WE IMAGINE ARSENAL MANAGER ARSENE WENGER TRYING TO SHOP FOR TOOLS IN A HARDWARE STORE…
Originally published in October 2006.
Arsene and the guys from the building site had been casually browsing B&Q for the past four hours. Still, Arsene hadn’t put anything in his basket.
He’d planned to buy some essential supplies for the biggest job his company had ever had.
“Just choose one,” Mesut said, growing impatient, as Arsene stared wistfully at the power drills. “Choose any one. How can I be expected to assist you, if you won’t fucking choose one?”
Mesut had wanted a new power drill to play with for months, complaining that his rusty old French model wasn’t good enough and that the English one Arsene had bought for him kept breaking in the middle of jobs.
Arsene ignored him, scanning the shelves for the drill he wanted. Only then would he part with Stan’s money. It didn’t matter how rich Stan was – or how much their competitor firms in Manchester or Liverpool or west London had spaffed on tools –Arsene was a man of principle, a man who wouldn’t overspend on a shoddy product.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the drill he’d read about in the Wickes catalogue. He’d been looking for it for weeks in Homebase, Wickes online and even Argos; but here it was, staring back at him on the shelf of a B&Q in north London.
But Arsene is no fool and he wasn’t going to rush his purchase. While he studied the price tag and weighed the pros and cons of giving Mesut, Alexis and Aaron such a luxurious tool to work with, someone shoved past him and grabbed it from the shelf.
Stunned, Arsene looked up to see the drill – his drill – in the hands of Jose, from one of the Manchester firms.
“Excuse me,” Arsene said, as Jose and his crony Wayne walked towards the till. “Excuse me,” Arsene said again. Wayne flipped him off while Jose continued to ignore him.
Mesut rolled his giant, wet eyes, Jack excused himself to nip out for a fag, while Petr and Hector pretended to examine B&Q’s impressive range of door handles.
Despondent but not defeated, Arsene decided he’d go in search of a hammer next. As ever, he’d done his research, and hoped to find the hefty German model he’d read about while on holiday.
He could see a crowd gathered around the hammer section; Pep, Carlo and Zinedine were clamouring to grab at, in Arsene’s humble opinion, an overpriced and unreliable hammer. Wenger cruised passed them and was delighted to see the hammer he’d heard about, dangling from the lowest shelf.
“The best value hammer on the market,” Arsene said aloud, quoting the review he’d read in Which magazine, taking the hammer from the shelf and placing it into his empty basket.
Invigorated, Arsene sauntered over to the cash register, with Mesut, Petr and Hector in tow.
But when the man at the till scanned through the hammer, Arsene was outraged to see the price: £3.99.
“I’ll give you £2 for it,” Arsene told the man.
“Sir?” the man replied.
“I said £2. I’m not being ripped off by anyone.”
“Boss,” Mesut said, “just leave it.”
“Watch your mouth, Mesut,” Arsene said, turning to the man again, “£2. Deal or no deal?”
“It’s £3.99,” said the man. “Our prices aren’t negotiable, sir.”
Arsene was sweating, and he was aware that a crowd were gathering to watch.
“I’ve been ripped off before, and I don’t intend to be ripped off again. Wenger said, storming towards the exit. “Mesut, find Jack, we’re leaving this shithole.”
“Boss, we need that hammer,” Mesut tried, but he knew it was futile.
“Fuck it,” Arsene shouted at nobody in particular. “We’ll do the job without it.”
Jurgen, Pep and Carlo were laughing near the adhesives – even David Moyes was chuckling to himself, with his basketful of tools from the bargain bin – but Arsene didn’t care. It may have been his fifth fruitless visit to a hardware store that week, but at least he had his integrity; he’d always have that. And Mesut, of course; Mesut would never leave him.