Arsene Wenger dominated the headlines on Friday after he confirmed that he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, bringing an end to an incredible 22-year reign that yielded three Premier League titles and a record 7 FA Cup triumphs.
Wenger took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and he is currently the Premier League’s longest-serving manager after overseeing a record 823 games.
After the news broke out, Jurgen Klopp paid a classy tribute to Wenger in his press conference ahead of the West Brom game on Saturday.
“First of all, I heard it when I came in this morning. I was surprised but it’s his decision, first of all we have to respect that and I have no problem with respecting that,” Klopp told in his pre-match presser (h/t Liverpoolfc.com)
“Today we could probably say he was, and is still, an influencer in football. He has a fantastic career, outstanding personality, [he’s] just a really big player in that business. We usually change overnight and he was there for so long, 22 years – that’s long!
“[He has been] very, very successful, that’s how it is. Maybe in the last few months not everybody was happy anymore about this or that result, but that’s normal and part of the business. But he always developed teams, brought fantastic players in, was a dominating guy in the mid-90s, early 2000s when he was really winning pretty much everything and played wonderful football.”
Wenger’s departure from Arsenal may be overdue but his legacy is undeniable. The French manager built Arsenal into one of the formidable sides in English football, ended Manchester United’s lengthy dominance in the league and revolutionised the game.
He brought a different flair to the Arsenal team and made them champions of England on three occasions. That Arsenal team which consisted of the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Sol Campbell to name a few, made waves whenever they took the field.
Klopp added that Wenger was a “role model” for him when he made his name as a manager at Mainz and Dortmund, citing that he hopes to meet the 68-year-old again one day.
Wenger has seen a lot of ups and downs in his 22-year reign as Arsenal boss. The 1998 double winners and 2004 “Invincibles” stand out, while his later years, especially the last five, saw him receive a lot of criticism not only from Arsenal fans but from the entire football fraternity.
It is indeed going to be difficult to see Arsenal without their most iconic and loved personality from next season onwards.
Speaking about tomorrow’s game, Liverpool cannot afford to take West Brom lightly as the Baggies pulled off an upset last weekend against Manchester United.
Although relegation looms large for the Baggies, Klopp and co. must ensure that they remain focused and get three points on board to secure our position in the top-four.