooners have rallied around the determination of our Twitter champion Jack Wilshere and buoyed Emmanuel Frimpong to cult status while embracing the concept of Team Deeeeench. Loyalty has now become a fierce and strong word for Arsenal fans in recognition of this new team. Yet it still causes me to pause for a moment and wonder what has made the difference.

While reflecting on Nasri’s quotes I noticed the respect for Wenger and the echo of sentiments expressed by many of our senior and past players.  Nasri said:

I am the player I am today because of Arsene Wenger… He came to find me at Marseille and made me the player I am.

This was interesting because it came after a statement he made that Arsenal fans are not as passionate and that he left looking for more ambition. Cesc too said:

For me, he will be like a second father. I will never be able to thank him enough for all he did for me…. I know that I might have harmed Arsenal’s plans but I am sure they will fix it.

Both players expressed respect and admiration for Arsene but still chose to leave the Club behind, knowing that their departures would affect the man they claim to have profound admiration for.

I have to wonder if this is because somewhere along the way, some of our players choose to join Arsene FC and not Arsenal FC.  Our own legendary Theirry Henry may be an example of this phenomenon. Throughout numerous interviews and various quotes Henry has expressed his loyalty to Arsene, claiming:

Arsène is my spiritual father…I respect him a lot.”

And again we all know the story.  Wenger rescued him from Juventus, frustrated and running low on confidence. He paid £10 million, and it was the buy of a lifetime. Henry at once became his central striker, and was a man transformed. Article after article claiming it was Arsene who changed Titi, who gave him his chance, who made him a legend. Arsene not Arsenal, and again Gooners the world over watched as another Arsenal Captain walked away.  I’m not condemning Arsene in anyway and I’m not claiming there is anything wrong with player loyalty to a manger, but there is a world of difference in a player who is devoted to a club compared to one who is devoted to a manager.

When Robin van Persie speaks of Arsenal he talks about his love for the Club.  When talking about offers from clubs such as Chelsea and Man City, Robin said:

“It is good that four teams were really interested in me but I had to turn them down. Even if you want to leave, as a player, I don’t think it is easy because when you move to Arsenal you are led there by your heart.” 

Is Van Persie less ambitious than Nasri or even Hleb or Flamini who also left for similar reasons? Somehow I doubt that.

What is even more exciting is to watch our new players.  Players like Jack, Frimpong and Jenkinson who have a boisterous and well documented love for our Club; who – while respecting Wenger as a manger – put their love of Arsenal before their devotion to him.  While I have had it pointed out to me that all these lads are English, I don’t think that is the discerning factoring between them and players like Fabregas and Nasri. These players actually love Arsenal above all else. They believe in the Club, will take responsibility for their team and will fight to be a part of the greatness that is Arsenal. I don’t see Jack leaving Arsenal to find a supposedly “more ambitious” club, and more importantly perhaps, The Emirates is his home.

Although Arsene remains a vital and important part of Arsenal, I see things changing at our Club and in our players. Maybe what is most indicative of this change is the passing of the motto ‘In Arsene we Trust’ to the recent rallying cry of ‘Forward Arsenal’.

  1. Koochin says:

    I must disagree, Henry always talks about his love for Arsenal, as much as if not more than his love for Arsene, Keown, Dixon and Parlour, all three are true Gunners, there before his reign, and are just a glowing in their appraisals of Wenger, as I’m sure the current crop will be, when asked in the future.

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