Wenger on squad character and failing to live up to expectations

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No matter what happens in the last two weeks of the season, Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s failure to win the Premier League this year represents another failure in his eyes.

After defeat on the opening day of the campaign, the Gunners rallied well in the autumn and briefly flirted with top spot before the wheels came off in December.

With three games remaining Arsenal could still hit 75 points – four more than last season’s total – achieve a top four finish in the Premier League, and win the FA Cup but those feats still fall short of the boss’ pre-season aims.

“It would mean that the season has not gone as well as I hoped at the start of the season,” noted Wenger when presented with the optimistic hypothetical scenario.

“Not as well as I hoped at the start of the season because I started the season to win the Premier League and when you don’t do it, you’re never completely satisfied, like everybody else.

“But as well, it’s not disastrous. I think what’s encouraging is the way the team develops recently and the way the ambition of the team is back. Overall I think it’s difficult to get points in this league, it’s difficult for everybody.”

Expanding on the regret of exiting the Champions League to Bayern Munich and the knock-on effect it had on his squad’s confidence, Wenger added:

“Every team suffers at a moment in the season and when we suffered, I think we suffered a lot.

“After we went out of the Champions League, in very special circumstances, because you look at these two games and you take the first halves, we would have qualified.

“So it was very difficult to swallow for the team, the way it happened and it took us some time to recover. When you’re in a difficult period you can be divided or united and I think we responded in a united way.”

There was also more on the issue of ‘character’ and whether his team lacked it at certain times this season. Something the boss, unsurprisingly, refuted.

“I believe that the players have character, the players have spirit. When you have gone through the period we have gone through with such a hostile environment, you don’t recover if you’re not strong.

“The players have been extremely strong to respond well in the way that we did. We lacked defensive stability in some important games this season, and we had to completely rethink the system. I had to make some changes and now we look more stable at the moment.”

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54 Comments on "Wenger on squad character and failing to live up to expectations"

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Cracked

If you look at the first half results against Bayern we would have qualified?

I dunno, I’m not clever but I can’t help but think if we hadn’t conceded 10 (TEN) goals to them it might have helped.

goonero

I’m sorry, how many games have you managed? Arsene has managed your games so your opinion is irellephant. We conceded 10 goals, fans these days expect too much! It could easily have been 20 if not for our special unity and character! Then of course it’s normal that after that we lose a little bit the confidence to play football so for 4 months we play bad, throw away our chance at the league like a crippled Spartan baby but it wasn’t terrible.

Badaab

Irellephant? That sounds like a Dr. Seuss animal.

goonero

Look ehhhh, I have been speaking English for 21 years, but today people question my English speaking ability. Honestly I think I have shown great commitment to this language and it’s values, maybe the readers simply expect too much?

Dom

Goonero, there have been some amazing comments on this site but for me, you take the crown! I can’t remember when I laughed so hard! Brilliant 🙂

Cechmate

Dude that’s one brilliant comment! LMAO!

Alexisshorts

Gooneroo that made my day 😂😂😂🤣😅

The Loon Ranger

I like elephants. I thought that film with Bruce Willis was a sequal but there wasn’t a single elephant in the film. Dissapointed i was

richardanus

You sir, know your elephants.

Thierry bergkamp

Arsene?

Dotman

Are you for real?

T-Bag

Look Master Frodo, it’s an Irellephant!!

John C

Some of the most delusional comments i think he’s ever spoken, if he inflicts us with 2 more years of his management we’re in real trouble.

Mein Bergkampf

Wenger always talks about how strong our response is. If we didn’t capitulate so drastically and regularly we wouldn’t need to respond. And I don’t call 4 and a half months an acceptable response time. We got lucky for a few games and belief has started to trickle back. Let’s call a spade a spade.

clins

this exaclty.

we would never be in this position if we capitulate regularly in the first place. and all the talk about response is literally horseshit . we never manage to win against a team that actually plays good football , the sight first real opposition and we loose the game that instant. and if we manages to win against a smaller opposition wenger starts hailing about the team spirit and response and manages to lose against to the next best team we faces . endless cycle..

Voldermort

His comments show that when they announce his 2 year extension then absolutely nothing is going to change. 2 years of excuses and not competing. At least we won’t have the champions league humiliation this time round.

Faisal Narrage

It’s both a strength and a weakness that he can take such a rounded view of things.

To see the season in its entirety and moments of “loss of defensive stability” probably makes it easier to accept.

I also hold journalists responsible for dancing to his tune. Someone should ask him why is it we have such a terrible record against the top 6 that is seemingly getting worse (used to be just against Chelsea and United, then City. Now Liverpool and Spurs have joined the mix).

Maybe asking him the tough questions will force him to face up to reality?

GraeB

I agree. It took Conte just one serious defeat to change matters, AW has taken 12 years.

We’re seeing our standard good run in to nothing at the end of the season, mainly against teams with nothing to fight for.

Our early season wins also masked the fact that we were generally unconvincing bar a couple of matches where we had a quick blitzkrieg.

Gunn Cabinet

Be that as it may, Conte was a new coach – he would have implemented his own playing methods sooner or later. When the Chavs capitulated early, he took his chance. Same was Wenger did in 1996 when he was new.

thw14

Maybe just pay him the first half of his salary.

Results are one thing, this relentless selling of bullshit like the fans are idiots is downright insulting.

Delusionally Yours

You want him to say “we fell apart months ago and it’s too late now, the players have been awful” to the TV with two league games and a cup final left?

Good luck also praying that Donald Trump calls CNN to tell them maybe he’s been a rather poor President

Spanish Gooner

To play devils advocat, if we finish top 4 and win the fa cup (I know, I know) then this season represents a significant improvement to the last because a) we’ve finished below ‘proper’ teams (Spurs aside) b) we have more points c) we topped our CL group for once (albeit it made no difference) and d) we’ve won some silverware and seen some exciting youth in the cup run. Having said that, I think last season was a shambles and this one only marginal better, although it feels a lot worse

antgoon

Arseblog should stop reporting on anything Wenger says until it is about him leaving.

Toma

To think that there are sheep within the fan ranks more than willing to buy this spin shows clearly why this man has been allowed to infect the club with ineptitude for such a long time

richardanus

He talks too much. It’s why the tabloid scribblers love him.

Toure motors

Those comments on Bayern are divorced from reality.

Stuck on repeat...

Couldn’t agree more.

Clins

Only Monsieur wenger would say we could have won the game after 10-2 mauling by bayern. When will he stop these excuses

spinner

The comments about first half qualification against Bayern are truly embarrassing. I would imagine a 12 year old saying that to his rival supporting schoolmates.

Progman07

With all respect, telling the fans that this season is not disastrous is delusional, not because we are 5th, but because this team has been declining in the last 5 seasons, when we 1) have more money than before, 2) we did not lose any key player like before.

I wonder if he really believes what he is saying, he has been repeating similar things in the last few years, but nothing has really changed, so probably yes.

dave a gooner

So you mean we cant just throw money around and expect a great team to emerge. How do you think the players feel when they are boo’ed ? I ma really sure it does not inspire them to try harder.. Players come to Arsenal to play for Wenger and the fans boo him.. Do the fans want to cut off the supply chain of players..
Gooner till I die Team comes first ..

andy1886

I would rather players come to play for Arsenal, not just Arsene. And funnily enough we have been ‘throwing money around’, just not very wisely. After all, Chelsea in the last five years have a lower net spend and have just won a second title in three years. Given our resources there is great deal of room for improvement all round.

Kwame Ampadu Down

Please stop talking Arsene before we forget how wonderful it used to be listening to you making more sense than most of the other PL managers together.

Adam

If his most likely worst ever season with Arsenal is not ‘disastrous’ then what would be? What is now our current aspiration and benchmark? How come this Club is missing any sort of accountability? In any other corporation (which Arsenal clearly is) this lack of any performance based standards of evaluation would not be acceptable. Sad to see this once great Manager continously lowering the bar for the Team but also for himself. This feels like listening to an old dictator, trying to convince himself that the time has not come yet.

Dan Hunter

The corporation, the corporate ministry, Undertaker and Shane McMahon and the higher power – Vince McMahon. I loved Undertaker’s music with the gurgling at the start. It was an amalgamation of the No chance theme and the old Undertaker theme. Then they pinned Stone Cold up on that Undertaker sign. That was attitude.

Thierry bergkamp

“After we went out of the Champions League, in very special circumstances, because you look at these two games and you take the first halves, we would have qualified.

Words of a deluded man.

Jack Action

This season cements the fact that we are stagnant as a club despite spending more money than ever on transfers and player salaries and carrying probably our deepest roster in years.

Adam

I would argue its not a stagnation anymore, its a step down, on every possible front.

Olar

Words of a serial loser..

canon fodder

‘With three games remaining…’ We only have two – Sunderland and Everton.

GraeB

No FA Cup Final for you then! Wenger has an Economic qualification if nothing else.

GunnerYY

Here we go again, Wenger most bullshit comment. Thinking that we finish season strongly because of a good run, forget our mid season problem with those weak mentality, injury problem, and incapability against elite team. Thinking his squad will be good enough to win PL next season, refuse to buy a world class player although we need it, then repeat the same mistake next season, and he never wonder why he doesnt win PL anymore? We won’t win PL/CL with this guy in charge.

That 1st half comment when we play bayern is stupid, even Atletico madrid who will win CL with normal time didn’t use bullshit comment like Wenger did.

Gunnerinsearchoftruth
Gunnerinsearchoftruth

I am surprised anyone still buys into anything coming from this man or this club. They are just toying with our emotions and trying to generate hate and frustration. There is no other explanation for the comments and behaviour displayed by these people, especially since we are owned by Walmart.

It’s all just a great big facade. Our players literally looked like robots programmed to lose the last few months and now suddenly they look a different team and want to win? Not buying it. This whole organization smells to high heaven and we are being scammed. Maybe they all secretly love watching us tear ourselves apart and beat down on each other, even though we all love the same team.

Matt

Wenger Out

Jaegar Puss

Arsenal fans are incredible. Best fans in the world. Le Boss makes a statement saying if they had kept their heads in those second halves it wouldn’t have been 10-1. After all they are the same players now. And I agree with that. This is a good squad (though one that didn’t have strong leader-types a few weeks back). Might not be as cracking as Monaco but surely better than the thugs + Greizmann of Atletico, and they made it to semis. With tactical improvements (or experiments, as you might call them) and a bit of grit there’s no excuse for capitulation. A large part of Arsenal fans are bored with Wenger’s interview style more than anything. Does he mouthfart more than ‘Energia Universal’ Poch? ‘Por Que’ Jose? Is he more stubborn than Pep with sweeper goalie and 13 midfielders starting? Indulges in more favouritism than Klopp who repeatedly leaves Sturridge out? C’mon. Stop overreacting every time there’s a press release or a conference. Jesus.

Mootilated

I don’t think it’s an over reaction. Please remember that Arsenal have spent 100m in the summer transfer window and finished 4 places lower than they did last season, will be finishing outside of the Champions League spots and have no idea who will be managing the club next season. In the manager’s words, we were told that we would have an answer by end of April. It’s now mid-May with 3 games to go and we still do not know.
This comparison with other managers is laughable. Just because Mourinho mouth farts it does not make it OK for Arsene Wenger to do so also.
Arsenal are in a critical situation. The manager has been 20 years at this club. 10 of those he spent building it up into a Goliath, the other 10 has been spent turning into into mediocrity. Why shouldn’t people criticise the way the club they love and pour their money into is handled?

Alexisshorts

Sadly I think he will be here next season. Everything he says tells me he’s confident of staying. There’s no feeling of remorse for having let the fans down. He glosses over the disastrous results this season. He talks about ‘when I leave one day’. One day! When?? Doesn’t sound like any time soon. No dissent from above because there’s nobody willing to challenge him.

Frank

I’m sorry but did you watch the Bayern games? Even in the first halves it was obvious there was a huge gap between the two teams and picking and choosing halves of football is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard, both teams know its 90 minutes and play accordingly, just because a team didn’t kick on and rip us to shreds in the first half doesn’t mean we can take that half and say we’re as good as them. I agree, we do have a good squad, and I think actually probably a better one than Monaco, but surely that makes our failings worse? Surely that brings the managers part in it into question even more?

Tapps

Spot on Jaeger Puss. What the hell was Wenger meant to say in his contractually obliged press conference? Please, have a reasoned opinion that I disagree with by all means, but criticising Wenger for a ‘soundbite’ press conference is just plain daft.

santori

Looks unlikely City will drop points to West Brom or Watford.

Ditto Liverpool to Boro.

If we shojuld even enhance our very slim chance, we need to make up GD.

We need to pummel Sunderland. They are abject but it could also be a potential banana peel if we take it for granted.

The team need to be focus and unforgiving.

Damage to our season was done before already because we haven’t been so.

May be too little too late but lets at least put in a performance. Build a bit of momentum for the cup final bc Chelsea are doing just that and more.

Mootilated

Article taken from the archives. Dated 2/05/2012

Mootilated

Oh, and, well, if only the second halves counted we would have been deservedly knocked out. What is his point?

Charlie

Quite simply poor tactical decisions. You don’t go into a first leg away against Bayern Munich with Sanchez, Iwobi, Ox and Ozil because they will dominate posession and you’ll be overrun. You know Bayern will have the ball for much of the match so you ensure that you have a more defensive line-up than you would against a team that will allow you to have the ball for most of the match. Those players spent most of the match defending and we all know that it is not their strength. Why did it take him until the Wheels had already fallen off to go for a balanced system. I know what many will say, Arsene knows tactics better than I do and i’m sure you’re right but with him it’s a philosophy of attack as the best form of defense and that philosophy has been proven time and again not to work.

DB10**

Overall i predict another whole year of winter. I am going back under the covers dreaming of Allie Macdowell with her southern accent.

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