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Why Arsenal need much more than Wenger exit to convince Allegri

COMMENT: You don't believe this, Gooners? Surely? You can't believe that removing Arsene Wenger will suddenly transform your lot into the genuine article...

At the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night that was it for Wenger. There's no clawing his way back from this. But the pile on has been just too easy. Ex-players, indeed many ex-Gooners, are now calling for him to go. His management peers, though of course with a self-diagnosed 'heavy heart', have volunteered advice, urging him to 'move on'. 'It's time Arsene', they say. But isn't this all just dancing around the edges?

Wenger wasn't on the pitch in Munich. Nor was he against Watford or Chelsea. The hammering from Bayern Munich was the manager's nadir. But it shouldn't end there. What happened exposed a group of nearly men. A team of individuals living off what they could be, not what they'd past achieved.

In England, everything has been thrown at Wenger. But in Germany, there's been a greater focus on what transpired on the pitch, which was summed up by Ollie Kahn, the former Bayern and Germany goalkeeper.

“I've never seen a team play so bad," Kahn declared at the final whistle. “Bayern played a team so catastrophically bad without the ball. It's as if they don't take the coach seriously anymore."

Would that sting these Arsenal players? Kahn has won everything in the game. He's regarded so highly that Bayern are trying to convince him to return as a sporting director. His words should carry weight. To be slated so emphatically by a great of the game shouldn't just sting, but rock any pro to the core. But given the type of personality you see in this Arsenal locker room, can you really see Kahn's comments being heeded?

Arsenal, from the players, to the manager, right up to the board, were given a huge dose of football reality at the Allianz. This group just isn't good enough. Pound-for-pound they don't belong on the same pitch. Where the Germans had Manuel Neuer between the posts, Arsenal had David Ospina. Where Philip Lahm and David Alaba filled Bayern's fullback roles, Arsenal had Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs. Mesut Ozil for Arsenal? Arjen Robben for Bayern. Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin versus Artur Vidal and Xabi Alonso? C'mon, this is embarrassing. No Arsenal player could force their way into Carlo Ancelotti's plans ahead of one of his own. And we include Alexis Sanchez in this. You're not going to bench Robert Lewandowski for the Chilean.

And yes, we can hear you. Wenger is responsible for this squad. He hasn't lost a first-choice player for four years. He was allowed to build this team to his liking and without interference. He must take responsibility.

But replacing him won't get at the crux of the issue.

It's the culture at Arsenal. Everyone is protected. There's no falling outs. No players sold for underperforming. They know they're safe. They'll pick things up. Finish the season off with a flourish and silence the critics - again. Simply doing just enough is good enough. And this custom doesn't begin and end at Wenger's office door.

Just contrast the Arsenal way to what Jose Mourinho is doing at Manchester United. He's dropped and recalled Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Called out publicly Anthony Martial. And it appears has just about given up on Luke Shaw. When was such a fire lit under the players at London Colney? Again, we'll repeat it, when was the last time a big name player was sold by Arsenal for underperforming? Would Aaron Ramsey be tolerated by Mourinho? Ozil? Theo Walcott? Indeed, where would their careers be if they'd worked at a club where finishing top four was the least expected?

It's been all too comfortable at Arsenal. And what was seen on the pitch during Wednesday night has been mirrored upstairs. That 'fear' you're reading in reports of directors hoping Wenger can be persuaded to carry on is genuine. Massimiliano Allegri, of Juventus, has made his demands to Arsenal. And it's dominated by the management structure. A sporting director. A top level chief scout. His own backroom staff. And an end to a transfer policy focused on the 'sell on value' of players. As much as English football is an ambition, Allegri wants to win titles. He wants to win the Champions League. Why would he swap one club prepared to pay €94 million for a 29 year-old striker for another only interested in making profits on future sales?

And that gets at the heart of the problems at Arsenal. It isn't just Wenger. Nor the Gooner selfie gang. It runs right to the top and the motivation of why those inside the boardroom are involved. At Juve. At Bayern. There's no missing it. From top to bottom, they're in football to win.

You can't say that about Arsenal. At least, not for the past ten years.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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