Saturday, 23 June 2007

The writing was on the wall

The writing was probably on the wall when Thierry Henry said he was an Arsenal player "for now" in a recent interview.And as the speculation about his future continued, neither he nor the club came out with a definitive statement confirming that next season Henry would be tying on his boots and pulling his socks up above his knees at the Emirates as usual.So it wasn't the biggest surprise when reports started to emerge from Spain on Friday evening that Barcelona were saying off the record that they had Henry's signature in the bag.But my heart still skipped and stopped, like Henry sidestepping an opponent, when the news first flashed up on my computer screen. Working as a sports journalist there's nothing better than a big breaking transfer story. Except when it happens to be the club you support selling their record goalscorer.And, oh, what goals they were. Who can forget his hat-tricks against Liverpool and Roma, his double at Inter, solo efforts from inside his own half against Spurs and Real Madrid, or his flick up and volley over Fabien Barthez against Man Utd? The list goes on.These are the moments when you remember just why you pay four figures for a season ticket.So where does this leave Arsenal? Well last season was probably a pretty good indication. And, in my view, the answer is not in as bad a position as some are bound to say. Even without Henry for half the season the team were more consistent than the previous year when the team struggled to come to terms with Patrick Vieira's departure.Yes, Arenal finished fourth for the second straight year, but, as well as Henry, Robin van Persie, William Gallas, Tomas Rosicky, Freddie Ljungberg, Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue all missed large chunks of the season. True, Henry is the figurehead at Arsenal, and none of those players has achieved anything like the level of greatness that the Frenchman has in English football. But the truth is, for all his breathtaking ability, his goalscoring prowess and his inspiring charisma, Henry stopped being the main man at the Emirates some time before tonight.If there is one player who is irreplaceable at Arsenal right now, it's Cesc Fabregas rather than Henry.Cesc is the heartbeat of this Arsenal side, and when he finally follows Henry back to Spain, as he surely will one day, it may be beyond even Arsene Wenger to cover the gap.I would still love to see Henry finish his career at the Emirates, but he turns 30 this summer and there's no doubt that he's spent his finest years at Arsenal.For that I feel grateful and privileged to have witnessed such grace and skill for so long. And I wish him well for the future. The likes of Armand Traore, Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou, Denilson, Diaby and of course Cesc showed in Arsenal's Carling Cup run that the club has the best young talent in the country.If Wenger invests the money earned from the sale of Henry, plus whatever was already in his transfer chest, in a couple of experienced players to help guide these youngsters and to back up the ever improving Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor, I have every confidence the team will progress again next season. Henry said he was "devastated" about David Dein leaving, but it may be that his mind was already turned towards Spain by that stage and he was just preparing the ground for his move.A rare few players align themselves with board members in football, so it’s hard to think this is the start of an exodus, even though some will say the double departure leaves the club in some kind of crisis.One of my colleagues paraphrased Oscar Wilde by saying "to lose one Arsenal legend may be regarded as a misfortune... to lose two seems like carelessness".Some will now speculate that two will become three and that Wenger will be next. But anyone with any knowledge of Wenger’s modus operandi will understand that he’ll at least see out the year on his contract, despite the rumours of job offers from around Europe.As long as Wenger is calling the shots off the pitch and Cesc is pulling the strings on it, I’ll be confident that Arsenal have a bright future with or without the undoubted brilliance of Henry.

What more can i say. I just have to respect his decision. I just kept thinking to myself, i hope these old men in the board are not willing to die with this club. The only forward thinking board member has been pushed away by their old antics. Or how can you explain the likes of 71 YEAR OLD third generation man named Peter Hill-Wood, who still uses compound names these days anyway, being a chairman of an enterprising club like arsenal in the 21st century. Never talks to the press, just thinks his so called british gentlemanliness will augur well with progressive fans. I can imagine him waking up some few weeks ago, in an expensive suit made in saville row, a thick cigar and those annoying chinas containing black liquid in his hand . He will surely be consoling himself that the club still has a future, just beacuse it has history. He should just remember the likes of sheffield wednesday. I believe this is a ll a joke for him, his main aim is to continue the tradition of passing the chairmanship to his sons.

Great Arsenal fans, let us oust these guys and reinvent our board. If we lose wenger at this critical time, we are so doomed.


Anonymous said...

This one na BBC report oh!

Yeah the TH move was a pinful one but expected. he's given his best years to arsenal anyway. But I do not think his move will affect us as much as the viera one did.

I think Wenger will stay and if we can bring in one or two great finishers (not necessarily strikers) then we are game.

Going by last seasons records Arsenal had the most ball possesion in opponents' penanlty box, so we finished fourth becuase of conversion a goal poacher will just do.

GUNNER FOR LIFE. Lets bring in Kroenke!

Freelance said...

Lovely blog! Keep up the gud work and wish u all the best


Snuffleupagus said...

I can't comment. I know nothing about football. But I have visited via Babsbeta and thought I would say hello.

olakunle said...

thanks freelance and snuffleupagus, i really hope i can meet up with you o snuufleupagus, read ur blog. Love what you are doing with those kids

olakunle said...

tunde okubote, gbe enu e soun, for my other peeps pardon my french.