Arsene Wenger today said that having not won the Champions League he has had plenty of sleepless nights. Well, he is not the only one. It’s not so much that he hasn’t won it, it’s that Arsenal haven’t.
Besides Roma i can’t think of one other genuinely big club in Europe that hasn’t. Some might mention Lyon, Chelsea, Valencia or Rangers. If so, I would just laugh. To my mind it’s just us and Roma, and this isn’t the type of exclusive group everybody wants to be a part of. Arsene Wenger was suggesting that we should have won a Champions League under his tenureship. I would hardly disagree. We hardly featured as a European force, in the Champions League that is, until that final in Paris. We owe our Frenchman that. What a night. We did, however, lose. Since then, too, there have been disappointments. So frequently do they occur in fact that we can probably save a bit of hassle and time and just say Arsenal, Champions League exit pencilled in for March. Plan the rest of the season around that instead of towards it.
I’m thankful to Wenger, i am. It’s just that when i hear him lament the lack of a Champions League win since he took over i hear a tale of customised agony. The way he says it is as though we deserved to win and he did all he could. Mon ami, it’s just not the case. Last season we lost to Barcelona at our own game. It hurt. For years in the pub we would sit and play fantasy football, imagining us playing the Real Madrid galacticos, the Brazil of 1970, etc etc. We would all pretty much conclude ‘it’s our game, this passing lark’. We were the best at it. Then we played Barcelona and that whole fantasy came tumbling down. Still, i could understand. There was a Messi between us.
Against Manchester United in the semi-final, again, i was dismayed. Still, i could understand, there was a Ronaldo between us. Against Liverpool the year before, again, i figured, there was a reason. A dodgy penalty, a Steven Gerrard and so, again, i could understand. Prior to that, against PSV, remember that? Yeah. I figured it was just due to us underestimating our opponents and no actually turning up.
Basically, i am just always reasoning and making excuses for our Champions League failure. Is there a difference between a reason and an excuse? Perhaps. Still, there is little i can do about these annual nuances that haunt us as Arsenal fans. Wenger can. That’s why when i hear him talk about his sleepless nights i don’t actually feel much sympathy. Sure he said it has more ‘to do with the people who love the club, the fans” than it does about himself, i appreciate that. But he is the one who makes it happen. I believe he is trying, i do. He is the greatest manager we ever had. I know it. I just want to stop reasoning every March about why we went out this time. A year here or there, sure, there are excuses. When there is something between us and the trophy year after year after year, however, it’s a little more difficult to be understanding.
Still, if anybody can, Wenger can.