The end of Arsѐne Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal will be unlikely to come as a surprise to those who have followed the club’s progress, or lack thereof, over the last few years.
During the last few seasons, Arsenal are a club that have epitomised unfulfilled potential, manifested by their players on the pitch right through to their income and revenue, and their ownership of one of world football’s best stadiums.
But, having been at Arsѐne’s last game at The Emirates on Sunday, never has it been clearer that it’s time to forget his less fruitful years. Forget the defeats, the league disappointments, dropping out of the Champions League and the players who left for pastures greener.
Those memories should be cast in to the deepest, most unexplored recesses of your mind and replaced solely with the glorious achievements that history will remember Arsѐne Wenger for.
History will remember three league titles and seven FA Cups, comprising of two league and cup doubles and a record for both the most successful club and manager in FA Cup history.
It will remember a forty-nine game unbeaten run and a golden Premier League trophy for remaining invincible throughout an entire league campaign.
It will remember footballing greats like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, all of whom were nurtured and merged together by Arsѐne to create one of the greatest Premier League teams of all time.
English football, too, will remember Arsѐne’s contribution to the game, from his revolutionising of sports fitness and player wellbeing, to the way in which he envisioned the game should be played. It is no overstatement to suggest that Arsѐne has been one of, if not the most enlightened managerial appointments of the Premier League era.
For Arsenal fans on a personal level, there are memories that the greatest manager in the club’s history has afforded us that will never be forgotten; etched in to the club’s history for eternity.
The previously listed achievements, of course, are immortal. However, it was the manner in which those achievements were realised that will survive longest in the memories of Arsenal fans. The most notable of those; winning the league title at White Hart Lane.
The electrifying way in which Arsѐne’s teams of years gone by went about their business is still talked about and will be talked about for untold years to come. Momentous European nights such as Madrid at the Bernabeu and Inter at the San Siro serve to highlight that point.
However, as tributes pour in from players past and present, those who have been lucky enough to work with Arsѐne Wenger and fans around the world who have interacted with him, I think it will become clear to the footballing world that Arsѐne’s indubitable class and greatness extended, and will continue to extend, far beyond football.
Some have claimed that Arsѐne’s failings of late have tarnished his once great legacy. Absolute nonsense. The next time you’re at the Emirates, walking through North London, arguing with fans across the world on Twitter about what team should be selected for the North London Derby or remember the trophies amassed in the Arsenal trophy cabinet, take a moment to consider how much Arsѐne Wenger contributed to all of that.
Arsѐne’s legacy is plain and visible for all to see and will be forever present as long as Arsenal play in red and white, the pitch at the Emirates is hosting some of the biggest games in world football, and that golden Premier League trophy is still being talked about.
So, for innumerable achievements that will live long in the memories of any Arsenal fan lucky enough to have watched your teams at their heights, and for your colossal contribution towards the club’s identity and standing in world football, thank you, Arsѐne. Enjoy your retirement now from the stands as one of us. Enjoy it as a fan of the best club in the world.