Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Arsene Wenger departure timing is flawless, says Paul Merson

Wenger will leave Arsenal in reasonable shape when he departs this summer Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal in reasonable shape when he departs this summer Credit PA
Shannon Reynolds | 20 April, 2018, 17:31

Jurgen Klopp has hailed Arsene Wenger as an "outstanding personality" after the veteran Arsenal boss announced he would stand down at the end of this season.

"After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season", he said.

When a reporter confirmed Wenger's 22-year tenure, Klopp responded with a chuckle and said: "That's long. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity", CNN quoted Wenger, as saying.

That polarized fans and created a somewhat-poisonous atmosphere around the club, and Wenger, who often cut a forlorn and tense figure on the sidelines, seemed to acknowledge as much in making a plea for unity in his statement. He also promised to always show love and support Arsenal.

Wenger departs from the club a year before his contract was due to expire, having signed a two-year extension last summer.

Arsenal won the FA Cup in the year after their Invincibles season but went through nine years without silverware after that, piling intense pressure on Wenger.

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But for many Arsenal fans his exit is not before time after 14 years without winning the Premier League and facing the real possibility the Gunners could miss out on Champions League football for a second consecutive season.

"Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football", he tweeted.

And the fans' frustration continued to grow as even after loosening the purse strings to buy Mesut Ozil in 2013 and Alexis Sanchez a year later, Arsenal still failed to compete for the title or the Champions League.

Kroenke said "It is one of the most hard days in the history". Although it's the right time to step down, it's still brought goose bumps reading that he will leave.

"An outstanding career and he was a positive influence for English football with his philosophy and his style of play". The Italian has Premier League experience and would hope to recreate his incredible 2009-10 title win, when his Chelsea side scored a record-breaking 103 goals. The England global helped Arsenal go 995 minutes without conceding a Champions League goal en route to a 2-1 final defeat against Barcelona in 2006 in Paris, where he opened the scoring.

In eight seasons, the forward scored 174 Premier League goals and 226 in all competitions, passing Ian Wright to become the top scorer in the club's history and earning himself a statue outside Emirates Stadium in the process. By 2012 and with Arsenal struggling to capture silverware, Wenger was saying that finishing in the top four - and therefore qualifying for the Champions League - was comparable to winning a trophy.

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