The announcement that the footballing world has been anticipating all season long finally arrived today. Arsene Wenger will be stepping down at Arsenal this summer, ending over two decades of success at the London club. Wenger has come under fairly intense pressure from the Arsenal fan base over the passed few seasons for failing to deliver another Premier League trophy. But recently that pressure took a turn into angst and ire as the Gunners have dropped out of the Champions League spots and into the less prestigious Europa League.
It’s a tough situation for Arsene Wenger, as I’d assume it would be for any successful manager aging out of the game. You’d want to go out on a high. Unfortunately, that isn’t the fate for the Frenchman at Arsenal. Winning the Europe League would be a big trophy in the club’s cabinet but this current season hasn’t brought much glory to Wenger and his squad. Another season without Champions League football could await, no matter how much Arsene was intent on finishing his Arsenal legacy on top.
It’s a tough break for the manager of 2004’s Invincibles but he’ll leave Arsenal with the utmost respect from his colleagues in the game.
“I heard it when I came in this morning,” said Jürgen Klopp.
“I was surprised but first of all we have to respect his decision. He was, and still is, an influencer in football. He has had a fantastic career, an outstanding personality, a big player in the business, which can change overnight.
“He has been there for so long. How long? 22 years! That’s long! He has been very successful.
“Maybe in the last few months not everybody was happy about this or that result, but he always developed teams and was a dominating guy in the mid-nineties, early 2000s when he was winning pretty much everything.
“He played wonderful football. So I always admired his work.”
The Liverpool manager remembers his time in Germany, coming up as a manager at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, looking to England and watching Arsene Wenger excel at Arsenal. Wenger’s era is ending in London but his impact on the global sport can’t be underestimated. His style of football and consistency on the pitch will have influenced both players and managers around the world.
“Since I’m in England it’s a little bit different because I have to challenge him,” Klopp said. “but when I was in Germany he was always a big role model.
“It will be different without him. I’m not sure if he will retire after Arsenal or go to another club. He looks quite fit and has enjoyed the job in the last couple of years. So maybe he will be somewhere else but from my side I wish him all the best.
“Hopefully I can meet him at one point again and tell him in a personal talk.”