by Jamil Bin-Salih
AS the 2017/18 season comes to its conclusion, so too does Arsene Wenger’s near 22-year reign as Arsenal manager.
The Frenchman has been so much more than your average football manager throughout his two-decade long tenure, so many have come and gone throughout his time as manager but he has remained the backbone of Arsenal Football Club.
From the glory days at Highbury where his ‘Invincibles’ ruled the land, to the more recent times as the Gunners have adapted to life at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger has been the one constant at Arsenal throughout various wholesale changes.
Arsene Wenger once famously stated: “If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages,” in response to fans booing a disappointing home draw against Middlesbrough in 1998 and this quote still remains just as true today as it did 20 years ago.
The vast majority of criticism that Wenger receives from fans and pundits today is that he has failed to maintain those extremely high standards that he set himself in his earlier years.
In his first seven years at the helm, Wenger took English football by storm, winning the Premier League and FA Cup three times each.
Wenger consistently had Arsenal challenging for silverware up until the big stadium move whereby Arsenal moved from the iconic Highbury Stadium to a bigger 59,000-seater Emirates Stadium.
However, leaving Highbury ultimately signalled the end of Arsenal’s dominance and following their 2005 FA Cup triumph, they went a whole nine years without winning any silverware until they were again crowned FA Cup winners in 2014.
Arsenal’s trophy-drought could be put down to various reasons but moving to the new stadium is definitely one of the leading factors and Arsene Wenger did very well to ensure that Arsenal finished in the Champions League positions every season, despite consistently losing his best player’s and having to work with a considerably smaller budget than other clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City.
More recently, Arsenal have began to falter and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under Wenger’s management last season and currently sit in sixth place in the league.
It seems as though Wenger has accepted that he has given everything he has to the Gunners and is now happy for a new manager to come in and freshen things up.
Some fans may say the decision to leave came a few years too late but when a manager has given so much to a club, he is entitled to some time to try and turn things around and the Frenchman has now conceded that it is time to pass the torch on.
Wenger’s legacy is one that is almost impossible for any manager to ever emulate again – from an unknown quirky Frenchman to Arsenal’s most successful manager and in his prime, one of the best coaches to ever grace the world of football.
We must celebrate Arsene Wenger’s legacy as he may just be the last manager of his kind.