For over two decades, Arsene Wenger has served as Arsenal manager, guiding them to unrivalled club success and overseeing his own footballing philosophy was followed in London.
The Frenchman’s legacy has long been cemented at the north London side, with the long-standing coach having been pivotal in the majority of the silverware earned since arriving on the scene.
But, with each passing game in the current climate, Wenger is swiftly tarnishing that legacy he worked tirelessly to build, as he faces the wrath of fans, pundits and even former players he worked with during the height of his powers.
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Wenger, now 68 years of age, is the Gunners’ longest serving manager in the club’s history and also the most successful, having rallied to an admirable 17 major trophies.
Since taking to the Arsenal dugout, first at Highbury before the Emirates, the French tactician has been hailed for revolutionising the style of play in England’s top-flight division during the 1990s, through his own unique training methods and alterations in diet among players.
However, since signing on as Arsenal boss in 1996 after a successful spell with Japanese side Nagoya Grampus, Wenger has lost sight of the previous glory days during his early reign.
Long gone are the days of Premier League title challenges, expected trophy honours every season and strong-minded, iconic players rallying their teammates on the London turf.
That earlier success and established superiority in England has been replaced by passing campaigns full of dreadful performances, constant reminders of past feats from those higher up and a Gunners roster seemingly without any firepower.
Sprinkle in the modern day occurrences, such as daily fan TV rants, social media reactions and an ever-shining spotlight on those involved, and Arsenal’s situation isn’t helped.
The highs and lows
Having arrived from his previous stint in Japan, after earlier trophy accomplishments with Monaco in France, Wenger quickly rejuvenated the Gunners.
Despite missing out on Champions League action in 1997, he bounced back emphatically to help the club clinch a famous Premier League and FA Cup double the following term.
For the subsequent three campaigns the esteemed manager oversaw second-place positions domestically during the turn of the Millennium. It was in the early 2000s that Wenger really took off, winning another league and cup double in 2002, then clinching another FA Cup triumph in 2003.
The pinnacle of Arsenal’s success, overseen by a hungry, in-form Wenger, was achieved in 2004, when ‘the Invincibles’ secured a monumental Premier League victory.
It was in the following years after their grandest achievement that cracks began to show, though, as long-standing captain Patrick Vieira left the club after another FA Cup win.
A sickening Champions League final defeat to Spanish conquerors Barcelona coincided with a move to the Emirates in 2006, leaving Highbury and many illustrious memories behind them.
Since then, many roadblocks have been encountered. Thierry Henry was another club icon to depart, while League Cup final losses were suffered and both Robin van Persie and eventually Alexis Sanchez were sold to former bitter rivals Manchester United. Deals that would have been unheard of during the early, more prestigious years of Wenger’s tenure.
Time to go
Wenger is the club’s greatest manager ever. That’s a fact, one which nobody is disputing, even the fans who passionately call for his dismissal.
But it has become evident that the Frenchman, no matter how much self-belief he has or assurances he gives to supporters that he can “fix this”, is at an end at Arsenal.
Wenger’s unlikely of admitting it, though, with his unwillingness to depart proceedings and hand the Gunners baton over to a younger, more suited successor being the main cause for frustration among loyal followers who have witnessed such a drastic fall from grace.
After a 22-year reign in charge, which has been glittered with silverware success during the dizzy heights but subsequently followed by disastrous lows, it’s now at the point where the under-fire boss must give in to the constant barrage of “Wenger Out” pleas. For his own good and, ironically, before he further derails the club he helped to build for over two decades.