He was the embodiment of the Arsenal culture: romantic, sexy and appealing football. Arsene Wenger was all over the news after he announced his decision to leave the Emirates after 22 years in the dugout. The legendary Frenchman had come in for intense criticism from a section of the club fanbase after a series of away defeats this year and an underwhelming season in general that would have been redeemed by winning The Europa League. Wenger decided to leave after suggestions in the media pointed to the fact that the 68-year-old could be let go by the club.
Wenger decided to leave the only way he could: with dignity. At this point, a section of the Arsenal fans, who called for his head and placed bets on him leaving using the Matchbook bonus code, are feeling remorseful for seemingly chasing their greatest manager away, but in the end, it was best that he left this season. For all the bad blood between some of the fans and Wenger, the manager changed the club entirely and made The Gunners the symbol of eye-pleasing football in England. He arrived in ’96 as the replacement for George Graham, and in 18 months, turned a team of underachieving players to Double winners of 1998.
The likes of Tony Adams, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn and Parlour were club stalwarts, but they were only content at earning the adulation of the fans by giving their all, but Wenger raised their game. He brought in the likes of Henry, Vieira, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell and Gilberto Silva, players that were very instrumental in helping the north Londoners win the league in 2004, going the entire season unbeaten and ranking as the greatest side to have won the title in Premier League history. In his first 8 years, he won 3 league titles and 4 FA Cups, winning Doubles in ’98 and ’02.
However, the story of the last 14 years has affected his reputation, but his life work at Arsenal should be judged on how brilliant his teams were. Perhaps the 14-year drought of the Premier League has made the Gunners fans forget his impact, but the move to The Emirates, inability to challenge with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United for the league and his loyalty to his players ensured that the club won nothing between 2005 and 2014, unacceptable statistics for a club of Arsenal’s standing. No player old or current has a bad word to say about him.
His dedication to developing talents is unquestionable, while his fierce love for the club has made him perhaps overstay his welcome. He probably should have left last year after defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, but signed a two-year extension after the Wembley triumph. Wenger will leave with his head held high as the fans will one day recognise the good work of 22 years.
The Europa League offered a perfect platform to send him out on a high, though the toughest challenger for the title, Atletico Madrid ousted us out of the competition by a slim margin but that takes nothing out of the fact that Wenger is a hero and will forever be. Merci, Professeur Wenger.