Keep finding myself kicking back to George Michael. Total accident really. I didn’t care for him before, but jeez, when he wasn’t dogging on the common, he was making some smooth tunes. RIP George, if only you were alive to know you’ve been the theme tune to 3 posts in a row.
So, Mesut has spoken. It’s good news. I mean, depends how you look at it really. This is what he had to say.
“The club knows that I am here most of all because of Arsène Wenger. He is the one who signed me and he is the one whose trust I have. The club also knows that I want to be clear what the manager is going to [in the future].”
There are many layers here I’d like to explore. Firstly, when he says he’s here most of all because of Arsene, and he wants to know what he’s doing in the future, what specifically does that mean and why did he say it?
Firstly, if you want to play half glass cheerful, you could say that he’s saying he wants to stay at Arsenal and just as a sidenote he, like us, would like to know where Wenger is going to be.
If you’ve been following Arsenal’s PR dark arts over the past 10 years, you’d have seen this carry on before.
My view is there are many layers to this.
#1 Ozil doesn’t exactly have clubs queuing up to sign him. So he has very little leverage over the club. He was kicked out of Madrid in pretty brutal fashion, Carlo preferring to keep Di Maria because of character differences. Madrid moved him on last minute to a queue of one and that was that. We’re 3 years on, he’s a contract rebel and there have been literally zero clubs linked with his services. Coming out and saying you only moved to Arsenal because of Wenger and you’re aligned to the manager is a good way to make sure you earn the maximum out of the deal.
When you have no leverage, you can make it up (hey Chambo), or you can come out and say you only moved to Arsenal because of Wenger because he’s like the father you have, only better because your shitty father doesn’t dish out £200k per week contracts.
#2 Arsenal know that Wenger doesn’t hold the same gravitas with Arsenal fans these days. Sure, he’ll always be the legend that changed the club beyond recognition. No one can ever take that from him. But this is a bit like watching Bobby Fischer make his chess returning after 32 years hibernation. Or seeing Mark Overmars with a beer gut. Or watching Hulk Hogan make his 96th comeback. It just ain’t what it was. However, like all supreme leaders, the fall is never graceful, and never prompted because Wenger made the whole board wildly rich and comfortable… and the fans know this, so the club have to work out ways of selling hope and credibility. They do this with warchests, infrastructure changes and top players saying they owe their very existence to ‘the boss.’ Mesut saying Wenger is the reason he’ll likely stay is pure PR guff… unless
Mesut saying Wenger is the reason he’ll likely stay feels embarrassingly naive, or more likely, super cynical.
#3 Ozil is in the comfort zone. The only way any player can be truly tied to a club because of one manager is if that manager made their career (we know that ain’t true), or there’s some boyhood asscociation (like, you know, Ashley Cole or someone). Again, we know this isn’t there. So if it’s not that, why else would you stay at a club? Well, either no one else wants you, MASSIVE MONEY (possible) or the hope at this sort of level, because you have the chance to win major trophies.
If Mesut Ozil tells you he thinks he can win the CL or PL with Wenger, he’s telling you a big fat lie. He’s played under the best. He has elite freinds at elite clubs. I heard that Lukas Podolski would joke with his pals at Bayern that they’d do 3 hours of prep before a game and we’d do 6 minutes and send a link on an iPad. If you think Ozil really doesn’t understand the flaws in our setup, you’re dreaming.
So in short, my concern here is that we’re just signing up a mega-earner who’s in it for coin and comfort. Which is fine, I understand you want major players at your club, but you also want players with ambition. Dare I say it, there’s a difference between a Robin Van Persie and a Mesut Ozil. One pushed Arsenal to find out the plans for winning the major honours and was promptly told to f*ck off, the other just said he’s only here for Wenger.
That’s the problem with the club. We foster a culture of ok.We move on anyone who challenges that, Ashley Cole, Robin Van Persie, Theirry Henry and Cesc to name but a few. All proved right in the end, regardless of how bitter you feel about those names.\
Even as fans we lap up Ozil to the point where if anyone questions him, we literally say things like, ‘oh man, you don’t get it, you fucking total football infidel.’
So my issue here isn’t that Ozil might sign on. He’s a very good player. My issue is that what he’s done in that press conference, if I’m reading it right, is a deal with mediocrity.
The $$$ look tied to a PR push for another Wenger deal. That makes me very sad.
We’ll see though. It is sad that as a fan, I’m leaning on players to do what Ivan Gazidis and Stan Kroenke should be doing. That said, what will Sanchez do? He’s a far more ambitious player who has put his ambtions on the club, and I’m hoping they go beyond just money. Only a few months ago he said he wanted to be the best player in the world. What does that mean about his next contract? Chelsea, City, Bayern and PSG are all interested. Sure he’s a bit of a primadonna at the moment, but fuck it, I love him and I love what his game stands for.
Anyway, be interested to hear what you have to say in the comments section!
P.S. This is a very smart read on how Wenger wastes Xhaka and is pretty poor at tactics, choosing not to build systems around players skillsets. Also makes an interesting point about Ozil and how we use him.
+ One more. If you’re excited we’re dabbling with a regista in Xhaka, read how the game is already looking to move on with this article here.