"Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent"
I haven't posted a review of the Milan debacle as I didn't see the game live. I missed the match as my eldest son was admitted to hospital on Wednesday evening. Thankfully he is home again now and there is nothing serious to be concerned about.
I have since watched the game back and read lots about it. Everyone is having their say, and rightly so. What is apparent is that legends of the Club, from Kenny Sansom to Nigel Winterburn to Emmanuel Petit to Dennis Bergkamp are all saying very similar things. They can not all be wrong. The fact is that the players were a disgrace and an embarrassment to our great Club (again) on Wednesday evening in Italy.
Regular readers will no doubt be expecting a long diatribe from me criticising Arsene Wenger. However, on this occasion I am not going to do that. My ire from watching the game against AC Milan is directly aimed at the players. We can moan about the lack of defensive organisation and tactics etc, but that wasn't the main problem the other night. The fact is that the players did not perform. The men on the pitch let Arsene Wenger down with their complete lack of application. They also let down every last Arsenal supporter. It was shameful. The Club was disgraced and embarrassed by a group of players who didn't deserve the shirt they wore. You can argue that Arsene Wenger's job is to motivate the players, and that may be a fair point, but if you need a Manager to whip you up before a European Cup match against AC Milan in the San Siro then there is something seriously wrong.
The first-half display was among the very worst you will ever see at that level of the game. The fact that their second goal should not have stood doesn't mask the fact that Arsenal should have been four or five behind at half-time. The likes of Arteta (can we please now have an end to this nonsense about how he is the glue in the Arsenal midfield?) Ramsey, Walcott (especially Walcott), Gibbs, Vermaelen and Sagna were beyond bad. Quite how Walcott can think he is worth an increase in wages is outside my comprehension (and Capello's resignation should see the end of his international career too). I hope he is moved on in the Summer months.
It is not often recently that I have felt a little sorry for Arsene Wenger. He is the victim of his own design in terms of the weak points in this team, but certain injuries have not helped (losing Mertesacker before this tie was a bigger blow than many might have imagined), and I do not really blame him too much for what occurred within the game on Wednesday. We were up against an AC Milan team that are really not very good. Italian football is not very good. Arsenal's players made them look top class on Wednesday, and that is pretty galling. Make no mistake, we are not a particularly good side ourselves, but the only teams to be feared in this European Cup are Real Madrid and Barcelona. Arsenal had a chance to go far this season, with the right draw, and they blew it. The fabled "mental strength" has once again showed itself to a be a soundbite that means nothing. The players once again failed to repay the faith shown in them by their Manager.
Over the last couple of days one or two of the players have been talking on the official website and giving their usual empty promises of improvement etc. I've had enough of all that nonsense. I'm sick of hearing it. Thomas Vermaelen says that the players "owe" the supporters after the game in Italy. I beg to differ. The players owe the supporters every time they get chosen to be in the privileged position of pulling on a jersey bearing the Arsenal crest. We live and breathe our football team. Those lucky enough to kick the ball in our name are merely the latest to be entrusted with our heritage. It's time they realised what it means to play for Arsenal, and that only proper commitment will do. The phrase I've written underneath the Arsenal cannon at the top of this post is the one that Bertie Mee used to implore his players to remember. George Graham did the same. Personally I'd have it pinned up at the door to the changing room. We are ARSENAL, and the time has come for the players to realise it.
I'll preview the Sunderland FA Cup tie in the morning.