On this day in 2018, Arsene Wenger took charge of his last match after 22 years as manager of Arsenal football club.
He’s been somewhat of a stranger around N7, with the Frenchman reluctant to attend games or even show his face at the training ground.
Speaking to beIN SPORTS in 2020, Wenger reiterated his desire to stick to the decision he had made and that was to distance himself from the club completely.
“Would I return to the Emirates Stadium? I always said to myself that I would be leaving Arsenal completely. That’s the decision I made,” he said.
It’s a decision that current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants him to reconsider, with the Spaniard eager for the 72-year-old to return in some capacity moving forward.
“There has been communication, and I saw him and talked to him when we went to see the film,” Arteta said.
“Hopefully we can bring him close, because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment he can create around him and around this place.”
“I think it would be a great help, and it would be a great help for the club. Things take time and I think he has to dictate those timings. What I can say is from my side and I can talk, I think, on behalf of everybody that we would be delighted to have him much closer.”
As Arteta said, it’s all about finding the right time for Wenger and that’s a call only he can make, but right now, I don’t personally think there’s a better time for him to show his face.
Thursday’s North London derby defeat hurt and it was a real sickener.
Yes, we are still very much in the race for the top four and it remains in our hands, but the players could do with a big lift.
I’m sitting here imagining what it would do to their confidence if they are in the London Colney dressing room and all of a sudden Le Professeur comes strolling in.
A three-time Premier League and seven-time FA Cup winner who knows exactly what it takes to secure Champions League qualification, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that his presence would do everyone the world of good.
The squad has three days to recover and prepare for what is another cup final, times are tense.
If Wenger rocks up, even just for a few hours, they could turn out to be hours that prove crucial.
Of course, going out on the pitch and winning is ultimately what’s going to get us over the line, but having him there delivering words of advice and support could go a long, long way.
Today, Wenger is a calm and collected figure, those who have been lucky enough to meet him will tell you that.
He wouldn’t increase the pressure, he would do the opposite.
It’s exactly what this team needs at this moment in time.
Just to be there and say ‘Lads, don’t worry.
Arteta has done a great job with this young team, there’s no question about that, but if it misses one thing, it’s having that father figure around the place.
I’m sure he and his coaching staff are inviting, yet I doubt there’s anyone who can offer the same words of wisdom as Wenger, someone who truly has a unique effect on a player’s mentality just by being in their presence.
Wenger’s return doesn’t have to be in a formal capacity, nor does it have to be linked to a new role.
Like Arteta, I would just like him to be more connected, to be there in times of need, to be that person who creates that spark of motivation and hope.
Whether he turns up now or later down the line, it really would be a welcome boost for everyone.