On 22nd September a rather unknown figure by the name of Arsène Wenger was unveiled as the manager of Arsenal FC, following his spell in the Japanese club, Nagoya Grampus Eight. 22 years later, he leaves a legacy which might forever be unparalleled.
“I would like to finish in one simple sentence: I will miss you,” said Arsène Wenger, in his farewell speech. Wenger stepped down as the manager of Arsenal FC at the end of the 2017-18 season leaving as the longest-serving and most successful manager in the history of the club. He served the club for 22 years where Arsenal qualified for the UEFA Champions League for 19 successive seasons, a record that is only surpassed by Real Madrid.
Arsène Wenger had numerous successful seasons for the club where he won 3 Premier League titles, 7 FA Cups and 7 FA Community Shields. He also held a host of individual titles such as 3 Premier League manager of the season, 4 Onze d’Or Coach of the year award, 2 LMA manager of the year award, 2 BBC sports personality of the year Coach award, 1 World manager of the year award, English football hall of fame and many more.
Under his reign, Arsenal FC received a title which would forever be etched in the history of English Football, ‘The Invincibles’ of the 2003-04 season who won the premier league without a single defeat. Over the 38 games played, their league record stood at 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 losses. This unbelievable feat is still echoing in the hearts of each and every Arsenal fan and will continue to do so; such an achievement seems impossible to replicate any time in the future and that’s what makes it special.
Wenger Out Campaign
Despite Wenger having such a glorious legacy, he couldn’t perform well enough to please all brackets of Arsenal fans in the recent times. The fans were frustrated with the lack of results and therefore yearned for a change. This led to the ‘Wenger Out’ campaign in the past few years when fans wanted him to step down from his position. He mentioned in his last press conference that the division of arsenal fans hurt him and this could be one of the reasons which made him leave the club without even seeing out his contract.
Contributions to English Football
Arsène Wenger has changed the face of English football completely. His legacy remains not just for Arsenal but for English football as well. He introduced less familiar training methods and instead of drills focusing on stamina, he used a stopwatch to time every training sequence and focused on strengthening passing skills. For player conditioning, Wenger relied on science rather than tradition. These methods of training were doubted at first but then it was generally accepted as a modern method of training. He also focused on changing other aspects such as diet and nutrition.
Arsène Wenger completely re-structured Arsenal’s playing style from a “boring” defensive approach into a fast-paced exciting style of football which created a reputation for Arsenal as the most entertaining team in the English league but his approach was also criticised for being negligent towards the team’s defensive stability. This style of possession-based football has been recently implemented by various teams in England.
Another significant role played by Wenger is setting an example as a successful foreign coach in England which has now led to the majority of premier league clubs appointing foreign managers. Wenger believed in molding youth prospects that he could spend less money on rather than buying high profile players. Players such as Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, and Thierry Henry are now considered legends of the game, even more, recent youth players that Wenger developed such as Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin who are considered to be top class players now.
The reason for his departure is still unclear but that does not mean that his achievements have gone unnoticed. From the beautiful Invincible season trophy to numerous trophy-less seasons and to just scraping through the FA Cup finals. The ups and downs of the club are the ups and down of this man and his life at the club. Arsène Wenger has spent a generation with the club and he will be remembered by the fans who knew no other manager before him and the fans that did just as well. When he could, he gave his best and when he couldn’t, he wished them best; Arsenal FC always came first for the man.
With the fans wearing ‘Merci Arsène’ t-shirts and filling the home stands with the chant of ‘One Arsène Wenger’ echoing throughout the Emirates, he got the farewell he deserved. “But above all, I am like you, I am an Arsenal fan.” He said to the crowd. What every arsenal fan realized after his farewell speech is that Arsène Wenger will remain a part of this club and a part of the game as well, as a legend. From the fans of the club and the sport that you revolutionized; Merci Le Professeur.