Well, well, well… Arsene is going to sign. This wasn’t news to me, or to you. What was new was the length. 3 years. 3 bloody years he’s been given (article).
Now, I know we won the Cup Final. It was great. I went. I felt the immense relief. I loved every damn second. But three years? How did that happen? I could take two. But three? Based on the season we’ve just had? Well, it’s an odd one for me.
On the face of it, if you look at the season as a result with no context, it wasn’t so bad. We won the FA Cup, which is always great. We also secured the top four trophy. How can I complain when we’ve just wont the double?
Well, scratch beneath the surface and actually, this season was a huge missed opportunity.
Pretty much all the teams around us had replaced a manager. United were clearly weakened with their dreadful appointment, Chelsea were in transition, City were trying a more daring brand of football and Liverpool had just had a summer of discontent and Spurs are just Spurs. The door was open for us to do some damage. We did for a bit, then it bombed.
Arsene spunked out a huge amount for a superstar, which was fantastic, it’s just a shame that superstar wasn’t particularly well thought out and that he was brought in as a panic signing. You can’t have an Ozil if you don’t have a pace monster to aim at. Ozil needs to play balls into space, he’s having to play into feet at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s recruitment policy last summer was a joke and it was even more shambolic this January. When you need a striker and you end up with a Swedish journeyman with a broken back, you really have to be asking some questions. For me, it was an unforgivable way to blow a Premier League we could have won.
Striker wise, sure we were disappointed not to land Lewandowski, Rooney, Higuain or Suarez… that doesn’t mean you give up. Swansea signed the powerful beast that is Bony for £12m and Newcastle picked up Remy. Two players that, although not world class, certainly would have been better than nothing. The planning showcased by the manager has been atrocious.
It’s pretty damn clear these days that the fitness issues we have stem from not having the right people in place at the club. I watched a warm up session a couple of weeks ago that looked less effective than a Sunday league warm up. If that’s the extent of what we do, no wonder we pick up so many issues. We’ve suffered with fitness on many levels this season. We don’t keep our key players fit, which is the obvious starting point. Arsene doesn’t rotate his squad effectively because he doesn’t trust the depth.
We’re also doing something wrong when it comes to recovery. We’ve set up plenty of times this season with no energy, which is partly down to having players that don’t have the right attributes physically, but also down to the fact that they just don’t have any energy because they’re being drained somewhere in the set up. What are we doing with players in training? How can Atletico have such a small squad and still operate at such a high level in every game? Something is up and it’s probably to do with the fact our fitness guy is not a world class expert in his field, he’s not a performance expert trained to maximise players. I doubt he’s ever questioned. I doubt he has any answers to our car crash injury pile up. How do I know? Because we consistently bomb with the same problems every year.
Tactical Set Up
Again, I don’t want to weigh into this too hard, because it’s so damn obvious, but the way we set up and prepare for games is a joke. Dropboxing players video analysis is embarrassing, setting up the same damn way in every game makes us predictable and easy to pick apart… and at the highest level, we’re totally flawed and we are constantly exposed. Losing on aggregate to the top team away from home by 20+ goals is not progress. It’s pathetic. We need more focus on the element of surprise. Do something different. Do something clever. Unpredictability is such a dangerous tool if you know what you’re doing.
… I know what you’re thinking. What about the weekend? Sure, I’m with you. We switched up to a 4-4-2 on 60minutes. Which was a great to see. If we had better players to bring into that, we’d have killed that game in 90minutes. Arsene needs to build on that.
So I’ve heard on the grapevine that Arsene has taken control to the next level, and the staff are going to all have to get Arsene haircuts, even the bald ones. He thinks it’s a bonding tool. Improve the solidarity. Everyone is getting an ‘Arsene’. So no changes there. What I want to know, which I know I’ll never find out, is what control has Ivan taken back here? Has this new deal just been given to him? The never ending contract. You go when you want to go style? Or has Ivan made some demands. Because for me, giving three year deals to people like Colbert and Peyton seems outrageous? What changes are they enacting? Where is the new expertise coming in, because what we have right now is clearly broken.
On the players front, what are we doing? I’ve heard that things are going to be big and we’re going to go big before the World Cup. Now, we heard this last year and it all went tits up, that’s not to say they didn’t try. So that’s good news from the start. If Wenger brings in bundles of pace, a top striker an amazing DM and a brilliant right back, I’ll start to get excited. He needs more than that though. The squad needs building out. We need a great bench. A starting 11 isn’t the issue, it’s the squad. Let’s get a proper back up keeper. Let’s get some real experience that have the attributes we’re looking for.
For me, to compete at the highest level, we need to have a big squad loaded with ‘now’ experience. 3 players isn’t enough regardless of who we buy… because we’re losing at least 6 names. We need to make a big splash. Go BIG, like you did in 97. Like you did in 2001. Like you did when you won things. This myth of ‘more than three names upsets the apple cart’ is a total bollocks. It lifts the club, the fans and the players. We need buzz in that dressing room. We need to challenge… because mark my words, if we don’t, we could find ourselves out of contention next year very early. We had the bulk of our team fit and fresh against Hull and we couldn’t kill them in 90minutes. That says a lot about how good we are.
Liverpool might not make the top 4 next year, but Manchester United almost definitely will. Louis Van G will spend £150m on top talent this summer. He’ll make them tick. He’ll get them back competing. Chelsea will bolster and spend money, they’ve already made a very smart addition in Diego Costa, they have their striker. Manchester City will go big, like they always do. Everton will get better, Spurs will get better… everyone will improve. This is our chance to outpace the rest. Get ahead.
If Wenger wants to take on all the above points. If he is serious about being the main man again, then I’m game for this deal. I just hope Ivan has voiced this and told Wenger how it’s going to be. Shame of it is that for me, I doubt he has. I doubt it’s his decision. I just fear more of the same. Wenger is the main man at Arsenal and he will be until he tells the club he’s leaving. He’s the most powerful club manager in world football. He calls the shots, we’ve just got to hope he’s a little more humble about the next three years. Listen to the experts, bring in better backroom talent and look to make the marginal improvement around our approach that’ll kick us on.
Is change coming? Watch this space and pray… three years is a very long time.
P.S. I’ve switched off the mentions part of my Twitter account (to people I don’t follow). Every summer, the melt brigade come out with the abuse, which as entertaining as it is, does get a touch boring. It’s just an opinion from an amateur writer who loves the club, it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s not even extreme opinion, it’s all pretty logical. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. If you think abusing me is going to stop me writing, you’ll be very disappointed. I just can’t get my head around people who think abusive behaviour online is acceptable. Grown men, with families and responsibilities cunting someone online. It’s pathetic. Still, it is what it is, a lot of irrelevant idiots online that make it an unsavoury place to be.
So if you want to get hold of me, drop me an e-mail.
BIG LOVE TO ALL OF YOU. x