In his autobiography, Per Mertesacker gives a damming assessment of the latter days of life under Arsene Wenger, highlighting the bubble players lived in and how nothing changed, even after the side lost 8-2 at Old Trafford.
Try as we might, there is no way to escape that Arsenal went to Old Trafford and lost 8-2. That we expected to be humiliated before the game even kicked off somehow makes it worse.
If we could see what was going to happen, why couldn’t those running Arsenal?
In his autobiography, ‘BFG: Big Friendly German‘, Mertesacker explains part of what was going on.
“In the long run, preventing fans from having a normal deal with the players doesn’t do them any favours. It makes you live in a bubble and it’s not good.”
Then he moves on to the 8-2, after which he says everything seemed to continue as normal; “There was not a symptom of crisis. I was all relaxed. I was missed in the next training. We ran a little, did some exercises then went to the locker room.” He also explains how they were banned from reading news in the dressing room so they could be shielded from bad reviews. Even though he signed for the club after that game, he expected there to be some sort of reaction to the result.
He also touches on how the club tried to control the narrative in the press and the information that reached fans by saying, “In Arsenal everything was different. They didn’t want everything to be focused on a [single] player. Besides, they preferred to send less interesting people to talk to the media.”
Since Wenger and co. have gone, things do seem to have opened up a the club. Players interact with fans far more, especially on social media, while the medical team give relatively decent updates unlike their predecessors who could often go six months without even admitting a player, over a year in the case of Serge Gnabry.