The day which many Arsenal supporters had longed for finally arrived. Arsene Wenger has announced his departure from the Gunners at the end of the season after 22 years as manager of the club. There can be no doubting of the man’s triumphs as Arsenal coach but one cannot deny that the club has still fallen behind, both against its domestic rivals and on the European stage.
Given these past seasons, it’s easy to forget the impact Wenger had at Arsenal and on the entire English game. His attention to detail regarding the quality of nutrition and the club’s facilities was something that was previously unheard of and the resulting successes took the footballing world by storm. Winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and four Community Shields in his first seven full seasons in charge proved that his Arsenal side would be a force to reckon with. However, this was all several years ago, and while he has still managed to win three FA Cups and three Community Shields in these past four seasons, it has been a long time since they challenged for the Premier League title or were able to put up a fight against some of Europe’s biggest teams.
In more recent years, it’s clear that Arsenal have fallen behind most of their Premier League rivals. Ever since their last league title, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been taking turns raising that prestigious trophy. One could argue that the reason for this is that Arsenal have not had the same amount of cash influx as these other teams, and that Wenger has done a relatively good job given some of the average players he has had at his disposal. But for many supporters, that’s still not good enough.
It has become almost a tradition for Arsenal to sell some of their best players to their league rivals or to other bigger European teams and it’s a real kick in the teeth when those players go on to achieve bigger successes. Additionally, many supporters have become frustrated when the team capitulates against some of the big European sides in the Champions League, as is seen with their 10-2 aggregate loss against Bayern Munich last season and their 3-1 loss at home against Monaco three years ago.
It is understandable then that many fans rejoiced when they heard the news about his departure. There is no doubt the environment around the club’s supporters had become nothing other than toxic, with an apparent split between those who wanted Wenger out and those that wanted him to stay. However, it seems almost clear that while there can be no denying Wenger’s fantastic impact on football and the success he has brought Arsenal, the club has reached a stage where it needs a new face with fresh ideas on how to take it to the next level and make them title challengers once again.
That begs the question: what is next for Arsenal? The club has been linked with appointing former players Thierry Henry or Patrick Vieira, given they are well established icons and know the club’s values. However, what they really need is someone with experience and someone who knows how to make a winning team. Perhaps someone like Juventus’ Max Allegri or former Bayern and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti. There can be no doubt that whomever the club appoints, they have a difficult task ahead of them and it will take time before Arsenal once again becomes a team to reckon with.
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