The independent London newspaper

The first rule of rise and fall movies: Get out before the credits roll and the lights come up

OPINION: The in or out saga behind Arsène Wenger's time at Arsenal is becoming a rise-and-fall movie, with an increasing unpleasant descent

12 April, 2017 — By Richard Osley

IF it goes on any longer, they’ll have to make a movie. The dramatic nature of Arsène Wenger’s insistence on staying at Arsenal until every last happy memory is ruined will sooner or later spark the interest of a film director; for every good film director who ever saw Citizen Kane, or Goodfellas, or the Wolf Of The Wall Street, knows just how much the public loves an epic rise and fall movie.

More likely than not, Eddie Redmayne will be recruited to play Arsène, marvelling us all as he always does, this time with his perfectly studied French accent. As the young Wenger, he will look thoughtfully frustrated because he is not quite good enough to play football at a serious level himself. Don’t worry, garçon, you can still follow your dreams in other ways, some wise French villager will tell him.

So off Wenger will go, simultaneously studying for degrees, while also managing Monaco and Grampus Eight. “Come to bed Arsène,” his conspicuously tired wife – Audrey Tatou in the role, no doubt – will call, rubbing her eyes. But Redmayne will be too transfixed in these early hours by video tapes of French second division matches.

As Wenger ages and comes to Arsenal (Spielbergs, please don’t use The Clash on the montage of his first visit to London in a black cab – that’s been done badly too many times), Islington dinner parties will talk of nothing else but how brilliant Redmayne was in prosthetic wrinkle ridges playing the manager in his older years. When Arsenal win the double, he will win Oscars for ‘that scene’ where he dances with his wife under the moonlight, assuring her that everything was going to be ok now.

Nothing can go wrong, although that villager, probably Depardieu, will re-appear and warn him to enjoy the moment but to leave the club while they still want more…

The last third of the film, admittedly, may be less pacy as Wenger’s reputation for scouting players and bringing the best out of young talent appears to disintegrate. He punches a table as fans shout “we want you to leave” outside; you can’t win an Academy Award without a good shouty lament scene. I COULD’VE BEEN THE CHAMPION OF ALL EUROPE, he will rail at Mark Strong playing Steve Bould.

But how does the movie end? After Arsenal’s embarrassing defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday and the worry that it could still get worse for the club this season, we must wait and see. It’d be good if there was no rise and fall film at all. But if it carries on like this, the picture will fade to black on a tortured Eddie Redmayne tearing up every last floorboard in the Emirates in a desperate search for what he once had.

Share this story

Post a comment