Per Mertesacker admits the Arsenal players failed Arsene Wenger towards the end of the manager’s spell with the club, and feels he was part of that personally.
Wenger’s end to his 22-year spell with Arsenal wasn’t exactly as he would’ve hoped. Despite three trophies in the previous four seasons, the Gunners had to endure a League Cup final defeat and a Europa League semi-final exit on the way to a trophyless season in 2017/18. Finishing 6th in the Premier League, a record low for the boss, didn’t help.
Mertesacker clearly thinks the players have to take a lot of responsibility for the way things turned out. He spoke to German outlet Spox about the nature of the manager’s departure.
“It was very surprising for us,” Mertesacker recalled. “He arrived at a rally and told us that he had decided with the leaders to leave at the end of the season. It was a very sad moment. I had this feeling that I contributed to that.
“His departure is also the fault of the players because we had a lot of opportunities to get better results. We failed while he supported us all the time.
“I was the first to feel the need to say something and said that I deeply regretted it. It was important for him to see that we had something to say as a group and we were supporting.”
In all honesty, there probably wasn’t much Mertesacker could’ve done to fix Arsenal’s problems at that stage in his career, so he’s being a bit unfair on himself.
It’s true that a number of players let Wenger down towards the end though, particularly a certain duo now playing their football up in the North-West. It’s very difficult to argue every member of the squad gave their all until the last day.
After so many great years with Arsenal, we shouldn’t let that taint our memories of the boss. Hopefully he finds more success wherever he goes next.