Legends at Arsenal; What is or should their role be?

been a while since I’ve written but I was keen to accept the open invitation
from Dave Seager to write for Gunners Town. The drought was born out of lack of
inspiration and a good topic to work on.

Chalk that up to the slow
crunch of the transfer window, the monotonous news and recurring discussions
about the qualities of Luis Suarez. The cobwebs in my head were dusted clear
thanks to none other than our very own  Ian Wright.

A few days ago he talked to the
BBC about his thoughts on the Arsenal transfer situation. His quotes didn’t go
down well with the Arsenal faithful, to say the least. Now, I’m not here to
name and shame him, after all he’s a legend of the club and deserves some
respect. Whether it was the heat that got to Mr. Wright or was he being just
plain ignorant, it caused quite a reaction from the fans. Contradicting
himself, putting the club down and advocating replacing half the squad in one
interview makes me question the fact if he watched the team last season at all.
Regardless, his comments didn’t help.

That is something you don’t
expect someone who is so recognised with the club to say. He has a right to his
opinion but there has to be a better way of projecting them. Even Tony Adams on
occasion has been suspect of making inflammatory and derisory comments about
the club.

Which begs the question, what
do we expect from these ‘legends’? Do they have a role in a clubs running
beyond the pitch? Who are these Legends?

A legend by definition is
something handed down through history as stories, memories or recollections and
the person central to such stories becomes a legend. The definition can be
extended in the case of football. For me a legend is someone who has not only
achieved or done great things with the club but someone who personifies what the
particular club stands for. It is a player through whom you can derive the
essence of a football club. Someone who is used as a benchmark for future
generations, an idol, an inspiration. The fans revere such a person and hold
him in high regard and in return they expect a certain level of behavior or
conduct from them. The legend status doesn’t die when you stop playing; it’s a
lifelong tag and commands a certain level of respect.

In today’s transfer crazy world
where money is the major factor in deciding success these people play a very
important role. Most major clubs across Europe have their ex-players working
with them closely. Franz Beckenbauer is the President at Bayern Munich.
Not only is he one of their biggest legends but also one of the biggest names
in football and is considered responsible by many for making them what they are
today, both on and off the pitch. Zinedine Zidane is the Sporting Director at
Real Madrid. The less said about the man the better. He works closely with the
manager during training sessions, travels with the team and on more than one
occasion has been responsible for attracting some of the greatest young players
to Real Madrid. Patrick Viera has a somewhat similar role to Zidane’s at
Manchester City, as much as it makes me want to rage in anger that one of our
legends is at another club, his role and affect on the team cannot be
undermined. Dennis Bergkamp is another example, currently the assistant coach
at Ajax he has been linked with a move to replace Liam Brady once he retires as
the head of the Arsenal Academy. Imagine the youth players, having a man
like Bergkamp look over their development. Arguably the best player to play at
Arsenal in the last two decades and certainly the most elegant. He’s an icon
and most young players must have grown up watching him play football. To have
him coach you, to learn from such a genius cannot be measured or put into

Arsenal recently appointed
Steve Bould as assistant manager after Pat Rice stepped down. A good move and
something the players have spoken about publicly, how he’s helped them defend
better and keep shape during games. Players who have been there and done that,
played under pressure makes them the perfect people to have on your training
ground because they know exactly how it is out there. Much credit goes to him
for our undefeated run towards the end of last season which resulted in us
barely getting fourth spot.  Their presence in training is a huge bonus
not only for the players but the manager too. Now, imagine trying to sign a
player and said player gets a call form one of the clubs greatest. Makes a
helluva lot of difference and makes the negotiations that much smoother.

The pull of a manager, the
traditions of a club, brand of football and the presence of a club legend are
some of the undervalued and immeasurable things that have an effect on the
transfer of a potential target. You cannot put a price on the value of learning
from some of the very best the game has to offer or rather had to offer.
Hopefully Arsenal realise this and try to bring back these players in some
capacity. Dennis Bergkamp’s statue is to be unveiled at The Emirates and
nothing would be better to have him back at the club at the same time. He has
spoken about coming back to Arsenal someday. Maybe Thierry Henry, after he
decides to hang up his boots. Robert Pires has trained with club on several
occasions too. A step in the right direction, having one of these players at
club in a permanent role would be a huge bonus.

This is a make or break summer
for the club and manager. Hopefully everything goes right and we come out on
the other side on back of some success. The priority right now would be to
strengthen the squad and ensure that the team is well settled. Next year I hope
the club takes into account the possibility of bringing back a legend along
with giving Arsene Wenger a new deal.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to
your comments and feedback


Manas is a passionate 22 year old Gunner
from Delhi and you can follow him on Twitter.

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