Heroes and Villians
How Overstaying a Welcome Can Destroy a Legacy
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Father Time is undefeated, no matter how much people fight against him. Two of the Premier League’s most legendary figures of the past decade are currently hanging on to the ropes in the 12th round, trying to make it to the end of the fight. Arsene Wenger is the man who made Arsenal Football Club one of the biggest football clubs in the world and nurtured some of the world’s greatest footballers. Wayne Rooney is the mecurial talisman that has survived era after era at Manchester United and this past month became the clubs greatest goalscorer. In their prime, both Arsene and Wazza were equally devestating - Arsene with his cunning guile and gorgeous football devestated teams in the early 2000’s and Rooney was a bull in a china-shop, destroying any defender in his way with power, rage, and unbridled determination.
These days, both are looking like relics from a time that simply doesn’t exist anymore. After seasons of ineptitude and naïveté about the need to reinforce his squad, Arsenal are languishing in the EPL again and recently got skullfucked by Bayern Munich, reigniting the torches of Wenger Out protesters. Rooney lacks the pace and power to play as a striker, the technical skill to play as a winger or attacking midfielder, or the passing range and discipline to play as a central midfielder. United fans have been louder in their desire for Rooney to leave the club and after Wazza finally broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s record, the grumbles have become so loud that Rooney had to issue a statement stating his desire to see out the season at United.
Unforunately, both Wenger and Rooney are two curdling boxes of milk past their expiration date. Wenger was the perfect manager for the previous iteration of the EPL. Wenger could depend on his stellar tutilege to turn potential talent into budding superstars and sprinkle in the occasional star that could be purchased for only 30M Euros. At a time when English tactics were outdated, Wenger was a fresh and brilliant tactician who’s gorgeous style of football utterly dominated teams. These days, with more competition for talent, Arsene’s reluctance to spend the necessary money to reinforce his squad has caused Arsenal to fall behind the other top English and European clubs in talent. It’s gotten so bad that the “Almost Signed for Arsenal XI” would absolutely wash Arsenals real XI.
Tactically, Arsene’s style of silky gorgeous football has been nullified by managers such as Jose Mourinho during his first stint at Chelsea. Once found out, Arsene still hasn’t developed a proper Plan B. For years, Arsenal has lacked the guile and fight to see out tough games. If they can’t style their way to a win, they become frustrated and lost. The inability to win ugly has cost Arsenal vital points season after season.
While Arsene’s downfall has been mental, Rooney’s has been physical. While Wazza could never be mistaken for Adonis, over recent years his fitness has been called into question on multiple occasions. In his prime, Wayne’s could dominate centerbacks via sheer physicality. In this new day of fitness for footballers, the power dynamic has flipped completely. It’s far to easy for centerbacks to pocket Rooney by keeping him close, knowing he no longer has the skill or pace to punish them for marking him closely.
As his physical skills have waned, Rooney has tried to prolong his career by moving further back to hide his limitations. However, he doesnt do any of the other things needed to play the roles hes co-opting. Wayne’s shit first touch has let him donw time after time in midfield, exposing United to a counter attack while he’s busy arguing with the ref over a non existent call.
It truly is sad seeing two absolute legends at this state in their career. The game has obviously passed both of them by and rather than go out on top, they chose to keep fighting. While that courage and determination is to be admired, it is also the foolhardy ego of the athlete to think that they can just fix whatever is going wrong. Being able to humble ones self is a difficult task for any human, much less people who can at previous points in life have claimed to be amongst the best in the world. Wenger truly beleives he’s very close to bringing Arsenal back to the promised land and Rooney still believes that he’s an effective player on the pitch. Unfortunately, every passing day makes it blindingly obvious that neither has what it takes to reinvent themselves at this stage. It would be best to leave now, while we can still remember their previous triumphs before they get overshadowed by their current failures.