His departure from Arsenal may have been widely expected, however the consensus seemed to be that he would see out the final year of this current two year deal and the club will then seek to replace him after next season. So last week’s shock announcement that after 22 years, Wenger would leave Arsenal in the summer came as a bolt from the blue as in Wenger, here is a man who has always remained loyal to the length of his contract. Talk of him jumping before he was pushed began to surface, but the official club statement spoke of Wenger himself coming to the conclusion that it was time to go. However following Arsenal’s 4-1 demolition of West Ham last Sunday, Wenger appeared to hint at other scenarios, which he did not want to elaborate on at this time, but seemed at odds with last week’s announcement. Then Wenger told the club’s website, “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. I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.

“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club.

“My love and support forever.”

In Sunday’s post match press conference, there seemed to be a more guarded response on his departure with Wenger speaking of how hurtful the fan disunity had affected the club globally. He said that he didn’t feel tired but that if he was the cause for concern then he would step aside. Chants of “There’s only one Arsene Wenger” we’re heard during the win over the Hammers which reminded Wenger of the affection he still has at the club.

“I’m happy when our fans are happy. I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes, they make me happy as well then I’m happy. I’ll take it. Every single decision I’ve made in my 22 years is for the good and the sake of Arsenal. Even when it was the wrong decision, my one priority was to do well for the club,” said Wenger.

“I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of the individual players and of course the style of play and results. To combine the three is not always easy and I believe that I will leave a club that is in a very strong position on all fronts. My target was always to do that and I give an opportunity to the guy who comes in after me to do even better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish,” he continued.

Three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups have been the record haul of the Gunners’ most successful manager. The first decade was particularly brilliant for Arsenal fans culminating with the Invincibles in the 2003/04 season.

Arsenal’s record goal scorer Thierry Henry has lamented the move from Highbury which he said stifled the Gunners ongoing progression from the time of the Invincibles, sacrificed for a new stadium. Wenger enjoyed a new match day revenue totalling over £1m per game, but what no one could foresee was how tv money would become the backbone of the Premier League clubs with fan revenue becoming additional income. So would Arsenal have been more successful under Wenger had they remained at Highbury? Henry thinks so, and his point is very valid.

Three FA Cups were the sum total of silverware which Wenger won in his second decade at the helm, with Champions League football for 20 consecutive seasons until last year. Should Arsenal win the Europa League, they will have a route back to the top European table which with Arsenal currently lying in sixth in the table and without an away point since the beginning of 2018, the Premier League will not provide this season.

It is precisely that stagnation which has caused the fans much angst. Getting rolled over at Brighton and Bournemouth was hard to take and the players seemed unable to work out how to respond to match day calamities under Wenger. The man himself rarely ventured onto the touchline with tactical reorganisation, or instructions to a certain player. As Patrick Vieira once said ” He trusts his players.” When those same players needed guidance and it wasn’t there, that then became the problem.

Wenger will have offers from elsewhere, but he may not want to work with another Premier League club. A national team job – England has previously been mentioned, or even a role at FIFA might be on the cards.

“I will never completely leave this club, because my first look will always be for Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached, but it’s difficult. You do not give 22 years of your life like that. I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week – not six or six and a half. Seven for 22 years! You cannot just walk away and say thank you very much and bye bye, it is absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened – it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge and that it will be difficult for me. But I had other difficulties in my life and I hope that I will get through this one as well.”

Breaking up will always be hard to do, and it is a shame that alongside a younger coaching mind like Henry or Vieira. Wenger wasn’t able to grasp the need for help which was available and which he needed to rival the new thinking of the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp for example.

Fans should get behind Wenger for the remaining games of which just the Europa League semi-final first leg and the Premier League visit of Burnley remain at th Emirates this season. For what he has delivered, Wenger deserves our ongoing support and best wishes.

Merci Arsene et Bon Chance.