Arsenal players held a team meeting after City defeat and pleaded for 'more help'
One senior player was on the verge of tears.
Arsenal have had a tough week. Whether it was getting thoroughly dismantled by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final, having Arsenal Fan TV as a thing that exists, having Arsenal Fan TV as thing that exists after the City loss, or getting thoroughly dismantled by the same team again, at home, in the first half, it's hard to see any recent positives for the North London club.
Wenger, it appeared, had run his course long ago; yet here he remains, on a fourth or fifth victory lap long after the stadium has emptied and the applause died, struggling with his zip and waving at no-one in particular as a solitary cleaner awkwardly sweeps the tired confetti out from under his feet.
After the loss to Guardiola's seemingly unstoppable City side at Wembley, the players were given a day off to gather themselves before returning to training on Tuesday. After which, the Guardian have reported, they held a players-only meeting to discuss exactly what was going wrong.
The meeting at the London Colney training ground was, according to reports, not an aggressive, shout-y, "let's throw things at the wall and kick boots at each other's head and have it all out now" type of dressing-room talk. That wouldn't be very Arsenal, would it?
Well, you could picture Adams, Vieira, Keown and the perpetually underrated Gilberto Silva doing something like that. You can't exactly see David Ospina, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck going hell-for-leather at each other.
It was more a desperate cry for help.
One senior player, almost on the verge of tears, said just that. "We need more help". Another tried to emphatically reaffirm that they were indeed a "big club", as though stating it might be an act of self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps not realising that there are many "big clubs" in England, and almost all of them are existing in crises worse than 6th place in the Premier League.
But this player did go on to say what was perhaps most telling, that they simply "need more help from the coaches".
Wenger has long since lost the support of the vast majority of Arsenal's fan base, as well as any sympathy from the media, but he could always rely on the players. He has always been a beloved, respected, father-figure for his team, regardless of results. Perhaps now he is more the elderly grandfather, without much to offer other than a warm pack of Werther's Originals that have been sat in the car for too long, when what they really need is the cool new uncle, in his fashionable scarf and coat, who can teach them about Johan Cruyff and counter-pressing and playing out from the back in 2018, rather than 2001.
Another player despondently asserted that more help simply isn't going to come. "We need to find the answers ourselves".
If this player was Shkodran Mustafi or Petr Cech, then fair play to them. They can definitely find the answer themselves. They can definitely not defend like a revolving door and a human cat-flap with goalie gloves respectively. I've seen them do it before.
It shows, however, that the players at least care. They care that their children are asking them why Arsenal are so bad, why a grown man who calls himself "Troopz" has said he is done with them for about the tenth time, why the Emirates was only half full for a game against the league leaders and why the stadium announcers still read out the attendance as 58,420.
A deep breath and then please say it again with me one more time. You are a big club.
Wenger isn't going to jump without being pushed. He's sat on the top board, toes curled over the edge, clinging onto the metal railing. Everyone is shouting jump. The lifeguard has the megaphone out. It's Claude from Arsenal Fan TV. That is the lifeguard, mispronouncing Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan and telling you over and over "Jack was the only player on the pitch". Granit Xhaka, at least, is squeezing some match practice in, floating about on a lilo in the middle of the pool.
"Well, uh" Wenger mutters to himself. "I think I will give it another year".
Fast forward a year and we might see him win another cup, and therefore the real prize, another two-year contract extension. Equally, we might see him climb down from the top and finish his victory lap once and for all.