It appeared that Arsene Wenger had earned that rare right only afforded to Alex Ferguson in England – being able to leave on his own terms.
The managerial merry-go-round that has become modern football is clear to see, but given that Frenchman has survived sustained chants of ‘Wenger Out’ dating back as far as 2011, he had bucked a worrying trend. The flak from the fans continued, but the Arsenal top brass always backed their under-fire manager.
Today saw Wenger announce that he would leave the London club at the end of the season, after 22 years in charge. The timing of the statement shocked many, though the manner suggested that Wenger had the final call on matters, as was his place in the annals of the game.
Per multiple outlets however, Wenger reportedly left of his own volition – before he was sacked.
Matt Hughes of The Times writes that Wenger was told “he would be sacked if he did not walk”. The 68-year-old is described as being “dismayed” and “distraught” at the decision, which paints a very picture of what went on behind closed doors.
Both The Guardian and The Independent report similar scenarios, with David Hytner of the former suggesting that an unsuccessful season ticket renewal drive was the catalyst, among other issues, that worried majority shareholder Stan Kronke and his colleagues.
Miguel Delaney of the Independent claims it was “understood” that Wenger wanted to continue his role at the Emirates, despite a string of appointments at the club indicating that they were ready to finally move on.
The details of Wenger’s bombshell departure may well be borne out further as we approach a busy weekend of football, with the FA Cup semi-finals taking place. Before his farewell, Wenger has the small matter of a Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid to contend with, as the tournament represents Arsenal’s last chance of securing Champions League football next season.