It’s Champions League draw day. Give me someone good, please. Would love a Bayern or a Madrid. Why? Because if we’re good enough, we’ll win. If we’re not, we don’t prolong the agony of proceeding to the next round, giving us some serious head space for the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Liverpool took a beating yesterday. Their defence really is a total joke at the moment. United, once again kept in the game by the outstanding keeping of De Gea. I’m not a fan of him, but I have to eat humble pie. He might look like a McDonald’s drive through attendant, but jeez, he knows how to keep that ball out of the net. What a performance.
I feel for Rodgers. He performed miracles taking Liverpool to the next level, but he’s failing hard at the next stage. Interesting that people seem to be taking glee in the demise when talking to me online. I’m not his agent, I just think he’s a very good coach. The bits around him aren’t working though. He lost two of his best players. However, despite him now facing talk of the sack… he’s still within 5 points of Arsenal. Win when we play them away, and he’s within 2 points. We’re singing the managers name in the stadium, Liverpool are sounding out potential replacement candidates.
… big difference there.
The great thing about United’s ascension up the league table is that it’s a massive fluke. So much luck is going there way, but scratch beneath the surface and it’s a big fat mess. Rojo picked up an injury. LVG still not taking responsibility for his shoddy management of the situation. That’ll come unstuck. There’s no resurgence there. I still think it’ll all end in tears. They’re doing what we did last year… winning games by a hairs breadth, which works and papers the cracks for so long… then it all falls to pieces.
… and when it crashes, it’ll really crash.
Picked up some stick for my comments on Arsene yesterday, mainly from people who sung his name at the ground. Look, you can do what you want, my view is that sort of thing is embarrassing. Especially if you booed when he subbed Chambo the week previously (and look, that booing was ferocious). I know that so many Gooners off the record just don’t get the same feeling of excitement about the club at the moment…. and look, I speak to more than most on the subject of the club. So it’s not like I have a small sample to pick from.
Anyway, we’ll see where we are at the end of the season. I always back the team. I love the players, I just don’t feel they get the tools they need to be the best they can. They looked great against Newcastle with a few days off. There’s a story floating around about Chambo getting 3 days off because he’s an injury concern already. That’s a worry. But the three days off aren’t especially for him, they’re for the whole squad. Which is great news. Look at the difference a few days off made to the team at the weekend. We had energy!
I’m reading books again, so my brain is bustling with all sorts of exciting thoughts about things that always seem to come back to Arsenal. I’m reading a book called Predatory Thinking by marketing legend Dave Trott. Marketing is very similar to football in the sense that you’re managing talent, it’s fast paced and the smartest thinking always prevails. He talks about reframing the problem and not accepting the status quo. The jist is reframe the brief so the context suits you. I love this premise, because that’s exactly what Arsenal don’t do.
‘It’s impossible to challenge clubs with revenue like Manchester City because of their wealth’
NO. Wrong attitude.
He talks about Dawkins, Dyson, Winston and Stephen Hawking… he said the common trait they all had was a quizzical mind and the ‘Why does it have to be this way?; mindset. Arsenal fans have been beaten into thinking that the status quo is so because it is so.
It never has to be that way. Which leads me onto another really interesting book called David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (I know, pop culture-ish, but so what, he has a great fro for a white man). He talks about how ones strength is also their weakness. It’s about reframing the battle. His case in point is that David and Goliath was never an unfair battle. In fact, the battle was unfair on Goliath. He went toe to toe with a slinger (rock in sling that you could launch as fast as a shotgun) when he was infantry. Goliath never had a chance, because David reframed the fight on his terms.
Human perception tends to focus on size rather than attributes.
It also references the pressing game in basketball. Pressing in basketball (American readers, forgive my naivety) is a tactic weaker teams use to stifle the game. Weaker players cut off angles and press higher up the court to stop themselves being dominated by better players. If you can’t get the ball in the hands of the best players and you disrupt the flow and confidence, hard work and superior fitness can pay dividends.
You reframe the battle. Arsenal play Barcelona and don’t have a special plan for Messi, we get destroyed. We always go toe to toe with teams, even if we know they’re better. Dortmund took the pressing game and won league titles despite having way less resource. They reframed their style to stifle teams with more skill (they had great players as well). They reframed the scouting game and owned eastern Europe. They had a lot of success that is being found out now because that reframing has been sussed. Atletico are the latest team to take the pressing game to win a trophy. Limited resource, but not a limited passion for taking on the might of bigger clubs.
Arsenal could succeed with a pressing game if they planned properly. If we brough in a centre back who was better on the ball the Mertesacker and brought in a defensive midfielder with legs and energy like Sanchez. Our problem is only half the team press, which means it doesn’t work. Our players aren’t schooled in how to do it, because pressing clearly isn’t just running about like lunatics.
Arsenal should reframe the battle. We need to stop going toe to toe with everyone and work out where we want to fight the battle. Why try and fight in the same arena as Chelsea and City with player transfers, why not own the up and coming market? Why do we keep playing in Ligue One when there are untapped markets British clubs aren’t even looking in (eastern Europe, again).
Arsenal need to stop rolling over and blaming the world for their financial woes. Our manager is paid £8m a year to reframe the battle. Our CEO is the highest paid in the world, he should be forcing a smarter fight all over the club.
Henry Ford says, ‘there’s no problem that can’t be solved if you break it down into small enough pieces’
Arsenal should break down their problems into small pieces and let someone other than Arsene solve them. Transfers, scouting, fitness, recuperation, tactics… then Wenger owns the stream. He pulls it all together to create a functioning ecosystem that gives us the advantage despite it never being based on superior finances.
My point is, you never want to base your success on being the richest. Base it on being the smartest. Then when the riches come, you’ll be even further ahead of the game.
… so next time someone points out that Arsenal life is so unfair and it’s impossible for us, remind them that there is weakness to exploit and opportunity to excel in every situation. You just have to think deeper, be more creative and work a bit harder to find the battleground that works for you…
P.S. The title of this post is proceeded by… ‘if they fight the wrong battle’