Arsenal’s 3-0 surrender to Manchester City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final came with an “air of inevitability,” according to a leading fans’ group.
With the club also sixth in the Premier League table languishing 27 points behind leaders City, out of the FA Cup following a third-round defeat at Nottingham Forest and up against Italian giants AC Milan in the last-16 of the Europa League, the cup final was a chance to garner both silverware and support.
Instead, the majority of Arsenal fans traipsed out of Wembley long before the final whistle, with Lois Langton — chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association — offering a frank analysis of what the latest high-profile setback means.
“For many supporters, yesterday’s match epitomised the problems that have been building for several seasons now,” she told Press Association Sport. “What we witnessed was the culmination of years of arrogance and stubbornness. The solution is blindingly obvious and it is painful to watch what is happening to our wonderful club.
“Criticism is never easy to accept but constructive criticism should not be confused with negativity.
“Manchester City are an outstanding team. It is no disgrace to lose to them. What is a disgrace is the manner of the loss, the repetition of mistakes that we have seen countless times before and the post-match sound bites that are offered up as some sort of justification for losses.”
The Gunners were easily beaten by Pep Guardiola’s side, who did not have to be anywhere near their mesmerising best to secure the first major silverware of the season.
The defeat saw more criticism of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger following a largely-inept display from his team, with Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville labelling a host of Arsenal players “spineless” while there were further harsh words from plenty of other quarters.
Wenger has come under fire in recent years as Arsenal have failed to challenge for the Premier League title. The Frenchman has won three FA Cups in the last four years and penned a new contract following the latest of those successes in May.
“Yesterday’s match wasn’t met with anger and a chorus of ‘Wenger Out’ chants. Instead, there was a sense of inevitability,” Langton continued.
“Few went to the match with high expectations. What we now have amongst Arsenal supporters is a huge dose of apathy. It’s as if the fight has gone because supporters know it’s futile.”
Langton also called on the Arsenal hierarchy to point the finger at Wenger, who many fans believe has been given an easy ride given recent failings.
“Yesterday’s match must mark a turning point,” she added. “For the sake of our football club, the board must grasp the nettle. It is clear that steps (which are acknowledged and welcomed) have already been taken to secure the future of the club but the hardest decision of all still sits with the club and that concerns the manager.
“Nobody is denying what he has achieved for the club but that cannot be used as a self-serving justification to prevent change.
“It simply cannot continue. It is not about winning silverware. The problems are so much more deep-rooted than that and are undermining the values on which our club has been built.”