One thing I am enjoying out in the new world of football blogging is the out and out geekery of some of the new tactical blogs. A lot of it baffles me, but I love the science behind the game, how data and constant innovation is changing the face of the football at a pace not seen before.
The blog I shared yesterday was a prime example of this. What did amuse, was after sharing it out, a few people asked if the person writing it was a professional manager, because the logic of the piece couldn’t be authenticated unless the person writing played for United and managed Barnsley.
That’s the beauty of the internet. You can study the game, have access to theories, videos and people that can fuel your thoughts. I’m a passionate lurker on those sites, but I do find them especially depressing because whilst Wenger perked us all up by purchasing a regista to dictate play, he shit his pants in a hot tent when he told the world he saw his fairly immobile new signing as more of a box to box player.
Wenger went to a Soho sex shop, bought a pink dildo and gifted it to his new lady friend as an elite vibrating meat tenderiser. Unreal. While we have a manager struggling to work out what exactly he wants from a midfielder, completely unaware of how to match skillset to a position, managers like Sarri at Napoli and Sampiola are working with mobile registas to a combat a problem we don’t even have yet because we’re still flouncing around with a traditional number ten who doesn’t contribute defensively.
On this point, it’s depressing that even our fans don’t see the wood for the trees on Xhaka, complaining he’s an overhyped uninspired signing. How is he supposed to impress when he’s effectively being dumped in midfield and asked to do the job of three players? How can you shine as an architect when you’re handed a lollipop, a flouro jacket and asked to stand on the main road minding the kids?
It still feels completely odd to say it, but isn’t it staggering our manager is one of the worst strategists of the top coaches? A man who preached the future, can’t manage the present, let alone form a coherent vision and a path to take his club to the promised land. Zero thought beyond position goes into the players we sign.
Wenger has the most basic view of what he wants.
- Pretty football
- Press from the front, ‘if you like’
Then we roll from there. He doesn’t consider what each player does. If you’re a midfielder, your job is to press. Defend and attack. Add goals to your game at some point. He doesn’t consider your physiology, your preferred position, what he exactly wants from you.
You can look at me like I’m being mean here… but Jack Wilshere wanted the be a deep-lying playmaker, was told he was a 10, then was duly fucked off to the coast for a full season by accident because we didn’t know the rules.
Xhaka is amongst the top 3 deep-lying playmakers in the league, Wenger genuinely thought he was a B2B. Aaron Ramsey is a perfect foil to Xhaka, yet he’s spent time on the right of midfield and had an ill-fated game as a fucking #10, has also played like no one has ever given him an instruction or a dry slap in his life. Ozil is allowed to play at 10, regardless of performance, for as many games as he wants despite clear fitness issues. Coquelin continues to pick up game time despite being embarrassingly ineffective moving the ball forward, almost afforded possession against certain teams because they know he can’t be trusted (an issue Madrid nipped in the bud with Makelele, what, 10 years ago?).
Our midfield is an unstructured shambles that gets away with it because at the core, the players are very good. But we have means now where being very good is not moving the club forward. It’s holding us back. Our commercials are stagnant. Our fanbase is bored. The only two people winning are Arsene and Stan. The owner not realizing yet that winning things might make his return a bit more valuable.
Imagine a system where the players knew what they were supposed to be doing? Imagine a world where Wenger, who clearly wanted a box to box runner actually bought Kante instead of Xhaka. Imagine if he went balls out and bought both players? Imagine we built a system to suit the modern era and the strengths of the players we currently have?
… and here’s the real fucking killer for me. Wenger could have it all. If he’d gone out and signed an assistant like Thomas Tuchel before he blew up or David Wagner… and empowered one of them… do you think we’d have these issues? No way. We’d have someone who could fill in the massive blanks Wenger has to the modern game. Wenger could have and rightfully should have taken all the credit for the revolution taking Arsenal to new levels.
If he’d done something like that, rather than spending his time building impenetrable power structures to protect his pay packet and longevity, he’d have won at least 2 league titles and possibly a Champions League. Instead, he sold us on a ‘can’t do’ mentality, shifted perceptions of what success looked like and used class as a substitute for ambition.
Wenger’s own arrogance, selfishness and desperate panic about retiring will see him melt out of the club, rather than roar out like Alex Ferguson.
What a shame. What a real damn shame.
See you in the comments!