It is amazing to me that Arsene Wenger has agreed to step down from his managerial post at Arsenal. It has been 22 consecutive seasons with ups and downs, with the second half of his tenure not resulting in too many trophies. With Wenger gone from Arsenal following this season I do not think we will ever see another manager stay with a club as long as he, and Fergie, did. Those two were the last of their kind in the Premier League and I can honestly say that their runs will never be replicated again.
Now it was not long ago that I wrote a blistering article focusing on how Wenger needed to be sacked as manager of Arsenal. Do not get me wrong I am still an ardent #WengerOut man. In my opinion Wenger overstayed his time at Arsenal by a couple of years. He should have left when the FA Cup was won back in 2013-2014, or even the season after Arsenal completed their FA Cup title defense. It would have been awesome to see Wenger go out on a high note then, but he decided he wanted to stick around. It was at that time that the #WengerOut advocates really started to come to the forefront, because the team was looking consistently weaker and weaker. Weaker defensively, weaker attackingly, weaker technically, weaker tactically, pretty much just a weak team all around having a wank week after week. Don’t get me wrong Wenger had very little to work with because he was strapped financially but he made a lot of questionable moves that led to Arsenal being at the point they are now. Not all of those moves are Arsene’s fault, he has a terrible owner to deal with who does not like the idea of spending money but owns four professional franchises. Stan Kroenke is conniving piece of shit who doesn’t give a damn about Arsenal football and is just using the franchise as a money crutch when the LA Rams and Colorado Avalanche relocate (again). Fuck Silent Stan, he will honestly cash-strap the next manager and Arsenal will be in a never ending cycle. Wenger was a terrible manager his last few years at the club but he is one only one piece of the puzzle that screwed Arsenal. The ownership and the board are the others, and if actual change is going to occur at the club all of the them need to go.
But this article is not about Arsenal’s serious problems from top to bottom but celebrating one of the last long-term managers the Premier League will ever see. From the first day Arsene became manager of the Gunners the style of football in the Premier League was changed, forever. Wenger brought an attacking style of play and took the Premier League by storm. Not to mention he brought a wave of French talent with him; the likes of Vieira, Henry, Pires, and more European talent like Bergkamp, Ljungberg, and Fabregas. Wenger was able to perfectly blend the English players with the French and Spanish players to form a squad that both attacked and defended ruthlessly (ironically the lack of ruthlessness today is what is causing him to step down). Wenger was able to do this without breaking the bank, he didn’t need to spend 500 million during a season to get the perfect squad because his tactics were ahead of numerous of other Premier League squads. Yes Arsenal had an abundance of talent, but talent doesn’t always win championships, it takes a manager with the right strategy and belief to inspire success.
Wenger not only accomplished amazing things in the Premier League and English Cups but pushed Arsenal to be a better squad in Europe. I am not talking about the last few seasons but rather up until the point where Arsenal were in the Champions League final against Barcelona. If Arsenal somehow manages to pull off that victory then I believe that the fortunes of the club the past 10 years changes drastically. Arsenal would not have lost the likes of Henry, Van Persie, Fabregas, and others as easily as they did. Wenger was able to successfully navigate the Premier League schedule to earn a Champions League spot for 19 consecutive seasons is a feat amongst itself. The only other club in recent history to do so is Real Madrid and they are looking to have a streak that will never end (currently at 21 consecutive years). Not to mention that Wenger essentially oversaw the entire transition from Highbury to the Emirates, a move that I frankly hate. Arsenal should have just upgraded Highbury, but money-talks and the Emirates Group became the main sponsor of Arsenal. The club at this point were in massive debt, Wenger couldn’t spend and Wenger couldn’t buy, and he still managed to secure top-four finishes (Arsenal’s greatest trophy) until the debt was paid off.
What Wenger did after the stadium debt was paid off is absolutely fucking insane. Did he spend? No. Did he upgrade Arsenal’s best players contracts? No. Did he give opportunity to younger players? Yes, but not often. Did he manage the club into the mid-table side we see today? Yes, 100x yes. Did Wenger adjust to the changing style of the Premier League? No. Did Wenger think that his system, his invention would not be adapted and bettered? No. For a man who speaks close to nine different languages, he failed to foresee how his greatest invention could be manipulated and adjusted to bring about his downfall.
Wenger stayed too long, but he built this club into a goddamn machine. Not quite to the level that Low has the German National Squad at, but a Champions League making machine. Arsene, however, failed to deliver the ultimate prize to North London, Champions League Winners, and it will continue to haunt his legacy. Wenger was one hell of a manager and no one can say he was awful but there comes a time in everyone’s life that they need to move on. I will always remember the first time I watched an Arsenal game, it was during the Invincibles run and I immediately fell in love with how quick Arsenal played. Did I understand what the hell was going on? Not a damn thing, but it was beautiful to watch. I only hope that the incoming manager will be able to succeed right away, but a lot of things with the board and ownership have to change in order for that to happen.
The best thing about Wenger leaving is that he wants Vieira to replace him, but Arsenal have already botched that opportunity by giving him a “token” phone call. Frontrunners as of this point are Nagelsmann and Arteta, my top choices have apparently gone by the wayside.
Give me a full course French meal with your best bottle of vino. Arsenal’s coaching search should be interesting to watch, especially since Arsenal, Silent Stan, and Ivan “I’m a dumbass” Gazidis should make a terrible decision. They don’t call me a pessimist for nothing.
Yours truly, Tyler Bond.