On Friday morning, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger made the rather surprising announcement that he will cut-short his two-year deal in north London and end his career as Gunners boss this summer.
A club statement on the club’s official website confirmed the decision, it read:
After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.
I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high.
To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support forever.
The glory years
Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal back in 1996 as a little-known boss from Japanese football. However, he soon set about making a name for himself in the English game, changing attitudes towards coaching and training along the way.
Wenger won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups among other trophies. He has also managed in over 800 Premier League games, which is a record for the competition.
However, Wenger’s most memorable achievement in the English game is managing ‘The Invincibles’ Arsenal team of 2003/04, who are the only team to go through a whole Premier League season unbeaten.
That team containing the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires, is seen by many as the best team to have ever graced the Premier League
The decline in fortunes
All things good things must come to an end, as it was for Arsenal under the veteran French boss. The Gunners recorded their last top-flight title success in 2005 and the fans have yearned for similar success.
However, the last decade has not always been kind to the Gunners, when it comes to winning trophies. From 2006-2013, the team from north London failed to win a single trophy.
That was the start of the Gunners decline from the top of the English football tree. The north London side won the FA Cup in three straight seasons from 2014-2017, but it was the lack of progress towards the Premier League title that frustrated Gunners fans and ultimately led to Wenger’s Arsenal demise.
For two decades, the Gunners qualified for the lucrative Champions League through their position in the Premier League, while also looking like contenders for the title. Not only have the team from north London looked unlikely to win the title, they have also slipped out of the top-four.
Arsenal’s 11 Premier League defeats this season is the highest tally of losses in the Wenger era. The Gunners also look to be out of the picture for the Champions League spots.
Arsenal’s performances in recent seasons have led to heavy criticism of Wenger’s managerial style and ability. More recently, Gunners fans have protested at the team’s perceived poor performances by boycotting games, which has led to many empty seats at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger is an Arsenal legend
Arsenal fans will be feeling many mixed emotions about Wenger stepping down at the end of the campaign. However, there is no doubting that the veteran boss deserves credit for what he delivered in his early years in north London.
Arsene Wenger will always be an Arsenal and managerial legend. It is certain that the majority of Gunners fans will wish him good luck in his retirement and look forward to a fresh start under a new boss next season. Former Gunners legend Patrick Vieira is the favourite for the job, but that is likely discussion for another day.
Has Arsene Wenger made the right decision to quit this summer?