Yes it was painful but there is no need to hit the self destruct button!
There is a tendency after a big match defeat to look for someone to blame and whilst on many occasions apportioning responsibility for a loss of such magnitude can be a cathartic and helpful process i think on this occasion it would do little good because the very real simple truth is that the club was just outplayed and beaten by a team that is probably the best in the world (Barcelona may well edge them in that race perhaps) right now and as such any knee jerk reaction would only serve to further inflame an already sore footballing wound.
So let’s look at the result and the display in the cold light of day. Over the two games Arsene Wenger made some tactical errors and i think he is man enough to admit that, maybe only to himself, but either way he knows he got it wrong at Old Trafford and one has to wonder at what future the likes of Diaby and Adebayor have at the club following their heartless displays in the first leg (and for much of this season).
Many fans would have been hoping the club could overturn the one goal deficit but you can not dictate for Kieron Gibbs slip that handed United that all important away goal which effectively killed the tie. Gibbs is a talented young full back who may well be more suited to playing as a left winger and he has a bright future. Many may also feel that Almunia was at fault for Ronaldo’s stunning free kick but then even if he could be considered worthy of blame for not stopping that piledriver one would also have to remember that the Spaniard (soon to be English?) keeper kept the club in the tie in the first leg so is in many ways beyond reproach.
Fabregas cut a forlorn figure and he never really got going. Nasri did his best to spark some life into the attack and RVP had a decent game but it must be very hard to get yourself psyched up for the battle when after 11 earth shattering minutes your dream of European glory is pretty much dead in the water.
So where now? Well the signing of Arshavin was in my opinion a masterstroke and one that should have Gunners fans optimistic about the future. Mr. Wenger will need to conduct a mini-clearout in the summer and will of course again need to bring in some more experienced heads but Arsene is not the kind of man to change his footballing ethos and i think even now, after four seasons without silverware, that the lions share of the supporters wouldn’t want a drastic re-think but they will demand a bit of tinkering and that those who are not fit to wear the shirt (and there are 2 or 3 of those) are shipped out before they rock the boat.
I think that most Arsenal fans have always been hopefully of the future, simply because the amount of talented youngsters coming through is simply incredible, but now it seems that the future is here and now in the present and that many of these youngsters have now been around for long enough to not be able to hide behind the excuse of inexperience. I am confident that the boss will deliver and as always in Arsene We Trust!