Reus back on?

by & filed under News Review.


So the Reus story I told you about in June has reared it’s sexy head again with a number of key people have started talking about it. It’s quite interesting hearing it from different places because I only had a loose understanding of the initial agreed deal.

But anyway, just to go back to it. The clubs agreed a fee way back when, thenthe player picked up an injury and it felt promising, then it went quiet. The assumption is that he rejected Arsenal.

Arsenal apparently going hard for Reus as a striker (which is why I think Sanchez will play there for us). He has it all, pace, spectacular vision as well as versatility across the front line. The club also opened talks with Sanchez at the same time. The reason that Dortmund were keen to do business is the very public buyout clause the German has in his deal for £35m. Not very high for a superstar. They’d already lost Gotze, World Cup goal winner, the season before.


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Biggest signing of the summer

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So here we go people, the summer of change continued at pace. Yes people, the reign of Tony Colbert has come to an end. The biggest, most important signing of the summer has taken his up his new role in Austria.

Shad Forsythe, take a bow son. The crowd haven’t gone wild, but fear not, they will when they see what having a proper fitness philosophy can bring.

Now, let’s lay the foundations, you can bring Jonny Ive in to help you design your new mobile phone device, but if the CEO still wants to be involved in the size of the logo, you’re going to have problems (unless the CEO is Steve Jobs. Kind of killed that analogy didn’t i?). So Shad can affect many things, but he’ll need collaboration to make things work to best effect. So in short, if Arsene doesn’t adopt his advice, we’ll still be in trouble.

However, let’s look at best case scenario, because I’m noted for being a positive blogger. Shad is a strength and conditioning expert. So the widely held view Arsene had around bulky players losing pace is one that’s going to be cast to the kerb. Shad will build players up, make them stronger and make them more robust. It’s true, within a year, we’ll have a team of Ronaldo like gladiators.

Where he’s not the ideal candidate is the area that’s the most important. Managing the players work load. Arsene Wenger and Tony Colbert had the philosophy that you train players to match fitness 2-3 times a week, that way, you have the fittest players which is advantageous in the last 10 of a game. That’s not insider info, that’s something he’s said on This was ok in the early days, but as the game increased in pace; players sprint 80% more now than they did 8 years ago, it caused massive fatigue problems which led to major soft tissue injury melt down.

Remember, all soft tissue injuries are preventable to some degree. Our injuries, despite protestations and general ignorance in the media, were not an accident. They were down to incompetence. But incompetence that was derived from a lack of education and a lack of expertise.

So first thing on the agenda will be working out how often and how hard players train. A major breakthrough if he can bring those numbers down. Big clubs hardly train over Christmas, Arsenal are out across the whole period.

He’ll also work on tailored programmes for players. Every individual has differing circumstances. Young players, settled in a St Albans flat will require a different programme to a 31 year old player returning from a hamstring injury who also has a newborn to contend with. Players will all be given different regimes to work to. Just like at other top clubs. United were excellent at this, preserving their old guard for years beyond their sell by dates. This article from Ryland Morgans gives great insight into how you work with a modern manager when you’re one of the most important people at a club.

The major one for me is game time. Playing your best 11 in every game isn’t a sharp way to get the best out of a squad. Psychologically, is self defeating. You’ve seen how Vermaelen (injured, so may have to stay) has been totally destroyed by a lack of rotation. Physically, it’s crazy. Hopefully, we won’t see Ozil lining up against Coventry for 90mins this season. Rotate for freshness. Rotate with the consideration of having the freshest most competitive team for the last 10 games of the year. That was a Ferguson trick he consistently pulled. United were, under him, the best in the world at recovery and rotation.

Other areas he’ll have to look at is prematch preparation. So, how is the warm up being run. I mean, I’ve seen how they do it at the training ground. How can you run warm up sessions with guys too old to execute the moves! He’ll also have to pay close attention to post game recovery. Shad Forsythe will be in charge of so many marginal gains opportunities. He’s as important as Steve Bould in the set up. As he should be. The fittest teams prevail these days. Dortmund of 3 years ago, Barcelona under pep, the most average United of all time in Fergies last year… Liverpool last season.

What I like about him is he’s not the best candidate, that’s going to play it one of two ways, it’ll take him two seasons to get it right… Or, he’ll speak to his mates in the game for support and nail it first time round. Because that’s how dynamic people operate. Arsenal are king maker here. With some people, that works a treat, with some, they crash and burn. It’s basically like taking Joachim Lowe on as manager. Could be incredible, could be disappointment central.

No, actually, it can’t be disappointing because Tony Colbert is that bad. This is a success regardless.

For me, it’s been an emotional day. So much bitching, so much moaning… it’s all culminated into a moment where I’m genuinely more excited about this than I am about Sanchez. I think this is a step in the right direction. It’s chipping away at Wenger’s harem of under-achievers and it’s installing a world class infrastructure that the club control.

Where will the club look next? My guess? The scouting network. Again, another area of our set up that is dated, expensive and not producing the goods. We need a fresh approach to bringing in the worlds best talent. Clubs like Dortmund are leading the way, heading into new territories, digging out super players that have all the modern day attributes needed to succeed in Europe.

Still, let’s take it one step at a time… today is success. Today is progress. Today could be the most important summer celebration in the whole 7 years we’ve been writing this blog.


P.S. Shad likes blogging too, read some of his stuff here. He’s not as good as me though, right? Right guys, tell me he’s not that good?

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Has Wenger really learnt?

by & filed under News Review.


I feel like the news keeps rehashing itself. Chambers landed yesterday and I think Ospina did as well? I can’t keep up. Whatever is going on, I think we’ve signed some players. Some good ones.

Wenger described Chambers signing as a gamble. Choice words to take from the man who signed Chamberlain from League 2 with 20 games under is belt and Theo from The Championship with 13 games to his name. Both at younger. The chances of success tend to increase with age and quality of competition if Billy Beane is to be believed. Calum has played 20 games in the Premiership, that’s a pretty good barometer he’s going to be ok.

The people are excited, some a little too excited. I’ve had people telling me Wenger has already delivered. Steady on kids, a ball hasn’t been kicked yet. It seems the manager spending some cash has sent some into a frenzy when all he’s done really is address gaps in the squad. Something he could have done over the past 4 years.

It’s amazing how history has rewritten itself so many times. Last summer the handbrake was off, now, this summer, people are reiterating that it’s THIS summer the shackles are off. Make up your minds. In fact, don’t, just look at the surplus cash generated over the years from player sales we’ve not reinvested for any reason. Then look at Dortmund’s expenditure and success. Then tell me in 8 years, it’s not been possible for us to progress.

This year is important because this new contract has obviously come with stipulations either written or verbal. Either the realisation that going out with a bang is massive, or the realisation of the board that they have no control of back room infrastructure. Whatever it is, I’m happy. I have what I’ve wanted for years.

Ambition from the manager.

Behaviour you’d associate with a big club. An attempt to rebuild our reputation in Europe as a ‘go to’ club. This summer pushes us up a level again. Which, if this season is good, will make us appealing to even better players. The project is looking good. We need to get beyond being a ‘project’ this season. Win a league and you’re the place to be. Players knock down your doors.

I took some flak the other day for suggesting that Arsenal weren’t in the elite echelons of European football, I’m not sure why. I can sell Arsenal better than anyone, because it’s my club. We have a great stadium, world class training facilities, revered manager, we pay well, we have a nice kit, Piebury Corner is excellent and North London is a beautiful place to live. However, you can’t avoid the facts when it comes to footballers. They go where the mega money is and they go where the trophies and prestige is.

Arsenal aren’t yet part of European royalty. Players don’t push Barca, Madrid, United or Juve to join Arsenal. There are few reasons for this. Firstly, we never compete for European Cups. Lately, like, ten years lately, we rarely compete for the league. Our trophy haul is low. We don’t ooze spectacular anywhere at the moment. You can join Arsenal and maybe win an FA Cup, you can go to Juve and win Serie A, a cup and compete for the Champions League because they’ll spunk tonnes of cash to make it happen.

… and I hate to say it, but the atmosphere at their stadium is incredible.

Arsenal are in the process of pulling a chair up to the top table of European football. We have some money, but look, money on its own doesn’t entitle you to an elite space. You have to start behaving like one of the big boys. You have to win a European Cup. You have to dish out sustained expenditure. You have to start making world class players again. You have to have BIG CLUB at the core of your culture. 4th place trophy gets you banished, acceptance of mediocrity gets you nowhere, being anything bar ruthless is sneered at. You have to behave how you want to be treated, you have to communicate ‘winners’ in everything you do.

Arsenal have been revered in Europe in the past. But that reputation died 10 years ago. Wenger now has the chance to rebuild that. Much in the same way  Brendan Rodgers is trying to reignite the stunning reputation Liverpool still have around the world. He has an easier job than Arsene, because Arsenal have never hit those heights. This summer will have people taking note.

… but like I said, this is just phase one. Phase two is what it’s all about. Phase two is where I’m not convinced by Arsene. The second part of the shift won’t become apparent until February next year. We need to see how Wenger fairs against the big teams, we need to see how our players react to better strength and conditioning, we need to see what the team will look like if we have a fitness coach implementing load management techniques, we also need to see whether Wenger starts dabbling in deeper preparation. Will Steve Bould be given more freedom? Will the new players adapt to our system? Will we have more than one system to operate under? How will he deploy his front line?

What’s the vision for the playing side this year? How do we capitalise on last years FA Cup and 128 days at the top of the league.

It really is a fascinating year ahead because it’s all about Wenger. The shackles are off, when I say shackles, I mean Wenger has realised what he has to do if he wants to keep his job and remain relevant in world football. That’s exciting. Let’s see what he can do!


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