News of Arsene Wenger’s decision to step down as manager of Arsenal at season’s end made headlines all over the world.
Reports out of England, France, America, Nigeria, New Zealand, and many other countries, flooded both news stands and social media on Friday. Publications from the Wall Street Journal to local papers have covered the story.
The relatively shocking announcement will bring an end to a particularly special era for the Gunners. Simply put, Wenger was a revolutionary manager. He was a once-in-a-lifetime type manager.
Not only did Wenger help change the English game, but his success as Arsenal manager is something that many did not see coming. Despite the infamous “Arsene Who?” headline following the Frenchman’s arrival in the fall of 1996, Wenger won the Premier League title and collected his first of seven FA Cups in his first full season at the helm.
Arsenal would complete another “domestic double” four years later during the 2001/02 campaign.
Wenger’s third, and eventual final, Premier League title came in 2004. That Arsenal team will go down in history books as one of the best teams in English football history. “The Invincibles,” as they are known as, were the first English top flight club in over 100 years to finish without a defeat during league play.
Three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, seven Community Shields, and a 57% total win rate for the Frenchman during his tenure with the Gunners has securely placed Wenger at the top of the totem pole amongst Arsenal managers.
This is no slight against other previous managers with the Gunners. Herbert Chapman, George Graham, and Tom Whittaker (among others) were all fantastic bosses during their specific times with the club; however, Wenger’s success and legacy outshines the others.
More than just trophies
The Frenchman’s player transfers during his 21+ years with the club is something to marvel at. It seems incredibly fitting that Wenger began his Arsenal reign with the transfer of Nicolas Anelka and ended it with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Wenger implemented a wonderfully alluring style of play at Arsenal, which saw many magnificent goals from attack.
Not only did he bring in those two talented forwards, but Wenger is also credited with the signatures of
- Thierry Henry
- Patrick Vieira (sort of)
- Cesc Fabregas
- Robin van Persie
- Freddie Ljungberg
- Robert Pires
- Sol Campbell
- Gilberto Silva
- Jens Lehmann
- Aaron Ramsey
- Laurent Koscielny
- Per Mertesacker
- Santi Cazorla
- Mesut Özil
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan
It is also worth noting how Wenger was able to maneuver despite a lack of funds during the completion of Emirates Stadium.