Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro says that he took the decision to leave the club at the end of the season some time last month but that the players were only informed of the decision on Wednesday morning in training. The 51-year old said that he “felt like the time was right to step away” during an emotional press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The Australian joined the club in November 2017 and won the 2018 Conti Cup and the club’s first WSL title in seven years in 2018-19. This has been a trickier season for the Gunners, who are well behind Manchester City and Chelsea in the league despite having a super talented squad. Asked by Arseblog News when he took the decision to leave at the end of the season, Montemurro replied, “The decision was made in February, when we returned for this season, to be honest, there were some things I probably needed to resolve and look at. The decision happened in February and we decided that this was the best time to announce it. I told them (the players) myself today, just after training, with Vinai and Clare Wheatley. We felt it was important to tell them before anything came out.”
I also asked Joe what he will feel most proud of when he looks back on his time at the club, to which he answered, “I’m proud to have been given the opportunity to work at this great club and wear this great badge and represent it. I hope I represented it in the correct way with respect, humility and integrity. I went to work every day wanting to make things a bit better, to make little changes so that whenever it was that I chose to leave or I was told to leave that the place would be in a better state.
“I think we’ve achieved that and we’ve achieved a very good platform for the next era. As difficult as this decision was, I am proud of the fact that, together, we made some very good gains to get the club to a good level that someone else can take the baton and run with it and get the club to where it needs to be and where this club deserves. We wanted to get the process (of appointing a successor) going so the club has time to get a new person in, it also gives us a chance to tie some things off before the end of the season instead of doing it after the season is over.”
When asked how the players reacted to the announcement, Joe joked, “I think they’re about to have a party!” Montemurro says he will take a break before undertaking his next coaching role, joking, “I need to work on my tan a little bit, I could do with a little bit of sun! I’m gonna take a break, it’s been nine years since I stopped. Yes, you get three to four weeks off in the summer but as a coach you never really stop, you’re recruiting and planning. To be without football for a while is going to be really nice, really strange! It’s something I need to refresh and reboot.”
He admitted that it was a difficult and emotional decision to leave the club he supported as a boy, “You should’ve seen me when I told the players, I was a mess! I was just waffling, it was really, really hard. The biggest thing I was scared of when I told Vinai and Clare was that they would be upset and never let me back into the club! I am forever part of the Arsenal family and I have been one of the lucky ones who got to work here. I looked out at Liam Brady Square earlier [at Hale End] and sometimes I look around here, I look at the Arsenal water bottles and I think ‘is this actually happening? Is this a dream?”
Joe also admitted that being away from his family in Australia had a bearing on his decision, “Yes, it’s been bitsy, my wife was backwards and forwards, my daughter is over here but my son is in Australia so that was part of it. Sometimes you have to make these decisions. But it’s also in the context of where I am as a coach, I have been in a cycle of nine years where I was at Melbourne and we started a team from scratch, then I moved to the men’s side then I came here to Arsenal which was another rebuilding process. It’s been an amazing journey but it just feels like the right time. Arsenal will go to the next level too, they will appoint someone fantastic and go from strength to strength.”