A. Wenger’s Protectionist Blunderbuss
by Clerical Staff
Blast this infernal winter weather!
Here I sit, hunched over my writing table, intermittently convulsing on account of my wretched coughing. After several days in isolation I felt a great need to pass beyond my chamber door and take the air. Having soothed my condition with a vial of cough medicine and a little gin I felt in fine enough spirits to take in some cultural diversion. A mazy walk through the streets of London saw me arrive at the princely abode of an acquaintance of an acquaintance who, I heard tale, was something of a collector of fine art. Perhaps he was surprised to see me, soaked in the rain as I was, and so my entry had to be somewhat forcibly accomplished, but never mind! And this, gentle reader, is how I came to stand in front of Edvard Munch’s early 1930s painting Unwelcome Visitors.
True, I was not in the most coherent of mindsets and, perhaps, the medicines that held my illness at bay contributed to a feeling of wooziness that impacted upon all five of my senses, but you must believe me in what I say. Casting my gaze on the painting I could scarcely believe my eyes, for before me on Munch’s canvas stood none other than Professor Arsène Wenger. Looking glass to hand, I embarked upon my exegesis, the weather now quite forgotten.
Art historians, no doubt, would tell us that the figure aiming the rifle at the unwelcome visitors is Munch himself, who painted this work, alongside several others, to recount a traumatic dispute in which he became embroiled. Here Munch has taken flight and retreated to his home, whence he repels his assailants. Walled up within his home – his fortress – Munch will, evidently, protect it by any means. Yet how can one not regard this image without being reminded of Mr Wenger, himself battered and bruised, not by physical confrontation but by the rigours of time, who has taken to buttressing himself within his own ideological homestead, which he will defend until the bitter end.
Of course it makes so much sense that it would be Munch that would chronicle the travails of A. Wenger. For an artist who never shied away from the portrayal of decay – physical and mental – The Professor is the subject par excellence. Has he not been the curator of a decay notable for its painful inevitability and attrition? From the Invincibles of the early 2000s to the modern day Arsenal, where key talents have not been replaced and both established and promising talents have been stolen away by rival clubs with increasing ease, Arsenal have indeed been in the grip of decay.
Back to the painting at hand then! Regard the table to the left of the image. It is well know that Munch himself liked a drink, and indeed we see bottles and glasses strewn across the table, containing a variety of mixtures. Like a chemist, Mr Wenger too has experimented with many concoctions – this one lacking a little bit sharpness, this one lacking a little bit maturity. These are Monsieur Wenger’s beloved creations – Wilshire, Gibbs, Jenkinson, et al. Tellingly Wenger/Munch stands guard between the trespassers and his experiments, which are themselves positioned around the table – it is as if he fighting to safeguard the space that these experiments, these teams, need to make their mark on the league table. And make their mark they may yet do: there are no coasters in sight.
As for those outside, they can only look on as the venerable Wenger lets his project unfold as he sees fit. These interlopers could be anyone: the Arsenal board, the fans, the press, or the upturned studs of the Stoketon Rovers (of The North) players. What matters is that these voices emanate from the outside; there is only one way in and Arsène has it covered. He’ll shoot dead any man who interferes! And the police would never catch him: they did not see the incident. Of course this self-imposed martyrdom should not completely fool us: let us not forget that there is something evangelic about isolationism.