On Friday, veteran Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger announced that he would step down as the Gunners boss at the end of the season after 22 years in charge in north London.
The timing may have been a shock, but the Frenchman’s summer exit may not be. Rumours and speculation were rife that Wenger would not fulfil the last year of his contract. That has now been confirmed.
Wenger announced his decision by posting a statement on the clubs official website that read: “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,”
“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. I want to thank the staff, the players, the directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support forever.”
A once great manager
Some will feel the veteran boss has made the right decision. However, Wenger’s exit will likely leave Gunners fans with mixed emotions, because he has had his fair share of ups and downs in north London.
Nobody can dispute that Wenger transformed the Gunners in his early years as Arsenal boss. In fact, his training and coaching methods had a big effect on English football overall.
He polished diamonds in the rough like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, turning them into world stars. Wenger created a team that won the double twice, while also creating ‘The Invincibles’ team of 2003/04, which still consider one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.
His ideas and methods were refreshing and led to a revolution at English clubs. Without a doubt, he was one of the finest bosses to ever manage in the Premier League.
Not lived up to expectations in the last decade
The problem for Wenger is that he has not moved with the times. The French boss is very idealistic, which was once an attribute that made him a great boss. However, that idealism has now turned to stubbornness.
While other clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United strengthen their squads and heighten their profiles, Arsenal went on a downward spiral that has seen the Gunners miss out on Champions League last season and more than likely this season.
In terms of direction, the Gunners have only gone backwards in recent years. Wenger’s stubbornness and blind loyalty to certain players that will never be good enough has hampered the clubs position in the English and European game.
This season has seen the Gunners suffer 11 Premier League defeats, the most in Wenger’s reign as Arsenal boss. Despite winning the FA Cup three times in five years, it is the Gunners drift down the Premier League table that has led to calls for the Frenchman to leave the club.
Who will replace Wenger?
With Wenger’s summer exit now confirmed. The next question is who will be the next Gunners boss?
A number of potential high-profile names have been linked with the Arsenal job in recent months. However, former-Gunners captain Patrick Vieira is the favourite at odds of 4/1 to take the position, with the likes of Thomas Tuchel, Joachim Low, Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri also likely candidates for the job.
However, love him or loathe him, Arsene Wenger will be a hard man to replace. He may have struggled to bring glory to Arsenal in the latter years of his career as Gunners boss, but his first decade was special.
The Frenchman has played a major part in keeping Arsenal near the top of the Premier League. However, the English top-flight has moved on and the veteran boss knew that his time as Arsenal boss was up, so made what must have been a very hard decision to leave the club in the summer.
Who will be the next Gunners boss?
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