The Friday soccer news starts with Arsene Wenger announcing he’s leaving as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. Wenger has been under intense criticism for the club’s position in the Premier League and in Europe. Arsenal is in the Europa League semifinals, but it’s a different era for competition among the London clubs.
“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” Wenger wrote in a statement posted on the club’s official site. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.”
There’s no doubting that. Wenger was a revolutionary move by Arsenal for the 1996-97 season, bringing in a manager without experience as a player or a coach in British soccer, much less English. Wenger was the coach at J.League club Grampus, impressing Arsenal management by taking them to a 2nd-place finish. The pressure would be much more intense in the Premier League, a combination of management, players, fans, and the media. Wenger responded, eventually leading to the Invincibles era where Arsenal refused to lose Premier League games.
Wenger leaves Arsenal with a chance to add a European trophy to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup wins. His decision alters the scenario for the Europa League. Arsenal was already under pressure to use that as a route into next season’s Champions League. Now, it’s getting Wenger success in Europe at the last opportunity with the club.
BBC Sport on Wenger’s decision to leave Arsenal. The NY Times’ Michael Wolgelenter has comments on Wenger and Arsenal’s immediate future. ESPN’s Mattias Karen on the pressure Wenger has been under this season. FourFourTwo’s Chas Newkey-Burden with Wenger bridging eras at Arsenal. Inside World Football’s Andrew Warshaw considers the arc of Wenger’s career at Arsenal. CNN’s Mitias Grez with who might replace Wenger, with comments from former goalkeeper David Seaman. The Telegraph has NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira on that list of potential candidates.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson previews Atlanta facing the Zlatan scenario on the road at StubHub Center. The Columbus Dispatch’s Andrew Erickson updates the potential for local investment to keep the Crew in the city. The MLSPA talks to Nat Borchers about moving on from his playing career.
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