LONDON — Arsene Wenger has shared the pain of his departure from Arsenal after 22 years as manager, describing the end of his era as ‘’like a funeral’’.
Speaking in a new documentary about two decades in charge at Highbury and the Emirates Stadium, Wenger tells of his personal turmoil as he left the club he still loves.
After three English Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, a Champions League final appearance, a team of “Invincibles’’ that went a season without defeat, in the end there was a clamour for Wenger to go as the club repeatedly failed to challenge for the Premier League title and he was forced out in May 2018.
“You realise at the end of something, it’s like a funeral,’’ says the 71-year-old speaking against a backdrop of images with supporters protesting against him with flares held aloft.
Despite his obvious success, and the Gunners’ continued qualification for the Champions League until 2017, the atmosphere around the manager turned toxic and “Wenger Out’’ became a matchday soundtrack.
Arsene has since insisted he wanted to leave Arsenal fit to face the future and every decision was made in the best interests of the club.
He has described his treatment towards the end as ‘’harsh’’, ‘’hard’’ and ‘’brutal’’. But in the new film, one of his finest and most successful players, Dennis Bergkamp, says Wenger stayed on too long, giving the Arsenal hierarchy little choice.
“It would have been easier if he would have made a decision,’’ the former striker, who netted 111 goals in 408 appearances for the club, concludes.
Both obsessive and visionary about the beautiful game, Wenger admits in the film that his ‘’addiction’’ to the sport, and the English Premier League in particular, led him to become ‘’inhuman’’ at times.
“I had the addiction gene,’’ Wenger confesses in the documentary, which has been produced by Noah Media Group, the company behind the critically acclaimed Finding Jack Charlton documentary, and will be screened in cinemas and streamed on Amazon Prime Video next month.
And Wenger adds: ‘’The desire of fighting, not to lose, makes you sometimes inhuman.’’
The coach’s fascination with football and his quest for perfection were both his driving force and fatal flaw.