Wenger steps down as Arsenal manager
After 22 years in charge of Arsenal Football Club, the Alsace-born manager dubbed ‘Arsene Who?’ by the British press when he first arrived on these shores in 1996 has finally announced that he will step down at the end of the season.
With three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups later, Wenger will leave behind an indelible imprint on English football.
The innovator, professor and polyglot who brought the likes of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas to north London captivated crowds with his brand of attacking football – a philosophy which drew in spectators and saw the Gunners go through the entire 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten.
Everyone connected with Arsenal would have been overcome with emotion at hearing the the news that Wenger is finally departing the club he has known as home for over two decades.
Whether you’re a fan who has followed Wenger’s Arsenal since the late ’90s, or a reporter covering the club since the Frenchman’s early days, there is no doubt that Wenger’s presence and ability to light up a room with his wit and charm make him such a unique man.
“Every defeat is a scar on your heart that you never forget,” Wenger has previously been quoted as saying. His passion and enthusiasm for the game cannot be rivalled and it is the main facet of his persona which saw him compete so strongly for silverware in the first 10 years of his reign.
Despite the protests, online rants and criticisms banded about in the past few years, even Wenger’s biggest critics cannot deny that he has improved the game and changed the face of Arsenal Football Club.
Indeed, society has changed vastly since Wenger’s arrival in England and perhaps that has contributed to his natural decline as a top flight manager. As other managers have arrived in England with their new, innovative methods and tactical ideologies, Wenger has stuck to his principles and struggled to adapt.
Part of that comes down to his stubborn approach but the ability to firmly stick to what he believed in should be lauded, not criticised, in an age where opinions and jobs change faster than the wind.
All good things come to an end and the Arsenal-Wenger romance will remain unwavering for the next 50 years and beyond. The tributes will pour in and a statue outside the ground will undoubtedly follow.
The uncertainty over Wenger’s future and pressure from the boardroom has played a part in his decision to leave after almost 22 years. With one year remaining on his contract the manager preferred to go out on his own terms instead of being pushed out by owners who have initiated changes in the backroom staff throughout the past year.
“I still live in the future,” Wenger said when asked about reaching another milestone as Arsenal boss.
“It is planned. Tight. My relationship with time is quite scary. I’m still trying to fight it. I’m always afraid of being late. Not to be ready. Not being able to accomplish all that I planned. My personal relationship with time is scary. To go back in time, to look behind yourself is equally staggering.”
Wenger will finally have the opportunity to look behind himself and see what he has achieved over the past two decades. He signed off with the most apt words possible and his legacy is not tarnished. It will live long in the memory.
He will be remembered as man who prides himself on integrity, sticking to his principles and educating the next generation with positive values.
“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club,” he stated. “My love and support for ever.”
That love and support will be forever be reciprocated by all Arsenal supporters.
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