A Valentine’s Letter To Monsieur Arsene Wenger

Alatenumo
5 min readFeb 10, 2023

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Monsieur Wenger,

Happy Valentine. I should have written this letter a couple of years back, but I just now got around to putting my thoughts together. By way of introduction, my name is Ahmed Sule, and I have been supporting Arsenal since 1984.

So let me begin by apologising for my multi-year campaign and my prayers to have you removed as Arsenal’s manager, which started on 6 November 2005 when Arsenal drew 1–1 with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. After the referee blew the whistle, I called my friend Aminu and told him, “I think Arsene Wenger should be sacked as manager.” He told me I was not being reasonable as it was a year and a half after we completed an unbeaten season and a few months after our 2005 FA Cup victory over Manchester United. I persisted. From that moment on, any time Arsenal lost or drew against a weak opposition, I told anyone who cared to listen that you were not a good coach.

This trend continued until 8 April 2008 when we lost 4–2 to Liverpool in the Champions League. Then I escalated my agitation against you. After the match, I set up an email group of fellow fans and wrote a manifesto calling for your removal. Some members supported my stance, while others were against it. This was way before other fans turned against you and the emergence of Arsenal Fan TV (an online YouTube channel where fans went to vent their angst against you and the club). I then called for creating an ABW Club, i.e. Anyone But Wenger Club. I suggested that any manager would do a better job than you. I advocated for managers such as Sam Allardyce, Roy Hodgson, Rafael Benitez, and David Moyes to take over the management of Arsenal. Rather than looking at your accomplishments, I focused on your flaws. I created memes to highlight your unsuitability. Years before your resignation, I made a meme with the caption: “BREAKING NEWS !!! Arsene Wenger Resigns — Carlsberg don’t do news, but if they did, it would probably be the best news in the world.

As the opposition against you increased, I was so happy. I felt that the pressure would get to you, and you would be left with no choice but to resign. I applauded when AFTV was created, and the likes of Troopz and DT used expletive-laden words to call for your removal. When people told me to cool down, that the fault did not lie with you but with the board, I responded, “No one is greater than the club,” or “Arsene did not make Arsenal, Arsenal made Arsene.” At other times, I wrote, Arsenal ≠ Arsene or Arsenal > Arsene. When you announced in April 2018 that you would stand down as Arsenal Manager at the end of the season, I jumped for joy. At long last, my thirteen-year wish had finally come to pass. The ABW era had finally arrived.

It took a few years for buyer’s remorse to set in. When I was calling for your removal, some fans told me to be careful about what I wished. How right they were. Within five years of you leaving Arsenal, we have had three managers and won only one trophy — the 2020 FA Cup. We have not qualified for the Champions League, and during the 2020/2021 season, we failed to qualify for any European competition for the first time in 26 years.

Upon deeper reflection, you were right, and I was wrong. Whatever you did in your twenty-two years at the helm of Arsenal, you did it in the club’s interest. Mr Wenger, I am sorry for everything I said about you between 2005 and 2018. I repent for questioning your commitment to the club. I hope you will forgive me.

From the Scriptures, we learn that a prophet is never accepted in his hometown. You came to England in 1996 and introduced the gospel of total football to the UK. You not only coached the football game here, but you also changed the game. From the training methods to nutrition to the psychology you introduced, you changed the mindset of Arsenal into a winning attitude. You were and still are a visionary. When you prophesied that Arsenal would complete a season without tasting defeat, the media, the players, the fans, and your competitors all thought you had lost your marbles; however, by May 2004, you had the final laugh. Admittedly, no one is greater than the club; after all, managers and players come and go, but Arsenal remains. However, the history of Arsenal is incomplete without you. Your legacy is there for all to see. Without a doubt, you left your footprint in the sands of time. You split Arsenal’s history into “BW” and “AW”- Before Wenger and After Wenger. The fact that your name is Arsene Wenger and that you were Arsenal’s Manager who took the club to great heights is pure serendipity.

Your accomplishments speak for themselves: Three Premier League, two domestic doubles, an invincible season, the Emirates Stadium, seven FA Cups, three times Manager of the Year, and a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award winner. You introduced “The Arsenal Way” as we morphed from being “1 nil to the Arsenal” to becoming one of the foremost exponents of Total Football. Through your wisdom, you elongated the careers of Ray Parlour, Lee Dixon and Tony Adams. Through your shrewdness, you brought in the likes of Thierry Henry, Nicholas Anelka, Patrick Viera, Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars at cutthroat prices. By the time you left Arsenal, you had put the club on a sustainable footing. Your financial acumen has enabled the club to live within its means while its main competitors are drowning in debt or flouting the financial fair play rules. Furthermore, you turned Arsenal into an internationally recognisable brand.

Some may diminish your legacy by comparing you to Jose Mourinho and Per Guardiola. But the question we should ask is:

1. Would Mourinho and Guardiola have been able to replicate your success with a shoestring budget?

2. Can one imagine what Wenger would have done if he had 1 billion pounds at his disposal to get any player he wanted?

Thank you, Mr Wenger, for your twenty-two years of selfless service to our great club. Arsenal is better off having your around, and football is equally fortunate to have you in the game. I hope you continue to engage with The Arsenal. I wish you all the best in your current role as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development and all your future endeavours.

Your place in history is assured.

There Is Only One Arsenal Wenger.

In Arsene, We Trust.

Viva Arsenal.

Selah.

Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA

@Alatenumo

14 February 2023

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