What a horrible morning it is in London. Wet, cold and more wet. FA Cup final weekend here we come!
Ok, so what do we have first?
Oh yeah, Lukas Podolski has left Arsenal to join Inter on loan for the rest of the season. If you’ve been following the site for the last few years, you’ll know that the club has been interested in seeing Lukas gone for at least two seasons. The only thing holding a move back has been the mega cash money he’s been on.
Well, this window, the perfect storm was set… he’s been complaining incessantly that he wants to play, we’ve degraded him to 6minute bench starts, we’ve been putting the hapless Yaya in front of him and Inter finally came in with an offer that suited all parties.
I’m game for him going on a personal level, professional? Not so sure…
I also mentioned yesterday that I think that ‘injury’ was one of the mind. A few people expressing disappointment at this, but I totally disagree. I talk about rotation a lot. I talk about football like it’s a business. It’s easy to relate that way and I think we, as fans, often forget that players are people as well. Lukas is a good player. He’s not the answer for us through the middle, but he offers quite a lot out wide and he can offer a lot in any game coming on to chase a goal. He’s deadly. One of the meanest finishes in the world.
Point here, he’s not perfect, but he’s a very capable squad player. He has a use.
So when you have a squad of players, you have to keep them interested. Rotation isn’t just about keeping your first choice 11 fit. It’s keeping your fringe players interested and feeling valued. Arsene does nothing of the sort. So when his fringe names are called upon because of injuries, they’re not interested. Case in point, Vermaelen last season. Totally ostracised, then when called upon he didn’t give a fu*k because he’d been badly managed.
If Lukas feigned injury to escape the club, who can blame him? Wenger managed him badly from a talent perspective right the way through to the mental side of the game.
… and look, we apparently scout players 450,000 times before they join. How did we not pick up on his lack of suitability? I sat at an awards do with a Bundesliga expert right before he signed and I was told me he didn’t think he’d be right for us. What were our scouts thinking?
I find the move to Inter a touch bizarre as well. I mean, we’re a squad that’s ‘decimated’ and the manager is once again letting World Cup talent leave the club without having an alternative in place. This is what he did with Vermaelen in the summer. Should a club in a desperate state be lending out it’s players? Should we not wait for the in before the out?
The other item to note is that if we do replace him, what position are we looking at? The Cavani stories are interesting, because if they’re a reaction to Podolski leaving, they’re kind of missing the point. He was a wide left player for us, not a striker. Why would we sign a striker when we have Welbeck and Giroud? Unless Wenger has given up on WELBZ through the middle?
I love Cavani, have done for years. However, if our transfer pot isn’t what we’d hoped (£20m was the leak to the press), you’d have to say that spending our money on a striker when what we need is two defensively minded midfielders and a world class centre back would be beyond the pale.
… but because it’s beyond the pale, it’s perfectly possible.
I’ve read before that when Arsenal signed Ozil, we needed a creative player. I love how panic buys can be reimagined. Sure, we might have needed a creative player, but what we’d needed for two years was a world class striker. If we’d needed a creative player, it certainly wasn’t one who could only handle 60minutes of football in a lesser league.
What we need now is some serious attention in the aformentioned positions. A striker isn’t going to save our season now. If we did decide to replace Podolski, it should be with a proper wide player like Shaqiri or Pedro.
I also don’t understand why we haven’t nailed off our business nice and early? Atletico had Torres done before new years day. We’ve known about our lack of centre backs since May… where is the solution?
Is the manager dithering again?
We should be moving heaven an earth to bring in bodies, because even the players are whining about the lack of bodies. Per Mertesacker is complaining…
“It’s not that easy,”
“One [player] came back from a long-term injury and then he is just fit for two or three days, and then he has to play. For example Laurent, he has to play. He cannot train for two or three weeks because we have no players left. It’s always tough at the moment. Players come back but they have to play immediately. There is no time or room for building automatic understanding or the kind of things you need to prepare for.”
Read the desperation in those comments. Arsene Wenger has no idea what he’s doing. He’s playing with players careers with his backward ways and no one is stepping in to do something about it. The fear and ignorance of the people who manage the manager is staggering. Someone should roll in right now and say, sorry Arsene, enough is enough, your way no longer works and you’re head of fitness is costing the club too much in lost salary… we’re removing him from action and giving Shad full control until the end of the season. We’re also going to monitor how you use the advice, because if it’s not used, we’ll discuss why in a review at the end of the year.
This is the amazing thing, Wenger fans say things like, ‘I can’t believe a manager as visionary as Arsene wouldn’t be looking into the injury mess’… you don’t have to take my word for it, look at what you see with your eyes. Read what the players say. Look at what you see on the pitch. Look at the repeat injuries to overplayed players. If Wenger was seriously looking at the injury problem, you wouldn’t be seeing the consistent car crash you see every year.
There was a really amusing quote online yesterday from Ray Parlour, he said he went back to the training ground recently and the operation was exactly as it was when he played. A few people ignorantly tweeted me like this showed everything was down to luck, because Wenger is doing things the same way he was when we were winning. Ray Parlour, who is still close to the club accidentally threw the manager under the bus. The training is the same, but the game isn’t the same. It’s absolutely incredible things haven’t evolved. The game is 40% faster than it was 4 years ago, 80% faster than it was 8 years ago. He retired 10.5 years ago!
Players are finely tuned athletes, sport science has jumped light years ahead, GPS tracking technology gets more advanced every year, the people analysing the data get smarter, diets are more effective, recovery has jumped up a grade, scouting focus is speed and power, other clubs have become smarter, other teams are using the TV money to load their teams with more top players so you don’t get easy games, and the overall understanding of the game has become far more scientific.
Training shouldn’t be the same. You should never be able to go back to any enterprising company and see the same things you did a decade ago. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comment more innocently sum up the problems at the club than that one (it also sums up why you don’t just dump ex players into management jobs).
Right, that’s my moan for the day out. Have a great FA Cup day, see you tomorrow!