So here we are one day on from the news that Wenger is stepping down from his role as Manager of Arsenal Football Club, after 22 years at the helm. We are unlikely to see such a tenure again in the modern game and arguably nor should we. Today is not the day for scoring points against those who had opposing views to your own, although sadly social media is rife with such unsavoury activity. No today on Gunners Town is the day for a blog that collects the thoughts, memories and tributes of and for Arsene Wenger.
My own thoughts are not present, as in truth, my overriding feeling is simply one of relief and my overriding emotion, one of excitement and this piece is not the appropriate time or place to elaborate. Here are the contributions from a cross section of the Gunners Town crew.
I will say this though – In 2014 when Arsene Walked around the pitch at Wembley, having finally broken the nine year trophy drought I wept unashamedly as I watched on. My tears had come, initially unnoticed as I watched the man with his team. My friend I asked if I was alright, to which I replied of course, why? He replied that ‘I asked as I was are crying like a baby Dave……………….’
Over to the GT Crew…
Alex Burns – @Alexburns1088
Well what can I say; Arsène has been Arsenal for me. Since I properly started to watch football in 2005, Arsenal were a world-renowned team at the peak of their powers having just broken English records since time began by going unbeaten and going from strength to strength. Arsenal were just this team who played beautiful and intricate football, epitomized by Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Mesut Özil just to name to a few, there has been some incredible times.
To stay for a manager of a club for 22 years is testament to the job Arsène has done in north London, I do believe he should have walked in 2014; however becoming the first manager to win 7 FA Cups is a terrific achievement. People will look at the fact he has not won a league title since 2004, but the job he did in between 2006-13, after Arsenal moved from Highbury to Emirates Stadium, with a lack of financial resource and their main rivals with cash to burn was miraculous. To stay consistent in Europe’s top tier is an achievement that will be overlooked, but for me it is arguably his greatest.
He has given me so many terrific moments: Winning the league at the sh.thole in 2004, Old Trafford in 2002 to clinch a historic double and in more recent seasons, Aaron Ramsey’s winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final, Arshavin’s goal against Barcelona and Fabregas scoring in the San Siro will live with me forever.
Changing the face of English football, Wenger was the pinnacle for foreign exports in the Premier League, soon followed Jose Mourinho and others as The English game would change forever. Recent years have not gone as well as we would have liked but overall I think what he has done for this club is amazing and I will be forever grateful, build a statue, and give him a stand.
James Howson – @BigJimmy_V
Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal in the 95/96 season, which was around the time football became part of my conscious, so like many people around me, I have grown up knowing nothing else but Arsenal being managed by the man Wenger. As I grew up I saw Arsenal were synonymous with beautiful, flowing football, players like Mesut Ozil, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, all successfully graced the red and white shirts.
In this time of modern football and short stay managers, very few carry themselves with such class and charisma than Arsene Wenger, he created an idea, a philosophy of the right way to play the game and he is a landmark manager for this fact. Managers like Cruyff, Sacchi, Sebes, among other people that change the landscape of football and Wenger is among these greats for how he changed the English game especially. As a man he is the best of us, a true gentleman in a business full of cheats and people willing to sell their Gran if it meant 3 points.
In conclusion, I say thank you Arsene for the great football we now have in England, you paved the way for other foreign managers like Pep, Conte and Klopp to come to the Premier League and be a success. I thank Arsene for the nights like beating Barcelona at home thanks to an Andrei Arshavin goal. I thank you Arsene for giving the next Arsenal manager a blueprint and a legacy he needs to adhere to. Finally, my deepest hope is that Arsene Wenger finds a new club to make great, a new love, and a new place to help him ride off into the sunset….
Joe McPhee – @JPMc99
He said he would never break a contract but even he knew this time it was time to go. I absolutely love the timing. This should spur the squad on in Europe, play for the manager, and try to win him the trophy. As well as that, it should unite the fanbase. The box office has crashed this morning with people wanting to get tickets to ‘say goodbye’ – for many Wenger is the only manager that they have ever known.
I think the right thing to feel today is sad, mixed with sheer excitement about what the future might hold. Who the next operates in is does not really matter today – that is a conversation for another time. What we should do is be bidding farewell to a classy man, who changed English football when he turned up. We could and should have been more successful, but that should not take away from what a great job he did for 20 years. To the future, for Arsene and us.
Steve Wellman – @wellmington
Arsene arrived at Arsenal on 1st October 1996, with a philosophy:
“As a coach you can influence your players. You can point out what is wrong. Some are wrong because they are not strong enough to fight temptation and some are wrong because they do not know. As a coach I can teach the players what they do wrong without knowing it is wrong.”
Wenger changed English football and the English football establishment followed suit.
Training, Diet, Alcohol and introduced ‘Wengerball’.
However, 20 years is a long time in football and unfortunately, football has caught on and taken the next step.
Wenger may be stubborn, selfish and arrogant, but he has given his all for the club be loves (more than is now ex-wife), even if this has been misdirected over the past few years.
It is time for Arsene to go, probably a year or two late, but he deserves respect for all he has done for the club and then we need to move on
Brad – @ArsenalFCview
Thanks for Vieira, Petit, Overmars
Thanks for Henry
Thanks for domination of north London
Thanks for winning titles at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford
Thanks for 2 doubles
Thanks for all the FA Cups
Thanks for our new stadium.
Thanks for 5-2 x 2.
Thanks for the invincibles.
Thanks for 2001/02, the best English club side I have ever seen.
Thanks for your class.
Thanks for your dignity even when tested to the extreme by our moronic fans, Mike Riley, Mike Dean, Antony Taylor and our horrific press.
Thanks for 20 years of Champions league football.
Thanks for everything.
But most of all, thanks for being decent when all around you were not.
I’ve wanted Wenger to go for several years now.
I remember as a kid when people used to say “one can remember where they were when they heard US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated”.
Well my “Wenger Outness” as it were was similar. It was at Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd in 14/15, which ironically followed a very similar pattern to the game earlier this season. We battered them overall, but they got a few sucker punch goals, and we lost. From then, I thought, ‘wow, well maybe enough is enough.’ We had seen this result, and performance, time and again, and it had come to pass that he couldn’t take us to where we wanted to be. At least not how he was in the early “winning years”. He had fallen from grace, and big time. Akin to the death of JFK, a man whom I had loved and championed for years had finally became the “has been”. Today, seemingly, the “has been-ness” has finally come to a head.
The FA Cups were naturally grand. But then even still, our league campaigns suffered from the very same failings. Poor tactics, weak mentality, and being bullied in key games and parts of the season. We were seemingly stuck in a Twilight Zone, and hopefully now that he will go, it seems we’ve found an escape.
However, despite my views on the latter part of his tenure, I have fondness, admiration, and lasting respect for what he’s done.
– made us a truly global brand. Only Real Madrid, Barca, Man U, and possibly Juve and Bayern, can say they have a bigger global presence than us. In an ironic way, if a Gooner in South Africa posts about how he wants Wenger Out, it’s due to Wenger that our club has its global reach.
– made us play some of the most aesthetically grand football ever. Not just in England, or Europe, but anywhere in footballing history.
– Nurtured, advanced, and developed some of our all-time legends, inclusive of legends of England, Britain, and other countries. Henry, for instance, stands as arguably the greatest French striker of all-time, because ultimately of Wenger’s coaching. Papin may beg to differ, and with good reason, but Henry is the leading goal scorer for his country.
– Continued Arsenal traditions, in winning with new ways and new means. Chapman, Graham, and Wenger, as our three best ever managers, all won by doing things differently, or pioneering new methods. Chapman had his stopper centre-half and WM formation. Graham had his back four. Wenger has his dietary planning, and technical advancements, which really put us ahead of the curve.
– been the first foreign manager to win the English league. Gullit, the season before 1998 Double, won Chelsea the FA Cup, but Wenger had won the league before Mourinho, Conte, Ranieri, Pellegrini, Pep, or Mancini. Many Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish managers had won the league prior (Graham is an example for us of course). But it was always deemed that no foreign manager could cut it in England. He proved the doubters wrong, and how.
– A man who exudes class in his conduct, which is essentially the Arsenal way. Granted, he’s not perfect. Who is in life? He has got himself some touchline bans along the way. However, he is not like others who abuse fellow managers. He has never called others a “specialist in failure” or that “his wife feeds him too much, hence why he is fat” (Rafa Benitez. It would be interesting to see what Mourinho says on him, but this leads to my final point.
– Provided some of our club’s, and the Premier League’s, greatest moments. From Henry’s goals, to Bergkamp’s skills, Cesc’s skills, and the many great moments of former players (some of whom we may not like) such as Alexis, van Persie, Anelka, etc.
– has been a pioneer, and will be known for his charm and class as much as on the pitch successes. Most who know Wenger privately say he is the same as he is in public. In that he is charming, personable, intelligent, wise, insightful, and articulate. It is for these qualities that he has gained respect, which Mourinho seemingly craves and envies. Mourinho is a top manager in his own right, but if he wants to profess that “he is alive”, he can meld his on the pitch successes (better than Wenger’s, let’s be frank) with charm and class. He may then get his wish for “more respect”.
So thank you, Mr. Wenger. You’ve frustrated us plenty of times in recent years, but you’ve done MUCH for our football club. You’ve made us a grand global club, from a grand British club, and for this you will forever stand in our history and in the history of English and world football.
A bientot Monsieur Wenger.
Thanks to all the GT Writers for wanted to contribute. I am posting this on the morning of the West Ham match, which i am looking forward to far more than I would have been……………..Laters, Dave