Arsene Wenger delivers his final European disaster class™

by .


Well, this is tough.

It’s a real mixed bag of feelings when you step up to write a post about a manager who is dying a painful metaphorical death in an undignified manner. Arsene Wenger looked like a stray dog tonight. One hit by two cars on a Spanish motorway, writhing in agony, hoping a juggernaut would make it quick and easy.

It took 180minutes, but the outcome was never really in doubt. In 2018, there was to be no fairytale ending for Wenger. Simeone controlled the both legs, like a cat with a mouse between its paws. The real torture was giving fans hope that there was a chance of escape.

At every level, Arsene-al were exposed.

Madrid survived the first leg through dogged determination, exceptional planning and an intense dedication to the gospel of the clean sheet.

The second leg was a little simpler. Make it all about Diego Costa. The Spanish/Brazilian picked up where he left off at Chelsea (pre-cup final). In the opening 6 minutes, he brutalised our backline, proving he was the alpha male. From an Oblak hoof, he won the first ball brushing Koscielny over, then swatting Monreal away with ease for a lash at our goal. It was humiliating to watch, I felt like a troubled parent seeing his kids decked on the playground, I wanted to run onto the pitch with a blanket and shout ‘you monster’ at Diego for bullying my babies.

Sadly, no one could intervene in the inevitable, Thomas Partey (who was excellent) won the ball in the middle of the park finding Griezmann, the Frenchman released Costa in behind Bellerin, the chipped finish evaded Ospina, and flatlined our hopes. So predictable he’d have that sort of game against a team that’s never really come to grips with his real-life boogeyman persona. Almost cruel he’d do that in Wenger’s last European match.

I’d be foolish to put it all on bad Diego juju, but his leadership from the front inspired a world-class Atleti defensive performance that limited Arsenal to 1 Xhaka shot on target all evening. Really poor considering our MO is apparently attacking football. I will give credit to Chambers who performed really well after coming on for Kos, who sadly looks like he’s in very bad shape for the future.

Outside that, Arsenal struggled with the usual issues. Jack Wilshere and Xhaka failed to impact the game under harsh pressing from Atleti, Ozil melted into nothingness showing the club have indeed made a huge mistake giving him a mega-deal under duress this year, Lacazette was easily absorbed by towering performances from Godin and co. We didn’t have many options on the bench, not that Wenger had done any sort of scenario planning to chase the game if things weren’t going his way against a resolute defensive team.

There was one moment when a ricocheted ball found its way into Ramsey’s path, I counted 4 Atleti players who were alert to the ball, it was unreal focus and animalistic determination to keep the clean sheet that muzzled the chance. I miss that sort of care for defending.

It was an ‘almost’ game. One that we’ve seen so many times over the years against teams that don’t really like possession. You’re convinced there’s a shred of hope, but the reality is Atleti had a next level, Arsene Wenger’s side absolutely did not. Men against boys. We were totally schooled in tactics, intensity and desire.

What this exit did prove is this: The campaign to remove Wenger was entirely correct. The people that fought for his continuation in the face of damning evidence were enablers of the rot. Martin Keown made a brutal attack on Ozil after the game that’s stealing a lot of headlines.

“And it’s almost like somebody needed to grab him a long time ago and give him a shake and say ‘we’re trying to get the ball to you, we are working for you but you’re not working for us’.

“I bet he doesn’t play again this season. He’ll have some emotional breakdown and won’t be able to play at the weekend.

“I don’t know how many illnesses he’s had this season. The fella is not kidding me. That is not a proper performance. He’s not giving everything and there’s much more under the bonnet. Somebody else will find it.

I’m game for digging the German out for another insipid performance, but let’s take a step back, where was Keown when Wenger was tanking the side over the last 5 years?

This was him in 2015:

“Arsene Wenger decides when he leaves Arsenal. The topic of Wenger comes up all the time and I think we should allow the great man to decide when he goes,”

This was him Feb last year:

“If he was to go at the end of the season I’m not sure the club would be ready. Which manager they would turn to?

“We’ve seen Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola arrive at Liverpool and City and they’ve not been successful either in terms of winning trophies.”

Arsenal has missed out on so many great managers over the last 6 years because of enabling comments like the above, along with the consistent drumbeat of ‘well, who else is there?’ from so-called experts. Now where are we? Our team is in tatters, we’re 6th in the league with Burnley breathing down our necks and our rebirth job is going to need £200m, but we only have £50m to do it with because we wasted £150m on a manager who has been a disaster with the chequebook.

… but here’s the thing. At least the Arsene Wenger chapter of our story is now over. I’d take any scenario over his on-going tenure. If the cost of him leaving is a stand in his name, so be it. I’ll carve the name plaque tomorrow and arrange the party to announce it.

Being predictably humiliated in major competitions will now be a thing of the past. I’m not saying we won’t have bad moments, but we’ll have less of them, and if we’re being beaten consistently in the same way, the manager will pay a price. We’ll be like a real football club again.

We’ll hire a manager who can build a defence, imprint an attacking philosophy and provide innovative answers for the issues that happen on the pitch. We’ll move away from thinking values trump results. It’ll be magnificent.

I’m not saying I want a win-at-all-costs scumbag in charge, I’m just saying I want someone at the helm who can offer up an intelligent path forward for a club desperately lacking an identity. I want an exciting philosophy, I want a disciplined pressing style, I’d like someone to bring joy back to the Arsenal.

A club of our size and reported ambition should be fighting to be the best. We should be an excitement cauldron everyone wants to be bubbling in. We should be challenging past March. We should have a chance of winning major trophies when we’re in the semi-final. We should never be beaten before the game has started.

That’s coming.

Arsene going out of the Europa League a failure is sadly what he deserves, it’s what the club deserves. Why? Because sentimentality has no place in elite sport, and we’ve allowed the ‘thanks for the stadium’ tour go on for far too long. Our legendary manager had three chances of a glorious send-off over the past 4 years and he greedily middle fingered them all, with no one around him gutsy enough to tell him to quit while he had an open top bus parked outside Colney. Instead, he tried to make progress bend to his regressive whims, foolishly thinking the past was his future accountability. He treated the club like his own personal fiefdom and Arsenal became a weird lifestyle job for a rich old man no one could ask to leave. The ending was never going to be pretty, but now it’s well and truly over.

Wenger: 22 years in charge, 22 seasons of European football, 2 finals, 0 trophies.

A sorry return when all is said and done.

… but, I can promise you this, the next 22 years will deliver more.

We are The Arsenal, and things are about to start looking up. The future is bright, and now we can start getting truly excited for the next chapter.

See you in the comments.

330 Responses to “Arsene Wenger delivers his final European disaster class™”

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  1. TonyD

    20 years ago the deputy editor of the Star was a friend of mine for many years. He was an old Etonian who had done it all in Fleet Street as it was in the old days.

    The Star is part of the Express group in the same building, so don’t be surprised if there is a fair amount of truth to their sources’s stories.

    That said, Nigel Blundell, was first to tell me that all newspapers’ mantra is “never let the truth spoil a good story.”

    Anyway, we have Ivan, Friar & Chips and the Kroenkies at the head of the selection committee with Sven and Raul (who have different agendas) peppering the mix to appoint our new leader.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Let’s face it it only took Ivan and co weeks to sign Auba when he was the only player we were looking at.

    Certainly not holding my breath for an announcement any time soon.

    Jardin or Allegri or Tuchel depending on the direction of the football we want to play and the money available for new players.

    However knowing the selectors above, I doubt we would get any of those 3.

    Certainly won’t be watching the ceremony & pomp for Wenger. 22 player/gun salute? You just can’t make that shit up! I hope there are 1000s of empty seats to show Wenger the contempt so many have for him.

    With the continuation of Wenger’s ludicrous post match comments, they should take him to a vet and have him put down like the sick dog he is.

    Ray Parlour said in his “Romford Pele” book that they nicknamed Wenger: Clouseau, but these days he’s more like Dreyfus in need of an asylum.

    That said for me he will always be Mr. Bean!

    He can never be seen as our most successful manager because he never delivered a European trophy and he certainly is leaving us in the worst condition possible.

  2. Moray

    He is realistic about the uncertainty following such a significant set-back, especially now that he in the final year of his contract, but he is also hugely determined and optimistic about the role he can still play.

    From a Telegraph article Dec 2016:

    The “priority” is a new contract and, having only just turned 32, Mertesacker believes that playing into his late 30s remains feasible.

    The defender has played just 13 times for the Gunners over the past two seasons, and pointed to physical strains as the reason for his retirement.

    From an interview early 2018:

    “My body is finished,” he told German outlet Der Spiegel.

    “I would rather sit on the bench or – even better – in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free.

    This was Wenger’s Arsenal. He made a guy with a long term injury and a pathological fear of playing Football club captain. He also signed on 6 months loan a guy with a broken back. For two years we didn’t field our club captain. During this time he was earning >3m per year in wages.

    Lost hope Diaby was retained for 9 years during which time he played 124 games.

    I would imagine Wenger is gearing up to offer Cazorla a contract extension even though it is pretty clear he will not play again at the highest level.

    All this time we were told we couldn’t afford to make proper signings or reinforcements.

    Sentiment and fear of upset at the cost of victory. This is Wenger’s legacy.

  3. Freddie Ljungberg

    That would be my top 3 as well.

    I’ll watch the game tomorrow since it’s on at a decent time here in LOS, can’t be bothered about the spectacle though, just want the season to be over so we have something to look forwards to.

    If they cheap out on manager and players again with Wenger gone there’s going to be hell to pay as soon as it goes tits up, Ivan can’t be that stupid, can he? Seriously, can he?

    If we have a budget we have to live within that’s fine, I’m not expecting Man city levels of spending each year, but a one time splurge to make us competitive again has to be done. I refuse to believe we only have 50 mil. Even out recent spending sprees on Auba and Lace have been largely financed by outgoing players so no reason why all our money should be gone.

  4. TonyD

    I have little faith in Ivan Freddie, especially with his “overachieving and there’s no better” press statements.

    I think he can be that stupid and possibly worse.

    As has been posted earlier we can sell players to bring the budget up to maybe £200 million. That would be enough for this coming window. The squad might be a little short, but we can get a strategy in place for the January 2019 window for a top up as well as get a couple of free agents.

    I am just concerned that we appear to have not planned for Wenger’s exit and, if we have, why are we procrastinating or being weak minded in appointing a successor who is needed now.

    Successful top level executives are decision makers and planners. They are proactive and single minded. It’s what gave me my success and still does to a certain extent now that I am semi retired.

    Considering the aforementioned, I am deeply concerned; however, Arsenal like to be secretive, so time will tell.

    It’s Ivan’s head on the block , so let’s see if he’s smart enough to realise this and get the right guy with the right budget to get our 3 to 5 year rebuild to becoming an elite force again challenging for top honours both domestically and European.

  5. Coach 15

    Looks like Martial could be Jose’s next big mistake.
    After last nights comments,especially “that’s why I keep playing Lukaku” I think his days are numbered.

  6. HillWood

    It is being reported that Josh Kranky is in favour of appointing a novice coach at Arsenal following the success of Sean Mcvay at L A Rams

  7. Pierre

    “Simeone controlled the both legs, like a cat with a mouse between its paws. ”

    If letting the opposition have 30 odd shots on goal (as in the first leg) is controlling the game then I have been watching a different game to you over the years.

    A lot of what you say makes sense but you allow yourself to get swept away with the negativity in a defeat by making stupid comments…surely you don’t believe that simeone controlled both legs , do you .
    Maybe he had an element of control in the 2nd leg after they scored , that would make it 45 minutes but personally ,to me they only looked in control in the last ten minutes once they started taking it to the corner flag , using substitutions , general time wasting …which is fair enough as it serves a purpose .

  8. Bamford10


    They didn’t control the first leg; I’ll give you that. However, they managed it exactly as they wanted and came out of it with precisely the kind of result they wanted, one that would allow then to return home knowing they’d have the advantage in the second leg.

    We did the opposite; instead of accomplishing what we needed to in the first, we utterly dropped the ball. Many reasons for this, but ultimately it’s down to the fact that Wenger does not drill his teams, does not instruct them in tactics, does not impose discipline upon them.

    As for the second leg, they controlled it completely and were never really concerned. We were toothless, both in attack and in defense. Yes we had something of a chance here or there, but none of these were great chances and never did we look the better team. They did at all times.

    It’s over. Wenger failed, and he has been failing for more than ten years now. It’s over, mate. Let it go.

  9. TR7

    Second leg against Atletico Madrid was the biggest game of our season – a victory would have all but guaranteed Europa league trophy, ensured entry in to next year CL, rescued our season a bit and given a good farewell to Arsene, still our team didn’t turn up,almost everyone was below par. Not only in terms of quality but also mentally the current squad is the worst ever in Wenger era. And yes, you don’t need an inspiring pep talk from your manager for a game as big as this.

  10. Terraloon


    The mouse and cat thing may be a bit strong but the stat you quote is just tha a stat. Just like so many hang their hats on the number of passes or the % of possession. Far more meaningful is what you actually see with your eyes or what the only meaningful stat says.
    Looking first at the home leg everything was distorted by the sending off yet despite that they came away with a one one AW went all out for the second whereas Simone and his team hung in there and bang in a blink of an eye , despite numerical advantage they left London in total charge.
    Over then to Madrid , AW set up in exactly the way just about everyone expected. Simone didn’t need to dig deep into his coaching manual all he had to do was set up to defend the penalty area restricting space and bang Arsenal being Arsenal would pass , pass and the pass again and when they through frustration a lond distance, highly likely to succeed shot was lashed in and achieved nothing other than a tick in the shots box.
    Tactically, Simone out thought AW of that is no doubt . It was the football equivalent of rope a dope.

  11. Vintage Gun

    MGooner “Vintage, the shit players you refer to allowed up to compete in the CL for 10 + 10 years. ”

    I didn’t refer to them as shit, You did. And anyways, i feel a team as big as ours should be challenging for CL and PL on a regular basis.
    Finishing 4th way off the winners to the get smacked in the CL last 16 for over a decade is really nothing to put on your mantle piece

  12. China

    I’m not sure who is available on a free transfer but I’m 100% behind trying to Hoover up 2-3 free squad players whilst selling/offloading some of our tat

    I’ve no doubts that there are some smart, available players out there who won’t probably single handed let turn us around but can improve the squad 10% for no particular financial outlay/ at a Profit for us (including sales)

    3 solid free transfers + sales to boost our budget to 100m. This can cover two big signings and one up and coming player.

    This is of course simplistic but I don’t think it’s impossible. 2-3 bosmans/absolute bargains + 2 big signings and 1 medium signing and we’re well on our way to substantial progress

    I’m not a fan of Evans for example but he’s a bit better than Mustafi and is apparently available for pennies. Makes total sense to sell Mustafi, sign Evans and a great CB. Clear progress. Same approach throughout the rest of the spine and we can be optimistic. Marginal gains from bargains, sell the shit and sign a few top players

  13. Gunner2301


    Was thinking that myself. He hasnt even established himself in the Arsenal first team. I can see him going though just like Welbeck and i can see him accepting a deal to stay which i disagree with.

  14. Marko

    What’d you change the name Northern? Scorched earth? Embarrassment? I asked about all the holidays because I think you made them up. Hey look at me I’m on a beach but let me continue to talk shite on some blog while my bored wife looks on…that’s you

  15. Frankie Coffeecakes

    “surely you don’t believe that simeone controlled both legs , do you .”

    Geez Pierre, any manager that shows up with a tactical game plan- controls the game, every game, all game long. What part of “ Wenger Dont Do Tactics” has been completely lost on you? Its really not that hard to get one over on Wenger and Simeone did just that, both matches – first match he changed up to suit the conditions, what did Wenger do? Complain about it being a negative thing for his team (seriously you cant make up that nonsense),

    Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

  16. London gunner

    “maybe you should stick to non football related topics as you only embarrass yourself when talking about football.”

    Says the guy who comments just to attack people, right…..

  17. Marc

    The Daily Star is reporting the new manager will be given a £200 million transfer budget.

    Can we now stop arguing about the £50 million that was quoted previously? Fact is all of the newspapers are full of shit and should be ignored. We’ll spend what we spend and it’ll give us a much clearer idea of what direction the club is looking to take.

  18. Dissenter

    I hardly ever see you making footballing comments.
    I was commenting about a player that I fancy; Mario Lemina as a candidate for the defensive midfield position.
    Then you jumped in stated that I like “to suck Lemina’s di*ck”

    What kind of deranged mind does that?
    Certainly not one who has had the opportunity to unwind in a vacation or get laid.
    You come across as a sexually malnourished idiot who gets off by staring at Wenger’s photograph.
    You’ve become more unhinged since your master got sacked.

    Tell me where to send the handkerchiefs.

    Risk-averse open football????

    I Dion’t think that will ever get added footballing theories like jogo bonito or total football. Keep trying though.

  19. Dissenter

    There are probably 3-5 people in the Arsenal set-up whop are in the loop as to what is going on
    The rest of the stuff being printed is just wind-up click bait nonsense.

  20. Dissenter

    ***I don’t think that will ever get added footballing theories like jogo bonito or total football. Keep trying though***

  21. Dissenter

    Zaha is so much better than crystal palace and just stands above any other player they have.
    He’s bound for a top-5 team in the summer.
    I wont be surprised if City go for him.

  22. Coach 15

    What a lovely sight seeing stoke city going down,thug football is now championship football.