Thomas Vermaelen urges under-siege Arsenal not to play blame game following Bayern Munich defeat
Captain calls on team to pull together and work hard to stop season unravelling in wake of Bayern defeat
Thursday 21 February 2013
Thomas Vermaelen has urged his Arsenal team-mates to avoid recriminations and stick together as another season looks set to end without silverware.
Arsenal only have Champions League qualification to play for unless they can produce a football miracle against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena next month and turn over their 3-1 deficit.
Vermaelen, the Arsenal captain, demanded unity over the final months of the season. "Of course we are not happy, we are disappointed," he said. "We have to look at ourselves and stick together in difficult times. Don't look at each other, don't blame each other, work hard every day to get the results back."
This need for unity extended to the supporters too. "They must not forget we need them," Vermaelen added. "They belong to the club. We have to stand behind each other."
An eighth-straight season without trophies has increased the pressure on manager Arsène Wenger but Vermaelen backed his manager and said that long-term judgements would support him. "Of course we're behind him," Vermaelen said of Wenger. "He's done a lot for this club. He still does a lot of hard work with us. He is the right man for the job. We have to show it on the pitch as well." Vermaelen admitted there was "shock" at the public criticism of Wenger. "Everyone in football looks too short-term. They don't look at the long term, and he's done a lot for this club.
"It doesn't mean that because it's not going well at the moment we don't stand behind him. You have to look at the long term. He is the right man for this club and we are all behind him," he added.
Theo Walcott also backed Wenger and said the players need to remain upbeat to recover their season. "We've got the best man in the job to get our heads back to where they should be," Walcott said. "We need to react in a positive way straight away. We can't be down in the dumps in training tomorrow, everybody needs to be alive and alert and recover well."
"We've got a good run in the Premier League, we can't forget that. We've got some good points, very important points, so we've just got to start believing again.
"We can't dwell on [the defeat] too long," Walcott added. "We've got some important games coming in the League, Villa and Tottenham, so we need to focus on that."
Arsenal were outclassed by Bayern Munich and Walcott admitted that they provided an example Arsenal wanted to follow. "Bayern, we knew how strong they were going to be, they're very well organised, they did their job, they took their chances. We have got to take the positives out of the second half, there's a lot we can learn from that, learn from Bayern as well because we want to be like that.
"We've got some great talent in that dressing room. It's just [a question of] bringing it all together at once."
From prince to pauper
Wenger at Arsenal 1996-2005:
Seven trophies: [Premier League 1997/98, 2001/02, 2003/04; FA Cup 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005; Champions League q-finalists 2001, 2004; Uefa Cup finalists 2000]
Wenger since 2005:
No trophies: [Champions League finalists 2006; League Cup finalists 2007, 2011; Third in Premier League 2007/08, '09/10, '11/12]
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