How bad Arsene Wenger must feel after that shambolic thrashing in Germany! Rock bottom, that’s where he must be. But let’s not kid ourselves, this has been long time coming. What we witnessed last night was the state of the team when the rose-coloured glasses are off.
One man ran and urged teammates to join him only to find himself throwing his arms in the air in frustration when they didn’t. In fact, they seemed like men who were trying their best to adhere to instructions which they did not understand themselves. Scrap arguments of football quality. Tactics and motivation was at play at the Allianz Arena.
The match reminded of that second leg Arsenal played at the Camp Nou a few years ago when they pulled off a hugely impressive collective performance to keep a 2-1 lead from the first leg until succumbing into ‘victim’ mode in the mid-second half. Only it made some sense then. Yesterday, Arsenal were onto the defensive from the start. Mind you, the players did a decent job until Laurent Koscielny got subbed. The thing is, if they didn’t believe the instructions they were given prior to the match, how would they have felt when Bayern scored their second and third?
“We collapsed mentally.” Wenger explained the defeat. Yes, this was obvious, but Wenger offers no explanation as to why this happened. Or perhaps, he knows it something he cannot fix anymore – a deep divide between him and the players, and the fans. The only buddies here are Wenger and the board, desperately trying to steer the sinking ship.
It was evident in sheepish way they played, afraid to move out of position to apply pressure, perhaps because the team unity was frail. If you go out, be damn sure there is someone behind you to cover you. And this was simply not in place, or shall I say this was out of place.
Then, there was Sanchez who ran like a headless chicken, admirably I must say, trying to run past defenders alone, applying pressure, finding the spaces and yelling for the ball, only to find his teammates passive and surrendered. He scored Arsenal’s goal himself, his face revealing an overwhelming retraction into himself when Coquelen and Xhaka tried to embrace him in joy. Sanchez is a goner. He will leave Arsenal in the summer, and so would Ozil. And who would blame them? Arsenal is a sinking ship with the captain desperately trying to look for straws to catch on.
David Dein was right: Arsenal exited the path to trophies a long time ago. Not to see this is suffering itself, which in turn is the demise of Wenger.
You don’t need much looking around to see that other clubs in England have progressed way beyond Arsenal. It is not as if they have not grown, it is that they have grown a lot less than other clubs: selling the club to an owner indifferent to results on the pitch, focusing on commercial success and ignoring the same people that make this possible, the fans.
“We need to recover and focus on the next game.” like a broken record, we’ve grown used to hearing Wenger say that every other week. But who in their right mind would keep on holding onto the delusion that Arsenal is an elite club after the ‘next match’ becomes a loss to Watford or Burnley, or Sutton?
We’ve come to the hard truth: Arsenal are not an elite club. Wake up and smell the grass. We’ve had our times with Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira, and now we are like an old man reliving his past conquests because he knows he would never experience them again.
For that, Dein was right. The Arsenal board chose wrong. And it’s time for those worn out bags of the 50s to give way to the future. There’s no point idealizing: even if Wenger wins the league this year, it is temporary relief of pain. It’s done. The relationship is severed, dead and withered. Just go, Wenger. Rant, not over…