After 22 years at Arsenal’s helm, and less than a week after Arsenal’s latest embarrassing defeat—a 2-1 loss to Newcastle—beloved but increasingly beleaguered manager Arsène Wenger has announced he will leave the club at the end of the season, one year before his contract is set to expire. He said:
“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. To all the Arsenal lovers, take care of the values of the club.”
Arsenal won three Premier League titles in Wenger’s first eight seasons after he got the job in 1996. Under his reign, the Gunners have won seven FA Cups. The 68-year-old Frenchman is a legend who revolutionized the English game with his style of play, training methods, and transfer market savvy, and he’s being rightfully fêted by players who played with him or against him.
With all that said, it’s about damn time he finally stepped down.
Arsenal have failed to make any kind of dent in Champions League play since losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final in 2006. They haven’t won the Premier League since the 2003-04 season. Last year, they finished outside the top four, and will do so again this year; their only shot at the Champions League, with the all-important money and prestige that come with it, will come from a Europa League title—a questionable at best proposition, given they play Atlético Madrid in the semifinal round. At the club level, they’ve seemingly grown comfortable with underachievement just as long as they get close enough to keep the fans complacent (and while the board sees more money coming in than is going out). Wenger’s departure was long overdue; as always, Arsenal Fan TV’s Troopz said it best: