The pressure on Arsene Wenger increased further after Arsenal's 3-1 home loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. There was no sign of the 'Wenger Meltdown' as seen in the pre-match press conference, but after the game he took his assistant coach Steve Bould to one side, and POT's Iain Macintosh heard what he had to say...
ARSENE WENGER: Oh, Steve. What are we going to do? We are out of the title race, we are out of the FA Cup, we are out of the League Cup and unless something amazing happens, we are soon to be out of the Champions League as well.
STEVE BOULD: Well, boss. I think th-
AW: And they say to me, “Spend some money! Spend some money, Arsene!” But then you must look at last summer. Santi Cazorla for £16m, Olivier Giroud for £13m, Lukas Podolski for £11m and then you must look at last month, Nacho Monreal for £10m. That’s £50m! Who else can I buy?
SB: There’s a lad over at-
AW: And they tell me to pay the players more money, as if that will somehow make them better footballers. Look at Theo Walcott. Tell me how he has improved since we gave him £100,000 a week. Tell me what we have gained there. We spend over £140m on wages every year. Tell me how I could spend it any better!
SB: Well, if you ask me, we co-
AW: Ah, but then if you beat them in that argument, they come up with a new one. “What is wrong with the players’ confidence?” they say. I do not know. I am not the players. I tell them what they need to know, I make them feel good about themselves, I send them out to play with a smile and then they come back 0-1 down at half-time and I have to shout at them. Then, at the end of the game, I go out and I tell everyone that they could not have tried any harder and that they gave everything they had. What else can I do?
SB: If I were you, I’d try say-
AW: If it is not a question of confidence, then it is technical issues. “Why do you not practice more at set pieces?” as if any of them could come up with a system that would be able to track Daniel van Buyten from one side of the penalty area to another. You tell me, what could we have done to stop that?
SB: Actually, I wrote a doss-
AW: But the press do not want to hear that, do they? They want soundbites and stories. Then, when I tell them that they have a story wrong, they say that I am melting down! They are quick enough to tell ME where I am going wrong. Do I ever accuse them of melting down? Do I ever write 1000 words on how sad it is that they have lost their composure and it is tarnishing the memories of the excellent double page spreads they wrote in 2004? No! So why do they chase me?
SB: Boss, if I can jus-
AW: We have a beautiful stadium. It is like watching football in a five star hotel. We have an incredible academy, a production line of talent sourced from around the world. We play beautiful football, we win games, we are not that far from a Champions League place. But no, we lose to Blackburn, we lose to Bayern Munich and it’s time for me to retire. Ridiculous.
SB: Boss, you really need to lis-
AW: You tell me where Arsenal would be if it wasn’t for me, eh? Where did Bruce Rioch finish, eh? Half of those people booing me were…were…were pooing in their nappies when I took over. I built this stadium. They did a poo. But what will placate them?
SB: I tell you what, I’m going down the pub. If you need me, jus-
AW: And why always with the comments about my coat? It is a nice coat. It took time to make, it looks good, it is warm, it is multi-layered, it keeps out the bitter North London chill. Okay, so the zip is a little sticky, but you expect such things in this life. One small problem can make everything else look so dramatic. Ha! A metaphor for our plight perhaps, Steve?