Paul Merson refuses to blame Arsene Wenger for Arsenal’s League Cup final defeat, saying the players have to accept responsibility after a number of terrible individual performances.
Former Gunner, Merson, has never been Wenger’s biggest fan. Earlier this season, he claimed the French manager doesn’t even have the tactical nous of Harry Redknapp.
After Arsenal’s poor performance against Manchester City, it would’ve been easy to turn on the boss again, but the 49-year-old put the blame on the players instead.
“I’m one of Arsene’s biggest critics, but I didn’t see it as his fault yesterday, it was the players,” Merson argued.
“It does come down to the manager, but he puts the team out there. I know people say the manager is responsible, but the players have got to take part of the blame now, it’s not always Arsene Wenger’s fault.
“He put the team up there to play a cup final at Wembley – it’s a big game, their biggest of the season – and I can’t blame him for what they did.
“I really felt for Wenger yesterday, I really felt sorry for him. The players let him down severely, and he’s the one who will get the blame again.”
To an extent, I think the former forward is right. The team selection was good enough to do a lot more than they did on the day, so you have to put that on the players.
It’s easy to be wise after the fact but most people seemed pretty happy when Arsenal released their line-up.
Of course, there are other elements that the manager should’ve done better. Clearly the preparation for the match wasn’t right, and he didn’t change things early enough.
If the Danny Welbeck substitution had arrived 10 minutes earlier, at 1-0, the team might’ve been able to get on the front foot and stop City running away with it. It was clear they needed a change even at half-time, there was no reason to wait until Guardiola’s side scored again.
Overall, I think all the players and the manager have to share the blame around.
No one did enough to win the cup on the day, and they all have to take responsibility for that.