Arsene Wenger departure timing is perfect, says Paul Merson
Last Updated: 20/04/18 11:41am
Paul Merson insists Arsene Wenger's departure announcement is "perfect timing" ahead of the Europa League semi-finals with Atletico Madrid.
Wenger announced on Friday he will be leaving the club at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, winning three Premier League trophies in that time.
Merson, who played under Wenger for just under a year towards the end of his Arsenal career, says the Emirates supporters now have the chance to create a spectacular send-off between now and the end of the season, and insists the feeling will be positive ahead of two huge ties with Atletico.
He told Sky Sports: "It's great timing, with a massive football match coming up. I think the fans get behind him now until the end of the season.
"It's good, everybody can pay their respects to him now, for how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing.
"You didn't want it to fizzle out, not have a good performance against West Ham. You didn't want him to drift away.
"It gives the fans the chance to pack the Emirates between now and the end of the season.
"He is a legend. Legend is used loosely in football, but at Arsenal he is a legend, there's no doubt about that.
Wenger arrived from Japanese side Grampus Eight in 1996, before winning three Premier League trophies in eight season, going unbeaten in 2003/04.
Though Merson left the club in 1997 to join Middlesbrough, the former midfielder explained how Wenger changed the mentality at the club, and gave an insight into his innovative training techniques.
"He was so far ahead of his time it was scary. After a week of Wenger, the players were in at 9am waiting for training.
"We used to go away with England, do these stretches he'd given us, and all the England lads were doing them in the end.
"He took all the beer and drink out of the players' lounge, and there's no doubt he prolonged so many players' careers.
"I played under him for just under a year, it was the fittest I ever was. It was like clockwork. It was a machine. He was so far ahead of his time, it was unbelievable."