Ten years before anyone could tweet #WengerOut, because no one had dreamt up Twitter, Arsenal Football Club announced Arsene Wenger as their manager.

The club don’t make a habit of appointing new managers — we have only had six in the last 50 years (Spurs have had 21 during this time) and this was the most quixotic in their history. After Bruce Rioch’s ten month reign ended, fans had mostly been getting excited about Dutch legend Johann Cruyff becoming the next manager. David Dein had other ideas. He had developed a deep friendship with the J League’s Nagoya Grampus Eight manager, Arsene Wenger, virtually unknown in the UK.

Before long Wenger was making a distinctive impact. Lots of talk emerged about changes to diet. Pasta apparently became de rigueur, drinking sessions were curbed and his keen eye for talent scouting — one that would serve him well for a decade — was obvious.

His appointment also coincided with the announcement of of the arrival of Patrick Vieira from AC Milan. I remember watching the lanky Vieira make his debut off the bench against Sheffield Wednesday. He glided across the old Highbury with a rare mix of power and grace making big tackles, longs mazy runs and sumptuous passes. Wenger’s first signing was to become the most important in the club’s history. In Vieira’s nine year spell at the club Arsenal won three titles including the unprecedented ‘Invincible’s season’ of 2003/4 when they were undefeated. When Vieira left he was never properly replaced and Wenger would never again win the league title.

Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal has three distinct phases: the first when he transformed the team on the pitch and won three titles in a ten year tussle with Sir Alex Ferguson; the second, the trophyless years, when the club left Highbury for the Emirates; and then the past three or four years when the club returned to winning ways with three FA Cup wins against a backdrop of rancorous fan anger.

The early years, when he had no peers in the transfer market, produced the finest football in the history of the club formed around the muscularity of Adams, Campbell and Vieira, the pace of Henry and Overmars and the guile of Bergkamp and Pires. I fancy Wenger’s great regret is that none of these great teams went on to win the Champions League.

The fallow years that followed the move to the Emirates coincided with Wenger losing his way in the transfer market. Other clubs had caught up now. He seemed to constantly eschew opportunities to beef up his midfield with enforcers and with a few exceptions nearly all his defensive signings were woeful. Still, ever year Arsenal qualified for the Champions League albeit nearly always losing in the first knockout round.

Ironically it is the past few years that have been the toughest for Wenger, even at a time when he has brought in elite players to the club for the first time — Ozil, Sanchez, Aubameyang . But it was when this anger turned to apathy this year — his team played consecutive games in half empty stadiums -that Wenger must have known that his time was up.

It has been an extraordinary reign. Will anyone ever again manage a club for 22 years? It’s unlikely. Now at least for a few weeks the fans can pay due homage to their greatest manager.

Wenger signed off his announcement: “My love and support for ever.”

For all the vituperation that came his way on radio phone-ins and social media over years, it was a love that was requited.

Thank you Arsene Wenger. We sure got lucky when we got you.