Arsene Wenger cannot understand why Europe’s elite coaches would not all be in favour of scrapping the ’outdated’ away goals rule – which he claims actually encourages the home teams not to attack as they look to protect a vital clean sheet.
Manchester City followed Arsenal and Chelsea out of the Champions League when they were beaten by Barcelona on Wednesday night.
It is the second time in three seasons there will be no English team through to the Champions League quarter-finals, when there had been finalists in seven of the eight years from 2005.
Wenger – whose side reached the 2006 final, but have not moved past the last 16 for five campaigns in a row after their defeat to Monaco – sees no reason to hold an inquest into the state of the English game.
However, the Arsenal manager is certain the advantage given to away-goals weighting in the knock-out stages needs addressing. It is a rule which accounted for both Chelsea and Arsenal, who conceded a fatal third in stoppage time as they lost the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium before winning 2-0 in Monaco.
Wenger has long lobbied the call for change at UEFA’s conference for European national coaches, but accepts until there is unilateral agreement, teams will just have to get on with finding a way to deal with any perceived negative tactics.
“I accept the verdict, the rule is the rule and we have lost. We have to be better than the rules. That is not a debate I want to create because we lost. We were not good enough to win (against Monaco) and we have to accept that,” said Wenger.
“We have to be strong enough to adapt to the rules, but it is a debate that exists. I brought this up at the manager’s meeting in Geneva for two or three years. At the meetings, it is split.
“You could still keep the rule in extra-time (but then) people say ’we still have another 30 minutes to play away from home’. It will still be a little disadvantage, that is for sure.”
Wenger feels if there had been a rule change, then this season’s quarter-final draw may well have looked much different.
“Two teams (Chelsea and Arsenal) have gone out on away goals, which I think should be questioned because it is a rule that is outdated now and that has to be changed, and I have fought for that for a long time,” Wenger said.
“It should count maybe after extra-time because this rule has been created in the 1960s to encourage the teams to attack away from home.
“But since that football has changed. The weight of the away goal is too big today. I still think maybe you can count (away goals) after extra-time, like in the League Cup in England.”