Arsene Wenger : The End Of An Era
The article was last updated on 29th of March 2019.
The idea of an “end of an era” is an overworn sporting cliché, but the case of Arsene Wenger is most definitely an exception.
Wegener came from humble beginnings. He had a brief, and rather an unsuccessful amateur and semi-professional playing career, but his associates claimed that he always had a keen eye for management and leadership, ever since he was a boy.
Arsene Wenger tried his luck at coaching various European competitions but failed to make a mark for himself.
Before English Football
Prior to his arrival in England, he served some time at the pretty much unheard of J-League, where he coached Nagoya Grampus Eight. He had a successful stint in Japan, winning a couple of local leagues and competitions during his brief time there.
It was after this where he was appointed as the head coach of The Gunners, where he revolutionized not just Arsenal, but English Football has a hole.
With Arsenal, he was the longest ruby, as well as the most successful head coaches ever.
The Premier League
At the time, the Premier League in general, and Arsenal, in particular, had a reputation as a sort of hyper-fit drinking club. It was a conglomeration of brawlers who devoted themselves to a sociable and luxurious lifestyle.
Managers too of the time mistook screaming for coaching and were equally hard going as the players. Arsene Wenger was of the more cerebral type and was rightfully given the title of "Le Professeur," which translates to “the teacher,” not just for his demeanor but the way he understood and wanted the beautiful game to be played.
He saw football as a system, but he never compromised on the entertainment factor. The won a number of titles under Wenger, including a both a Premier League and a FA Cup win in the same season, just two seasons after he took over as head coach. They would go on to win a double just a few years later.
His efforts culminated in one of their best runs till date and led to the creation of a team that for the first time went unbeaten through an entire season, a feat that is yet to be repeated despite the exorbitant spending on players and managers by the likes of Chelsea and more recently Manchester City. After winning 38 games in a row, 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 losses, they were given the nickname of “The Invincibles,” a title only used to refer to one team before, Preston North End, way back in their 1888 - 1889 season.
It was during this 2003 - 2004 season when they managed to beat Manchester United when they were in their prime, a huge deal back then. They even reached their first Champions League final under Wenger, but unfortunately lost out Spanish Giants, Barcelona.
As time went by, however, you could tell that his managerial skills were slowly starting to wear away, or perhaps it was just that what he had to off didn't suit the environment, just inevitable change that he couldn't cope with or adapt to.
Other than the occasion FA Cup victory, Arsenal wasn't winning as much as they used to. In fact, they went nine continuous years without any silvers. So in 2018, Arsene Wenger decided to step down as manager, with Unai Emery as his successor.
Needless to say, the Spanish football manager has some really big shoes to fill. No pressure. They seem to be doing just fine under their new head coach, however, and they even stand a chance of making it to their Champions League next season.
Arsene Wenger Legacy
Sure, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal might have a little more sloppy and unruly than the average Premier League team, but he stood for something that pervades throughout the sporting realm, for values, integrity, a belief in players and people and a fondness for the beauty in the beautiful game.
He brought dignity – not in his reaction to some defeats, but normally – plus articulacy and eloquence, ideas and innovation, intelligence, sport prediction and hints of humor.
He offered a vision, so much so his best teams elevated the game to another level.
The others were at least invariably watchable. He redefined, reinvented, rehoused and rejuvenated Arsenal.
As a parting gift, he was given the special trophy that Arsenal was awarded during their 2003 - 2004 unbeaten season.
In his statement, as he announced his departure, three lines stood out: “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.”
As he moves on to pastures new, it’ll signal the end of an era. For, Arsene Wenger really was the last of a kind — his 22-year reign at Arsenal feels like a long marriage that has seen it all.