Football

Published on March 2nd, 2017 | by Vieri Capretta

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Why the time has come for Wenger to say au revoir to Arsenal

Over two decades have been and gone with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but the time has come for a separation to avoid a damaging football divorce

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are like a couple just about ready to end it it all and move to separate houses after decades together. Yes, it’s been amazing affair, the love of a lifetime, but all good things must come to an end.

It started with mediocre results added to more mediocre results, and repeat. Then simmering criticism became anger, the anger became protest. A premise at this point is necessary: look at what Wenger has achieved with Arsenal since taking over in 1996 and all you can do is congratulate the Frenchman. Look at what happened afterwards over the past decade, and you realize that the decline has lasted slightly too long.

Wenger has won three Premier League titles, six FA Cup trophies, was the manager of the Invincibles, took Arsenal 15 minutes away from winning the Champions League. But all of this bar two FA Cups was in the first ten years of his 21-year reign. Since 2006 Arsenal have won the FA Cup and subsequent Community Shield in 2014 and 2015. That’s it.

So the love story is bound to end, or maybe it was meant to end earlier. And like a father with a child, Wenger has always been an advocate of nurturing the club and the last stage of development Arsenal need to go through is to see if the institution can stand on its own two feet without him.

With a board mainly full of businessmen, and lacking fans, Arsenal have needed Wenger to centralise the decision power and become one single entity with the club. Having transformed Arsenal and arguably English football as a whole, he’s been guilty of not changing himself, or renewing his methods to adapt to an ever-changing world. Stability is obviously important in football, but trophies are the essence of it.

The club owners have evidently decided that the former is much more vital than the latter. But it is impossible to convince the fans to do the same. No Arsenal supporter will ever show hatred towards Wenger, but it is clear that even the most faithful supporters feel the need for a fresh broom.

Yet another average campaign, with at most a possible FA Cup win, is on the cards, and it seems frankly inevitable for him to depart. But like with Sir Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United, after a manager has been in charge for this long, moving on won’t be simple. Like a break up: it will take time for Arsenal to get over Wenger and get used to “single life” again. Often, though, some decisions have to be made, and in the long term one sees the benefits.

Arsenal have been in a limbo of mediocrity for too long, and Wenger’s magic has already left the club. The only way to move forward will  be without the French manager, who will always be loved.

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About the Author

mm

A freelance journalist and broadcaster focusing on European soccer and currently featuring on Uefa.com, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca in English and more.



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