The Wenger Masterplan: watch with fascination!!
It's a privilege for me to support Arsenal. It's a part of me and my identity and it will always be this way. But its an extra special privilege that for the last ten years the team I support has been managed by Arsene Wenger: the master-creator of teams playing technically superb, exhilirating, attacking football.
For me, the now confirmed prospect of more Arsene Wenger football for Arsenal until 2011 not only means the prospect of watching more joyous football from my club but also continued fascination with watching the development of what I call the Wenger Masterplan : the deliberate vision and burning ambition by Wenger to build a third-generation squad totally enveloped in his philosophy of total football that will surpass all his earlier work.
In my view Wenger was never going to leave his Masterplan - which is some three years into the making - incomplete. The project is too bold and of such unlimited potential for Wenger to have really seriously contemplated departing.
It is clear from the Champs League final run in 2005/2006 and the Carling Cup run in 2006/2007 - combined with solid top four Premiership finishes - that the youngsters that Wenger has pencilled into his Masterplan squad have more than what it takes to realise his ambition of a hugely successful team moulded into his grand 'total-football' vision of how the beautiful game should be played.
And in the last two months what has underlined to me, Wenger, and I'm sure many other Gunners the belief that we are watching the emergence and development of potentially the most superb Arsenal squad created is the visible emergence of the special 'Arsenal fighting spirit' that I was bought up on in the George Graham era of Arsenal football.
When I say 'fighting spirit' I mean it in the sense of that special collective character and mental edge that this team will never have less fight or heart that their opponents. They will not be bullied and will be up for the battle if confronted.
It is the theme I've read time and again in interviews with the players and the manager on Arsenal.com and elsewhere in the last couple of months. This repetition is deliberate: it shows that this young squad are collectively conscious of fighting for each other on the pitch as much as playing techinally great football together.
Cesc stressed one word after the Portsmouth that sums up what we have seen from this young Arsenal squad since the Emirates Cup and Amsterdam Trophy wins in July/August: 'unity'. They have shown for the full duration of every match that they are in for the battle together and determined no longer to be perceived or patronisingly labelled as a 'soft-touch' by the media or players like Phil Jagielka.
Total talent combined with total fighting spirit is a fantastic combination to possess and this young Arsenal squad are showing they are capable of maximising both these winning qualities which can only bode well for their future prospects of success.
This is what Wenger has laid the foundations for in the last three seasons. The news of Wenger's expected contract extension simply means confirmation that for at least the next four years we can expect to see him manage the most challenging and main stage of his Masterplan: achieving success - and on a consistent basis - by playing sublime football with his fully self-developed third-generation squad.
It will be something to watch with continued fascination, pleasure, patience and joy... good luck Arsene!