I understand that Arsene Wenger suffered as a result of his dismissal, especially at the hands of Ivan Gazidis. That decision made Wenger reluctant to take up another post in the sport and as a result he disappeared off the radar to lick his wounds.
Wenger was a loyal servant of the club, he masterminded a style of football that has been copied ever since and put Arsenal on the path to success and a sound financial footing.
However, his failure to find a team that could compete in any of the major competitions in the latter stages of his 22 year career meant that there was almost an inevitability about the way in which he left.
As much as I have some sympathy with the Frenchman and the way in which he left, he stayed on way too long, something he recently admitted.
In reality and with all emotion to one side, he should have left after a fairly ordinary season back in 2014 which culminated in another FA cup win.
The team needed rebuilding and substantial investment at that point and Wenger’s powers were fading. He became less of an innovator and motivator and had settled into a style of management and coaching that probably would have appalled him when he first arrived in North London in 1996.
Wenger was and is a gentleman but I doubt that even he would have allowed his tenure to continue if he hadn’t have been so emotionally invested.
He’d lost sight of his main role and when David Dein was dismissed and decided to assume all the responsibility for the daily running of the club.
This was to bring him into conflict with the incoming CEO Ivan Gazidis who saw himself as Dein’s replacement. The ill feeling between Wenger and Gazidis grew and in the end they could barely stomach the sight of each other.
They would conduct their business professionally but they would constantly lock horns over various club matters.
A source inside the club said :
“ We joked that Gazidis and Wenger would disagree on just about anything. If Gazidis said black was blue, Wenger would say it was green.”
If Arsenal were on a flow chart, their demise under Wenger would be clear from the day David Dein left to the introduction of Gazidis.
That was the final straw in the eyes of many putting two completely incompatible characters together with contrasting agendas and experience levels.
There was a tangible feeling of failure and complacency around the club in the last two or three seasons, with players barely going through the motions with some dictating when they were prepared to play or how they trained.
Wenger had constructed a relaxed culture where the individuals managed the club and the tensions between the star players constantly undermined the performances.
The source from inside the club, speaking on the atmosphere inside the club then, recently told me ;
“ Training had become routine, boring and repetitive.
Some players couldn’t be bothered, they wouldn’t even break sweat because they knew that they’d still make the team sheet.
Others were f*#ked off by the preferential shown to others.
It was chaos, we all hated it.
Wenger turned a blind eye.”
Of course this doesn’t appear in Wenger’s book but the source said
” Where ever you looked inside the club, the cracks were visible.
From top to bottom, the lack of harmony was obvious and even the players were forming little groups.
It was a fairly toxic atmosphere and the results that followed piled on the pressure.
Some players mimicked Wenger and were critical of his methods but a handful still remained fiercely loyal.”
There were open arguments between some on the training ground and the tensions were incredibly high, Wenger and the coaching staff intervened on more than one occasion.
It was only a matter of time before he (Wenger) finally went. A great many thought that the board panicked into extending his contract including Gazidis who wanted him out.”
The source ended :
“Wenger had lost control and respect in crucial areas of the club and weeks before he left he became quite troubled and withdrawn.
It’s like he suddenly realised that he was no longer untouchable.”
This revelation is more substantial than all the fluffy elements of Wenger’s recent book and suggests that the final period of the Frenchman’s reign was extremely uncomfortable, even with the former managers rose tinted spectacles in place.