Why Arsene Wenger isn't a worthy Arsenal legend
October 1996, Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal. Ever since then, he has been unwilling to vacate his seat. Nothing lasts forever, though. The French manager will step down this summer.
Deciding to leave the Emirates didn't come from Wenger's heart. It was brought about by mounting pressure and criticism. The 'Wenger Out' brigade got their wish in the end.
Wenger's imminent departure has started a party at Arsenal. Players and fans alike are bidding the 68-year-old a respectful farewell, thanking him for his 22 years of service.
Wenger's early years were grand. He won the Premier League title three times during his first seven full seasons in charge. In 2003/04, the Frenchman went the entire campaign unbeaten to create the Invincibles. No other team has achieved that feat before or since.
Wenger is the FA Cup's most successful ever manager, winning the competition on seven occasions. He also gave youngsters their opportunity on the big stage, including Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey.
Surely, then, Arsene Wenger deserves legend status at Arsenal?
Unfortunately for the Arsenal boss, the last decade has tarnished his image. The Gunners have now dropped to a new low. Having failed to make the top four last season, they slumped further to finish sixth.
Improvements should have been made. If Petr Cech isn't making mistakes, the defenders are. The midfield is weak, too. Arsenal can't withstand pressure in central areas. A lack of protection exposes an already poor defence. Conceding unnecessary goals is the end result.
Despite all the problems on the pitch, Wenger was content to stand, arms folded, and watch Arsenal's downfall.
Europe has proven a nightmare for Wenger. The Gunners failed to lift a European trophy despite his long reign. The closest they got was reaching two finals, losing to Galatasaray and Barcelona.
Last season's 10-2 dismantling at Bayern Munich's hands will always remain a stain. Losing both legs 5-1, the Bavarians were everything Arsenal wanted to be.
The Gunners entered the Europa League this campaign for the first time under Wenger. Thay had a great chance to beat Atletico Madrid and make the final. In the first leg, the Spanish side had a man sent off in only the tenth minute. Arsenal, however, failed to convert. They went on to lose the tie 2-1.
If Wenger had guided his side past Atletico, a Europa League final against Marseille awaited. Winning the trophy would have been a glorious parting gift, casting all past disappointments from memory.
However, European failure meant another unsatisfactory season at the Emirates.
Wenger's replacement can breathe life into Arsenal. The next manager will ensure the club challenges for the Premier League once again. Should he win the Champions League, the Frenchman's achievements will be cast aside. Arsene who?
Wenger will soon be forgotten. He is not an Arsenal legend. He is not worthy.