Lessons from Wenger’s legacy


Arsene Wenger has recently announced that he will be leaving his job as manager/coach for the Arsenal Football Club in England. Wenger leaves at the end of the current English Premier League (EPL) which should be in the middle of the month of May.

This is after serving in that role for a good 22 years. He cannot have been a bad manager and yet make it to 22 years. Hands down, he must have been good and done a commendable job, especially in the eyes of his employers and those that determine whether he stays or goes.

Wenger’s biggest legacy will be the 2003-04 EPL season when his team finished invincible without conceding any defeat at all and out of the 38 EPL games, they registered 26 wins and 12 draws. No other team has finished the EPL season without a loss in many decades. Only one other team achieved that feat nearly 100 years before Arsenal.

Wenger consistently managed to keep Arsenal within top four teams in EPL each season, winning their place to play in the European Champions League, year in and year out until a year ago when they failed to sustain an unbroken run of 19 years in the league with only Real Madrid maintaining a run beyond 19 seasons and no other team in Europe achieving such a long unbroken run that is current or recent.

This is definitely another great legacy that Wenger leaves behind. Of course, his critics will argue that Wenger never won the Champions League despite being a habitual participant. He kept getting the ‘Certificate of Participation’ and not the actual trophy!

I strongly believe that Wenger’s legacy would have been stronger if he had left on a high note, when doing well and when everybody was clapping hands. And that should have been some three or five years ago. The moment he could sense early signs of diminishing marginal returns-well before everyone could see that Wenger’s Kingdom was collapsing, that was the right time to depart.

He should have learnt from Sir Alex Ferguson who willingly chose to leave Manchester United when he was at his peak. In fact, Ferguson left his job after winning the Premier League-while he was shining glowingly that is when he announced that he was leaving.

By contrast, Wenger is announcing that he is leaving a year after he failed to qualify for the Champions League and in the year when it is confirmed that he has failed again to qualify for the Champions League, unless he does it now via the backdoor by winning the Europae League.

Quite remarkably, Wenger has announced his leaving after the fans started serious boycotts at games including the home games at Arsenal’s base. Basically, Wenger and his board of directors reached a point where they could not sustain a position they had stuck to for a long time-to keep Wenger even when everybody else was not happy except them, probably motivated by the good profits he was making despite dismal footballing success.

This is the biggest take away lesson for us all-to know when to leave and to leave while shinning. Do not wait until people ask you to leave. Do not wait until you have to jump before you are pushed or indeed to leave because you are pushed away.

It is never satisfying to leave in such embarrassing manners. In fact, you would always look back with less smiles that people like Ferguson who left on a high. When you leave on a high, you afford yourself the opportunity to have great positive memories for where you served.

When you leave on a high, everyone remembers you very positively. When you leave on a high, your market worth value is also high but when you leave on a low, your value on the market is also low and dwindled.

Learn to time your leaving from what you hold on to. Nothing lasts forever except faith, hope and love. Therefore, be in control and determine when to move on. Good luck! n

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