Oh Arsène. You’ve only gone and bloody done it, haven’t you? Tendered your resignation; jumping into the abyss of unemployment before you felt Stan’s hungry hands pushing away at your scrawny shoulders. But what business does an Arsène Wenger piece have on a Tottenham fan forum you ask? Well, this isn’t a tribute. No, definitely not a tribute. It’s a sort-of farewell to the man we love to hate. Let’s get one thing straight. There’s no denying that Arsène Wenger changed the face of football in Britain, via Arsenal, during his 22 year tenure. Any Spurs fan that objects is either lying, or possibly delusional. His earlier teams were to be admired, envied even, and there’s also no denying that Arsenal were top dogs in north London for the much of that timescale. Painful, I know. Growing up as a Spurs fan in the Nineties/Noughties, with Wenger as Arsenal boss, was difficult business. It’s hard enough accepting your side is destined for nothing more than mid-table mediocrity. Even harder when your direct rivals are considered one of, if not, the greatest ever side to grace the English game. Back in those days, there was no point hoping the Arsenal result would brighten up your Saturday after a Spurs defeat. (Man, that 2003-04 season was hard.) Seaman, Lehmann, Toure, Campbell, Lauren, Adams, Cole, Overmars, Gilberto, Ljungberg, Edu, Petit, Fabregas, Vieira, Henry, Berkamp, Wiltord, Kanu — enemies, enemies for life. I still despise them. You know why. But even now, listing those names, there’s a begrudging respect and acknowledgement that Wenger had amassed a brilliant, talented team — and not at the behest of a multi-billionaire owner. A team that possessed the ball with the grace of a ballerina troupe and hunted it back with the savagery of a rabid pack of terriers. And as those Arsenal glory sides will be honoured during Wenger’s swansong, the records will state that Spurs were dominated in north London derbies during their rival’s trophy-laden years. And it’s true, we were. But what the records don’t tell you, naturally, is that middling (at best) Spurs sides used to give them a game. And would nearly — very nearly! —upset the odds. Taricco, Doherty, Bunjevčević, Gardner, Rebrov, Iversen, Pamarot, Davis, Brown, Keller: remember them? For these players in their respective Spurs sides used to run Arsenal’s greatest-ever XI to the wire. Gooners could goad us back then for celebrating draws as if they were victories — take the 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane when they won the title — but the gulf in class was huge. And still, back then, to Wenger and Arsenal we were more stray dog barking in the street than a noisy neighbour. Then it all changed. Perhaps it was their move to the Emirates, perhaps it was the shifting landscape of the Premier League due to a new influx of foreign managers. The league that Arsène had moulded in his image was taking a form of its own, and he didn’t recognise it anymore. He also didn’t have the monopoly of signing French unknowns ahead of everyone else. Then Arsène’s Arsenal started seeing us as rivals. They had to. To compensate for their fall from grace. Their trophy at the end of the season now?: “At least we finished above Tottenham.” To those who say it’s Spurs who are obsessed with Arsenal: watch the celebrations at the Emirates after we lost 5-1 to Newcastle in May 2016. They even came up with a name for it: St Totteringham’s Day. How far Arsène’s once-mighty Invincibles had fallen. Coinciding with this downturn, Spurs finally became the rivals Arsène had feared. Finishing above Spurs now actually meant something, as Spurs were a good side in their own right. And so players like Szczęsny, Podolski and Wilshere — players who couldn’t lace the boots of Wenger’s previous starlets — sought to disguise their own shortcomings on the pitch with “banter”-fuelled attacks against their “smaller” rival Tottenham. It’s an environment Wenger proudly presided over. The north London derby wins against Wenger finally came for Spurs, but was there a man gracious in defeat in the opposing dugout? Never. Of all the times a grinning, smug-ridden Wenger had masterminded victory against the Spurs managers he faced — 10 of them in total — not once did he take defeat against us well. And for that, our victories were made even sweeter. And so, Wenger is to leave our most hated club at the end of this season. A brilliant, but flawed manager. A worthy rival, no doubt. But maybe the biggest compliment I can give to Monsieur Wenger is that his sides set the bar for what it means to be a true north London powerhouse. So, thanks for that Arsène and au revior. But we’ll take it from here.