Wednesday 12 December 2018

Wenger bows out with dignity

Huddersfield Town 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waves to the fans. Photo: Reuters
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waves to the fans. Photo: Reuters

Jason Burt

To the end, there was dignity and, to use one of his favourite words, humanity to Arsene Wenger as he bowed out - quite literally - as Arsenal manager after 22 years, 1,235 games and 707 victories.

There was a touch of sentimentality, too, as Wenger reflected on how appropriate it was for Huddersfield Town being his final opponent in what otherwise was an inconsequential fixture.

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Huddersfield's Alex Pritchard. Photo: PA
Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Huddersfield's Alex Pritchard. Photo: PA

"Herbert Chapman, maybe our greatest manager, came from here," Wenger said. "For me to come here on the last day had a special meaning, when you know the history of our club."

Chapman was Huddersfield's greatest manager in their golden period during the 1920s when he led them to three league titles before moving on Arsenal.

Chapman revolutionised the role of the manager in an era when decisions were made by committee.

Privately Wenger might ruefully have considered that the wheel is turning full circle away from his profession, given the nature of his departure, as he walked past the bust of Chapman at the entrance to the John Smith Stadium, then the photograph before he took to the pitch to be met by a guard of honour.

A fan's shirt honouring outgoing manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA
A fan's shirt honouring outgoing manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA

Before kick-off Wenger strode away towards the travelling Arsenal supporters and bowed down before them, later saying it was a spontaneous act of appreciation.

"We had disagreements, which I accept, but we had one thing in common: we loved Arsenal Football Club and I wanted to share that with them," he said.

Wenger's final - and most expensive - signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal and it means he has struck 10 times in just 13 league games since he arrived in January for £56m.

And the goal was one that will have delighted Wenger as it was constructed through a slick passing move involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexandre Lacazette, who slid the ball for Aaron Ramsey to provide the cross for Aubameyang to score.

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey in action with Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy. Photo: Reuters
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey in action with Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy. Photo: Reuters

Meanwhile, former captain Mikel Arteta, on Manchester City's coaching staff, is being seen by the Arsenal hierarchy as the preferable candidate to take over from Wenger.

© Daily Telegraph, London

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey. Photo: Reuters
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey. Photo: Reuters

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