Arsenal should spend Bergkamp money on hologram instead
20:10, 28 Feb 2013
There is a much better way to spend the Dennis Bergkamp statue money...
On the face of it, Arsenal’s decision to erect a statue of Dennis Bergkamp makes complete sense. Quite apart from the fact that he helped the Gunners win the Double just three years after joining them, he also became synonymous with the club’s new sophisticated image in the late 1990s.
His career straddled the uncertain era between George Graham’s departure and Arsene Wenger’s appointment. During that time when Bruce Rioch was in charge, the only good things that happened were the signings of Bergkamp and David Platt. That season is best remembered now as the last time Spurs finished above their north London rivals in the league.
So, really, not even the most critical fan around the Emirates could put the charge to the club that they might be wasting money. Or that they should be spending some of the £123million they have on real players instead of inanimate ones from their past.
However, to immortalise Bergkamp by stilling forever his sinewy grace and genius would be a mistake.
There are players for whom the erection of a statue in their honour would be wholly appropriate. Take Zlatan, for example. The crucial decision, presumably, when designing the cast - or mould or however they do it - is what moment to choose from the player’s career. How to capture their true essence. Arguably the greatest moment of Bergkamp’s career, the one that embodied everything great about him - his grace, his balletic movement, his touch, his thinking two or three moves ahead, his ice-cool finishing - was against Argentina when he killed Frank de Boer’s 60-metre pass with one touch before flicking it past a defender and lashing it into the back of the net.
But that moment captured in statuesque forever-ness would be quite boring. It would just be Bergkamp looking down at his foot with a ball balancing curiously on top of it, like a god kicking an orb out into the cosmos for some reason.
There is, however, any number of moments from Zlatan’s career that could be immortalised in statue form. The most obvious is the bicycle kick against England, but you could just as easily choose the time he kicked Rodney Strasser
in the back of the head during training.
A statue capturing the essence of Zlatan, his body contorted in all its various apexes of brilliance, would go some way to telling the true story of this enigmatic, unpredictable delinquent.
The same is true of Gordon Banks. One would of course use the moment he made that save against Pele where he’s almost upside down stopping the ball going into the bottom corner of the goals. In the future, American tourists who're not familiar with the save could marvel at his body position and try to work out what he was doing at the time. The same tourists will walk past the Bergkamp statue without even a second glance.
Football has often been accused of not moving with the times. And it would be a crime to freeze Bergkamp in just one moment in a series of great moments, all synergistic awesomeness. What’s needed instead is a hologram depicting Bergkamp’s best moment in an Arsenal shirt: the time he pirouetted past Nikos Dabizas before he slotted the ball past Shay Given.
As technology becomes more advanced they could even get the hologram of Bergkamp to meet and greet corporate sponsors. All they’d have to do is get the real Bergkamp in, hook him up to some movement sensors in front of a blue wall and have him record some generic greetings and salutations. Clubs use old players to meet and greet all the time. And if you asked a former player - maybe apart from Gary Mabbutt - if he’d prefer to be represented by a hologram version of himself on match-days, he’d absolutely say yes, as long as we could sort something out with the image rights.
This would also prevent us having to consider another uncomfortable question: Where do all the prototype statues end up? We are reminded of these grotesque, misshapen works-in-progress beings from one of the Alien films when Ripley found the mistake-clones of herself in a medical facility. We have visions of mutant-like statues, one of a Cyclopes Bergkamp, another with an arm where a leg should be and a foot growing out of its neck.
We haven’t done a detailed costing of either project but, remember, Arsenal have £123million to spend on inanimate representations of former players. And even if it cost, say, £11million, who’d claim it was a worse waste of money than Gervinho? Doubtless, no-one.
In the corporate world it’s all about trying to ally the personal touch to, basically, the appropriation of your pension fund without you realising it. Imagine the goodwill Arsenal could generate if Hologram Bergkamp was bidding the sponsors farewell after every 1-all draw at home to a team like West Brom.
And, more importantly, there would be no better way to take Arsenal fans’ minds off the decline of the club than a relentlessly pirouetting reminder of the club’s recent glorious past.
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