Arsene Wenger: Is this the end? - Fan view

Football: Confessions of a jaded, indifferent Gooner

In the wee hours of April 4, 2001, I slunk out of bed to watch my first Champions League match on television.

Arsenal were playing Valencia in the quarter-finals and I wanted to see the mighty Spanish team - finalists the previous season - in action. Instead, it was the North London club that caught my eye as they won 2-1 at Highbury with goals from Thierry Henry and Ray Parlour.

My 12-year-old heart could barely contain the excitement and I was sold.

Sixteen years on and things could hardly be more different; here I am jaded and numb even as the storm surrounding Arsene Wenger's future continues to rage.

It was not always like this.

There was a time when I would clear my schedule to watch every match, rage if I missed the kick-off and wake up at unearthly hours to watch Champions League games.

I would write long posts about the club's triumphs and travails on my blog, debate fiercely with supporters of rival teams, and hunt for Gunners merchandise.

Perhaps what hurts the most is how we follow a tragicomic script year after year. Even non-Arsenal fans know the drill.

Yet in recent years it has become increasingly painful to be so emotionally invested in Arsenal.

There are the big-game collapses, the sales of our best players to rivals and the four years when Wenger turned a blind eye to the goalkeeping position as we cycled through Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone, who are decent but nowhere near good enough for a title-chasing team.

Perhaps what hurts the most is how we follow a tragicomic script year after year.

Even non-Arsenal fans know the drill: Stay close to the league leaders till the new year, sometimes even topping the table. Reach Champions League knockout stage. Get eliminated from Europe. Title challenge goes off the rails. Finish in top-four after frantic final games. Repeat.

It is like the football equivalent of Groundhog Day, only here the character does not learn anything new and there is no charm from Bill Murray to dull the hurt.

Eventually, I stopped caring. It says a lot when rival fans stop teasing and actually commiserate with us.

Should Wenger stay? Frankly I am indifferent.

On one hand, he has done well to help Arsenal qualify for the Champions League every year, no mean feat especially when purse strings were tightened as the club financed the construction of a new stadium.

On the other hand, the frugal days are behind Arsenal. Top players like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech have arrived and yet nothing seems to change on the pitch.

Is Wenger running out of ideas? Can he still rally an entire club, the way his younger counterparts Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp do? Is Arsenal ready for the massive void if Wenger, who essentially runs the club from top to bottom, leaves? Will it sink into an egregious period of transition like Manchester United post-Alex Ferguson?

I don't know, I don't care and for the last few years at least, this approach has served me well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 19, 2017, with the headline 'Confessions of a jaded, indifferent Gooner'. Print Edition | Subscribe