Mertesacker identifies Wenger’s greatest strength and weakness

Ian Watson

Per Mertesacker say Arsenal lacked the necessary consistency to challenge for the Premier League title under Arsene Wenger.

Mertesacker became the Arsenal academy manager after hanging up his boots in 2018 when Wenger retired after 22 years at the helm.

Wenger delivered seven FA Cup triumphs but Premier League success was absent during the later years of his reign.

In his autobiography ‘Per Mertesacker: Big Friendly German’, Mertesacker says Wenger’s belief in his methods and his players never wavered, even if the squad lacked the necessary mentality to challenge for the title.

“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***ing 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.”