Comment - Give it up Arsene, please give it up...and the reason why Jose Mourinho so damn miserable
So there ends an eventful if slightly anti-climactic Premier League season, with our final weekend review of the campaign leading with what ended up as the great tragedy of the season for Arsenal and their most talked about employee.
WENGER STILL HAS TIME TO SAVE HIS DIGNITY
This is not how it was meant to be for legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
As he stood sheepishly on the sidelines after watching his side fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades, Wenger was clearly reluctant to present himself to a hostile crowd as he declined to take part in the traditional lap of honour with his players at the end of the Premier League season on Sunday.
This was his latest shameful fall from grace amid a tragedy that shows no sign of reaching a conclusion.
Wenger quote for MOTD suggests he's leaving "This group has to stay together as I think 'they' will win the Championship." After relegation?— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 21, 2017
Here is a man who should be bowing out of Arsenal amid a fanfare of acclaim, an icon who has brought so much joy to a club he has given his heart and soul to for the last 21 years.
Instead, he is reduced to a role as a disgraced ringleader of a poorly performing circus on Sunday. What a mess, what an unnecessary mess.
Never in the history of this sport has a manager who is held in such high esteem at a football club found himself in a predicament where he is being hounded out the door by his own disciples and yet somehow, he choses not to hear the calls for him to go.
Wenger has been guilty of allowing Arsenal to spiral out of control over the course of this turbulent and often toxic season, with his belated confession after Sunday’s 3-1 win against Everton that the uncertainty over his future was affecting his team cementing what the rest of us have been suggesting for months.
“Since January it’s been a very difficult environment for different reasons,” said the Arsenal boss. “Some you know about, and that’s very difficult for a group of players to cope with that.
"There are some other reasons that we will talk about another day. Psychologically, the environment for this group of players was absolutely horrendous and I’m very proud of what they have done, the way they responded and finished the season.”
At last Wenger has acknowledged that he is the main problem at Arsenal, as he finally admitted publicly that with contract expiring at the end of May and no confirmation that he is staying has been the big factor in his side's failure this season.
Having attended Wenger’s first press conference in 1996 and several hundred more in the years since, I find it sad to see a man of his stature crushed in this way, yet each and every day he stays in the job form this point forward will further tarnish his already shattered legacy.
Wenger used up all the credit he had in the bank from his early successes at Arsenal long ago and he should have walked away from the job after his side’s FA Cup success of 2014, but he cannot bare to give up the power he has established over so many years.
So now we look on at a broken and belligerent man desperately limping on, ruling the club like a dictator without an agenda, the revolutionary turned dinosaur who has lost his mandate to continue to lead.
Even if Arsenal somehow beat Chelsea in next Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, Wenger has to realise his time is up as Gunners manager, even if most currently feel he will try and stay on for another two years despite increasingly vehement opposition from the club’s fans.
If Wenger had announced a few weeks back that he would retire at the end of the season, the poisonous mood that has destroyed Arsenal’s hopes of a top four finish may well have been removed, yet this 67-year-old is in no mood to give up just yet.
Unless someone at Arsenal halts his in his plan to stay on or he has a change of heart, this horror story will end with the Gunners being forced to sack Wenger at some point next season, in what would be his final indignity.
Give it up now Arsene…please give it up.
WHY IS JOSE MOURINHO SO GRUMPY?
Jose Mourinho did not expect to spend the final day of his first season as Manchester United manager accepting a sixth place finish in the Premier League and fielding a team packed full of youth team players against Crystal Palace.
Yet that was the scenario Mourinho somewhat sheepishly accepted on Sunday, as he stakes United’s entire season on success in next Wednesday’s Europa Legaue final against Ajax in Stockholm.
This three-time Premier League champion did not want to be at Old Trafford on Sunday and he confirmed as much by walking out of his post match press conference without answering a question and also cutting short his final MUTV interview of the season.
Clearly Mourinho is embarrassed to find himself putting all of his hopes into a competition he has been in open contempt of for many years, yet his miserable demeanour has been on of the themes of this season.
Is he enjoying life at Manchester United? Is he even enjoying football any more after his fall from grace at Chelsea last year and his worst ever finish as a Premier League manager?
They are questions that need to be answered even if he saves his and United’s season with a win in Sweden on Wednesday, with the glint in the eye that used to make Mourinho special has been absent far too often over the last few months.
The old Jose was a box office superstar who boasted an aura few before him possessed.
The surly, slightly depressing character we have been confronted with time and again this season needs to be banished ahead of next season.
THE STATS THAT MATTER
Tottenham striker Harry Kane led the scoring charts after a burst of seven goals in his final two games took his tally for the season to an impressive 29, ensuring he finished ahead of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku (25) and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez (24).
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne takes the honours for the most assists (18), with Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen not far behind with 15.
1979 - Both Arsenal and Man Utd have finished outside of the top four in the top-flight for the first time since 1978-79. Unusual. pic.twitter.com/LvQ4YnMUJR— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 21, 2017
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s impressive defender Cesar Azpilicueta led the passing charts this season with 2457, closely followed by a surprising entry in Arsenal’s less than accomplished midfielder Granit Xhaka (2298).
The team stats confirm that Tottenham scored the most goals (86), just one ahead of champions Chelsea, while the Pep Guardiola ethos of passing football saw Manchester City top the list for most touches over the course of the campaign (30,365).
Of course, the only statistic that really matters over the course of this season was that Chelsea won 30 of their 38 games and were worthy champions.
Oh and if you are already getting Premier League withdrawal symptoms, there are just 82 days to go until the start of the new season.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Victor Moses (Chelsea)
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)