Whether he leaves voluntarily or was sacked by the club (as it is being claimed in some quarters in the media), the man who brought a lot of changes to the English football, Arsene Wenger, is stepping down as Arsenal manager at the end of the current season. He made the announcement last week Friday and there have been lots of mixed reactions since then.
His current contract was to expire in 2019, although he would be gone before then, he would be remembered as the coach who brought Arsenal to the limelight. Regarded as the current longest serving manager in the Premier League era with nearly 22 years as the club coach following his appointment on October 1, 1996, Wenger has built a legacy at Arsenal that will stand the test of time.
He brought new methods and tactics to training and the way the football was played in England as well as dietary habits and other football teams soon followed suit. With his new approach Arsenal became successful under him. He, unarguably, turned a club synonymous with heavy drinking into a club competing at the top levels. He has the reputation of signing young players and turning them into stars among whom were Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires.
His achievements included winning three Premier League titles, including going unbeaten in the entire season of 2003/2004, and four FA Cups in his first decade at the club before adding another three FA Cups after a nine-year trophy drought, seven Community Shields as well as appearing in the Champions League for twenty consecutive years.
However, the failures of his second decade at the club which coincided with the movement from Highbury to the Emirates in 2006 eroded his previous achievements as the Frenchman struggled to keep up with the pace of development of the new methods he brought which keep changing. That has led to Arsenal struggling in the last twelve years.
And those years have been marked with continuous decline for Arsenal, calls for his sack and protests from the fans who are tired of the failure to win the Premier League in the last 14 years and their early exits from the Champions League. He suddenly became outdated.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004 did not help his cause and the Portuguese return to England for his second and third spell with Chelsea and Manchester United respectively did further damage while the 68-year-old has equally failed to catch up with the likes of Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte.
Arsenal are now sixth on the Premier League standing and 14 points behind winners Man City. They face the possibility of missing out in the Champions League again unless they win the Europa League.
The era of Wenger is going to an end at Arsenal and will finally end in May. The London club are now faced with the reality of appointing a new coach for the first time in 22 years. Thomas Tuchel, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti and Patrick Vieira are among the names linked to the post.