However much I respect and admire Arsene Wenger there are occasions - too many - when, let’s say, he is economical with the truth: when he ‘hasn’t seen an incident’ that has been obvious to every other living soul in the ground.
So I’m afraid I’m more inclined to trust the instinct of David Dein rather than the Frenchman’s emphatic denials before and after the defeat by Liverpool: the Arsenal manager ‘might’ walk away from the club. And it could happen sooner than anyone thinks.
The next few days have potential for catastrophe. Should Arsenal lose to Udinese tomorrow night and not qualify for the Champions League, there’ll be a huge fall in income. Should they go on to lose at Old Trafford on Sunday, they’ll have taken just one point from their first three games in the Premier League: out of contention already?
To hear Wenger talk, you’d think he never considers any scenario outside of the Emirates: not true. There has been a French financial revolution at Paris Saint-Germain with a huge influx of money from the Qatar Investment Fund. That allowed the club to buy the Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore this month for a mere £37.6 million. Watch out Lille, Lyons and Marseille.
Even Wenger has admitted in the past that he sees himself ending up at PSG one day and there are strong rumours that he talked to them during the summer. Clearly, that door would open to him anytime he chooses.
And he’s not deaf either. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed an Arsenal crowd as vitriolic as that on Saturday. At times, in the past, their team’s struggles would have been shrouded in silence. Today, those fans howl as much abuse as support, much of it directed at Wenger.
“Spend the fing money! Spend the fing money!” And, at the conclusion of the match, one experienced season-ticket holder screamed into the press box: “Get Owen Coyle (the Bolton boss) in NOW!” It’s not ‘all’ of them but there are too many disenchanted Arsenal supporters for Wenger to ignore.
The ailments? Well, not all of them can be ascribed to outrageous bad luck as the manager would have you think. The number of ‘soft muscle’ injuries cannot be a coincidence. There MUST be a problem with preparation behind the scenes.
Then, there’s discipline or, rather, a severe lack of it. Is anyone in doubt that Gervinho and Song deserved their punishment following the game at Newcastle? And Frimpong was clearly a yellow card waiting to happen given the rashness of his behaviour: actually, two of them.
The youngster was the 88th player to be red-carded during Wenger’s tenure at the club. Arsenal, at their best, play beautiful football but they’ll never win the Fair Play League.
I wonder how many Arsenal fans, initially tentative in their support of Nasri on Saturday before recognising he was probably their best player, might now be thinking he may have a point in wanting away.
And how many would be that upset if another Frenchman left as well.