The moment it all started to end
BBC 606 tonight went big on Wenger Out. The media bandwagon has had the brake released and that is a very bad thing for Arsene Wenger. Kroenke and Gazidis can find it very easy to ignore the fans, but they won't be able to ignore the media. If there is one thing that's going to be bad for business then it's bad PR. It gives me no pleasure to see the beginning of the end finally going public as it means that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are doing badly. But the beginning of the end it surely is.
What happened yesterday? To be fair I can say that only one Arsenal player had a particularly bad game yesterday and that was Aaron Ramsey. The fact was that we largely outplayed the absolutely worst Manchester United side since the late 1980's. Let's make no mistake about this, that Manchester United team would have been in the relegation zone ten years ago (don't let anyone fool you in to thinking that the Premier League has more quality in it nowadays). And yet Arsenal couldn't beat them. Even worse, Arsenal lost to them. We lost 2-1 to a side that had one shot on target - only Arsenal could manage that.
I believe David De Gea won man of the match. Yes, he made a number of saves from shots on target. But let's be honest here, I reckon most of us could have made those saves, so bad was Arsenal's shooting. Every single effort was straight at De Gea. The one shot that wasn't at him went in the net. Danny Welbeck, for all the good stuff he does, needs five chances to score a goal. Quite simply, he isn't good enough to play in a side that has designs on winning things. It pains me to write this, but Van Gaal was spot on about Welbeck. And then there is Jack Wilshere. What was that "finish" all about? You have the whole of one side of the goal to aim at. All you've got to do is give it the Michael Thomas flick, or even square it to Alexis (though I don't want to see players passing when one-on-one, six yards out) but instead he rolled it straight at the goalkeeper. He even got injured because he over ran the ball when we had a 4 v 3 against what passes for a Man Utd defence these days. Again, it's a simple lack of quality where it matters. Oh, and he should have been sent off.
One man who genuinely didn't deserve to be on the losing side yesterday was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. United had no answer to him, yet we didn't get him enough of the ball in the second-half. Ramsey was too busy being a show-pony while, once Jack went off injured, Mikel Arteta was doing the work of two men. Once Man Utd went 1-0 up it was back to the same old square nonsense across the massed defence. Same, same, same. And yet the players still look surprised when trying to pass through a non-existent gap on the edge of the penalty area doesn't work.
Let's clear up the point that we should have had a free-kick seconds before their first goal. It sums up Fellaini as a player that he would think to foul Gibbs before considering that he might have actually beaten him comfortably had he attacked the ball. It was a foul, and then things went against us with the deflection. But what was Aaron Ramsey doing in the build-up? We cleared our lines well and it came to Ramsey. All he had to do was head the ball further clear, even put it out for a throw-in if necessary (every throw Valencia takes is outside the laws of the game, by the way). Instead he flicked at the ball and gave it away in an area where United could exploit Arsenal's main weakness. He sold the entire team down the river with his self-serving "look at me" show boating. I am sick and tired of seeing Ramsey trying to be clever. Last season was apparently a flash in the pan. Ramsey is back to being as bad as he was two years ago and I'm fed up with it. It's easy to see why someone like Tomas Rosicky is frustrated at not getting a single start, and very rare sub appearances, when he watches crap like Ramsey playing like he has all season. As for any idea of bad luck on the goal, yes it was unlucky, but we should have been taking luck out of the equation yesterday with such dominance of the game.
The second goal came because certain Arsenal players completely lost the plot. For some reason Mertesacker had taken it upon himself to play some kind of advanced midfield role, leaving poor Nacho Monreal on his own with Rooney and Di Maria for company. At one stage Mertesacker was doing his Bambi on ice bit on the left-wing. I couldn't understand it. At the point United made it 2-0 there were five minutes on the clock, but you knew there were at least ten minutes left following the injury stoppages in the second-half. Wenger said he couldn't understand why everyone was up the pitch at that stage. The man is supposed to be the Manager for God's sake! Why wasn't he actually out on the touchline and giving orders to the players to keep their discipline and keep playing their football as they had been? How can he sit in front of the press and come out with this stuff? It gets more embarrassing by the week. Instead of being patient until you really had to go for it he oversaw another disaster of defending. I felt sorry for Monreal and Martinez.
I have to confess at this stage that I joined the exodus when Rooney scored. I haven't walked out of a game early in years. I don't like it. But I've had enough. I'll be there on Wednesday, of course, but yesterday there was only one response appropriate to what I'd witnessed. It's like watching some kind of suicide squad who have no care for their own defences as they pour forward in some forlorn pursuit of glory.
Where do we go from here? The fact that he picked the same back four again yesterday shows you that Wenger has no desire to change anything. He is convinced, utterly and totally, that he is right and everyone else is wrong. It says it all that we were relying on Olivier Giroud yesterday to be a hero - a player who everyone had already written off as not top class long before he was out injured for three months. How far we have fallen.
If you look back, everything started to go wrong the day Patrick Vieira took his final kick of the ball for Arsenal. For some reason Wenger decided to sell him in the one close-season when he seemed absolutely certain to stay. Ever since that day the decisions of Arsene Wenger have cost Arsenal points and trophies. Jens Lehmann was dropped and then forced out. Gilberto was forced out. Ashley Cole, for all that we dislike him for what he did, was let down over a measly five grand a week. Robert Pires was sold in favour of keeping Alexander Hleb as the alternative. Thierry Henry was sold because Wenger had lost the ability to motivate him to play for Arsenal, and who could really blame Henry when he was suddenly surrounded by mediocre players and Cesc Fabregas? The fact is that Arsene Wenger has destroyed everything he created at Arsenal.
How can we go from the Invincibles to what we have now with the same Manager in charge? I can't accept any notion that Wenger was lucky back then with the players he had. He brought in each of those players to the Arsenal side, with the exceptions of Bergkamp and Parlour. The Invincibles was Arsene Wenger's team more than any of the previous successful sides he had at his disposal when Seaman, Adams, Keown, Dixon etc were still in harness (yes, I know Keown was also an Invincible officially, but he played very few minutes that season). The new stadium is used as an excuse for the sale of the top players, but Wenger insisted on moving from Highbury. Nobody can tell me that leaving our home was the right thing to do when you look at a Club suffering it's worst start to a season in 32 years. There appears no way out of the spiral now, just as there wasn't when Terry Neill was sacked, and also when George Graham was sacked. The similarities with the end of those two reigns are so clear, with a squad of players who should be doing far better than they are, but led by a Manager who has lost them and lost the plot.