Arsene Wenger has announced that he will no longer be Arsenal FC’s manager at the end of the season. The announcement came on Friday morning ahead of their Premier League clash with West Ham.
“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,” Wenger said.
“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
“I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.
“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 for ever.”
Arsenal’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, hailed Wenger’s influence on the club. Kroenke stated that it was one of the reasons why he bought into the club.
The American said, “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.
“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.”
So far, there is no word on who will succeed the Frenchman. However, the club announced that an appointment is impending. Until then, the Gunners will be silent on the matter until the announcement.
The timing of the announcement seemed a bit suspicious as Wenger made no reference towards his imminent departure in Thursday’s press conference.
The announcement was also made barely a week away from Arsenal’s biggest game of the season. The Gunners will face Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final first leg. Winning the Europa League will be their only consolation as they are likely to miss out on the Premier League top four. They are 14 points behind Tottenham in 4th with 15 points up for grabs. The Europa League is also Arsenal’s only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Arsene Wenger: Where it All Began
Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 in place of ousted manager Bruce Rioch. The Frenchman is widely regarded as a revolutionary figure in British football. He put forward new training ideas, dietary requirements and a unique style of football.
Arsenal bagged three Premier League titles during his tenure. The last of those came in the 2003-04 season. When he departs, Arsene Wenger will be the most successful manager in FA Cup history. He won the trophy seven times, including last season.
Trouble on the Horizon
But the silverware did little to appease the disgruntled fans. A section of fans desired change and thus, protested against Wenger’s reign. Wenger had even penned a new two-year contract last summer. But with things not going his way in the Premier League, he decided that it was time to leave.
Arsenal are sixth in the table, 33 points shy of reigning champions Manchester City.