Wenger to quit Arsenal at the end of the season
Arsenal’s most successful manager, Arsène Wenger, is to leave the club at the end of the current season. Wenger joined the club in 1996 and his modern thinking towards attitude, tactics and diet tore up the game’s rulebook. A visionary whose approach has been adopted throughout the footballing world, changing the game forever.
Arsène Wenger will leave Arsenal when the current campaign ends, bringing the curtains down on an Arsenal career that has lasted 22 years. Off the pace for a Champions League spot and a failure to realistically challenge for the Premier League title has turned many fans against the manager who has guided the club to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup victories during his tenure.
The footballing world was a different place when the 46-year-old took charge at Arsenal. Foreign managers and to some extent players were not as prevalent as they are today and were often regarded with suspicion. Players would eat whatever they wanted and drink to excess, but the relatively unknown manager, who joined from Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight, had other ideas.
He introduced strict diets, restricted alcohol intake and introduced a brand of football that was based on tactics, flair and entertainment. A radical departure from the physical long ball game that many teams employed in England at the time.
Initially, it worked. Within a decade, Wenger had guided Arsenal to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup victories and it seemed only a matter of time before Arsenal would be claiming that elusive Champions League victory. But then things became stale at Arsenal.
Whether this was the competition catching up with Wenger or Arsène’s refusal to change the style of play to adapt has been debated long and hard by Arsenal’s fans. But what followed was a period of top stars leaving to join rival teams, poor results in the closing stages of competitions and a terminal decline in the relationship between the manager and the supporters.
Wenger out campaign
The Wenger out campaign had started out as a discontented whisper, but in the end it was a full-on battle cry.
Speaking about leaving Arsenal, Wenger said he wasn’t tired of managing Arsenal but admitted that he found the campaign against him hurtful and the supporters were tarnishing the image of the club. After the 4-1 victory against West Ham at the weekend the 68-year-old said of his decision to stand down:
I was not tired, personally I believe this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans did not give the image of unity that I want in the club all over the world, and that was hurtful. I feel the club is respected. Overall the image we gave of our club is not what it is and not what I like.– Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
Wenger did state he wasn’t bitter about the protests against him, saying:
I do not want to make stupid headlines. I am not resentful with the fans, I just feel that if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me.– Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
Whoever replaces Wenger will certainly have big boots to fill and it will be a tough task to follow Arsène’s achievements. The “Invincibles” season of 2003–04 may never be repeated and whilst Arsenal may have been off the pace in the Champions League and the Premier League, they still managed to win the FA Cup three times within a decade and have a great chance to secure the Europa League this year. Victory in that competition would ensure Arsenal have Champions League football next year.