Arsene Wenger: A Damaged Legacy?

You are never able to change what has happened. What Arsene Wenger accomplished from 1996 to 2006 can never be taken away from him. The impact he had on English football in the same time period, can never be taken away from him.

You will never be able to erase the double he won in his first full season as Arsenal manager in 1997-98. You will never be able to take away the double achieved in 2001-02. You will never be able to take away the greatest ever season from a team in English football history (domestically speaking) with the fames Invincibles of 2003-04. Nobody will ever take away his phenomenal record in the FA Cup, being the joint record holder of trophies in the competition.

History will never be rewritten to eliminate the multitude of fantastic players that Arsene Wenger has signed at Arsenal. Long after he’s gone many Arsenal fans will still remember the fantastic run to the Champions League final in 2006 which culminated in the most heartbreaking experience in my sporting fandom.

He has won 9 trophies at Arsenal, 15 if you decide the Community Shield is a trophy (which I believe it is).

But the time period from 2007 to 2017 has been dire. For years we made excuses about the finances but we had squads and teams good enough to win trophies. Many of us appreciated Wenger’s commitment and work during the “financial restraint” years and many of us that stood by him during that time are increasingly being made to look like idiots. Many in the Wenger out camp have screamed for years that he is out of touch with the modern game and not fit enough to lead us to a period of success again.

Many of us, naively or not, believed that Wenger would take us back to being a competitive team again. Many of us, naively or not, pointed to the 2014 FA Cup win and subsequent drubbing of City in the Community Shield of the same year as evidence we were moving forward. After signing Ozil in 2013, we ended our long trophy drought in 2014 and brought in Alexis Sanchez. The 2014-15 season was as optimistic as I can ever remember Arsenal fans being for a season. We beat City handily, we were reigning FA Cup winners, we had just added the world class Sanchez to our squad. Yet before Christmas we were out of the title race. Eliminated at the same stage of the CL as previous seasons and finished off with our traditional no pressure rally that had us finishing third.

But the optimism has almost been eliminated from every single reasonable Arsenal fan.

We can’t change what has already happened. Therefore we can never take away from Wenger what he has accomplished here. But the facts are the facts, he has been a failure at Arsenal for a longer period than he has been a success. His first 10 years were a success. The subsequent 10 years have not been and by the end of this season it would have been 11 years since that Champions League final.

The 11 years since that final have yielded so many embarrassing moments.

8-2 at Old Trafford. Shipping 5 and 6 away to Liverpool and Chelsea. Being embarrassed by European elites. The League Cup final debacle. Finishing third in a two horse race for the title. Bottling the title race at Birmingham away in 07-08. Giving Gallas the captaincy. Selling RVP to Manchester United. Getting rid of Fabregas and Nasri in the same summer. And an honourable mention must go to our team having gone from being the most aesthetically pleasing team to watch in the country to a team barely capable of stringing together a cohesive performance let alone one that’s easy on the eye.

And now we have to ask ourselves, has Wenger damaged his legacy? He has become a laughing stock to so many and a figure of derision to many in our own fan base.

He is the club’s greatest manager. But equally, he has also led us through a period that I can only describe as sustained failure.

Wenger is in a position now where had had he left Arsenal at any period from 2006 to around 2010, he would have been heralded as one of the games greats. But to so many he is no longer someone who can be seen as one of the games greats. To be a failure for as long as you have been a success seems a damning criticism to our club legend but Wenger has outstayed his welcome by far too many years now. And you can’t help but feel the guarantee of a heavy salary and being able to operate the club under his own terms and conditions since the departure of David Dein have played a massive part of him staying for so long.

Wenger has turned Arsenal into his own vanity project. He abandoned the very principles that made him successful and his teams now barely seem like a functioning unit. For a man who has produced two of the finest footballing squads in the countries history (the 02-05 team and the 07-08 team played some of the best football we have seen as Arsenal fans), he has taken us so far in the wrong direction that I fear it will take years to get us out of this rut.

The club from top to bottom has Wenger’s philosophy ingrained within it. His vanity project has failed. Wenger has failed.

But has he damaged his legacy? And if so, by how much?

For me, he is a club legend but no longer a managerial great.


That’s a brilliant OP @SRCJJ :clap:

He’s an Arsenal great who stayed too long which has tarnished his legacy a bit.

He gets pass marks for me from 2006/07 to 2012/13

2013/14 to 2016/17 has been awful bar two FA Cup wins.

We have been embarrased in every big game. Never has a big club lost every time by 3,4,5,6 goals.


He should have left after back-to-back F.A. Cup win. He would really left on a high and sent this message to everyone: “I have taken us as far as i can. I can’t do more than this, but i am happy to leave with two trophies. Arsenal can start again from here”.

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The only damage that he’s done to his reputation for me has been since 2014. Before then I was perhaps a bit more forgiving due to our relative position when compared to Chelsea, City, and United. I take 06-11 especially as periods of stabilisation post-Highbury, and about securing our financial viability and security. The sales of Fabregas, Nasri, and Van Persie signalled a worrying trend for me. This is that his players were losing faith in him, and that they could see that we would not be seriously challenging for titles.

Post 2013 (ish) I thought we had a decent, young, core that was developing. The purchase of Özil really got me excited about the future, about the kind of players we would shape our team around, and about the direction of the club. After the cup final in 2014 I was certain the club would push on fight for titles and ideally compete better in the Champions League.

Last year was the turing point. Bad transfer windows and the fact that Wenger can now no longer take the side to a Premier League title. That is certain now. His inability to change has damaged his reputation for me, it’s certainly dented his achievements as he’s done relatively little for the past 10 years. I will of course be grateful for everything he’s done to club, and we are no doubt stronger than when he arrived.

Hindsight is a marvelous thing, but he should’ve retired after the cup with in 2014. Would’ve been a superb way to go.


Brilliant post @SRCJJ

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Wenger’s legacy has always been intact. His legacy hasn’t been damaged at all

If he leave after this season he’ll still be mobbed for pictures and autographs the second he’s spotted at the Emirates. People will still chant his name if he’s in the stands watching


Great post.

Wenger’s first decade as Arsenal manager was the most decorated in our club’s history! For that, he deserves all the plaudits. What he did was remarkable, he gave us an identity.

As others have said, he gets a pass for the majority of his second decade. And even with limited resources he still kept us in touch with the “better” teams and kept us in the top 4 while fielding players such as Chamakh, Squillaci and Senderos! No mean feat is that.

It’s just a shame how the last few seasons have panned out. There aren’t many Arsenal related moments when I’ve been as excited as I was the day we signed Özil. It felt like the end of the great depression, a turning point. But roll on a few years and it seems we’re going backwards. Wenger has turned the club into a bit of a laughing stock.

However, time is a healer, and once Wenger has been gone for a couple of years I believe people will look back on his tenure in a positive way. His legacy may have been tarnished slightly by his reluctance to step down at the right time but he will still always be an Arsenal legend.

Great discussion this, I will have my final opinion when he stands down as that could still be 5 years away.


For me, it’s his loyalty to players that has been his downfall.

He has put too much trust in the wrong players who have let him down in recent years. I can almost forgive him for selling key players as it came to light that we were in need of the cash, but Arsene still did a great job of making sure we stayed in the top 4 despite the constant transitioning.

You almost hoped that when Fabregas turned his back on us that it would harden Arsene a bit more to be a bit more ruthless, but he still put his undivided faith in mediocre players who aren’t capable of achieving top titles like his early teams did. He ended up with a squad of boys and not men who are not naturally the best players, but have been nurtured into his style of play. The lack of winning mentality characters in the squad has been way too clear for years now as well, the arrival of Alexis has brought this more to light than ever before. We haven’t had one since the departure of Cesc who would have died on the pitch for us at the time.

These factors combined with his stubbornness to change tactics and plug holes in the squad have all contributed to where he is today. It doesn’t help when the board are saying one thing and the manager another. The fans are left none the wiser and asked to stump up high amounts of cash year after year without results or explanations why - so you can see why the fans have reached boiling point now despite what Wenger has achieved.

The biggest icon, the biggest influence in Arsenal’s recent history, has just stayed too long to see himself become the villain, it’s just as simple as that as cliche as it sounds. His heart may still be in the right place, but his head isn’t anymore. He looks tired and out of ideas on how to fix this squad. We owe nothing but gratitude to the man, and I hope his send off is met with great applause and celebration - not because he is leaving, but because of everything he has achieved in Arsenal’s recent history.


When I refresh my memory and watch highlights from 98-2008 it really does put a smile on my face. Arsene did deliver us some outstanding times it’s just a shame he couldn’t see the right time to call it a day.

Again. Those where squad players. First options were van Persie, Koscielny and Vermaelen. At least proper players.

Well they were just examples. If you look at some of our line ups over the years, there were plenty of poor players who were starting games regularly.

Edit: Senderos actually had 2 seasons for us where he made over 30 appearances, some squad player, that!

The midfield we have at the moment isnt even good enough to be boring…


He’s taken the fun out of watching football/Arsenal for me. So he’s a dick until he mans up and steps down. After that I’ll maybe start romanticizing what he has done if I can be fucked but honestly the level of apathy I feel towards him and the club might never be reversed.


The true period of financial constraint did not last up until the day we signed Mesut Ozil and simply viewing a summarised account of our finances is enough to show that. Sadly it’s become a myth perpetuated by AKBs that Wenger had to operate on a relative shoestring right up until 2013 and that for a time was the main pillar on which they built their defence of him.

Laurent Koscielny aside, our recruitment in 2009-2011 was really inadequate at a time when some of our rivals really began forging ahead. Long before Wenger lost his ability to manage matches effectively, he showed repeated weakness in his transfer dealings and that for me damaged his legacy significantly, as there were trophies there to be won before the Manchester City juggernaut got going, while Chelsea were very much transitional.

Wenger has cemented his and Arsenal’s Fa Cup legacy but, for me, in staying at the club beyond 2011 he’s done increasing levels of damage to his enduring popularity. I think if you’re able to separate and reconcile the fact that he’s our most successful manager but also a manager that suffered a severe and self-inflicted decline then there’s no hypocrisy in viewing Wenger in both a positive and a negative light


An excellent, well articulated post @SRCJJ . I often wonder if the ‘real’ Arsene was gone the same day we left Highbury. The real spirit of him. His tenure here really has in many ways been a game of two halves, split almost evenly. The Highbury Hero and the enigmatic Enemy of the Emirates.

The current man seems unrecogniseable from the one that gained so much success and credition. I guess we can only put a complete analysis on his legacy once he’s left the club and how we cope without him in the coming seasons afterwards.

If a new manager comes in, and after two or three years makes us look strong and competitive again, then you could definately say Wenger was totally washed up and well out stayed his welcome.

If we go through a long period where we can’t even get top 4 and decend into an even bigger mess after his time here, some slack may be cut back and maybe then his contribution may be looked at less negatively. But right now, seeing as he’s still here, doing damage and can’t see into the future, this is no doubt this is a sadly managed damaged legacy.

There’s nothing worse than someone outstaying their welcome. You should always try leaving on a high. Always leave at a time where you’re remembered fondly and people left wanting more of you. Maybe he thought after a brief revival in winning back to back FA cups that we were on the path to get back to that. It did feel like that. But it’s proved to be a false dawn. And more than ever, do the players, the manager and general life at Arsenal look more jaded than ever.

I think in many ways, his time here has some parrells with Brian Clough. Hugely successful at Nottingham Forest and brought them amazing success, but ruined his legacy by staying too long, to the point he retired after he got Forest relegated in 1993. While thankfully we haven’t plunged to anything that horrendous, there’s still the same feeling of sadness of what was once a great manager, looking lost, broken, and out of step with the demends of modern football.

It’s been one hell of era, that I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like again at Arsenal. I just hope the damage is reversable and Wenger can be looked on better well into the future.


Tbh it will last the way others who have done remarkable things.
Alf Ramsey, Brian Clough and Bill Nicholson all had bad endings to their careers but their achivements overcome their failings.
Same in other walks of life. Nobody talks about Alis loss to Larry Holmes or Tiger Woods fall from grace now.
When you set targets to emulate its sort of right really.

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I started supporting Arsenal in 2007, lucky me.

Wenger has been amazing for us but all I know myself in my time watching us has been as you said, “sustained failure”. Its been the same every single year Ive been supporting this club and it HAS to stop now.

I simply can’t understand how anyone could wish for another 2 years of being tactically inept and mentally spineless.


I don’t see it as a damaged legacy as such, more so that the “failure” is a part of his legacy just as much as the success is. The last number of years don’t change any of the achievements. There are only a handful of managers in English football history who wouldn’t swap their careers for Arsene Wengers.


Of course he’s legacy is damaged atm, and in a way rightly so. In a few years however even the most hateful fans will come around and he will be remembered in a good way.