Those were headlines of the newspapers after the appointment of Bruce Rioch’s replacement, some Arsène Wenger coming in from Japanese club Grampus Eight.
22 years, more than 1000 games, 3 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 2 doubles and 1 Invincible season later, that very man is stepping down from his role at Arsenal FC. A lot has changed from 1996 till 2018: the spectacles are gone but the hairline, critics, and principles remain the same. When he stepped in, in 1996, he changed everything forever. Nutrition, the players’ alcohol problems, and playing styles were dealt with swiftly. The result? Wenger revolutionizing English football forever and for the better.
By arriving in England as a person who was completely unknown and giving a club as big as Arsenal an identity with which it is still identified and bringing in players like Henry, Vieira, Pirès, and Overmars, he ushered in a new era of attacking football based on passing and movement and became the thorn in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side for many, many years. He created some of the greatest Premier League teams of all time and produced some of the most exciting football of this era and despite recent years, Arsenal are in debt to Wenger for a lot of things (there’d be no Emirates without Wenger for one) and while he could’ve left at anytime in his career, during the highs, the lows, or the banter eras, he chose to stick with his club and show his love and dedication for it, never abandoning his values or his ideals. In those 22 years, a lot of people let him down and Wenger, arguably, let many people down himself but he always radiated an intense passion for his club and tried to do what was best and he’s now set to leave the club with an incredible roster of players for the next manager to work with, including the likes of Özil, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and Lacazette.
Maybe we’ll remember the trophy drought after moving to the Emirates, the 1000th game that came against Chelsea, the FA Cups, wars with Mourinho, and everything that attempted to tarnish his legacy but what we’ll always remember, however, is the everlasting contribution of the man whose name is literally embedded in the name of his club.