The Role Of Legends

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Again! 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 & 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 recognized 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. 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 2 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 words.

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  4th 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’s. Makes a helluva lot of difference and makes the negotiations that much more 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 affect 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 realize 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.

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