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Mirror UK / Sports

Wenger has 'earned the right to leave Arsenal when he wants' says predecessor

The Frenchman took over from Bruce Rioch in 1996 and has been in charge ever since

Arsene Wenger has "earned the right to leave Arsenal when he wants" - that's according to the man he took over from at the helm of the north London club.

Bruce Rioch left the Gunners in 1996 and made way for the completely unknown Frenchman who was managing Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Despite the circumstances of his exit at the club, he doesn't think Wenger should be sacked and can stay as long as he wants.

Bruce Rioch the manager of Arsenal looks on during the pre-season friendly between Birmingham City and Arsenal at St. Andrews (Image: Getty)

He says he's 'earned the right' to stay on (Image: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Rioch, 70, told the Sun :“Arsene Wenger has earned the right to leave Arsenal Football Club when he feels that it is the right time to call it a day.

“He has been such a great ambassador for the club that he surely deserves the right to make the decision to leave his own decision. He will most certainly leave with his head held high.”

Rioch was the man who brought the magnificent Dennis Bergkamp to these shores, but had to sit back and watch after he was sacked despite getting a new contract.

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Dennis Bergkamp shakes manager Bruce Rioch by the hand after signing for Arsenal in 1995 (Image: Allsport UK)

Wenger joined in 1996 (Image: PA)

He added: “The team was then in the throes of a re-build and that was continued when Arsene came in — and they have played unbelievable football during his reign."

Rioch now lives in semi-retirement in Cornwall but does help out coaching a local club and went on to manage QPR, Norwich and Wigan before spells with clubs in Denmark after leaving Arsenal.

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