Neil Blackmon waxes on what may be the end of the Arsene Era dawning.
One of the things that makes sport so compelling is that while, in the end, sporting events are contrived events whose results have little effect on the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of our lives–we often see within sport little reflections of the day-to-day life lessons as well as the over-arching lessons of…history.
Today’s Champions League playoff for the group stages victory at Udinese aside, one can’t help but sense that we are witnessing precisely such a sport-as-microcosm-of-life sequence of events right now with long-tenured, absolutely-revered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
In fact, today’s victory seemed all the more appropriate in the “sport as reflection of life” vein, because as summer hours give way autumn nightime, a resolute, determined and outplayed-for-large-swaths Arsenal side determined to not let the embers of past glories be extinguished, survived.
Alas, any objective viewer must sense that the group stages will hold only disappointment be but a brief interlude to the general decay and narrative of Emirates empire collapse occurring in North London.
What’s more–even the believers are forlorned now, sensing the decline and hoping against hope for one moment of magic, one surefire indicator that the heartstrings inside of them are right to suggest it is not yet time to turn out the lights.
The Arsenal faithful are a beatdown bunch these days, searching for positivity when the possibility of silverware always seemed well within their grasp.
It is fitting that Arsene Wenger stands among those seemingly incapable of grasping the dire nature of the situation—or, if incapable is the wrong word, at least reluctant to concede the gravity and extent of the problems. His empire is slipping away.
As one notable publication wrote, he and his most loyal fighters resemble, only half-ironically, the futile but noble captured fighters of the French resistance, seemingly oblivious or at the very least impervious to the looming and increasing-in-number swarm of interrogators at their doorstep.
Old strengths have become weaknesses, so the interrogators seem to suggest, and having now turned against the man who so many of them previously obliged with blind faith, the formerly accepted calls for “caution” and “patience”, the confident “I have a plan” reassurances– fall flat, landing somewhere due south of reassuring.
If it wasn’t the play of the red-and-white today, it was the camera captures of the manager and a particular image of sweat stained attire that seemed to suggest that playing it cool was out of the questions any longer.
There is simply faith no more in the old North London maxim, “Arsene knows.”
Why? Well, the answer as compelling as the question.
The answer again lies in the annals of history.
Examples of era-ending decline are legion and one common thread among these examples is that hindsight often guides us to fail to read the warning signs.
One indicator of era-decline that rings nearly universal in history books is the notion that overstretch is devastating to empire.
Overstretch affects an empire both economically and in the field of battle or conflict, often inflicting wounds with great overlap.