This morning there’s something of a numbness running through the Arsenal fan base.
We’ve seen our team humiliated on the world stage more than once. This is nothing new.
But it is something different.
Watching Arsene Wenger speak after the full time whistle brought an end to the suffering, it was clear to see the boss was a broken man. He knew, with all the clarity of a man staring at undeniable test results, that his time is up.
So what happens next?
It seems impossible to think that Wenger will sign a new deal after this.
While one result was never going to be the ultimate deciding factor for him, the manner of this defeat – so samey – with what he has called his best squad ever is hard to deny. It was an old pattern, played out once again.
It was not about tactics, Arsenal got those right for the large part. They went to Munich with a plan and by half time, that plan was working. It’s not about desire. I don’t doubt that the players and manager wanted to win this game.
No, it was about our fabled ‘mental strength’ and how it vanishes like paper in a bonfire when plans go slightly awry.
No matter how much you wanted Wenger to turn this all around, to be given time after the stadium shackles were released, you have to admit that he cannot fix this.
If he could, he would have done so by now.
There is a fundamental flaw running through the very heart of this club and it affects every side, no matter the personnel.
The only thing that hasn’t changed in an effort to fix it is the management and coaches.
Wenger will go this summer. He could have went after the first, or even second FA Cup, but now he will leave on the back of another race for fourth place. We’ll make it, we always do and this sort of game and result ususally spurs a reaction.
But it’s too little too late.
Then we will hit the summer.
An announcement will be made and we will wait. Will the club have a successor ready? What players will be shipped out? Which ones will want to leave with Wenger? Will Ozil and Sanchez sign that new deal? Will Wenger take a role upstairs? What will that mean for whomever replaces him? Will we have to endure another Bruce Rioch era?
In short, the questions that will have to be answered are without number. It will be a total overhaul the like of which many fans have never experienced.
Stability will no longer be a word that is automatically associated with Arsenal. Regular top four places will likely become a thing of the past, as will Champions League last 16 exits as we mightn’t even get there.
It will be rough.
But it will be worth it.
The work that Wenger and co. have put in over the past 20 years leave this club ready and waiting for a manager who is brave enough to take it on to the next level.
The foundations laid down at the expense of trophies and titles will start to come to fruition.
Those fruits should have been Wenger’s.
The painful irony of it all is that Arsenal and football have outgrown him – and he was the one who helped make that possible.