(WFI) Arsenal and Arsene – 22 years of marriage that has come to an end.
It has been a dicey relationship like most long term commitments. Full of early success, marred by many failures… and lots of doubts and contradictions in between.
But Arsene Wegner has finally decided it is time to move on. Or perhaps the Gunners have pressured the French coach to hand over the reins. In any event, Wenger will leave in June the London club he has managed since 1996.
In a statement released by the club on Friday, Wenger confirmed his decision, saying that he feels the time is now right for him to transfer the fate of the team to someone else.
“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.”
It is no secret that he 68-year-old’s position at Arsenal has come almost untenable over the past year because of the club´s repeated failures in the Premier League and Champions League.
Sure, Wenger has lifted the FA Cup in three of the last four seasons. But at the Emirates Stadium, where patience has worn thin as expectations remained high, those English trophies are considered consolation prizes in today’s global football; simply not enough to appease the Gunners front office, its supporters and most likely, Wenger himself.
A lot of names are dancing around as possible replacements for Wenger. The most obvious seems to be Patrick Vieira currently in charge of New York City FC in Major League Soccer.
Vieira enjoyed a brilliant nine-year adventure at Arsenal during the peak of his career, winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
“There are plenty of former players who played here who have potential and the intelligence and the knowledge to do it. So there’s plenty of choice, don’t worry about that,” said Wegner about his future replacement.
Another contender for the vacancy at Arsenal is former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, but according to reports in England his high wage demands in excess of $12 million could prohibit the operation.
Germany has two coaches that are on the Gunner agenda according to press reports: Schalke’s boss Domenico Tedesco and Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann. Both are considered among the best young coaches in Europe, with Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta also in that bracket. The ex-Gunners midfielder has assisted Pep Guardiola’s side in their title-winning season.
Wenger leaves Arsenal with three Premier League titles, including an entire season (2003-2004) unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League.
Next for him and Arsenal is a Europa League semifinal tie against Atletico Madrid next week. Not an easy proposition against a Spanish team that played twice the Champions League final in the last 4 years.
“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high,” says Wenger, knowing that probably not even winning a continental title would have stretched his tenure at Arsenal. When it’s time…it’s time. Au revoir, Arsene.
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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