The silence was piercing.
It was one of those nights for Arsene. The darkness of the bedroom seemed even more pitch black, Annie laid on the opposite side of the bed, and it seemed more of a chore to close his eyes than a relief.
He tossed, he turned, he counted as many Vieira’s as a manger could dream up, and still nothing. So he went out to the living room and leaned on a wall – there was moment where punching that wall came across his mind but he knew it was all for naught.
He pulled out his phone and hit the number that was his most recent phone call.
“Okay, where do you want to meet? My backyard? What? You’re already here…”
He paused to listen to the other end.
“I’m not sure that I’m okay with this. How do I know you won’t try to hurt me?”
He let out a sigh of desperation, knowing that his only options were to unsuccessfully try to sleep and actually meet the man who had been bugging him for weeks.
“Alright I’m coming out, but just so you know, I have security on the premises. Any funny business and they’ll rush to my aid.”
He took a few seconds to collect himself after hanging up. Who was this person and why did he so desperately want to have a meeting? Wenger contemplated again just creeping back into his room, but his curiosity grew to be too much.
The night was stale, like it usually was for this hour. With absolutely no wind, the only thing breaking the silence were the bugs. Wenger kept marching on, however, until being met by the silhouette of a man under the shade of a tree.
“I didn’t think you were actually going to come, Arsene,” the man said in a familiar voice.
“What’s so important that it needed to be resolved at this hour?” Wenger quickly fired back.
“Ah, direct and to the point. How unlike you,” the man said with a halfhearted chuckle. “Well Arsene, I have just one thing to shed light on…”
“Remember when you were the cutting edge manager? Remember when you were young and would mop the floor with your older rivals with new fangled tactics that got all of Europe buzzing? Remember when you won the Premier League and even went Invincible.”
Arsene looked at the ground, then back at the man, “I sure do but I don’t see where this is going…”
“Oh cut the bullshit,” the man fired back. “You and I both know that it’s not the same. We know the act has gotten stale, that we manage scared, that you use the press as a tool to make a pile of excuses when things don’t go our way.”
“We also know that there are guys out there like Klopp who manage circles around us…”
Once again, the silence was piercing.
After a few seconds the man, grasping at whatever could get Arsene to speak, simply asks, “What? Cat got your tongue?”
“How do you know me and my tactics?” Arsene asked, already on the defensive. “How do you somehow know that I’ve become one of the stale older managers? And what makes you so sure there are guys out there ‘managing circles around us?’ What makes you so sure you know me?”
The man laughed for a brief moment. “Well Arsene, that’s because I am you.”
Revealing himself, he looked exactly as Arsene did ten years ago to the day.
“It… Can’t… How…”
“Please, let’s not get into how I got here. You need to listen to me. You need to cut out all this shit if you’re ever going to win again. If you keep getting stuck in this cycle, either Arsenal is finally going to cut it off with you or you’ll retire a loser.”
“How do you figure I do that?”
“You’re smart. Start with tomorrow and build your way to something new and different for a change. Remember, you used to be just like me.”
He started laughed as he walked off into the darkness.
“Oh, and stop playing Ozil on the damn wing.”