Happy Saturday. I have a confession to make. I’m going to something called Body Pump later. If you want to stop reading now because you don’t believe in me anymore, I get it.
Good. Don’t judge me for being super healthy and fit.
So what do we have we on the menu? Well, Arsene Wenger is now on record saying he’ll stay on. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, all the noises are that he’s staying because he’s planning for the year ahead. I’m not particularly pleased about it, mainly because I doubt there’ll be any stipulations about improving his set up.
So it looks like another round of jobs for the boys… great.
I’ve said all I can on this matter. There’s no point in rehashing it. If he’s here for another two years, I just have to crack on with it and support. I don’t think he’ll get it right. None of the chat coming out of his press conferences suggests he has any idea how to improve on what he’s doing. We’ve just got to hope it doesn’t go the way it did at United. Everyone around us is catching up now. We’re regressing. It’s a worrying trend.
I read an interesting article that was sent to me by a reader on the John.W.Henry success story. His background is in commodities trading. He’s a math genius apparently. He also has a reputation for being a silent one, much like Stan. Main difference with John.W.Henry is that he has an impressive record of winning. He bought the Boston Redsocks in 2002. Won a world series in 2004 (after nearly 100 years without one), then won another in 2007 and he’s just nailed another. Incredible work really.
Some interesting points from the article.
“We’d gotten into this cycle,” says Cherington, “of retaining high-profile veteran players and trying to extend our success that way.” It hadn’t worked. Says Henry: “We went back to what had made us great for a very long time.”
Now, I’m not saying we’re tying down veterans to long term deals, quite the opposite if you believe that Sagna is off. What I’m saying is that Arsene has forgotten what made him successful. Signing powerful aggressive players through the spine of your team, then decorating that with lightening pace and skill. There aren’t many players from the invincibles era that wouldn’t work in our modern system.
We simply have to have a striker who is fast. For me, that player would be someone like Benteke. He’s fast, at times his finishing is superb and he has the potential to become like Drogba. I prefer him talent wise to Lukaku because I think he’s less clunky. Simple fact is, finishing and the mental side of your game develops as you get older. Thierry wasn’t a natural finisher, he worked on it tirelessly. Key thing with Thierry is he always had the pace to get in the right positions.
We need more wide players. Actual wide players, not strikers who’ve been dumped on the wing. Griezmann looks very good this season. The joke is that actually Carlos Vela is King of Sociedad this year. I think the explosive style of Konoplyanka could suit the Premier League very well. Whoever we pip for this summer has to have speed at core. Draxler should be topping our list.
In midfield, as Jordan Henderson has proved, you don’t need to be a technical wizard to do a very solid job. He’s physically monstrous, he’s very quick over short distances and he has an engine. I also think he has a much improved passing range. Again, not that the focus is on bringing in the right physical attributes. At the moment, we have far too many technicians. We needs some beasts. We need a different flavour to our set up so we can effectively adopt multiple game plans.
The other interesting quote from that article was this one…
“One of the things that was interesting about his model as a commodities trader was that it protected you from emotion, so you would make decisions that made sense. Often in sports, you become attached to something emotionally.”
This is Arsene Wenger through and through. Look at the facts that go beyond a bloated balance sheet that’s actually costing us every season. I mean seriously, when the only argument you’ve got for you manager being a great one is ‘he has the 4th largest wage bill and we usually finish 4th’ you really are losing the battle.
We’re not improving. All the stability in the world this season, with all the money to strengthen and we’re back where we were last year, scrapping out fourth. Our game against the top 5 teams has been embarrassing. We were easily knocked out of the Champions League again. Our injury pile up is the worst in the league again. Our team looks drained. We’ve holes all over the squad. We don’t have the right players.
Cut away what Wenger’s done. Remove emotion. Look at what the manager has offered this year. Is it good enough? Does it merit a 2 year deal? I mean, look at our wage bill. It’s massive considering how few superstars we have. Wenger drives wages based on emotion. That’s why we could clear £500k worth of deadwood last season. Robin being allowed to leave was driven by emotion. Suarez wasn’t allowed to leave. The Liverpool owners took a gamble. They knew Suarez couldn’t sulk because a bad season from him would have affected his value as well as his World Cup chance. Could Arsenal have kept Robin on board? Forced him to play for us? Probably. If he wanted a massive pay off, he’d have to have stayed fit. He’d have had to have scored loads of goals. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, obviously, but so is having a pair of balls and making a decision for the club, not the individual.
“Look at all the money the Yankees have been spending without much success,” he says. “There’s more to baseball competitiveness than money. The Red Sox are an example of how better management drawing upon advanced statistical methods will enhance success.”
Now that above is exactly the drum I’ve been banging for years. The best businesses in the world aren’t necessarily the ones that spend the most money. They’re quite often the most bloated, the most bureaucratic, the least nimble. I work in a game that is dominated by major brands who pay astronomical wages to bring in the most decorated talent. Does that mean you wave the white flag when you’re pitching for new work? No way. With the right talent, the right attitude, you can compete with anyone. You can be more motivated, you can use more innovative approaches, you can be more agile…
That’s the attitude Arsenal should have.
We can’t spend £400m on wages. We can’t buy £80m worth of individual talent. But we don’t need to. We can look in other places for players. We can look to other areas to innovate. We can drive more value from our players with a better approach everywhere in the club. Hiding behind the excuse of bigger boys with bigger toys is a weak attitude and quite frankly, it reeks of weakness.
Bigger budgets doesn’t necessarily equate to a smarter approach.
Wenger often says it’s not about how much you spend. Sure, I agree, but the problem with Arsene is he isn’t seeking to gain an advantage elsewhere. Mainly, because he doesn’t have one. He’s all out of innovation. Which is why we need a new innovator. Which is why we need a new plan. Which is why we’ll have to wait at least two years for our new era.
I don’t want Arsenal to be the classiest guy in the room, I want them to be the smartest.
Have a great day!