Arsene Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager in September 1996.
I was only 8 years old at the time, and my own obsession with the club was only just beginning. Like millions of other fans, I only know Arsenal with Wenger at the helm. Arsene Wenger is synonymous with Arsenal Football Club.
Wenger transformed the club and English football upon his arrival by eliminating the drinking culture, changing players’ diets, and altering training regimes. By doing so he was able to develop unknown players and transform them into being world class (Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas…).
Wenger won the league in his first full season by securing the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1997/98, and achieved a second double in 2001/02 before winning the league undefeated with The Invincibles in 2003/04.
He has also won more FA Cups than any other manager, with 7 in total. He also guided the club to their only ever Champions League Final which unfortunately ended as a loss.
But it wasn’t just winning silverware that was admired, but also how it was achieved: with power, pace, and flair, Wenger’s teams played with style.
Wenger also oversaw the move from Highbury to the Emirates stadium and kept the club competitive during the austerity surrounding the move, which was even more impressive as Roman Abramovich pumped millions into Chelsea. During this period, Arsenal were trophyless for nine years until a run of 3 FA Cups in 4 years beginning in 2014 brought some success back to Arsenal.
Up until last season (when we finished 5th) we also always finished within the top 4, securing two consecutive decades of Champions League football, a consistency not matched by any other team in the league.
With his appointment in 1996 it was common to ask, “Arsene Who?”, but 22 years later the question had been emphatically answered.
Thanks for the memories, Arsene. It is hard to say goodbye.
Godfrey Kivumbi : The timing
If it is true that he was told that this is his last season earlier in the year, all that was left was to choose a good moment to announce it.
He might have thought maybe the after the Carabao Cup Final triumph to Man City would have work but that never came.
Then a combination of Mustafi mishaps amd atrocious away form started eroding any chance of a ‘dignified’ exit. He hung on hoping he could announce it leading to the final of the Europa Cup.
Then the draw gave him Atletico in the semis. Mustafi against Griezmann. And then even he couldn’t convince himself especially after the last match against Newcastle. He was not concentrating on Atletico any more. He was dreaming of finishing above Burnley. Finishing above them was now like a trophy.
Then it dawned on him that announcing his exit after the Spaniards spanked him in the semi finals would be more obvious that he had been fired.
Joachim Low must have said, ”Look I have a World Cup trophy to defend. If am coming let us settle this before the World Cup.” Arsenal thought back to what happened when Arsenal dillydallied with Guardiola and told him to call time.
The players sound genuinely surprised. What did they think was going to happen playing like they do?
Wenger might have inadvertently called his best substitution ever. The manager. If the players don’t stand up now and beat Atletico on pure emotion for their manager to go out on a ‘high’ they should ALL be sold.
Either way, most of them know the party is over. They have to start earning their living. The next manager is watching and chances are high he will require a much higher standard. Where you have to try and score before you go three goals down.
Most of them know they are in the display window anyway. Big sale coming up. You think this surprised us, wait and see the fireworks the transfer window will bring.
Who are we building around? Ozil? Better get Joachim Low.