Arsene Wenger made a shocking announcement on Friday that has left fans distraught. The Arsenal manager announced that he will step down as manager of the club. Wenger has filled up Arsenal’s cabinets with countless trophies but lately his association with the club has become fractious. The news comes as a shocker after Wenger signed a two-year contract extension just last year.
Though there were speculations about him leaving the club midway, not many expected him to resign before the end of Arsenal’s current campaign which still has a Europa League semi-final against Atlético Madrid.
In a statement posted on Arsenal’s website, Wenger said, “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.” The manager for the club for 22 years added that he managed Arsenal with full commitment and integrity. Wenger also thanked “the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.”
Wenger is often considered to be one of the most successful managers in English football. He was not very well known when he joined Arsenal as manager in September 1996. In his first full season as manager, he led the club to victory and was viewed as a revolutionary. Wenger is credited to introduce sophisticated methods for the training and well-being of players who later turned out to be world class talents.
Under his leadership, Arsenal won the 2003-04 title without losing a single game. In 2006, Arsenal reached the finals of the Champions League where they were beaten by Barcelona. Since then Arsenal had won the FA Cup on three occasions and their trysts at the Champions League fared poorly.
Stan Kroenke, Arsenal’s major shareholder said, “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record.”
Fans of Arsenal were irked with the loss of top-tier players such as Cesc Fàbregas, Robin van Persie, and Alexis Sánchez, along with the steady decline from the league tables. While Wenger seemed to be oblivious to the hate, it now seems that he accepted all the criticisms.
Adieu Arsene, you will be missed.