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Should we blame Wenger for Arsenal’s Champions League exclusion?

By Michael Atkinson

Time to give the manager a break after missing out for the first time in almost 20 years?

We knew this was going to happen one day, but it still hurts. After a magnificent two decades of cheering for Arsenal in the Champions League, we have to watch them file off to the sidelines while the rest of Europe’s great teams fight it out for the top crown. Perhaps the worst part was the false hope that was dangled in front of our eyes, with the slim chance that Liverpool and Manchester City would stumble at the final hurdle, but their easy wins mean that they get to join Chelsea and Tottenham at the Champions party we’re no longer invited to attend.

So how did it come to this? Well, the first stop in apportioning blame has to be Arsène Wenger, the same man who rightly gets most of the credit for the 20-year stint of success during his 21-year reign as Arsenal’s manager. He’s already accepted some of that blame, saying, “It is annoying, but we had a spell during the season that was difficult and it was difficult for me in my personal situation.”

Some Gunners fans might shrug and say it’s no big deal, that qualifying for the Champions League simply means you finished fourth in the Premier League. After all, even in the Olympics, you don’t get a prize for coming fourth. That’s not the case, though. Wenger himself has previously ranked the trophies that are on offer: “Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League.”

Now that he has failed to claim that trophy, it is interesting that he did not feel it was time to move on. Did he think to himself that he might not continue? There was a hint at Arsenal’s last game against Everton, when despite their 3-1 victory he refused to join the team on their lap of appreciation. Instead, he stood on the sidelines, watching in stony silence with his arms folded. Many had a feeling his behaviour in the final weeks of the season indicated he would not be returning next season, but the club’s statement four days after the FA Cup Final finally resolved the long-running saga. Arsene isn’t ready to go anywhere yet.

It’s not fair for Gunners fans to get too angry about exclusion from the Champions League. Finishing fifth in the Premier League is a long way from clutching the wooden spoon and the team’s wins in the final five games of the season prove they are still more than capable of top form. However, many still felt it might be time for fresh blood. To put the length of Wenger’s tenure into perspective, as 888sport so aptly points out, since he began in October 1996 there have been 150 other managers in the top position at other Premier League clubs.

The FA Cup final against Chelsea offered a sizable consolation prize, even if Wenger ranked that trophy as fourth, just behind qualifying for the Champions League, although his team were certainly chasing it hard. Before that game, he said he would discuss his future at the club, a future that might be highly dependent on the result. His words indicated he’d like to stay. “I love this club enough to do my best every single day,” he said. “One thing you cannot question is my love for this club. I’ve turned down every club in the world to stay here.”

If we are going to blame Wenger for this season’s shortcomings, we certainly can’t let that failure overshadow his tremendous successes. The only reason we’re so concerned about missing out of the Champions League is that an entire generation of Gunners fans has grown up taking our inclusion for granted. For that, we owe Wenger a lot.

13th June 2017 23:01:18

(3.3/10)

Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

mbg  23:18pm 13th Jun 2017

Well who the f**k is to blame then ? idiot. - Post No. 108025


Badarse  6:38am 14th Jun 2017

Apologies on behalf of the first poster, Michael. Thanks for the article. Now Mark of Nark, where are you? You were ready to spring to the defence of dup recently, try to defend that insulting behaviour. mbg, the question mark comes after the last word, and a comma should be placed where you have put it. Alternatively the last word should start a new sentence with a capital letter. Better still omit it altogether. So come on posters, (as you cannot rely on Mark of Nark), all together. 'Omit it!' - Post No. 108026


Mathews  7:00am 14th Jun 2017

"Arsene isn’t ready to go anywhere yet", well that says it all for me. If he decides his own future at the club, then the time has come to say that he has grown bigger than the club. An ambitious club would've stood up and acted by now, our decision makers been failing for years. I feel Arsene has been found out finally, with all top, young managers around him. His tactical inabilities and financial prudence will see us fall further in coming years. - Post No. 108027


markymark  7:34am 14th Jun 2017

Badarse what are you on about man! I disappear off the site for a few days (been reading up about Jezza and heavily involved in a little hobby away from here) you on the other hand clear off for months, nay seasons . Anyway lost my thread, oh yes of course Wengo should be blamed he takes all the credits for his top 4 title so should accept blame for the 5th place failure. Sorry Wengo I'm giving you Evils! - Post No. 108028


mbg  11:04am 14th Jun 2017

Badarse, see ? your at it already and your names not even dry on your registration coming on/over all holier than thou, and that's the f*****g last thing YOU are, are you really craving your arse spanked already, you don't have to apologise on behalf of me, Michael this newbee doesn't speak for or apologise for me, he craves attention for something he's not or is never going to be on here, as an AKB wengerite who talks gobbledegook expect nothing more off him, like yourself he'll always find someone/thing else to blame, and I still stand by my post. Wenger out. - Post No. 108029


mbg  11:45am 14th Jun 2017

And anyway Mr Gobbledegook I seem to remember you never rallied against others on here who used to spout a hell of a lot worse than calling someone an idiot, (which is done quite often on here without complaint, but of course this is the self appointed holier than thou Badarse we're talking about, and if Michael was offended i'm sure he's have told me himself already, i'm sure like myself he's been called worse)others who spouted racism and religious bigotry (something your bordering on yourself at the minute and not for the first time either even though you don't even know me but you don't think or realise THAT do you ?)plus homophobia, but of course they were in the same way as thinking as you and agreed with your posts and you regarding wenger and of course that made it alright, but you'll find i'm not a wee child like you and go crying to teacher everytime to have you omitted. We want wenger out. I hope that full stop is in the right place. - Post No. 108031


Yes its Ron  12:18pm 14th Jun 2017

The Coach takes the blame though its both him and the players and staff that are really to blame. Many of us are looking fwd to see if we can cut it minus CL demands anyway. In this respect, one of Arsenes main forms of salvation has been taken from him ie he cant blame CL matches trips now for poor PL results. Moreover, is it so bad not being in it? We re equipped for EL not the CL. The Club likes the cash from the CL of course but from a football perspective, we cant win it. Its nearly impossible for AFC to win it short of about 8-9 better placed clubs to win it all being eliminated or banned from playing in it. Whats worse than that for the fans? Inevitable beatings year on year? Ill be glad to see the back of them for a bit. No reason why the Club cant now go full tilt for the title and EL together. Go for it! If they do need a bit of help, maybe play weaker teams in the Cups at home. If they can be seen to be going all out for the PL and EL i think most fans would take early Cup exits, great as the FAC still is in my view. - Post No. 108033


Badarse  12:22pm 14th Jun 2017

OK Mark of Nark, pursue your pursuits. My invitation to you went unheeded and I can understand why...quack, quack, splash! A bit of ducking and diving, methinks. mbg, you are a hopeless cause chum and I don't want you to blow a gasket by thinking too deeply. However I do think it is rude and rather ignorant to insult someone who has written an article for Arsenal fans, and yourself, to read. Anyone who does write an article needn't defend himself, nor should the OG guys have to police the site so rigorously, that should be left to other posters. So consider yourself policed. - Post No. 108034


mbg  13:11pm 14th Jun 2017

Bardarse, there you go yet again you just never learn, consider yourself policed ? by whom ? you ? i'll consider myself policed by those who have authority to do so not self appointed holier than thou watchdogs who are anything but, no you consider your arse spanked (again) the Sudo creams over there, and Walton's mountain is that way. We want wenger out - Post No. 108035


newbee  13:37pm 14th Jun 2017

season tickets renewed tick money in the bank tick no new signings tick same old coaches tick new season same again tick - Post No. 108036


andy1886  15:39pm 14th Jun 2017

Magnificent two decades? Tremendous success? Really?? Get real, we qualified for a tournament that our resources should enable us to qualify for and little else. One final in that two decades and multiple failures to progress anywhere near as far as we should have. If that's 'magnificent' or 'tremendous' then they must have redefined the words. It's not a trophy and it never will be, stop deluding yourself. In the same period Liverpool qualified half as many times yet won it once and were runners up a second time. Wenger's lousy record in Europe shows just how pointless qualification for the CL is anyway. At the very highest level he gets found out every single time. - Post No. 108039


markymark  15:42pm 14th Jun 2017

Badarse - I can suggestions of the Rev Brian Badarse reappearing , you've been defrocked once. I hope to not see it again. - Post No. 108040


Exeter Ex  15:45pm 14th Jun 2017

With lines like 'After a magnificent two decades in the CL' the article reads like a wind up and it's clear that the returning Badarse - confidence restored by Wenger's new contract (the equivalent of a PL and CL double for an AKB) to post again rather than simply spending day and night in front of OG pressing F5 - is an attention seeking WUM. We all know how this will pan out for him, it's as predictable as the ups and downs of a modern day Arsenal season. - Post No. 108041


equalizer  16:30pm 14th Jun 2017

Where is this anger the author is talking about? All I have encountered is disappointment and indifference. The article does demonstrate the continued lowering of expectations among certain sections of Arsene FC supporters, and does confirm that ignorance is bliss. - Post No. 108042


mbg  17:13pm 14th Jun 2017

newbee, and the same old tick eating away at this club and it's proper fans flesh ? tick. - Post No. 108045


mbg  17:54pm 14th Jun 2017

Exeter, yes, (mind your commas and full stops)) like a preening peacock, you wouldn't mind and could see into it if he had something to preen and blow and bum about, but he hasn't, just talking the same shyte as when he left. - Post No. 108047


Badarse  20:35pm 14th Jun 2017

mbg what is it with all this spanking? What with you spanking and the other two stooges winking all the time that phone box is going to steam up pretty soon. Hold tight, squidge up a bit, make room for the Eggman-by the way buddy, you are old enough to have realised that life is full of ups and downs, though it does present an interesting concept if a number on the OG just kept going up and up. - Post No. 108049


Issue #265 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

31st May 2017

How To Run A Football Club in 2017? Let The Manager Tell The Board How It’s Going To Be

Online Ed: Confirmed – Two more years of purgatory, minimum