By Massimo Usai
Arsenal has been for twenty-five years, a team to be taken as an example in the international football world.
Arsenal has been for so many years a mix of class, innovation, beautiful play and style.
With all these ingredients, if you were a young footballer of good hopes in Europe, you had Arsenal among your first choice to take your chance to become a World Star.
After our manager was investigated for fraud, we came to Wenger.
He had to work with players arrested for violent conduct, drugs, and alcohol.
Also, our ranking in the table went every year up and down, like a yo-yo. We were inconsistent in the previous years, and the way we were playing the games was not exhilarating.
In reality, we were really dull.
Wenger was a man with a vast culture and not only from the football side. He was the right man for the right team and Project.
Arsene Wenger has revolutionized Arsenal and made Arsenal no longer just the neighbourhood team, but a new world powerhouse.
Millions of new fans started to fall in love with these colours, our way to play football and our philosophy worldwide.
Immediately the attention for Arsenal became global and not only new waves of fans arrived from around the world, but the best young footballers in the world began to arrive.
Wenger’s research base and logical attraction to the Project made every player with a velvety foot an “Arsenal’s target”.
If a football player was contacted by Arsenal, they could hardly say no.
Only the advent of petrodollars by Chelsea and Man City and later PSG slowed down this process.
Still, until Wenger was present at Arsenal, it was relatively easy to get excellent players.
All this led our team to always be in the Top 4 in England, ever-present in the Champions League, almost going so far in the competition, and nearly winning it twice.
Without mentioning the incredible nights we had in Europe and the fantastic games, we witnessed in the Premier League.
Our brain is full of unforgettable memories from that time.
Think that at the same time, we decided to create one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world and in 2006 it certainly was.
Everything was done independently, with our money.
Respecting Arsenal’s philosophy that had been lost for decades, since Chapman’s time.
No doubt Wenger was the first to take up those concepts, made them his own, adapted them to our times, and created a modern Arsenal.
The stadium’s construction forced difficult economic choices, and every year it was essential to have a profit of around £50 million.
It was an obligation taken with the banks to build the stadium.
With the advent of the super-rich Arabs, we found ourselves in a difficult situation. Once a player became a world star, kept him in the team was so tricky.
Let me give just one example: Samir Nasri.
He exploded at Arsenal, and his name was one of the most in-demand on the world market for his role.
Taking £35,000 a week, at the time of the discussion of the new contract, Arsenal offered £90,000 a week to Nasri.
Man City came forward and offered £25million to Arsenal and a five-year contract for £210k a week for him.
It’s impossible to fight against these forces, so, for ten years, Arsenal had to sell their jewels and reform them year after year.
The wonderful thing is that Wenger managed to create a jewel year after year, often even two or three great players for the year.
Seven years ago, the stadium’s debt had fallen to different terms.
Finally, we could start spending the money that the new stadium and the sponsors always attracted by the brand and project Arsenal, kept coming.
In Wenger's later years came football players such as Podolski, Mertesacker, Ozil, Sanchez, Aubamayang, Lacazette and others, already established as world-class players.
In the meantime, he continued his research to discover, with little money, players such as Giroud, for example.
Just when it seemed that the “Project” could finally be realized, to take home the much-dreamed Champions League, the complication of modern times connected with social media change the course of the things.
A fringe of fans, well organized on Twitter and Facebook, began to build a protest based on false historical memory.
It seemed that Arsenal had been a kind of Real Madrid in the past.
“We want our Arsenal back” was the motto, and still a lot of people didn’t understand what “pass” they were crying about it.
From there, in a short time, the environment had changed entirely.
Hordes of fans often with too much beer in their bodies and with a short memory, rode a fictitious and unfeasible and unrealistic dream.
Protests with Fan TV’s inviting creepy characters to speak badly of anyone connected with Arsenal, banners attached to planes passing on the sky during matches creating a toxic atmosphere in so many games that influence the games so profoundly in a wrong way.
Without a shadow of a doubt, these protests caused at least two or three missed chances to win a title. Despite everything, we were close. Especially in the year, Leicester City won the title, that second place in the standings still screams revenge.
A toxic environment plus a series of injuries at the wrong time, they had cut off our legs at the crucial moment when the title looked around the corner.
But despite that, the game was enjoyable, going to the stadium a joy and seeing individual plays offset the cost of the ticket.
Once Wenger left Arsenal, everything changed in a second.
Emery’s arrival was crucial.
100% he was the wrong choice, a man who was afraid of the team’s stars.
Someone very far from the “beautiful game” we used to see every week.
Wenger gave him an almost perfect team. He had to make only two or three adjustments. Instead, he destroyed the midfielder of the team.
Cazorla left without anyone offering him a renewal, so did Flamini and Wilshere.
Whilst Ramsey and Ozil were placed on the sidelines.
On the rare occasions they played, the team transformed and we saw excellent games, lots of goals, pure fun.
That was “Arsenal”, not the one Emery tried to build.
But seeing players doing a fantastic job, disturbed the Spaniard, who suffered from protagonism and so, at the end of his first season, Ramsey was let go for free.
That was the moment Arsenal changed forever.
Having given up on Ramsey was an emblematic moment like the arrival of Wenger 23 years before.
It was invented the story that Juventus offered 400 thousand pounds a week to the Welshman.
Instead, it was fake news, but Arsenal fans support this version like all the fake news without making a double-check.
Ramsey actually takes less money than he took from Arsenal.
Since then, many lies and false news have circulated thanks to the new management in the director’s box.
Not only that, a campaign of control of some bloggers and big names on social networks started.
In exchange for clear favours that would allow these operators to work talking about football instead of doing another job, they support any stories coming out from Arsenal board.
The Ozil affair is emblematic.
Arsenal’s last world-class player has literally been cut off from the club for a political/economic issue.
Last year, Ozil sided with the Uighurs people, creating China’s exaggerated reaction, stopping broadcasting the Man City vs Arsenal game the following weekend in protest against Ozil.
In the following months, China continued its protest and threatened to ban the entire Premier League’s transmission in China if no serious action was taken against the German star.
Arteta had no doubt that he was the beacon of the team. So he always fielded him in the starting eleven.
At the same time, Ozil had resumed his role as a team leader.
He repaid with performances that delighted his teammates, the coach and the fans.
Then came the stop for the pandemic and war broke out between Ozil and Arsenal.
The player has previously refused to reduce his salary because he first wanted to see what the leadership wanted to do with the money.
He preferred to give it personally to charity and certainly not have it managed by an ultra billionaire who, by the way, has financially supported Trump over the past four years.
So, despite not being the only Arsenal player refused the salary reduction, the management circulated its name between the press and friends blogs, to put Ozil in a bad light.
But Mesut is incredibly smarter and smarter than these people.
At first, with class and elegance, he provided free food to schools in Islington during the pandemic.
After that, he offered financial support to pay the salary to the team’s mascot shamefully dismissed by the directors to save a few thousands of pounds.
As a backlash to his actions, Ozil has been ruled out of the line-up this season and sidelined.
Arteta justified it “for football reasons”, but of course no one believes it.
Given that Arsenal lacks a player who creates, and has every player inferior to Ozil without any doubt about it.
Mesut Ozil has never commented, it’s no use.
You only have to look at the facts as they happened and what happened. It’s all in everyone’s eyes.
If one doesn’t see how things stand, it’s his problem, certainly not Ozil’s problem.
The fact is that he now goes to play for love in Istanbul, in the city he loves, in the team of his heart and goes to do it with his head held high, like a real rock star.
I am happy for him, and I have a broken heart in not seeing his plays, touch the ball like just his know how and the poetry of his game.
Wenger has educated us and enjoyed the art of football, and now our last poet is leaving.
It really closes an era for Arsenal and sees that when we’re getting up for players like the current ones, it says a lot about how we went down as quality.
The position in the standings is a mathematical confirmation of the lack of quality in the team.
One day things will change again, our cycle has lasted 25 years, and today we start from scratch with men and programs very far from my idea of football as art and as joy for the heart and soul.
Comparing it to music, everyone plays a song, but some are Radiohead and others only Metallica. Like many “pop bands”, they sell millions of records, but never will they be as artistically sound like Thom Yorke’s group.
They are in the same field, but how to judge it every single piece of art, it’s a different manner.