Since I last wrote, it’s all gone a bit apocalyptic.
Arsenal have crashed out of the Champions League in humiliating fashion and slid down the Premier League table so that qualification is an outside shot at best.
So it falls to the FA Cup, so often denigrated in word by fans and in deed by managers with eyes on bigger prizes, to salvage the season.
However, given the uncertainty regarding the manager’s future its significance is potentially greater then the recent status of satisfying commiseration.
Quite apart from the fact that a tournament victory would partially fulfil the desire most Gooners have for Arsene to leave with his head held high, it would take on a genuinely historic quality.
If it is, as many suspect and significant numbers hope, time for Le Boss to take his imperfect genius to pastures new, it almost certainly will be without the first historic Champion’s League for Arsenal or a league title in a third separate decade.
The FA Cup, however, gives him an opportunity to write himself into the record books with almost indelible ink. Should it arrive on the red side of North London again this year, it would again return the club to the outright lead in FA Cup Final wins.
More significantly, though it would take Wenger to the outright ownership of the record he already shares., that of most FA Cup wins as a manager. It would also draw him level with the individual with the most FA Cup winners medals, former protégée Ashley Cole.
Given that Wenger’s only FA Cup rival, George Ramsey, has been dead for 82 years and won his trophies between 1887 and 1920, his record is already a standalone in the current format. But for a man so steeped in football history, the idea of being able to marry his record unbeaten season with becoming the most successful manager in the world’s oldest continuous competition must be very alluring.
As has been said elsewhere, this is a man disinterested in monuments (and surely the Emirates is already his statue). But he is a man who loves the thought of setting a new standard. It is clear to see that the Invincible season still gives him immense pride and pleasure, and to set another benchmark incredibly unlikely to ever be surpassed would be a very appropriate way to bow out, even if it doesn’t quite match the dream.
Of course, not every scenario that could play out is a positive one. Should we, say, lose the Final to Spurs or in the usual manner to Chelsea, the eras end could be defined in the same games but in a much darker light.
As such, much as Wenger is invariably unwilling to think about legacies, he and his charges should invest some thought in the era defining potential that the rest of this season’s competition has.Click here for reuse options!
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