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Arsene Wenger: Dermot O'Leary's open letter to departing Arsenal manager

[img]https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg" srcset="https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/240/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg 240w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/320/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg 320w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg 480w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg 624w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/F450/production/_101244526_wenger.jpg 800w" sizes="(min-width: 900px) 50vw, (min-width: 600px) 70vw, 100vw" alt="Arsene Wenger" class="">
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will bow out of the club after Sunday's match at HuddersfieldArsene...I won't lie to you, I cried last Sunday - twice. I knew I was going to. The first came as you - our manager of 22 years - were applauded onto the pitch through a guard of honour in the bright May afternoon sunshine (my sunglasses luckily masked this, and I might have muttered something about hay fever).By the second time though, the tears were proud, wistful and 60,000 strong. It was like we'd all watched the end of The Shawshank Redemption en masse.
For once, nobody left early to beat the notorious traffic, and the attendance announcement didn't lie. The place was packed and nobody was going anywhere fast.You, in turn, graciously strode out to the centre circle, arms aloft, to give and receive the thanks and respect you have deserved for so long, but has at times (at least in the case of the latter) been cruelly lacking.After a 5-0 walloping of our 'nearest rivals' Burnley - a relatively unimportant but emotionally crucial win - for one final time you were embraced like the departing semi-conquering hero you are.
'All I've ever known'
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Roger Osborne's winner gave Ipswich victory at Wembley 40 years ago...For someone who has been an Arsenal fan since he was five, it's odd that in many ways the only manager I've ever really known is you.I've been an Arsenal fan since 1978, when I watched the team I have come to love go down to an inspired Ipswich Town, 1-0 in the FA Cup final.With both parents moving over from Ireland, and having little if no allegiance to any team or area, I pretty much had my pick.At the time, most kids where I grew up supported Ipswich, who were enjoying an incredible period, but I chose the boys in yellow.Why[/IMG]'The footballing world changed'
As the era of English football went from the time of the honest pro to the world of the remote, media-trained, PR-controlled global superstar, young, understandably ambitious men had their heads turned while ruthless agents plundered.Maybe, with the stadium move your hands were tied, maybe you didn't react quickly enough, maybe you thought you could carry on and find the gold for £500,000 here, £3m there.The magic stopped working though, and we started watching the same movie, year after year, a few great players, but a fragility that set in and somehow didn't go away, an early-season flourish followed by a late winter slump that saw us crash out of the FA Cup and the Champions League, and then the desperate dash to finish fourth.Although a recent respectable run of three cups in five years is nothing to be sniffed at, we all know we haven't been competitive enough in the league for quite some time.The problem is that with the immediacy and 'Fifa-isation' (that's a real term, by the way) of the modern football fan, there is no room for barren periods any more. We now live in a world of extremes.Players and managers are either awful or they are brilliant, fans expect unconditional loyalty one way, but feel well within their rights to boo - and a lot worse - to high heaven when it's not going our way.
[img]data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-src="https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/{width}{hidpi}/cpsprodpb/1DDC/production/_101244670_wenger.jpg" data-sizes="auto" alt="Fan in Arsene Wenger mask">
Wenger won 10 major honours at Arsenal - including seven FA CupsThere's a lot made of the game moving on and you being left behind. If that is true (and I'm not sure for the most part it is) then it's been in one main area: money. You always seemed like you have seen yourself as a steward to this club, part of its DNA. Now we are as much the club you have built as vice versa.I read a great comparison once which likened you to a German in the Weimar Republic who ordered a steak in a restaurant and nipped to the toilet, only to find, on your return that the price had gone up 30,000 Reichsmarks.You simply didn't seem to respond to the economics of the modern game. You seemed aghast by the prices - and who wouldn't[/img]
'The right time to go?'
Is it the right time for you to go? Probably not. The day which would have done your incredible legacy justice would have been 27 May 2017 when we upset the odds and defeated Chelsea, both physically and tactically, as you won a record seventh FA Cup and the club's 13th.I have no problem with people who said we needed a change, because we did.There's no hypocrisy in praising you while also wanting a new direction, and as sad as I am to see a proud, stalwart of the game go, I too am excited to see what comes next.
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Who will fill Wenger's shoes? Arsenal hope to make an appointment before this summer's World CupI feel sadness. I am a romantic, and the idea of a manager who has been with a club for 22 years appealed to the sense of tradition I love and see disappearing in the modern game.But my overall emotion is simply of pride, of a manager who has changed a club beyond all recognition, but still retained its tradition, its values. Have you been perfect? No.But you have done nothing but devote a large chunk your working life to make the club that is so now imbued with your DNA a success.So thank you, Arsene. And au revoir...
'The brilliant revolutionary who refused to change'
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