In May 2018, dear old Arsene Wenger finally stepped aside after 22 years at Arsenal.
Despite winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, time had finally caught up with Mr. Wenger, and the Arsenal board effectively caved to fan pressure and shepherded aside Europe’s longest-serving boss, albeit in the guise of a resignation.
It’s safe to say that Wenger was not at the peak of his popularity upon his exit, with some quarters of the Arsenal fanbase disliking him so much that it had became their full-time job. Everything from a lack of summer signings, to failure to qualify for the Champions League, to Donald Trump winning the Presidency was all Arsene Wenger’s fault.
However, now as the dust settles and with Wenger out of the picture and new manager Unai Emery in charge, it appears that not much has really changed.
Arsenal have brought in Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Lucas Torreira, Stephan Lichtsteiner so far this summer to the delight of many fans hungry for a new era.
However, look closely at the summer spending and it is hardly the merry spree to overhaul the squad and get thew new boss up and running that many were clamouring for a few months ago.
While the likes of World Cup winners Ousmane Dembele and Stephen N’Zonzi have been linked, many transfer stories come with the same ending; Arsenal not being willing to stump up the extra £20-30m that the selling club desire.
Wenger was always accused of not being willing to spend money, but this transfer window may be starting to highlight that it was not ever Wenger who lacked ambition, but the board. The board were the ones putting out half-baked lazy offers, constantly trying to sign players for way below their market value and never getting their targets.
Fortunately for the Arsenal board, Wenger was able to sustain reasonable success despite limited funds and players at his disposal. Wenger for all those years in which he guided the Gunners to top four finishes was actually covering up the board’s own failings.
Then, for whatever reason, the Arsenal fans turned on Wenger believing that the North London side should be winning Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues, despite not looking at the fact that the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United were all spending considerably more than what Wenger had at his disposal. Wenger in fact was doing a remarkable job to be getting Arsenal into the Champions League and winning FA Cups on such a consistent basis.
Now that Wenger is gone, and the banners and the anti-Wenger chants can be chucked into the dustbin, Arsenal fans will soon realise that very little beneath the surface has actually changed.