After what’s felt like a decade of people calling for it, Arsene Wenger has finally decided to step down as boss of Arsenal.
The last few years have seen a painful decline and culmination for a man whose football once looked so far ahead of its time but now looks outdated – and have also shown that those who claim to ‘support’ Arsenal will give little time to a successor to find his feet.
Wenger arrived in London in 1996 and set in motion the re-establishment of a superpower in English football. He did it with elegance, a touch of mystery and a calm head. He provided a platform for squads that would be forged in his image for nearly 25 years and his consistency up until recently provided the club with financial stability – something modern day football fans don’t understand or appreciate.
There’s more to a club than its on-field performance, and Wenger managed every aspect of his club, not just trying convince Dennis Bergkamp to take a bloody forty-minute flight to the continent.
His ‘Invincibles’ played a brand of football somewhere between the counter-attacking prowess of Real Madrid’s recent European triumphs and the possession-based, easy-on-the-eye exhibitions of Barcelona from ten years ago.
He did all this because he was one of the best footballing brains on the planet.
He isn’t anymore, but he deserves huge respect – respect which he likely won’t get because he never played up to the fact that he rescued the club from mediocrity during his tenure.
What people tend to forget is that managers are human beings. As dignified a human being as you could ask for, Wenger slowly fell into the mire of irrelevance when planning an assault on any given Premier League season because neither his brand of football, nor his signings, were at the level required to tackle the billions flowing into clubs that recruited younger, fresher minds.
However, the simple fact both he and Arsenal remained relevant in the hunt for European football and all but delivered it indefinitely during his time there is an ode to him in and of itself.
The arrogance and lack of football knowledge that so many have shown in their mindless rants against him after ‘their team’ had drawn games against other professional clubs who are funded by multi-billionaires was embarrassing.
He deserved better. He deserves better. He will now get better.
Arsene’s only mistake was the belief he had in his way of playing. It’s worth remembering that man is 68 years of age. He never truly adapted to modern trends nor did he ever truly believe in attempting it.
It’s a new era for the club. Those so-called Arsenal fans will now have to embrace a few things they are completely unfamiliar with: someone who doesn’t understand the values of the club, an adjustment period, inconsistent footballing approaches and potential indifference to their opinion.
Whatever people thought of Wenger, he cared about the club. It’s not a requirement in this footballing era, and Arsenal fans will recognise this now.
They won’t like it and they’ll soon understand what it’s like for their club to be just another employer for someone, as opposed to an institution that a manager truly adores.
For the Arsenal faithful who can respectfully call for change while appreciating the memories the manager provided before attention-seeking rants had to be uploaded to YouTube, they will be upset today.
Today is a day for them. Today is a day for Arsene Wenger. Today is the day where people should realise that Wenger was Arsenal for a period in his life – something very few people can say.
The thoughts of Wenger enjoying time away from the stress he endured for the good of a football club should make anyone smile. Thanks for the memories, Arsene. Your methods may have outstayed their use, but no one will outdo your legacy.