30 May 2014

OFFICIAL: Arsène has signed 3-year deal

In the wake of a season that alternated between exhilirating possibility and frustrating disappointment, terrifying lows, dizzying highs, and creamy middles, there was one near-constant, as much a fixture of an Arsenal season as, well, actual fixtures: Arsène out. After the loss to Aston Villa, of course, it reached a, uh, fever pitch only to ebb after the signing of Mesut Özil and a run of form that saw us riding as high as can be until January and February when injuries and a cluttered schedule took their toll. However, we managed to claw our way back to something resembling respectability topped at the very end with the cherry that is the FA Cup. With the long winter of our discontent over, perhaps it is time to lay to rest the calls for Arsène to leave? Indeed it is. News from the official team site is that he's signed a three-year deal!

Arsène signed a new contract that would keep him at the club until 2017, with an official announcement to come by Saturday. That 's about it as far as the available details are concerned, and we'll have to wait a while longer, it seems, before learning how long a new deal would prolong the suffering of the WO-Brigade and extend the joy of the AKBs. It comes as no surprise to regular readers that I'm more the latter than the former, believing not only that the man in question has done more to deliver one of this club's most exquisite eras ever, indeed, one of football's most exquisite eras ever, but he's done so in a manner that extols the spirit of the sport and of the club as well. He's become synonymous with the club, so much so that younger Gooners assume that his name may have given birth to the club's name. Misguided though that may be, there's something charming in it, like watching an infant wriggle and squirm around the room or Mourinho weasel and squirm out of trouble.

What's more, Arsène carries on a long tradition of possessing "ability and personal character" and who can build up a club through methods more meaningful than "the payment of heavy and exorbitant tranfer fees". I'm quoting, of course, for the advert you see above, which dates from May 1925 when the club ended up settling for some chap named Chapman, who, in his time at the club, delivered an FA Cup and two First Division titles. Like Chapman, though, Arsène may very well become more-famous for his legacy than for his laurels. Will Mourinho be so fondly remembered among Chelsea's supporters? Real Madrid's? What other modern manager is so closely associated with his club—what other manager has molded and recast a club as entirely as Arsène? Few, if any.

Whatever your opinion of the man, it looks like we'll have another three years to see whether he can again put lightning in a bottle. Even if we never again quite reach the levels we achieved in 2003-04, I'd wager we'll come close—we may not ever go undefeated again, but I'm willing to bet we'll see another trophy or two hoisted by Arsène and his squad before his time is through.

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