Does Arsene Wenger deserve to be verbally abused by his own fans?
21 years, 1218 matches as of February 25, 2018, 3 time Premier League champion, 7 time FA Cup champion and 7 times Community Shield Winner. To add to that, currently, the longest-serving manager in all of England's football leagues by a whopping margin of 10 years, yet Arsene Wenger is considered a major problem to Arsenal, but, is the hostility justified?
In early August 1996, after a string of disputes over transfers with the board, London-based Arsenal FC dismissed their manager Bruce Rioch. A month later, on 22 September 1996, the Arsenal board unveiled lanky Frenchman Arsene Wenger as the new Arsenal manager.
In no time, the intelligent French tactician set about his task to revolutionize the Arsenal methodology. Since the start of the Premier League in 1992 until Wenger's arrival, Arsenal had been disappointing. In 4 years from 1992 to 1996, Arsenal finished 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th in the league respectively.
One of his first acts as manager was to assure the experienced players they had a future at the club. Wenger also brought about changes to the training sessions and made dietary modifications in the players' meals. Having won the trust of his players, Wenger finally found success in his second season in charge, as he led the Gunners to their first Premier League trophy followed by FA Cup success.
In the years to follow, Wenger revolutionized Arsenal, as they finished 2nd three successive times until they found league success again in 2002. In the next three seasons, Arsenal won the Premier League for the third time, the FA Cup twice and also managed to finish a season unbeaten (49 games). His profound achievement also got him honored with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003.
Since their last league success in 2003, Arsenal couldn't replicate their Premier League success again, however, in the past 15 years, Arsenal have never finished below the top 5. They have also managed to win the FA Cup four more times (2005, 2014, 2015, 2017).
For a man who achieved so much with this club - brought them profound success, gave them recognition, stayed put for 21 years through all the highs and lows - is it justified that he should face disrespectful criticism (if not a verbal abuse of the grossest kind) not just in England but across the world?
It is expected that fans will be disappointed. For a club of the stature of Arsenal, losing fringe matches week in and week out, losing to their arch-rivals, losing the stronghold over London and not winning a trophy on a regular basis is calamitous, to say the least. The narrow-minded fans who shout vile abuses, however, seem to have forgotten the fact that the very past success that they are using to drive "#WengerOut" was in fact, bestowed upon them by the man himself.
It's true that Wenger has lost his touch. He is probably not the same young French lad whose golden touch turned Arsenal into "The Invincibles", but even if this season is supposed to be his last, he surely doesn't deserve to bow out as a villain.
A video surfaced on the internet recently which showed a young Arsenal fan verbally abusing Wenger on the pretext of shaking his hands. His companions burst out into sly laughter. If this is not disgraceful, then what is?
Sometimes we tend to forget that at the end of the day, Wenger is also a human - a real human with profound emotions. You can see him scowling when his players lose possession. You can, quite literally, feel the intensity behind those fist-pumps when they score that all-important goal. It feels as if, we have chosen to ignore the fact that the poor man is looked down upon by a million humans across the globe for a crime as small as not bringing success.
What would we have done if every single day someone would come up to us and verbally abuse us? What would we do if the news channels had nothing to show but our failures? Would we able to put up a brave face every single morning and skip past the unbearable criticism by a million humans across the world? Would we?
Should Wenger retire? It's debatable, although the weight of his exit seems heavier on this balance of judgments. Should he leave as a disgraced villain, that too by the very club he so cherishes and has helped them grow? It's for us to decide.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.