Footballistically speaking: thank you Mr. Wenger

I was going to write a goofy article this morning about my “combined non-top six starting XI” but I woke up this morning to news that Arsene Wenger announced his retirement at the end of the season and writing about anything else would be pointless.

I don’t know if this will be a popular sentiment but when I read the news I was overcome with relief. Not for me, for him.

Maybe it was for me.

I didn’t want to see him suffer these last two years of constant abuse. I felt he deserved better after all the years of joy he gave to Arsenal, that he deserved our love and admiration and above all our respect.

But you could see the abuse coming, rolling in like a stormcloud. As the results got worse, as the players started leaking more and more inside information, as things looked like they were falling apart, people started getting too casual with their language about Arsene Wenger.

Some reading this post might respond “that’s rich coming from you, you led the charge in that abuse”. Incorrect. Pointing out someone’s flaws, or temporary flaws, is not the same as abuse. Wanting someone to step down so that he and we could move on is not the same as abuse.

Arsene is the only manager I have ever known as an Arsenal supporter and Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles were the reason I fell in love with football at all.

For two years in college I studied Japanese and one of my study habits was to get up early on Saturday mornings and watch a Japanese language news program that ran from 7-7:30am local time.

After that I would sip coffee and flip through the channels for something else to watch. This was the 90s and the internet wasn’t like it is today, there were no streaming shows, no Netflix. There wasn’t even a TV guide on the screen (that was published in the newspaper). To see what was on TV, you literally just changed the channel, going up or down as you liked.

One day, after Japanese news, I was flipping through the channels and noticed something new: Fox Sports World. I can’t remember if I stopped there because of Hurling, Gaelic football, Aussie Rules football, or whether it was seeing some highlights of a Heerenveen match (which I remember because of the hearts on their shirts) but whatever the reason, I remember that it was football that made me come back. The roaring crowds, the colors, the pageantry: football was what I imagined an old joust would be like and I decided to start watching for the spectacle.

By the turn of the century I had watched enough highlights from various leagues that I knew I loved English football best and that I had a special fondness for Arsenal. They were a team of underdogs. They didn’t play football the way everyone wanted them to, they were fast and powerful and yet also slightly frail and prone to falling apart at times.

I also knew that I hated one team in particular: Manchester United. They won the League every year, they were bullies, and they had David Beckham – who I started seeing everywhere and couldn’t stand.

By the 2001-2002 season Arsenal played football like I’d never seen. With Sol at the back, Vieira in the middle, and Thierry up front, they barnstormed teams. What they couldn’t take by talent, they could with brute force. And for the first time, I remember a team that could stand up to the bullies at Man U.

Arsenal not only stood up to them, they went to Old Trafford and did what Man City couldn’t do 16 years later, Arsenal won the League at Old Trafford. It makes me a bandwagon supporter, but the moment that Kanu jumped over Wiltord, I jumped on. From that point forward it was Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal for me.

I don’t want to give a season-by-season recap. I just want to say that from 2000-2005 I remember thinking that this Arsenal was going to last forever. That even the assault on the transfer market by Chelsea wasn’t going to shake Arsenal. We would be competing for the League every year.

Foolish, I know now. That summer we sold Vieira and the next summer we lost Campbell, Bergkamp, Pires, and Cole. I remember that summer of 2007 after we sold Thierry Henry and bought Eduardo to replace him was the most nervous I have ever felt about Arsenal’s future.

But what Arsene Wenger did next was almost as incredible as winning the League unbeaten. He turned the teenager Cesc Fabregas into our main man, turned Adebayor into an actual footballer (temporarily) and kept Arsenal not only playing beautiful football, but also kept the club financially solvent by earning Champions League money every year. And he did all of that without spending anything in the transfer market.

This is the so-called “banter era” and it is filled with bad memories but it’s also filled with so many “nearly” great moments. We nearly won the League in 07/08, probably should have beaten Barcelona twice in the Champions League (but for some awful officiating), and Wenger kept Arsenal playing great attacking football nearly the entire time.

Few managers could have done what Wenger did during that time from 2007-2014 and if you look at what Spurs are doing now, the parallels are uncanny: little to no transfer spend, new stadium, hopeful and attractive football, but ultimately falling a little short in the titles department. What makes Wenger unique is that he stuck with the club after things got significantly worse and kept Arsenal playing at a high level despite massive financial constraints. If Mauricio Pochettino sticks it out with that club for 7 more years, after they sell Kane and Alli, I’ll eat my house.

Wenger leaves us this summer having won three FA Cups in the post-banter-era, one of the many records he set during his career at Arsenal.

In 22 years, Wenger always managed the club with integrity and commitment to Arsenal’s values, something he reiterated with his statement today. It’s a statement which I think was a warning: “To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

Take care of the values of the club.

Finally, I  wonder if Wenger played this “retirement” card as one last little tactical bombshell: one last push for the team and the supporters to go out there and give everything in the Europa League. It would be a wonderful send-off for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal football club to win a European trophy in his final game as Arsenal’s manager.

That is the only thing he’s not accomplished at this club.



  1. Probably the best non biased summary of a courageous football manager.
    I hope the naith sayers are happy now and ready for bottom half of the table performance…next few seasons are going to be toughest Arsenal years.

    1. Are you suggesting a decent manager taking over a top four club spending and player wage – wise won’t be able to crack a 50 point barrier next season?

      1. Yeah.. no way will we finish lower than 6th with this current crop of players. Any half decent manager will land us 6th. A good manager will get us back into top 4. A great manager will… I should stop now.

  2. Nice piece Tim. It’ll be odd us not discussing him anymore except in a past tense. Any you never slated him like some did (self included). Critical but not vindictive.

  3. Yep. Massive relief here. On my account, not his. Maybe I can start enjoying football again. When I saw the news, I sat back in my chair, threw my arms towards the heavens, and mouthed the words “YES!”.

    So happy. The weather today in London is beautiful, too, and it’s Friday to boot. What a day!

  4. I knew you’d have a good piece on the news. Thanks. My entrance as an Arsenal fan is so similar. Although I played and loved soccer before. But it was Fox Sports World and their cardboard cut out sets that got me into EPL and Arsenal. And it was definitely Wenger, and the club’s and his values have kept me here ever since.
    It’s been painful but I have learned to enjoy the moments of brilliance and happiness, and not get too worried about the failures. We’ll never see another team like the Invincibles, unfortunately. But I will always be thankful that he gave us that team and brought me into supporting Arsenal.
    I agree with the relief. I just couldn’t take him getting abused anymore. I was really worried he didn’t know how to step away and so happy he is.
    I wish he could have turned it around but I enjoyed the Cups and I really hope this team delivers him a European trophy. Lots of regrets over the years especially 2007-08. But I am proud of him and this club for trying to do what they did.

  5. “That [a European trophy] is the only thing he’s not accomplished at this club.” Well, he never retained the league title either – the hallmark of a truly great, dominant side.

    1. Because he had to sell some of his best players when Barcelona came knocking. Truly world class players like Petit, Overmars, Anelka.

      1. I think the knock here is that Arsenal didn’t win the League three years in a row from 2001-2004.

        I think the Invincibles and winning the Leagues at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane more than make up for the season we lost the League because of two bad games against Blackburn and Leeds.

        Though I have to admit that losing to Leeds was one of the lowest moments of my budding football-watching life.

        1. Yeah that game was catastrophic and that Leeds team were a bunch of pests – Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Alan Smith, Lee Bowyer, David Batty, Olivier “Budget Vieira” Dacourt, Ian Harte and Rio Ferdinand. They got to the Champions League semi-final that year or the year after and lost to that great Valencia team with Pablo Aimar and Gaizka Mendieta.

          Just looked up an article about that team on fourfourtwo dot com and there’s a little gem of a story about Olivier Dacourt. Apparently after he retired he was involved in a real estate investment dispute with none other than Donald Drumpf. Took him to court and won an out of court settlement. Small world.

  6. Loved it, Tim. I am also an American whose love of Arsenal started with late night viewing of Fox Soccer World.

    Like so many fans, for me, Arsene embodies class. He may have grown tactically stale, but his legacy will grace Arsenal for decades. #MerciArsene

  7. Eh. I’m thinking about how many of us were kicked off Arsenal America for even suggesting this should happen years ago. I passed through the stages of grief way back then. Looking forward to looking forward.

    1. Yeah… I got dropped by both Arsenal dot com and by Arsenal America because I took that same stand. I was clear that I was coming from a place of complete respect for what Wenger has done for the club but the club refused to cotton any dissent.

      1. I’ve not been back in years to see how disappearing all of us went for the site. Last time I checked, even the tumbleweeds had moved on.

        I’m not one who feels like respect, once given, is irreversible. Arsene is absolutely, 100% responsible for my love of Arsenal (well, after Nick Hornby).

        AND he’s also responsible for my increasing ambivalence over the last 7/8 seasons. I can be both grateful for all that which I appreciated and enjoyed and extremely disappointed in a lot that followed. If he’d left 10 years ago, it wouldn’t be complicated. But he didn’t and it is.

        1. I’d be interested in hearing more about why you feel the way you do per the third paragraph?

          1. I appreciate the question. The general tone of the comments today is people wishing to focus on the positive and gratitude parts. I don’t want to go hard at disrupting that vibe. And that’s certainly part of what I’m thinking today.

            But my first thought was, finally. I haven’t gotten a lot of pleasure out of AFC over the last decade or so. For sometime, I have felt no possibility of this changing while Wenger was still there. Change is what we’ve needed. As respectfully as possible, I am glad it’s happening.

  8. Now our future comments will be preference with ‘what would Wenger do?’
    I am truly sad about his departure but it was time.
    Will the next manager pick hit it out of the park or will we wander through a waste land of managers ? Just don’t be a clown. Don’t be a Joey Barton or an English retread. Be bright, bold, innovative and a Gentleman who can develop youth and lead us back to the top.
    Thank you Arsene, thanks for the memories.

  9. Some will still aim digs at him cos they have no purpose in life.nothing is meaningful to dem dan slaging off he’s going they are empty n filled with slag off d next manager Eduardo cos at least u wud remain relevant

  10. It would be amazing if Wenger wins an European trophy in his last season – the stuff of dreams really. Like you, I have not known an Arsenal without Wenger so I have, in Arsene speak, a little bit of the nerves. I don’t know a single fan who doesn’t think it was the right thing for him to do though. Maybe there are some out there, but I am yet to read a comment that says he didn’t made the right decision. I am really happy that he will now be able to go out among an outpouring of love from the fans; and not just the fans but the media and other football personalities as well. I was worried that he wouldn’t get the farewell he deserves because of his stubbornness and I totally agree that the vitriol from the stands would have only gotten worse had he kept on persisting. That’s all water under the bridge now. I wish I could travel to London and catch one of his last remaining home games. Unfortunately I just don’t have the financial clout to buy a last minute ticket to London and pay an insane amount of money for a match day ticket in the black market, which is what it would take right now I suspect. BUT – I will go to one of the Arsenal bars in NY and cheer him on with as many fellow gooners as I can.

    1. I think it’s the right decision for Arsene. The fact that he has retired makes me convinced there must be an appropriate replacement available.

      I do wonder if his comments yesterday about Paddy are related?

  11. Was reading an Arseblog post when I saw a new post on the bottom right corner of the page. Thought it was a joke or someone had posted a draft by accident.

    And Stan Kroenke definitely did not write the statement attributed to him because it’s almost perfect in tone and content. The ambition and leadership in that statement is what the club needs on a weekly basis, not an annual one.

    Thanks for the memories Arsene. Wengerball will never die.

  12. As someone brought up in an Arsenal supporting family and who saw my first game at Highbury, aged seven, in 1950 I can only say I feel relieved that Wenger has made his own decision. He can now leave on his own terms thus avoiding the ignominy of being sacked.

    Arsenal supporters and football in general owe him a lot, but it is most definitely time to go.

    A new coach, a new regime, a new beginning!

  13. i was at the gym when this came up on sportscenter. holy smokes, it’s happening. we all knew it would and our emotions would be all mixed up but now that it’s here…!

  14. I also have not known Arsenal without Arsene Wenger. I was an Inter Milan fan who admired those wonderful Ajax teams in the early 90’s and so when my favorite player, Dennis Bergkamp, moved to Arsenal it coincided with EPL games getting regular showing here in Canada and I just started following Arsenal. It was so fortuitous because lo and behold what a run Arsenal, Bergkamp and Wenger had for the next 10 years.

    I’m so grateful he’s going to get a proper send-off. The alternative, forcing him out, would not have been right even if it was going to be necessary.

  15. A momentous day. I think I’ll drink a few glasses of wine later on and read the tributes, watch old games, old interviews. This is exactly how I wanted Wenger to bow out this season: i.e., before it actually ended, so that everyone could show him gratitude and affection while he was still the manager. A fitting tribute to his legacy, and no matter the results from now on, I believe the Emirates, and the fans online, will be largely free of acrimony. I think the majority of fans will stand together on this one.

    I also hope the early announcement will positively affect the team’s performances, because we’re going to need every intangible possible to win the Europa League.

  16. Arsenal’s best ever who overstayed his post by a couple of seasons.

    My main regret is that Arsenal missed out on Klopp by a season and a half, who was tailor – made for this club.

    Pep and his high spending, short attention span( 3 seasons) style would’ve always been nothing but a pipe dream. Klopp, however, is a Wenger 2.0.

    Wenger’s last contribution to this club ( in the absence of winning the EL) will be finishing low enough in the table to guarantee the new manager , whoever he is, a much easier start rather than if he had retired a few seasons ago.

    It will take some getting used to watching Arsenal without Wenger on a touch line next season though.

  17. Yeah, I keep reading the same sentiment being expressed that his stepping down will hopefully somehow inspire the players to try to do their best and win the EL for him and I just don’t see it.

    If anything, thinking his survival depended on making the next season’s CL would’ve probably been a bigger factor in players performing out of their skins against the Atleti, considering how much they say they respect him and how badly they wanted him to continue in the job.
    I don’t know.

  18. You said this would happen in the spring and were proved right – astute analysis as always. And delighted you have your “footballistically speaking” post here, one of my all time favorites!

    I’m a 49 yo Irishman who’s followed Arsenal since I was 10, through many barren years when we were not a big club by any criteria. GG brought success and excitement for a few years, before the football turned turgid and cynical and he brought shame to the club and himself. Wenger truly transformed Arsenal and the success, style entertainment and values have been unprecedented. He made Arsenal a big club.

    I love the man and everything he stands for.

  19. Just saw the Gazidis interview on Jesus. What a tear jerker. Somebody needs to tell him Wenger is still alive.

  20. “Take care of the values of the club.” The words that stood out to me from his statement. To the end, The Boss has had a clear set of values that guide him. Wenger cares about players as people – to a fault, perhaps. He believes in a style of play that’s beautiful. And he doesn’t promote diving. He stood for things bigger than winning and losing. Those values are what attracted me to be an Arsenal fan and players to play for the club. When you have strong values that you share with others, emotional bonds form that go beyond the score. And Wenger has achieved that emotional bond that keeps us all watching and loving the club, even as losses pile up. Even he was pushing it with the team’s performance, though, and recognized that fighting to stay on would not have been consistent with his values.
    He’s walking away with dignity and class, thank God. I hoped it would go this way. Now he can get the absolute most out of this team in trying to end on a high note. Let’s hope the boys show the fire and conviction that they’ve lacked so often over the last few seasons. They owe it to Wenger, and everything he stands for.

  21. One of the first things I did after the news was to come on here and read the post which did not disappoint. I felt it from the very title of the piece onwards. Thank you indeed and like of lot of the comments, I have mixed feelings as well.

    Sadness and relief. Nervousness and anticipation about Arsenal post-Wenger, but most of all, Gratitude with a capital G. It’s hard to pick a top accomplishment:
    1) Revolutionizing the game with diet, training and conditioning regimens pioneered in the Premier League.
    2) The Invincibles season and 49 games unbeaten.
    3) Guiding the club to a home, still one of the finest venues in world football, while managing austerity and Champions League places simultaneously.
    4) Making Arsenal the greatest F.A. Cup team in English history.
    5) Being the quintessential “player’s manager” and developing some of the greatest footballers ever. Teaching and turning callow youth into mature men.
    6) Doing all of the above as the classiest, articulate, passionate iconoclast to have coached the Beautiful Game.

    I thank him for all of it and that his body of work helped to create an outstanding community of supporters.

  22. This takes care of the small matter of the United game sandwiched between the first and second leg of EL semis.

    Arsene could send out a reserve team of ball boys and physios and Mourinho wouldn’t dare run up the score on them.
    Expect the United fans give Arsene a standing ovation too.

    1. Even last week Mourinho commented how he isn’t a manager who hasn’t won the title in over ten years. I don’t expect him to do us any favors.

      1. That was last week.
        Come on, even Jose has a heart.
        It’s the size of a peanut but still.

        1. Mourinho still has awful things to say about Iker Casillas. He’ll never let this die.

  23. slightly off topic: a few months ago, we had a discussion about who should replace wenger. i dropped patrick vieira’s name but i’m biased; he’s my favorite player ever and i think wengerball was really bergkamp/vieira-ball but i digress.

    is it coincidence that wenger name-dropped vieira the day before announcing his retirement? this is the same wenger who’s always said he would have no part in deciding who replaced him once he eventually hung his hat.

    1. Who would you pick? Consensus seems to be around these names:
      Carlo Ancelotti
      Luis Enrique
      Leonardo Jardim
      Max Allegri
      and yes, Patrick Vieira
      Mikel Arteta someday? In 5-6 years?

      1. Allegri would be my pick. I think we could really learn how to organize ourselves and he is the best at that among those names.

        1. Juventus = one of the world’s great clubs, in a beautiful city, with a stellar roster. Allegri has unfinished business in the Champions League. Allegri is never ever leaving Juventus unless he’s fired (not likely). I encourage everyone to go watch that Netflix series profiling the first half of the season with Juventus.

          1. With our current squad, and with the young players we need to develop, Leonardo Jardim would be the most beneficial appointment. Still don’t think he gets enough credit for beating PSG to a title and beating Pep’s City on the way to a Champions League semi-final.

          2. You do realise that the primary purpose of that film is to make Juve look good, right?

            Yes Juve are a great and storied club. The biggest in Italy. (And the richest, no coincidence)

            But Arsenal are a bigger global entity. In a more watched and challenging league. And with a history and culture of stability for a long term project.

            After 4 years at Juventus, it is certainly not unthinkable for Allegri to want to join a new and exciting project at Arsenal.

            I’m not saying he will, or even that Arsenal will want him. Just that the idea that he would never leave Juventus is a bit overly…romantic, I guess.

          3. Yes, exactly, I agree with Shard, there just might be a chance. Juve are hitting a glass ceiling and besides winning the CL, which I think they might be farther and farther off now, there’s not much left for him to achieve there. So there might be a chance for him toi step down while he’s on top.

      2. Would love to take a chance with one of the young German coaches. Nagelsmann for example.

          1. Agree, but everryone is a risk but I think they are less than Viera or Arteta. I think one of them will be the real deal and a future world class manager. Just the easy part of picking the right one!

        1. Nagelsmann would be too early, I think. He just established himself in the Bundesliga and Tedesco, which I also heard being rumoured would just be absurd. Tuchel all the way for me.

    2. I love Vieira but I think we need an experienced manager next season. Would love to have Vieira back as manager at some point but I think next season is too early. It would be great to see him be successful with a club in Portugal, Netherlands or France first.

  24. A good decision for Arsene and the club, shows albeit a little belatedly he does have the best interests of the club at heart. I suspect I wouldn’t have remained so dignified with the abuse he received. Reading the list of quotes on sky made me feel a little emotional I admit. The big question is who next? Please god not Brenda!

    1. Brendan Rodgers would be our version of David Moyes. Only good if you want someone to take the fall for bad first post-Wenger season. That said, I would not be surprised even slightly if that’s the choice.

      1. I would be very surprised if it’s Rogers. With Mislintat and Sanllehi whispering in Gazidis and Josh Kroenke’s ears? My money would be on a more continental coach.

  25. I’ve said repeatedly that I wouldn’t want to see Arsene sacked under any circumstances, much I wanted him to leave at the end of this season. I’m relieved not that that won’t be the case… because the tributes pouring in are absolutely amazing.

    It’s hard not to get emotional reading them. It’ll be hard not to shed a tear on the last day of the season. I know I did, when I saw those TV pictures of the players lifting him aloft in his champagne soaked shirt after an FA Cup final win temporarily saved his job in otherwise brutal season. And those empty seats of late? There won’t be any in the house for our last home game against Burnley on May 6th. Our last game is at Huddersfield on the 13th. Shame it isn’t a home game, but the occasion is still going to lit.

    Most of the criticism of Wenger was animated by love of the man, not hatred of him; so well said, Tim.

  26. Bull, above comments that, “he does have the best interests of the club at heart.”
    For me that was never in doubt. His heart IS the club. That being said, I believe there is an element of pride at work. A part of him that would never allowed himself to be sacked and I think he was genuinely afraid of that, particularly with Josh Kroenke in the frame, given his recent record at other KSE clubs.

  27. True Story:
    As an American kid growing up in Virginia in the early 90’s, I fell in love with playing soccer in elementary school (even after living for 7 years in England as an adult, I still can’t bring myself to call it football–feels like I’d be putting on airs or something). Naturally this led to getting into watching the sport. In those pre-MLS days, my only option was European, and particularly English, soccer, and I somehow managed to catch a few games–or highlights, more often–starting around 92-93, I think, but the 94 World Cup really got me hooked. After that I started reading soccer magazines obsessively and watching the weekly Premier League highlight show they started showing on the weird local sports channel, Home Team Sports (this was before the days of Fox Sports channels, at least in our neck of the woods).

    I don’t think of myself as a bandwagon type, but as a young kid with no geographic or personal ties to any team in England, and no larger fan community to guide me, I chose Manchester United, because they had my favorite player, Ryan Giggs, because they had a distinguished and romantic history, and because they got more coverage than any other team. They were just starting on their period of dominance, and I wasn’t to know that I had basically signed up to follow the Dallas Cowboys of England, perish the thought (I was a Redskins fan).

    So, yeah, not something you want to admit on an Arsenal blog, but I was a diehard Man United fan for about 15 years, starting in 94. But here’s the thing: I changed my allegiance, not in 98, 02, or 04 when Arsenal had the best team in England (though I watched those teams with respect and more than a little jealousy). I changed my allegiance gradually between 05 and 10, the beginning of the banter era, when Arsenal began their long trophy drought. I did so because I was tired of struggling to like certain members of the United squad (I can’t imagine trying to support them with Mourinho!), but mostly, because I admired Arsene Wenger and the team he had molded in his image, hated the ridiculous abuse he got even in those years, and was absolutely DESPERATE to see him prove all the smug, ignorant doubters and haters in the English media wrong by winning big trophies again. Over time, what started as a kind of a guilty pleasure (quietly rooting for Arsenal in games against neutrals), became a full-on forbidden love affair (both my brothers are United fans), until finally I was ready to step out of the closet (ok, this is cheesy, but the metaphor feels apt) and announce to the world that I had given up on the team that I had supported for 15 years (and hardly due to lack of success!) because I had fallen in love with Arsenal instead.

    So I hope it doesn’t seem overly self-indulgent of me to say that I believe I, perhaps more than anyone else on this blog, can truly claim to be an Arsenal fan because, and only because, of Arsene Wenger.

    In the past decade or so, Arsenal have given me many heart wrenchingly painful moments, but also moments of beautiful football and so much joy. Like almost everyone else here, I became extremely frustrated with Arsene’s management and the failings of the team, and I think it’s time for him to go. I’m excited and nervous in equal measure for the appointment of a new manager and the near future of the club. But I can’t join those fans expressing their pleasure at his departure. The overwhelming feeling I have is one of sadness. Mixed with gratitude.

    1. PFO – I love hearing your back story to our shared obsession with AFC. Credit to you for seeing the light and switching allegiance. That took guts!

      I’m a much more recent Gooner, having heard of them from a distance for many years, but just in the last 4 years became mesmerized by Wengerball. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and Wenger reminds me of Chuck Noll of the Steelers in so many ways. He cared about the players as human beings, and he found them at small, predominantly black colleges where no one else went (as Wenger found them outside Britain). He changed a sport and became an institution, but was a private, soft-spoken man. Time eventually caught up with him, and he needed to go, as did Wenger , but they are no less to be revered and appreciated.

  28. Arsene Wenger on the occasion of his 15th anniversary as Arsenal manager smiled and said he was just thinking of a 10 year old boy who watched Arsenal when he came there and had now grown up with him there. That 10 year old boy is me.

    All the memories, all the emotions. The character he displayed. For me, that takes precedence over the trophies, and the great achievement of consistent top 4 finishes or even the stadium build.

    I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Not one thing. A man who could stay true to his principles, his values, in the cut throat arena of the PL. The unfairness, the setbacks, the ingratitude. Nothing got him down. He remains the true invincible.. Or as he liked to call that team. The immortal.

    Now there’s one more trophy to win. One more glory to achieve. One more glimmer to add in this glorious legacy of this great club that you made greater. I’ll be right there fighting beside you, as you are always fighting for the team. And I will be fighting for those values you entrusted us with. At Arsenal, and in life.

    Thank you for everything Arsene. Thank you for being you. For bringing the Arsenal to me.

  29. Remarkable how many gooners, particularly American gooners, were drawn to Arsenal principally if not exclusively by Wenger. That is a good thing. How his values shone out like a beacon, and came to reflect the club itself in the eyes of people who rightly admired him.

    But I think it comes back to the club… at least the pre-Kroenke Arsenal. The club chose someone who reflected ITS values, so it should be fine post-Wenger. We’re just not that convinced by Kroenke, who came after Wenger, but I believe that Arsenal FC, they of a light-blue (red in the UK, blue in the US), multi-cultural part of north London is much more than about the people who temporarily inhabit its high offices. It’s a very special club. Arsene contributed mightily to that, but it will remain a special club after he leaves. It will feel weird, and we will miss him, but Arsenal will remain a special club. Let’s enjoy the brand new ride that’s about the start.

    And who knows, there may be an entirely new band of American fans discovering soccer for the first time, who are on the way to becoming die-hard supporters of Manchester City and Liverpool. Because of their coaches.

    Today is not the day, but there’ll be more detached accountings of the Wenger years, warts and all, as time goes by. He did the right thing today, and gets a chance to feel the love. Heartfelt thanks, Arsene.

    1. I think Danny Fiszman chose Kroenke because he felt that the values of the club would at least be protected by him. I haven’t seen anything from the Kroenkes to suggest otherwise. So far anyway.

  30. I feel as though AW was forced out by the arch corporate politician Gazidis. In particular, the two recent high value purchases of Mustafi and Xhaka feel like they were made by the football statisticians team that Gazidis has assembled who looked for particular traits with almost complete disregard for the other attributes a player needs to have to play in AW’s system. AW would never have spent such a large amount on a midfielder who is easily dribbled past, cannot accept the ball on the half-turn or who cannot retain the ball under presssure (Rosicky, Hleb, Fabregas, Vieira, Gilberto, Diaby, Lauren, Edu), nor would he have spent an equally large sum on a defender without composure – even Cygan had more composure than Mustafi who was clearly purchased for his high speed rating and ability to make long passes, with disregard to the other characteristics required of a defender to play in AW’s system. These purchases smacked of a person under pressure – and I am referring to Gazidis here and not Wenger. Meanwhile we are left with inadequate players for whom we are unlikely to get back more that 30m in total (if we are lucky) – 40m down the drain. That we did not win more in AW’s last years was certainly down to career ending injuries to 4 key players – Eduardo (striker), and midfielders Diaby, Rosicky and Cazorla (we were of course deprived of Ramsay for more than 2 years but at least he was able to resurrect his career) – any of whom would have brought balance to the current midfield, although the loss of Cazorla in particular has been critical to the Arsenal midfield over the last three seasons.

    1. I think you’re probably largely right. I don’t think Mustafi and Xhaka were exclusively or even largely Wenger players (though he obviously signed off on them), and the same could be said for a few others, e.g. Lucas Perez. But I also think that our current problems, sadly, go well beyond a few bad purchases and bad injuries, and that Wenger is currently well beyond some of the younger managers in terms of setting us up tactically and getting the most of the talent at his disposal (I don’t think this has been going on for 10+ years or anything; to me the dramatic downward turn has really only happened in the last 2-3 seasons).

      So while I suspect Arsene at times has been too classy to lay blame where it deserved to be laid (Gazidis, the stats men, some players), the buck still stops with him and our team just hasn’t been good enough for quite a long time now.

  31. Haven’t commented in awhile but have to add my love of Arsenal is primarily due to Wenger. I am happy that he’s stepping away because it’s been so obviously necessary. I’m extremely grateful for the wins, the trophies, the beautiful football, and a legacy that includes 49 games unbeaten, winning the league on enemy turf, and a stadium that ought to be named for the man. I’m grateful for Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Campbell, Lungberg, and a whole multitude of talented footballers. And I’m most thankful that such an erudite, classy, intelligent, scholarly, principled gentleman led the club for over two decades. I really hope that our divided fans can come together now and honor him in the way he richly deserves.

  32. Football fans sure have a funny way of treating people they claim to love and/or admire

  33. Fox sports world was the start for a lot of us I believe. The love for Arsenal and the hatred of united was only natural. Wenger will be missed and in a lot of ways it is a sad day but his stepping down was definitely the right thing to do.

  34. Following the news that Prince Charles will eventually succeed his mother Queen Elizabeth II as head of the Commonwealth, a wonderful cartoon by Matt on the front page of the Telegraph this morning. A reporter speaking to camera outside the Emirates, “Arsene Wenger said it was his sincerest wish that Prince Charles should succeed him”.

  35. For those of you who may have missed it, in a speech to the Heads of Commonwealth Governments, Her Majesty said “it was her sincerest wish that Prince Charles would succeed her as Head of the Commonwealth”.

  36. What an outpouring of love for classy Mr. Wenger. He probably hates it because it is exactly the kind of love you give to an old man getting ready for retirement. Wenger made it known very clearly that he didn’t fancy such farewells. It becomes a patronising way of saying that “hey old man, your time is up. It’s time to move on”.

    All the lovely words coming out of Ivan’s mouth were PR speak. The problem for Wenger in last few years was not that his tactics went stale, the problem was his players are just not good enough to follow through on his vision.

    Wenger was always a facilitator type of manager who expected his players to think and organise themselves on the pitch. Wenger has always been clear how his team should play, just that the overall quality of players has kept dropping over the years. That drop in quality was also inevitable as it is much tougher for Arsenal to sign players now compared to 20 years ago.

    If Wenger were to move on to Real Madrid, don’t be surprised that he wins the league with them(although he might get fired after couple of years there despite winning trophies because that’s just how RM are). That’s because Arsène will always build attacking teams. He just needs players who are ready to be leaders. He last bunch of Gunners just don’t cut it unfortunately.

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