Arsenal legend gives reasons for Arsene Wenger failing in his last years

Former Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has opened up about the last years under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, admitting that the players let the Gunners long-serving manager down.

Mertesacker, who is now the academy manager at Arsenal has penned an autobiography titled ‘Per Mertesacker: Big Friendly German’ and in extracts from the book the German world winner revealed that Wenger was probably far too loyal to his players, that he was too lenient, that there was a failure to overcome defeats and much more.

It is a little bit of an eye-opener but at the same time not really surprising, there clearly was an issue in the final years and a lot of what Mertesacker says makes complete sense.

Here is the extract as published by the Evening Standard.

“Every team has its poor phases over the season, the trick is minimising them. You have to draw quick lessons from defeats and immediately remind yourself of your own strengths. Other teams were better at that. They managed setbacks better, not letting themselves be intimidated by those first negative waves and ignoring what people on the outside were saying. We didn’t have the ability to shift quickly and keep our faith after a disappointment.

“When we lost one game, we often lost a few in a row. We could show off our class across six FA Cup games, but 38 League matches in 10 months were a different matter. We simply lacked the consistency all top teams need.

“You couldn’t win the League on eight defeats a year. Arsene Wenger was always the kind of manager whose belief in his team’s qualities was steady as a rock and who approached matters with never-ending patience. He didn’t lose his nerve during losing streaks, either. He stuck with his convictions and his players, no matter how strong the wind was blowing. It was his greatest strength.

“Wondering whether it was also his greatest weakness and whether he was he too lenient with us is, in my opinion, a little too simplistic. If the fans had got their way, there would have been five new top signings every year. ‘Spend some f***ing money!’ they would chorus from the stands after defeats. But Wenger trusted the players he had. I never met another manager who believed more strongly in his squad’s ability.

“In 2015-16, he didn’t buy a single outfield player, just a new keeper – Petr Cech – because he was convinced that the squad was good enough to win the title. People were beside themselves, but Wenger was thinking on a deeper level: ‘What happens to my starting forward if I add a new one? Is that really going to improve the team, or would I be unsettling my best man? Is five people fighting for the same position a good thing?’

“First and foremost, Wenger saw us as human beings and he had a lot of faith in us, which is why he stood by us. Ultimately, we as players need to ask ourselves whether we did everything possible to justify his trust. Did we implement his instructions perfectly? Were we pulling together? Did we learn from our mistakes? No. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, which is proof enough of his standing as a ­manager. The team, on the other hand, had fallen short since 2004.”

Hindsight is a beautiful thing but in truth, many fans could see what was going wrong at the time and that contributed to a lot of the ill-feeling towards Wenger from the fan base and it seems to me that he failed to evolve with his thinking, the days of thinking on a deeper level and keeping faith in players that clearly were not up to the job had long since passed.

It looks like an interesting book from Mertesacker and one I am sure to read in full.

Updated: September 10, 2019 — 6:51 pm

30 Comments

  1. Arsenal legend??? Are you serious?

    1. Why not?
      Koscielny and Mert were the PL’s #1 bCB pairing for 2 years in a row
      Helped us win 3 FA Cups
      World Cup winner
      Us not winning more trophies is Wenger’s fault not his

    2. Per Mertesacher, Arsenal player, Arsenal captain, Arsenal coach Arsenal legend!! Yes yes!!!

  2. Am sure very soon we will start calling Ozil, kolasinac even Nelson Arsenal legends.

    1. we havent had an Arsenal legend in over a decade. The personnel Wenger so strongly believed in were just never good enough, or he never bothered to assemble an XI that was competitive enough. RVP, Fabregas would surely get shouts if the squads they played in didnt have so many holes. Shockingly Ramsey comes to closest to being a legend having won us two FA Cup’s. But was never consistently good enough to warrant such a title.

      1. Ramsey, a legend…LOL

        1. literally not what I said. Stop being a clown

      2. Ramsey legend! Confirm

    2. Oh Lenohappy, you mean to tell me Kolasinac isn’t a legend in your eyes?! ?

      1. Kolasinac is more of a rugby legend Sue, and I thought you will like to know, Iwobi made an assist for his country today.

        1. Kolasinac misses too many tackles to succeed at Rugby.

  3. He is probably right about Wenger

    Emery is pretty strict, but he is not as ruthless as Guardiola

    If he fails, Vieira could be the next candidate and I believe he is still a hard character

    1. After 03/04 Arsenal should have won the 07/08 and 15/16 EPL trophies.The 07/08 in particular had Arsenal won it would have been Wenger’s second best achievement after the invincibles

      1. Yes.

        And while you can blame 15/16 to some extent on Wenger, 07/08 we were just desperately unlucky.
        As soon as Eduardo got a serious injury, Adebayor all of a sudden stopped scoring…

    2. As someone who has studied under Guardiola for a long time, I still think Arteta would be a gamble worth taking as at least there’s a possibility there’s a top manager in him whereas Vieira has already proven that he’s merely decent and nothing more – a definite downgrade on Emery.

  4. Thank you for including this passage. I really look forward to reading this book as well. I have the utmost love and respect for Arsene Wenger due to the morals and artistry that define his character and thus Arsenal Football Club, though I accept these qualities also directly pertain to our lack of success. It sounds like these qualities had a profound effect on our BFG.

  5. Mertesacker is correct about Wenger. He expected too much from mostly underperforming players.It was his weak point & didn’t read signals from fans that nothing good was coming from the team regarding success. As for Mert, he wasn’t a brilliant defender& was mostly injured. He is undoubtedly not an Arsenal legend.

    1. Between 1998 and 2004 Arsenal won 3 titles and Manchester United
      won 4 in what was essentially a two team league.
      After the Invincibles Wenger + Arsenal fans believed they were God
      Chelsea made it a three team league in 2005 when Mourinho arrived and he immediately destroyed the Invincables in 2005/06.
      Ferguson (with out oil) fought back and won in 2007/8/9/11/13.
      In contrast Wenger/Arsenal never won again.
      So why did Arsenal never win again?
      There are three clear phases.
      Phase one was between 2005 and 2009
      Wenger and the Arsenal fans created a fantasy myth.
      Mourinho they claimed was an uncouth low class fraud who only
      won because because he had unlimited funds played defensive football which was killing the game.
      Chelsea they said had no history no class and plastic fans.
      It was then Mourinho made his famous claim that Wenger was a voyeur spying on the world from his hiding place.
      Mourinho was saying that Wenger had become so bitter and twisted about being beaten he had lost his mind. Arsenal fans too.
      The second phase. 2010-2016.
      “The Kroenkes titles are too expensive”
      “We did not buy Arsenal to win titles”
      The arrival of Man Sheiki
      The evolution of the 4th place trophy adoration society.
      Phase 3 2017/2018.The arrival of Liverpool and Spurs
      Relegation to the Europa League
      A new club administration
      Fan discontent.
      Resignation
      New manager.
      These to me are the facts.
      The question to me is why was Wenger allowed to stay
      fourteen years after his last win yet the same fans
      want Emery out after just one season?

  6. A little bit harsh with the headlines admin, what about “Metesacker gives an insight into what made AW tick, from both sides of the debate”?

    The more I read about Arsene Wenger, the more respect I give him, both as a manager and a persòn.

  7. Kos is even more of a legend than Mertesacker if you are going to use that word so loosely.Objectively speaking, what he did can never wipe away his past.He gave his very best until he was broken to pieces and became a walking injury and was still going hard hence why Arsenal even wanted him to stay.
    Mertesacker was good but under the system Wenger employed had Kos not been so good in seeing the game from behind it would’ve cost us more.

    1. Wenger came to England as a no body buh left as a celebrated legend, a lot has bn said to tarnish his image,sure he’s not blameless in certain areas buh over all it was an amazing experience with Wenger,the 22 years he was here was the most amazing in our entire history, his last year was a mess according to his own standard buh who remembers pep gardiola’s last year @ Barcelona, klopp’s last year @ durtmumd and mourinho’s last year @ Chelsea,I know its very difficult to give credit buh the truth is that epl has never bn a child’s play,u will always work hard to win games, points has never bn awarded without hardwork, am glad I witnessed Wenger’s years and football artistry @ arsenal, have nothing buh good wishes and good will message to our greatest ever manager merci arsene!!

      1. You write ”Wenger came to England as a no body ” Surely you are joking. If you are serious take a look at this in search

        Happy Birthday Arsene Wenger charles veritie

        He was well known long before he came to England.

  8. Was it unacceptable of me to smile (& maybe punch the air ?) when Kane’s penalty was saved?!

    1. Not only acceptable Sue but compulsory ?

  9. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let us Gooners forget about who Arsenal legends were in the modern football era, of whom among them rhinoceros BFG does not qualify as one imo. But let’s all focus on the business at hand on how Arsenal will start the journey of bouncing back into contention for the PL title win which they would have veena been in the ascendancy had they won their last successive 2 big PL matches. But it should be head coach Emery’s primary job that he shouldn’t shy away from doing correctly this time after the international break has ended which allows Arsenal to resume their campaign in the PL in a less glamorous London derby match away to Warlord. This is highly important to us the Arsenals.

  10. wenger was the best manager to have ever graced the premier league,all his ideas of investing in acadamey,building bigger new bigger stadia are still being emulated to date.He competed on a lower budjet won trophies and kept us in cl football for a long time till it become boring to play in Europe.Now with the top ten most exppensive squad in Europe and a new manager we are stiil struggling to be back in cl.In modern football money wins you trophies and all the best players are expensive and are known small clubs are making billions from big clubs incase they produce talented players from the youth set up so wenger can not be blamed for falling behind because he lacked the financial muscle and now it has downed on the club that you cant progress without spending.Wenger tried to sign all big football stars including messi,mbappe and Ronaldo surely he was ambitious back there was no financial backing from owners who were used to success without splashing the cash.

  11. Well in all honesty matersacker is our legend, he was here for over 6 years , won trophies for us, defended the great club on and off the pitch, never held the club to Ransome, @ a point kos/ mert combo was simply the best in the league, we hardly lose matches when both play together, he might be slow buh he was brilliant with his positioning and tackles,he was a leader on and off the pitch and he was a very good captain,he’s still a role model to our teeming young players and dude has maintained a very disciplined lifestyle since he’s here, a big and vocal voice in the dressing room and a rallying point to other players, sooo can some one tell me what more it takes to be a legend?

  12. After seeing Arsenal legends like Adams, O’Leary, Bergkamp, Henry I would hardly call Mertesacker an Arsenal legend, far from it. What’s the thinking behind you calling him an Arsenal legend, love to hear it.

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