End of an era-Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger got a winning farewell after his Arsenal side beat survivors Huddersfield 1-0 on Sunday.That ended his 22 year managerial career with his first away win in 2018.Last month he announced his decision to step down after poor results from Gunners who dropped to sixth in premier league and failed to qualify for Champions League next season.This season is worst ever under his 22 year helm at Arsenal.
In October 1996 he took charge of Arsenal.His first match was 2-0 away victory over Blackburn Rovers.They finished third in premier league in his first season in charge missing out on champions league qualification.In 1997-98 club completed league and FA Cup double.In 2001-02 also they won the league for second time.In 2003-04 for the third time Gunners won the league with 49 match unbeaten streak,a record yet to be broken in English Football.Team consisting of record goalscorer Thierry Henry,Dennis Bergkamp,Patrick Vieira was labelled as invincibles.
In 2004-05 they finished second to Chelsea in premier league.In 2006 they reached the final of prestigious Champions League losing to Barcelona 2-1.In summer of 2006 Arsenal moved to Emirates from Highbury,the move Wenger described as vital for club’s financial future.Moving to the new stadium posed many challenges for the club as it gave more priority for financing rather than team building.Wenger sold several experienced players and brought more youngsters in his first team.His youthful team reached league cup final in Feb 2007 and were youngest to play in a major English Cup final averaging 21 years.Sadly they lost 2-1 to Chelsea.Arsenal finished third in the 2009-10 league and lost to Barcelona in quarterfinals of Champions League.Mesut Ozil became the club’s most expensive signing at £42.5m in 2013-14.In 2015-16 when Leicester were surprise champions,Arsenal finished runners up to them in the league.In 2016-17 Wenger failed to guide his team to top four finish for the first time in his career.Pressure from media and fans mounted on Wenger to leave the club.However he still survived with FA Cup trophy for his team which beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley and also record 7th FA CUP glory for Wenger.He signed two year contract extension until 2019.In 2017 he made expensive signings like Alexandre Lacazatte for £45m.His final season turned out to be nightmare as Arsenal bowed out of FA Cup in the third round to Nottingham Forest.They lost to Mancester City in a league cup final badly.Atletico Madrid dealt cruel blow to Wenger as Arsenal lost in semifinals of Europa League 2-1 on aggregate.The result ended Gunners hopes of playing in Champions League for next season.
Wenger has led Gunners to 16 straight Champions League knockout appearances plus top 4 finish in premier league for two decades.He has been in charge of Arsenal in 829 premier league games winning 476 drawing 199 and losing 153 of them.What is amazing is that he did not miss a single game managing Arsenal for a total of 1235 games throughout his career leaving aside his few bans.With last couple of seasons globally Wenger Out banners were seen in stadiums.
Wenger has always stood by his principles and philosophy.He was known for not spending money to buy top stars despite money at his disposal.Instead he focused on grooming youngsters.Fans were left disappointed as since 2003-2004 Wenger has not delivered Premier League title to Arsenal.Wenger inside wanted to honour his contract.However with pressure from Board,media and fans he made sensible decision of calling it a day last month.
Wenger was nicknamed ‘Le Professeur’ for his studious demeanour.Longest serving and most successful Arsenal manager was given guard of honour by players during his final home game against Burnley.Arsene and Arsenal was a lethal combination.Hats off to a legend for a fabulous job.