Milan 4 Arsenal 0
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. Having described Milan as ‘very beatable’ in my post yesterday afternoon, our dismal performance proved me totally wrong.
Judging by verdicts passed by supporters and media after the game, I was in a minority and quite a few people were not surprised by the defeat. They saw it as the very definition of chickens coming home to roost after years of continually selling players and picking inferior replacements.
I agree it turned out to be a match that, had it been played on a computer, you would have paused and pressed restart.
After an opening 10 minutes that was steady at worst, Sagna played a pass to nobody, seemed to shrug at Walcott who was only barely nearby and then showed zero interest in recovering the situation.
It was a precursor to 80 more minutes where the effort was lacking throughout the side, the invention was non-existent and the will to win was nowhere. To make matters worse, there can be no excuse in missing key players – Wilshere apart, this was as strong as it gets.
But our form over the past month has been reasonable and didn’t offer any suggestion we would put such an abject display, so you can argue it was a freak result.
Plus, let’s remember we’ve done better than other favoured sides to reach this far in the competition. Compared to Man U, for example, we had a far stronger group to contend with and did the job required so our European campaign has not been a total disaster.
But it doesn’t escape the fact that, season by season, our team is declining and our targets get lower and lower.
What happens next?
Looking back on my posts from the end of last season my view was that Wenger should have been replaced given the years of repeated mistakes, his unwillingness to consider new ideas and that more players were getting worse than getting better under his guidance.
In some ways, ignoring my fury at the Blackburn debacle, my verdict has soothed somewhat this season despite everyone else’s ire increasing as results have barely improved.
Doubtless another collapse like last season’s March meltdown might re-strengthen my resolve that Wenger should go.
But what has changed is my view of the board. While in the past I thought their aspirations were being held back by the untouchable Wenger, now they appear just as clueless and unwilling to stop the rot.
I do look forward to the day Wenger is replaced. If nothing else, it will make supporting Arsenal a lot more interesting than the all-too predictable season we currently go through. But when there are no obvious candidates to fill his shoes, and when we have an American owner who remains silent in the shadows, removing him would lead to hope rather than expectation that we’d improve.
I don’t trust the board’s judgement more than I trust Wenger’s so who is to say they would pick a better manager than the one we already have?