Arsene Wenger is an “extraordinary guy” who still has Arsenal “in his bones” but he should have left after winning a seventh FA Cup, says Bob Wilson.
Monday marks the two-year anniversary of Wenger announcing he would be departing the Gunners at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Wenger masterminded one of the greatest periods in Arsenal’s history during his near 22-year stay in north London, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups – including two doubles.
The Frenchman also oversaw Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, who incredibly went unbeaten during the 2003-04 campaign.
However, factions of supporters turned against him towards the later years of his tenure and there was an ever-growing ‘Wenger Out’ brigade at the Emirates Stadium.
Legendary Arsenal goalkeeper Wilson, who was also a coach for the Gunners until retiring in 2003, will always be a huge proponent of Wenger’s achievements, though feels it may have been prudent to go out on a high having beaten Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final.
“I’ll love Arsene until the day I die, but you can argue that 20 years was the right time to go,” he told Stats Perform.
“I still have a belief that when he lifted that trophy unexpectedly against Chelsea in the FA Cup and held it up to our crowd, I thought ‘That’s it, Arsene – time to go’.
“Look at the trophies he won, look at what he provided. A record number of FA Cups, the ‘Invincibles’.
“There is a stubborn side to him but it’s a stubborn side that’s on the shoulders of an absolutely incredible human being.
“I’ve been in Arsene’s company when we’ve sat down at a table and people have never known him and got a bit gobsmacked and scared to ask a question.
49, 49 undefeated
P38, W26, D12, L0
7 FA Cups
3 @PremierLeague titles
1 Arsène Wenger pic.twitter.com/2gJ9PTQsVZ
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 13, 2019
“Within 30 or 40 minutes, some of them are shaking their heads, thinking this guy is not what they expected from a normal football manager. That’s basically his intelligence and everything that goes with him.
“He’s an extraordinary guy – I am biased, you have to understand that.
“It’s absolutely in his bones, he still loves the club. Megs [Wilson’s wife] and I have been around to his home – you look at some of the trophies that are inside the front door. They almost hit you in the eyes.”
The unbeaten class of the 03-04 campaign is a feat of Wenger’s particularly revered by Wilson.
“The invincible year, he predicted that. He actually said this team could go on to go a season unbeaten. Everybody poo-pooed him,” he added.
“The only time it had every been done was Preston North End, but they only played 18 games. They didn’t play 38 games.
“It was 38 games in the most difficult league in the world. Okay, there were quite a few draws in there but they did not lose a game.”
***Bob Wilson was speaking on behalf of the Willow Foundation, which will host an online quiz via the London Football Awards Instagram page this Saturday and a concert by singer Mica Paris via its own Instagram page on Sunday.
For a full list of events and further information, visit www.willowfoundation.org.uk***
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