4th August 2012, 6:00 pm, Meeting Room, Emirates Stadium, London
It was the initiation ceremony of the newest signing, Santi Cazorla. The room was filled with the lyrics of the famous “Macerena”, sung in albeit a hoarse voice of Santi himself. Van Persie, the incumbent captain, handed him the traditional “Proud Being Gunner” t shirt, a custom that started in Arsenal Football Club in 1976.
Arsene Wenger, the coach, took over the stage and expressed his happiness at landing three international players this season.
“I can see us lifting the Premier League this season”, Arsene announced with the same conviction like last year.
Just as when his smile was about to reach its maximum amplitude, his teeth suddenly collapsed. Wenger’s eye had met Van Persie’s and he instinctively knew something was not right with his captain.
17th August 2012, 6:00 pm, Emirates Stadium, London
Wenger stared at the grass mower as Reece Watson, the grounds man, gave the final touches to the green blanket at Emirates stadium, the home of Arsenal Football Club. Just when Watson thought he was done, Wenger signalled one with his hand, indicating he wanted the grass to be stripped by one more millimetre. With a vigorous nod that signalled his stomach that the beer can wait, Watson was at work again.
17th August 2012, 8:00pm, Emirates Stadium, London
With almost everyone gone, Arsene laid his back on the ground; he spread his arms and legs on the grass and let his arms fly to their maximum range on the green field. His fingers could feel the razor sharp grass, a very integral component of his fluid game. Almost unconsciously he uttered the words, “Van Persie would love this pitch tomorrow” , he closed his eye with this very thought and the next moment before his eyelids could open, something hit him hard , Arsene was hurt but not physically , a tear rolled from the right most corner of his eye, kissing his beloved Emirates field. Van Persie was gone.
“Come on Arsene, it is getting late” , the words hit his ear.
“Coming Pat!”, Arsene shouted back and ran across the green ocean like a small kid who had just fallen, hurt but ready to move on. The face smiled at him, Pat Rice, his assistant coach for 15 years was gone too. It was Steve Bould his new assistant manager.
“Give me some time”, Arsene said. Steve only smiled at his boss’ request.
18th August, 2012
Arsenal 0 – Sunderland 0
26th August 2012, 9:00 pm, Emirates Stadium, London
“Arsene has lost the plot”
“With Alex Song’s transfer to Barcelona , Arsenal is the most successful feeder club in the world”
Arsene had spread all the newspapers before him on the football field at the Emirates. Before every match day he would read his obituaries and unfailingly derive strength from them.
“I need to take care of Ramsey tomorrow”, he announced this to the insects, the only living things around. Ramsey, the young midfielder, had his leg broken against Stoke in 2010. It was the same fixture tomorrow.
27th August 2012
Arsenal 0 – Stoke 0
1st September 2012, 10:00 pm, Emirates Stadium London
“Right then Arsene, let them have the possession, our defenders can take it. Let them charge, they will open up and that is when we will counter attack”, the rain of spits hit Wenger’s eye as Bould, the new assistant coach assumed the role of the God of the Thunder.
“What about our brand of beautiful football?”, seven years without a trophy and Wenger’s voice had lost the conviction as he uttered those words.
“Times are changing, Arsene!”, Bould, the former defender, shot back as he picked his kit and left Wenger in the company of his best friend, the Emirates Stadium.
3rd September 2012, 2:00 am, Emirates Stadium London
“We won at Anfield”, Arsene was jumping and screaming on the grass, normally a restricted area. Suddenly he felt intense pain in his leg, this was for real. Before he could do anything he realised he was panting. It had been 15 years since he started celebrating every victory this way. For fifteen years he has ensured he shared all his joys and sorrows with the grass on the field, first at Highbury and now at Emirates. For fifteen years he has had to prove himself right.
“Fifteen years! I can take fifteen more”, Wenger shouted at the sky as heavens smiled above!!Published 15 Sep 2012, 21:30 IST