Arsène Wenger insists last year's 8-2 defeat at Manchester United was the fault of his own approach, as Arsenal return to Old Trafford for the first time today.
The defeat, the heaviest of Wenger's tenure, was one of the lowest moments of a dreadful 2011 for Arsenal. But Wenger says the unprecedented scoreline was not the players' fault, but rather down to his own attacking instincts.
"First of all, with 20 minutes to go, it was 4-1," Wenger recalled. "And I decided to go for an offensive, to try to come back with 10 men and we were already dead.
"Of course, after that we paid for it so maybe I should have done 'OK, let's keep it tight and go out with 4-1 and say 'Thank you very much, see you next week.'' But we wanted absolutely to give ourselves a chance to come back and maybe we shouldn't have done that."
Wenger, who admitted he was a victim of his own nature, said that he would still trust his teams to win games, even if he made the wrong decision last August.
"I am still always an optimist," he said. "They say a pessimist is a well-informed optimist. On the day I was badly informed. I always had hope. I always hope that my team will create something special – even on the day."
Attacking football is part of the make-up at Arsenal and Wenger insists it is too ingrained to change.
"I want to do what gives us the best chance to win games," the manager said. "It is as well when you make teams that you cannot go against nature. You cannot play with [Jack] Wilshere, [Santi] Cazorla and [Mikel] Arteta and say, 'Look, we only defend'. They would say, 'What are we doing on the football pitch then?'
"Somewhere your style is dictated by the players you pick. You're right, sometimes when you don't win, first you have to maybe sometimes in the game learn not to lose before you can win a game. So you give a bit more security to the team and I have done that as well. But still our basic philosophy is to go forward and attack."
Dramatic as the scoreline was, Wenger said it was not his worst moment in football. "It was not the best, that is for sure, but it is not the worst for sure," he explained.
"The worst is when you lose the Champions League final in the last minute of a game and that has real meaning. There is purely an emotional aspect in the 8-2 but there is no mathematical consequence.
"We lost a game, that is all. Honestly, it didn't affect us," Wenger insisted. "I don't feel it affected us. It affected maybe more our environment. It affects you because you feel humiliated after the game but after that, the next game when you win, you don't focus on that. I think it's when you lose a big game like that in the way we did, it is to get over the hurdle in the next three weeks.
"Once you've got over that, the mood in the camp is always a consequence of the last result."
Wenger admitted it had been embarrassing but not indicative of any desperate failings in the team.
"Of course, as you want your fans to be proud and happy, and you know that they will be hurt deeply," he said. "I said before there is an emotional aspect after a defeat like that. The football aspect as a manager has no real meaning. The emotional aspect, yes."
Manchester blues: Gunners' bad memories
* Arsenal return to Old Trafford for the first time since last August's 8-2 thrashing, when Manchester United overwhelmed their weakened visitors.
How the goals flew in:
1-0 Man United Danny Welbeck (22 min)
2-0 Ashley Young (28)
3-0 Wayne Rooney (41)
3-1 Theo Walcott (45)
4-1 Rooney (64)
5-1 Nani (67)
6-1 Park Ji-sung (70)
6-2 Robin van Persie (74)
7-2 Rooney (penalty, 82)
8-2 Young (90)Reuse content