Arsenal Football Club has announced that it will be parting ways with their manager Arsene Wenger after a 22 year long association, which was largely successful but increasingly tenuous over the last couple of seasons.
A statement released by the club on Friday afternoon quoted majority owner Stan Kroenke saying, “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.”
Wenger only signed a fresh two-year contract extension last summer, and while speculation about his Arsenal future never died down, the announcement still comes as a surprise to many with Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final tie against Atletico Madrid looming large. In the statement released by the club, Wenger was quoted saying, “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 for ever.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018
Arsenal arrived to the Premier League in 1996 from Japan, and was relatively unknown on English shores. However, he introduced new training methods and a fresh approach to football which transformed the way managers viewed the game in the country. He won the double in his very first season with the club, and till date is the only manager to lead a team unbeaten through an entire Premier League season during the ‘invincibles’ 2003-2004 campaign.
However, it has not all been smooth sailing for Wenger at the club. The team finished outside the top 4 for the very first time since he took over the reigns, and regular premature exits in the Champions League became a feature ever since Arsenal’s loss in the final of the competition to Barcelona in 2006. Exits of important players, coupled with gross inconsistency drew the ire of Arsenal fans, with a certain section firmly ‘Wenger out’ for the last few seasons.
Despite that, there is no doubt that Arsene Wenger will go down in history as one of the best managers to have ever graced the English game.
You can read the full club statement here.
Here are some of the reactions to Arsenal parting ways with Arsene Wenger –
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018
There's a whole generation who only know Wenger as a manager chasing 4th. He was Pep when he arrived. He shook football in the UK. It's sad. He changed everything. #MerciArsene
— Arsène Wenger. (@RobForbesDJ) April 20, 2018
Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018
124 – Arsene Wenger has faced 124 different opponents as manager of Arsenal, but has only failed to beat 5 of those teams:
Fiorentina (P2 W0 D1 L1)
PAOK Salonika (P2 W0 D1 L1)
Paris Saint-Germain (P2 W0 D2 L0)
Port Vale (P2 W0 D2 L0)
Rotherham United (P1 W0 D1 L0)
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018
Arsene Wenger is to leave @Arsenal at the end of the season. He has given much of his life to Arsenal. He has brought much success to the club. He has given much to the game of football in our country. Merci et bonne chance, Monsieur Wenger. #Wenger
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 20, 2018
And lastly, don’t miss this news clipping from 1996, when Arsene Wenger was announced as manager of Arsenal!
Arsene Wenger takes over at Arsenal, September 1996.pic.twitter.com/3Rukcd3KLB
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) April 20, 2018