Time for Wenger to go
Arsenal must remove Frenchman from coaching role to spare him further punishment
When Angelo Dundee looked into the eyes of his beloved Muhammad Ali, he saw the dying of the light.
Ali's trainer saw a legend with nothing left to give. Ali had walked into Larry Holmes' punches in their 1980 mismatch, refusing to acknowledge what the world could see.
To spare further punishment, Dundee threw in the towel.
Arsenal's board must now do the same for Arsene Wenger.
The club's owners need to put their greedy considerations aside and spare their manager further punishment.
Like Ali in that Las Vegas ring, Wenger was left confused, horrified and deeply wounded in the Allianz Arena yesterday morning (Singapore time.)
But he remains immune to his failings.
After the 5-1 hammering by Bayern Munich, there are the usual rabid demands for swinging axes. But critics are wasting their time. Wenger won't quit and the club won't fire him.
Arsenal's only hope now is that the owners might whisper in Wenger's ear and mention a job opportunity in the boardroom, a director of something or other, anything that removes him from the transfer kitty and day-to-day operations.
We collapsed mentally. I am not looking for excuses. Overall, I must say they were a better team than us. The last 25 minutes were a nightmare for us, because we had no response.Arsene Wenger
That's the only option left, the last straw to clutch. The first step to solving a problem is recognising that there is one and Wenger simply cannot do that.
His pathological refusal to address Arsenal's decline - even after the second 5-1 thrashing in Munich in two years - is killing the football club.
He's not killing the actual club. On the contrary, Arsenal's financial prudence remains a model in a fickle industry. But, in elite football terms, the Gunners are an irrelevance.
Wenger has had two years to improve his squad since the previous 5-1 drubbing in Munich, but Arsenal have regressed even further.
They kicked off without a recognised striker yet again yesterday morning, relying on Alexis Sanchez who retains an eye for goal but the other is firmly fixed on the exit.
And any genuinely elite side would have dropped Mesut Oezil weeks ago.
Before Bayern's third goal, the German was caught walking as the hosts surged past him.
Wenger's claim that Oezil remains the kind of engimatic, unpredictable talent that guarantees his selection was rubbished by Bayern's bench.
Thomas Mueller has struggled for goals. So Carlo Ancelotti displayed a ruthlessness that Wenger lost a decade ago.
Mueller was out. Oezil was in.
Mueller arrived with only six minutes left and tore into Arsenal's miserable mannequins like a starving bull. He scored Bayern's fifth goal.
Oezil wandered around like a bored kid on a stadium tour.
Wenger no longer inspires nor terrifies, seemingly unable to coax consistent performances from Oezil, Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi.
Arsenal's collapse in the second half underlined their longstanding decay.
Robert Lewandowski is a rare beast of a No. 9, but the Gunners have consistently failed to find either a forward of similar qualities or a defender who might stop him.
Lewandowski sent Shkodran Mustafi back to school at every set-piece.
At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal's answer to Lewandowski is meant to be Olivier Giroud, suggesting the question can only be, "name a striker not fit to lace Lewandowski's boots".
After five years at Arsenal, Giroud was still not considered competent enough to start against Bayern. But then, nor were Theo Walcott or, ridiculously, Petr Cech.
David Ospina's short size left him flailing like a performing seal looking for a fish whenever Bayern directed shots towards the far corners.
In central midfield, Francis Coquelin completed just six passes in 77 minutes. He wasn't so much beaten as he was bypassed by the outstanding Thiago Alcantara.
TITANS AGAINST TELETUBBIES
And these were the men Wenger sent out to stop Bayern. It was titans against Teletubbies.
Two years after the last 5-1 loss in Munich, Arsenal returned with no defence, a makeshift striker, an AWOL No. 10, a midfield with less bite than a gummy bear, and a munchkin between the sticks.
That's not progress. That's a suicide note. But Wenger remains blind to his own decline.
Like Ali, he just won't quit.
He used to be the greatest at Arsenal. Now he can't even see the punches coming and must be saved from himself.
Only a seat on the board will end his indignity.
ARSENAL'S LAST-16 WOES
2011: Beat Barcelona 2-1 in home first leg, lost 3-1 in away second leg. Lost 4-3 on aggregate.
2012: Lost 4-0 to AC Milan in away first leg, won 3-0 in home second leg. Lost 4-3 on aggregate.
2013: Lost 3-1 to Bayern in home first leg, won 2-0 in away second leg. 3-3 on aggregate, lost on away goals.
2014: Lost 2-0 to Bayern in home first leg, 1-1 draw in away second leg. Lost 3-1 on aggregate.
2015: Lost 3-1 to Monaco in home first leg, won 2-0 in away second leg. 3-3 on aggregate, lost on away goals.
2016: Lost 2-0 to Barcelona in home first leg, lost 3-1 in away second leg. Lost 5-1 on aggregate.