There are so many thoughts. But, as someone who is on record saying that it’s time, and a little past time, for this change, I want to call attention to this passage from Amy Lawrence:
Here’s the thing. Wenger’s own apparent acceptance of more modest fare is perhaps the most intriguing element of all. He knew exactly what ingredients were needed to build a conquering team. So why settle for less? He could have left Arsenal at several points along the way, not least when he knew he was in for a few challenging seasons in the immediate aftermath of the move from Highbury to the Emirates. Finances were restricted, the football landscape was changing rapidly with the arrival of oligarchs and investors from far and wide. He chose not to be tempted by offers from some of Europe’s giants, clubs with more financial muscle and stability, to oversee a huge redevelopment. There was no trophy for that even if Wenger regards that period – keeping the club near the top – as one of his successes.
It’s true, and it’s important. Wenger stayed at a club that he knew could not, for several years, compete with the wealthiest clubs in Europe, and he did it at a time when his reputation was as high as that of any manager in the world. It would have been easy for him to bow out, head for one of the giants where he would have been welcomed with hosannas, and leave any messes at the new Emirates for his successors to try to clean up. Instead, he stayed and kept Arsenal in the top four even when he was forced to feature Nicklas Bendtner and Johan Djourou as front-line players. He remains proud of this accomplishment, and he should be.
It is really only in the last three or four years, when the quality of his squad improved but his results did not, that it became clear that he was simply not adapting to today’s game. That was sad to see — and difficult to come to terms with.
He is one of the greats. As Lawrence writes, “He is the last of the managerial overlords, the long-term managers who dedicate decades to one club. After all Wenger’s yesterdays, Arsenal without Arsène will take some getting used to.”