Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal after 22 years as boss of one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Updated 21 April 2018
0

Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.


Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

Updated 20 August 2018
0

Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

  • Novak Djokovic finally lifted the Cincinnati trophy after five prior Cincinnati finals losses
  • Roger Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time

CINCINNATI: Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx, lifting the trophy in Cincinnati at last to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles.
Djokovic, who came up empty in five prior Cincinnati finals, defeated seven-time winner Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
The former world number one became the first man to win all nine of the ATP’s Masters 1000 events in the elite series’ current configuration.
Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time.
“I played five finals (here) before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger ... thank you for letting me win here once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic joked.
“This is a dream come true,” Djokovic said. “I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever, Roger.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, said his game wasn’t sharp — but he didn’t want to take anything away from Djokovic’s achievement.
“Novak is a great champion,” Federer said. “This is about him making history.”
Federer’s streak of 100 straight unbroken service games in Cincy was ended by Djokovic in the seventh game of the first set.
The 37-year-old Swiss had been aiming for a 99th career trophy, but was unable to get over the line due in part to four double-faults at the most inopportune of times, but he said his return game was also lacking.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return — it was just awful,” Federer said. “Missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don’t know what that was about.
“But I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened,” he added. “Novak totally deserved to win today. This (effort) was not good enough.
“Good week, but I’m happy it’s over and I need to rest,” added Federer, his eye on the US Open starting in New York in eight days.
Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his longtime rival as they played for the 46th time.
The Serb now leads Federer 24-22 and has won their last three encounters.
The pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semifinals more than two and a half years ago.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favorite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury which required surgery.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. it’s been a couple of tough months for me with an injury and then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati,” Djokovic said.
Federer started the match with three aces in the opening game, then added a pair of love games for a 3-2 lead.
But it began to unravel as the Swiss double-faulted to yield a break point, dropping serve as Djokovic moved ahead 4-3.
Djokovic took advantage for a 5-3 lead and closed out the set after 37 minutes.
Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but gave the break back immediately as he double faulted to give Djokovic a break point which the Serb promptly converted.
Djokovic broke again to lead 4-3, and after Federer held to close the gap to 4-5 Djokovic ended the afternoon in the next game on his first match point.