Former Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has revealed the club’s players let Arsene Wenger down in his final season at the Emirates in his new autobiography.
Wenger left the club at the end of the 2017/18 season after 22 years in charge, winning three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and becoming the only manager in the history of the league to guide his side to an unbeaten season.
The 69-year-old bowed out after another disappointing season, finishing sixth in the league and being knocked out of the Europa League in the semi finals.
His final years in north London were plagued by chants of ‘Wenger Out’ by those who believed he was well past his best and that change was needed.
Mertesacker, who spent seven years at the club and won three FA Cups, making 221 appearances before retiring at the same time as his manager, has now revealed the manager was not solely responsible for the club’s troubles.
In his new autobiography, ‘Per Mertesacker: Big Friendly German’, with quotes carried by the Mirror, the German admitted the manager’s trust in his players was never repaid.
“When we lost one game, we often lost a few in a row. We could show off our class across six FA Cup games, but 38 League matches in 10 months were a different matter. We simply lacked the consistency all top teams need.
“You couldn’t win the League on eight defeats a year. Arsene Wenger was always the kind of manager whose belief in his team’s qualities was steady as a rock and who approached matters with never-ending patience.
“He didn’t lose his nerve during losing streaks, either. He stuck with his convictions and his players, no matter how strong the wind was blowing. It was his greatest strength.
“Wondering whether it was also his greatest weakness and whether he was he too lenient with us is, in my opinion, a little too simplistic.
“If the fans had got their way, there would have been five new top signings every year. ‘Spend some f****** money!’ they would chorus from the stands after defeats.
“But Wenger trusted the players he had. I never met another manager who believed more strongly in his squad’s ability.”
The 34-year-old continued:
“Ultimately, we as players need to ask ourselves whether we did everything possible to justify his trust.
“Wenger has won three Premier League titles, which is proof enough of his standing as a manager. The team, on the other hand, had fallen short since 2004.”