Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal at the end of the season
The Frenchman has been with Arsenal for 22 years
Fans have displayed "Wenger Out" banners all over the world
From Wrestlemania to the White House, plastered on toilet walls in Australia and cardboard signs in Zimbabwe.
“Wenger Out.” Many Arsenal fans across the world have clamored for the club’s long-term manager Arsene Wenger to step down in recent years, taking to the streets, stadiums, Twitter and, in one extreme case, even to the sky.
On Friday, they got their wish.
The Frenchman announced he will call time on his 22-year association with the club when the current season ends early next month, also signaling the end of a social media campaign that has drawn support in weird and wonderful places.
It began as response to a downturn in Arsenal’s fortunes on the pitch. After three English Premier League titles and four FA Cups between 1998 and 2005, Wenger oversaw a nine-year run without a trophy.
Fans grew restless for a change of leadership and began to demand it in unexpected locations.
A placard with “Wenger Out” splashed across it appeared at a protest against Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe early last year, while a couple of months later one Arsenal fan made his views clear at the WWE’s annual Wrestlemania extravaganza.
Leader of the British Labour Party and an Arsenal fan, Jeremy Corbyn is an MP in the club’s Islington neighborhood in North London.
Some supporters of Corbyn, however, didn’t afford Wenger the same backing in the run up to the 2017 British election, with “Wenger Out” messages appearing at a public appearance by the Labour Party leader in Leamington Spa.
The campaign reached a bizarre pinnacle during a 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion in March 2017. One anti-Wenger fan arranged for a plane to fly over the stadium trailing a banner emblazoned with the message “No Contract #Wenger Out,” only for a second plane with a pro-Wenger message to appear moments later.
The banner condemning Wenger reappeared in the skies above a match at Stoke City the following May. Incidentally Arsenal won that match 4-1.
And while “Wenger Out” campaigners will no doubt feel vindicated, they should be careful what they wish for.
When Wenger’s old nemesis Alex Ferguson ended his 26-year reign as Manchester United manager in 2013, his replacement David Moyes was sacked before the end of the following season. United slumped to a seventh-place finish.
Arsenal’s old rivals have only just began to rebuild themselves as a force in the Premier League after the failed appointed of Louis van Gaal and initial struggles under current incumbent Jose Mourinho.
Will Arsenal’s change in leadership restore the Gunners to former glories?
Whatever happens, at least Arsenal fans will always have the @WengerOutSigns Twitter account to remind them of a man they revered and ultimately removed.