After the match against Brighton on Sunday, something amazing happened – I found my passion for Arsenal again.
Not long after Arsenal’s latest embarrassment came to a close, I grabbed my coat and walked round to my girlfriend’s house. An hour or so after arriving, for whatever reason, I started talking about Arsenal, even though I know she’s not that bothered about it all.
I found myself explaining to her why things were so bad at the club, the sort of impact it has on running an Arsenal-related website and why I’m so miserable about it all these days.
When we first met, she really didn’t have much interest in football. Just a little over two years later she still doesn’t and that’s probably got a lot to do with me going on about Arsenal. Listening to that sort of sh*t constantly would put anyone off.
You see, she’s never known me in a world where Arsenal weren’t sh*t. This is all she’s ever experienced.
I started explaining how this summer could be the biggest any of us had ever experienced. She asked ‘why’? and that’s when something miraculous happened.
I got excited about Arsenal again.
I couldn’t stop it.
I spoke about what would happen when he left, how we wouldn’t know what was coming next, what players would go, what new ones would arrive.
Would the new manager be one we approve of or one that would split the now-united fanbase once again? What would the new manager be like? What are his tactics, his mannerisms, his ticks and tells? What sort of player does he prefer? What is his management style? What backroom staff is he bringing with him? What new regimes will he instil?
The list of questions is almost as endless as the possibilities this summer could bring.
As I spoke and thought of all the things that are set to change at Arsenal, I found myself shifting in my seat, lifting myself higher as I felt the energy infuse my soliloquy. It happens all the time when I’m talking about something I’m passionate about but this is the first time I think I ever noticed myself rising and knew what was happening.
My girlfriend noticed it too as I saw her posture shift in response.
She’s seen me get animated and excited over topics before, it happens all the time. But this was new. This was something she hasn’t seen in the time we’ve known each other.
This was excitement over Arsenal, passion flowing back that had been gone for so long. The promise of something new, something different, something unknown.
It felt like I was glimpsing something lost shimmering not too far down the road ahead.
As I walked home I thought about it again and realised everything I was so excited about, every single bit of it, was all dependent on one thing – Arsene Wenger leaving.
I remember a time when I never wanted that man to ever leave Arsenal.
In my eyes he had a job for as long as he wanted because he’d earned it. Many of us felt the same, but if we’re honest, we didn’t really mean it in the purest sense.
Of course we believed Arsene could stay at Arsenal for life because we believed he would continue to deliver the same sort of success that we saw in his first decade at the club.
We were but a crazy German away from being Champions of Europe as his crowning glory.
Little did we know it was to be our last big hurrah before the stadium crushed the dreams it was supposed to enable.