Welcome to the Tuesday post. I had the worst nights sleep. If I could cancel anything out of my life, it’d be sleep. The human mind is a bastard, it needs a switch off button for procrastination. I wish we had more in common with dolphins, always awake… 8 hours on, 8 hours off on a split brain operation. Wouldn’t that be great. An AKB side of the brain / A realist side of the brain. You’d have to much fun… especially if your brain shared the same Twitter account.
Anyway, you don’t want to know my thoughts on split brain social media, you want to know what I did last night. Right? Oh I see… well tough.
I went to an AST meeting to listen to Paddy Barclay chat about Herbert Chapman. I haven’t really been a fan of his work, mainly because of the huge sway in his writing towards Arsene Wenger. I still went though, because hey, adults go and listen to people who have a different opinions. I was pleasantly surprised as well, he’s a smartly dressed (plenty of journo’s rock the wedding suit and tie combo from 1996) font of knowledge when it comes to Arsenal and their history . Also, his opinion is far more blunt than it comes across in the paper.
He basically started writing a book on Herbert Chapman because his die hard season ticket holding pal was so sick of Arsene Wenger, the club and how it’s run, he wanted to read something pleasing. What could be more pleasing than reading about one of the greatest managers of all time taking the club to heights we’ve probably never hit since.
I don’t want to spoil the book, because to spoil it, I’d probably have to read it… but some reasons to pick up a copy:
- Herbert Chapman was one of the first managers to adopt tactics. He was a total visionary. He was the pioneer of playing between the lines and counter attacking play
- He chose Arsenal because he wanted to make us the ‘Newcastle of the South’
- If he was around today, he’d have been making bids for Christiano and Messi. He loved to make a splash and believed in having the best players money could buy
- His mindset was more Mourinho than Arsene Wenger. He was there to win. Which he did.
- @DarrenArsenal1 from Twitter, reckons it’s the best book on Arsenal he’s read. He apparently has every single Arsenal book every printed. High praise.
- Buy the book here if you like….
It was also interesting listening to Mr Barclay chat after about the situation on Arsenal. Now, I don’t blow smoke up journalists backsides, but I’m always fascinated by their motives. I write what I like because my only motive is maintaining an honest blog. If I upset the club, it doesn’t affect my life. If the players don’t like me, I don’t care. I don’t need to placate people either way because this is my hobby. All I care about as a blogger is that 95% of you who come here know that whatever I pen comes from the heart of a fan, whether you agree or not.
Now, I think it was last year, or maybe the year before, I remember penning a takedown of one of his articles that centred around ‘Arsenal fans should count their lucky stars they have Arsene as a manager’… despite us underperforming massively. Paddy said that was the only time he’d lied about his feelings because he didn’t believe his words. He also intimated that he doesn’t hold out much hope this season. He had some stat that said if you totted up our points against the teams that were in the league last year in the corresponding games and took out the three teams that had come up, we’re three points worse off.
He also echoed many sentiments this site has flagged, highlighting the interesting point that no one ever comes in for our backroom staff… and that our policy for buying players is massively flawed. He also thought that Arsenal would collapse if Arsene left, which I whole heartedly disagree with. His mindset was that we have a lot of dross on staggering wages… likening us to a ‘job scheme’, so if Wenger left, they’d see the gravy train leave and down tools.
These are all issues we know too well, it’s just interesting to hear it from a seasoned writer. But it’s also interesting to hear how these writers will back people they like. When you’re too close to the action, you can be swayed… and look, I felt the burn of that last summer. You get taken in by the club, you hear the schmooze and you nearly end up looking like a massive patsy.
Nothing is more valuable in the crowded world of publishing than information… if someone has control over the flow of that and you need it to survive, you’ll do anything to keep it going.
Anyway, outside that, I met some lovely people as always. Meeting up with Arsenal fans you’ve conversed with online is like the worst kind of online dating in a way. However, it’s always nice when people are normal. I’d strongly recommend to anyone joining the AST. The access is fantastic if you’re an Arsenal geek.
Onto other news of a ball ache nature… Arsenal, under no pressure from BT Sport are pushing ahead with the game against United on Wednesday despite the strike going ahead. In typical, ‘let them eat cake‘ fashion, the club have suggested fans walk from Liverpool St (3.5miles), Euston (3 miles) and Kings Cross (2miles). That’ll be grand eh? I wonder if Ivan will be walking?
If I were Arsene Wenger, after that performance at the weekend, I’d be looking to push for the rest. From a tactical perspective, it’d be great to get some energy back in those legs after the battering of the weekend. It’d also give us some mental rest. It’d also be nice if Arsenal considered all the fans that have to craft a way of getting back in the freezing cold…
In contract news, Arsenal appear to have bodged the Sagna contract situation. One of our most consistent performers of the last 5 years has apparently rejected a new deal because Arsenal left it too late. Typical Arsene Wenger. He never learns when it comes to experienced players. Now, if this happens, we face the prospect of having to recruit two new right backs this summer… and we haemorrhage the experience of a player who oozes Arsenal and class. Really upsetting.
Final bit of a chat for you, my favourite football show, ‘The Footballers Football Show‘ aired a programme last night that had fitness experts from Liverpool, United and Leeds. Brilliant viewing for anyone who has a passion for the geekery that goes on behind the scenes. Hey, they even brought up the much maligned redzone! It was interesting listening to how clubs use data. The jist with the panel was that data isn’t there to tell a manager how to pick his team, it’s there to mitigate risk. Arsene has this data available to him, but it’s quite clear he prizes points over the health of his team. Brendan Rodgers is far more attuned to data than Arsene is, but that’s because he’s younger. I’m more attuned to technology than guys 30 years older than me. Rodgers also has something to prove, Wenger doesn’t… well, he doesn’t think he has to at least.
I guess the key thing about football nowadays is that there aren’t any excuses when it comes to fitness. If your team lacks energy on the pitch, that’s a management issue. If you team has more injuries than another side, that’s a management issue. The success of a football club is so much more than the manager nowadays. To be a brilliant team that functions at peak physical condition every game, you have to have a manager that cedes some of his gut feel decision making to experts around him. That’s what Ferguson does brilliantly, that’s what we’re seeing Rodgers doing brilliantly despite having a side that aren’t the best…. that’s what we’ve always seen Jose do. The state our squad is in at the moment isn’t an accident or bad luck… it’s poor management that’s been there for all to see this season. You’ll never win the league with a squad that is small. You’ll never win the league if other top quality teams have fresher players.
That’s me done for today, I’m off to buy some sensible shoes for the massive walk I have tomorrow.
Have a beautiful day!