Wright: More Arsenal changes needed after Wenger exit

Arsene Wenger's exit should only represent the start of much-needed changes at Emirates Stadium, says Ian Wright.

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger   -  Getty Images

Arsenal icon Ian Wright believes further changes are needed at Emirates Stadium following the surprise announcement that Arsene Wenger will leave at the end of the season.

Wenger is bringing an end to a successful 22-year period in north London, a stint that included three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cup triumphs, and managed Wright during his first two seasons at the club.

Arsenal are now in the hunt for a new boss, but Wright thinks the Gunners' issues run far deeper and a widescale overhaul is needed.

"It's sad news for Arsenal Football Club, but I think the time is right," he told the Totally Football Podcast.

 "If he left after 2014, I think that would have been even better. He wouldn't have had to take all the vitriol he's dealt with. But I think it's right for him and right for the club now.

"This is just the start and I'm not sure if the people upstairs are the right people in charge now.

"[The club] is not in great shape, from a management level, recruitment level and players' attitudes. And then obviously how the fans feel at the moment. There's a lot of hard work to be done in terms of galvanising the whole place.

"The next manager that comes in has probably got one of the hardest jobs in football, because Wenger was magnificent. I don't think his legacy will be harmed, because he has done such great things. His legacy is fine. He's done magnificent things.

"But for Arsenal now, not just for Wenger, there are a lot of changes that have to happen: the players, the management and the owner."

Arsenal are poised to see club captain Per Mertesacker retire and take charge of the academy, while experienced midfielders Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere look likely to leave upon the expiration of their contracts at the end of the season.

Having missed out on Champions League qualification last term and winning the Europa League their only chance of earning a return to the continent's top table for 2018-19, the Gunners have seen attendances drop significantly.

However, Wright hopes the fans will return to give Wenger the send-off he deserves.

"You hope [the fans will come back], just to say goodbye and thank you for the great work he's done for the club," he said.

"One of the reasons I would have liked him to have gone after 2014 is because of the abuse to the manager. Someone at our club, the personification of everything that Arsenal represents with his class and his elegance and his dignity and honour, and some of the things I had to read about him just because the players weren't playing well.

"I think [the players] have a lot to answer for. It was just too much to take. I'm pleased that that's going to end now with the fact that he has resigned."

Arsenal face Atletico Madrid at Emirates Stadium in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.

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