MARTIN ØDEGAARD WOULD MAKE TOO MUCH SENSE

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Right? Can you honestly believe for one minute that Arsenal are about the answer their creativity problem, under financial stress, with a loan move for a precocious 22 years old creative talent from Real Madrid?

Gtfo…

Edu has probably asked Kia if Neto can play as a dynamic #10.

Kike Marin, who I have a lot of respect for, reckons the player is less inclined to leave Spain, preferring a trip back to Real Sociedad.

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ARSENAL TARGETING TWO BRITISH PLAYERS

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Hello people. Sorry for the intermittent posting. I’m on two pitches. What a start to 2021.

Talking of pitches, whoever pitched Mesut to Fener, is a genius. The German finally ended his sad Arsenal career, completing his move yesterday. The Turkish fans aren’t just welcoming a player, they’re welcoming a newly adopted child to their country. The engagement on the tweets is next level, they’ve taken him from Germany, and it’s all quite sweet. I like to see the man smiling.

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THE SAD HISTORY OF THE MESUT ÖZIL SAGA (LONG READ)

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Come on, the headline was fun. I’m just messing around with people. If you want to dedicate your online life to a footballer and you are over the age of 12, that’s totally cool, just accept the banter that comes your way, BECAUSE IT IS WEIRD.

David Ornstein dropped the EXCLUSIVE on Mesut agreeing to terminate his deal with Arsenal. The German is now free to choose which club he heads to next. It’s the clear the player is done with the rigours of modern football and it seems very likely he’s going to take a beach holiday to Fenerbache. Good for him.

Ultimately, re-signing Mesut was the biggest mistake of the Wenger/Gazidas era. The deal was made because Arsene didn’t know what he was doing and Ivan G had an attack of ego and wasn’t prepared to let another star player leave for fuck all after swapping Sanchez for Mikhi.

We have paid the price ever since. Back in the day, we used to keep places free in the squad for players that were always injured (Vermaelen/Diaby/Jack/Robin), the last 4 years have been keeping spaces free in the squad in the naive hope Mesut would find his mojo. He didn’t. His MO, in the end, was about stiffing Arsenal for his own flaws. The whole debacle greatly hamstrung our abilities to effectively build a squad, which wasn’t helped by our unbelievable negligence with the money we did have.

Well, it’s over now. Mikel Arteta was the manager that finally managed to convince the player to leave.

The whole thing is bittersweet. I remember the excitement of him landing on deadline day. I remember speaking with Alex from the podcast. He thought we’d finally landed as a club, I think he may have been the most excited fan on the planet, he may have started Oziltology, no one can be sure. No one could quite believe we’d made the move.

I mean, I literally couldn’t believe the gaps and problems we had in the squad and Wenger answered them with Mesut. We needed to strengthen our midfield with someone like Thomas Partey (or Kante) and there were serious question marks over the quality of our strikers. Our summer started in shambles when we famously tried to activate the Suarez release clause with a £40,000,001 bid, we were told to fuck off (Barca bought him for £64m a season later). We nearly signed Higuain for £23m, but baulked when Madrid asked for another chunk of change, we said no (the player moved to Napoli, then to Juve for £75m a season later). Both players may have shaped our future in a more positive way, and they certainly would have had resale value.

Anyway…

Wenger added creativity to a midfield that had Wilshere, Chamberlain, Cazorla, Diaby, and Rosicky… literally the most Wenger move of all time.

Still, it was hard to argue with early Mesut. The guy was a chance machine. He was special. He helped us break our trophy drought. Things really perked up when he had Alexis Sanchez to play with. Mesut’s creativity combined with the dogged style of Sanchez kept us looking very exciting as an attacking unit.

Things turned sour though. It was clear he was a continuation of our approach to signing players that added flab to our soft underbelly. He would go missing, no doubt. I don’t think he ever recovered after his shocking World Cup and the bad press he thought he didn’t deserve after making besties with a brutal dictator. Germany turned on him, there were certainly undertones of racism, being referred to as ‘Turkish’ in their media was a disgraceful way to treat an icon of immigrant integration. He was never the same after that rejection.

The player just wasn’t interested in Arsenal. Arsene Wenger wrapped him in cotton wool. The player didn’t travel with the squad to difficult away games. According to plenty of people in the know, the player would pick up ‘injuries’ and would cry off with sickness on the regular. He thought his profile was bigger than the club, and he believed he could play by different rules.

He became toxic at about the same time his skillset started to look antiquated. Pep G reinvented creativity in a possession-based system, KDB redefining what influence looked as a chief creator. Jurgen Klopp, on the other side of the fence, eliminated the need of that sort of luxury player with his power and pace model. The Ozil’s of the world found themselves out of fashion, so what did we do during this cultural transformation? We opened the cheque book and trebled his compensation to £350k a week. This wasn’t Mesut at the peak of his powers either, fans were onto him already, no one was calling for that sort of deal, and more importantly, no one club in world football had an offer for him at that level, even on a free transfer.

Well, Wenger’s career careened off a cliff after this. Emery binned him, then brought him back and paid the price by losing the camp for being a wet lettuce. Freddie dropped him. Arteta brought him back in from the cold, then the player started his old tricks again and he had enough, exiting him from the squad in humiliating fashion. Now, I’m not sure I’d have done that because ultimately, Arsenal FC has paid a huge price this season for not having a creative player like Ozil in the side. But it’s done now. He’s gone. Arsenal can start again.

We do have to make some things clear here.

There is simply no way that Mesut Ozil is losing out financially here. The cult is trying to spin a story that Ozil, after 4 years of playing like a bum, is somehow doing this for football reasons and the good of Arsenal. No chance. He’ll have cut a deal that means all the money he’s losing with Fener over the next 5 months is supplemented by Arsenal.

The player was binned for footballing reasons. His comments on the Uighur Muslims were fair and just. Arsenal isn’t a political body. We didn’t drop him for hanging with a human rights abuser and we didn’t drop him for making the righteous case for human rights in China.

It was the football. If you couldn’t see it in his performances, that’s on you. If you look at the evidence of 4 coaches on the bounce, and you still can’t see it, maybe you don’t want to? If you can’t see it by looking where he’s ended up at 32 years of age, again, I can’t help you. But know this… he’s leaving because of footballing reasons and there is no one at Arsenal that will be sad to see him go (outside his mates).

Now the question focuses on what we do next? I suspect we’ll go for a loan. I’m not sure there’s a lot of value in the market right now, and losing Ozil money doesn’t really solve the fact we have very little cash to play with. It’s not a good look to borrow money from a covid relief fund, then drop £40m on a player. In fact, that’s an awful look. It was shocking we moved on Willian after making 50+ people redundant in the summer, I can’t imagine we’ll be making another PR error like that any time soon.

The most important signing is a back-up goalkeeper. If we lose Leno, we will sink in the table. If something exciting comes up for a loan, we should do it. But I think the focus should continue to be about moving players on. The squad is bloated beyond belief. We should sell players that aren’t going to play. We should do deals with players that are toxic. We should start lining up buyers for players that just aren’t good enough… like our record signing.

This summer should be focused on ageing down the squad and accepting reality… the only way back to the top is the hard way. That’s good coaching. Growing young players. Outsmarting the market. Having a disciplined approach to our vision (we should also, you know, formulate a vision).

Maybe that’s already started. We’ve hired Richard Garlic to replace Huss Fahmy. Richard spent 8 years at West Brom as a Director of Football Admin, which sounds about as unsexy a job title as they come. He then moved to the Premier League where he was a Director of Football.

What insight do I have into this guy? None.

He’s taking over as Director of Football Operations. That sounds mighty similar to what Raul was supposed to do, but according to Ornstein, the role is closer to what Huss Fahmy was supposed to be doing. What do we want from this job?

Actual rigour to the contracts process. The problems we’re dealing with at the moment, with a group of players with 6 months on their deals needs to stop happening. The two-year rule needs to be enforced. We have no discipline there.

Normalisation of financial compensation. Again, there is no rhyme or reason to how we pay players. We get this badly wrong time and time again and it costs us. Mesut Ozil was offered £350k a week in a market that likely wouldn’t have given him £200k a week. Willian told the world he wanted to stay in London, Chelsea offered £120k a week on 2 years, we offered a double your money deal and an extra year. That’s fucking stupid on so many levels. We need a process and a formula to pay that we stick to. We need paygrades, we need career plans for the kids, and we need someone with the gravitas to ensure we don’t make special cases that break the system.

Ethical leadership. I don’t want to see the extent of our scouting process being a phone call to Kia J. I don’t want to find out we took a punt on the second string keeper at 17th place Dijon who had the worst save percentage in the league because of a keeping coaches recommendation. All the deals that cross his table should have a business case attached to it. Players should sit in a particular age profile, they should have resale value, proposed wages should marry to reality, scouting reports should be extensive, and agents fees should be deeply examined. No more fuckery.

Can this guy deliver that? I have no idea. I find it odd that Arteta is talking about the man. He doesn’t know what is good for that role. I hope this isn’t another case of blind recruiting the blind, but we’ll see. Good luck Richard, I hope you’re better than what has gone before.

Ok, that’s me done, see you in the comments. x


LEGGY PERFORMANCE SHOWS LIMITS OF SQUAD

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The run is over. It was fun while it lasted. Reality gave us a slap in the face and our charge for top 4 probably died with that point.

No Tierney, Partey, or either Gabriel gave us a leggy performance that lacked true penetration.

That lack of quality in the final third, both with the final pass, and the final shot, were not quite there.

We also looked pretty open. Palace hit the target twice. Both times pulling great saves out of Bernd Leno. That didn’t really tell the full story, Palace were bad in front of goal considering some of the great chances they had. The woodwork was rattled. Granit Xhaka did have to step in with two spectacular interventions.

Talking of Granit. You had the full package. He was the most prolific of the progressive pass makers, he made some elite tackles, he was blood and thunder… but he also tackled like Boris Johnson after 3 pints, he gave away two freekicks in dangerous areas, and one of his very poor stray passes led to a dangerous counter.

Mikel Arteta blamed tired legs from the Newcastle game. I thought we lacked energy at times, but overall, it just felt like a game where things didn’t click. Hector wasn’t at the races. Saka and ESR were quiet. AMN looked unusually shaky at times. It just wasn’t our day.

Still, my main takeaway from the bland result was this: At least it was a bad day at the office for players that will get better.

I’ll take that sort of game from ESR, Saka, and AMN. Much better than watching that exact performance from Willian, Pepe and Kolasinac.

The biggest loss was Tierney. He’s suffering with tight muscles, no doubt because we’ve played him in nearly every game. He was always going to break at some point with no rest. Let’s hope it’s just tightness and a few days rest will get him back in shape.

If he does come back, the Newcastle game starts to look like the first time we could see a true selection. Thomas Partey will make a huge difference. Martinelli will give us that energy we lacked at times today. ESR and Saka have to keep playing. That’ll make us a more dynamic team and hopefully give us the three points we really need.

Short post today. I’ll be back later with some thoughts on the other things that are going on around the club!



HOARDING YOUTH PLAYERS NEEDS TO STOP

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GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY FOR GABI.

Now, we begin.

There’s really nothing better as a writer than the penning a boring post about how things are pretty decent. It’s a joy after 3 months of writing about how an idea you really pushed was actually pretty terrible.

This week is about three things. Moving on deadwood. Praying for Gabi’s ankle. Winning three points in a tough game against Crystal Palace this Thursday.

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