What’s cracking my darlings?
So today, I head into work. Tonight, I head into St. Louis… home of Stan.
I have a banner in my bag, emblazoned with…
‘Please Stan would you have a rethink about the way we approach transfers, also, could you kindly tell us why Arsene Wenger is happy to sit on a tonne of cash that seems to serve no one but your good self’
I also have a banging deck to show my client out there. I mean, we can go into the details of run an online publication, but I don’t want to thrill you into a work seat accident no amount of Bounty kitchen roll will save you from.
Time to start thinking of things to write about. It’s the big one. This Saturday, we take on the very shaky Stoke City. Those dirty buggers have some good players. I said recently that they are a case study of Premiership good times centred around spunking cash. They’ve been spending money like it serves no purpose sitting in a bank account.
Hell, I’d say they’ve spent money like they’re trying to improve themselves?
Bojan, Affelay and Shaquiri are the obvious stars they’ve signed lately. An Arsenal fan said…
‘YEAH BUT WOULD YOU WANT ANY OF THEM’
Look, we were all interested in Shaquiri a few seasons ago. I wouldn’t have vomited a river of value bile if we’d signed him. He’d probably offer quite a lot to the squad if I’m honest. Versatile, fast and broken by Pep saying he’s utter turkey gobbler.
Point with Stoke, is they’re investing. They’re buying smartly. They’re shooting for gold.
I mean, that’s what football is all about, right?
I was reading something too highbrow for me on the plane, there was a reference to Nicolo Machiavelli and one of his gangster pals keeping winning troops motivated…
As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his country, and is better able to undertake its defence; afterwards, by means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.
Philopoemen, Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which writers have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he never had anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was in the country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them: “If the enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves here with our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one best advance to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to retreat, how ought we to set about it? If they should retreat, how ought we to pursue?” And he would set forth to them, as he went, all the chances that could befall an army; he would listen to their opinion and state his, confirming it with reasons, so that by these continual discussions there could never arise, in time of war, any unexpected circumstances that he could deal with.
So the TL:DR: Keep your troops prepared.
I kind of feel this is our issue now. Jose Mourinho does this so well. In the world of story telling, tension is important to keep people interested. Mourinho is the master of the subplot, makes sure there’s always something for media to focus on, but he also does very well at communicating story lines for the players that motivate.
Arsenal need to be in a battle this season, even when they feel they’re not. Something we’ve been guilty of over the years is Arsene Wenger believing the battle has been won before we start. Prince of Achaeans would not tolerate this. He’d not have his soldiers coming back from pillage session at the next village laughing about how desperately dead behind the eyes Shaquiri looks in his press shots.
He’d have them focused on the subplot. He’d have the Arsenal players thinking about all the ways in which Stoke could embarrass them. He’d be creating subplots in the press, ramping up pressure on high spending Mark Hughes. He’d be pulling Ramsey into a room reminding him of that dark day they tried to take his leg in a move that was not of honour. He’d be making sure that the players felt a million dollars even though recruitments were not coming.
He’d be prepared.
This season, Arsene Wenger has left us underprepared to compete. But, as has been shown over the many years of sporting achievement, what you lack in playing staff, can often be made up with in smarts. Take Diego Simeone over at Atletico Madrid, or Juventus last season reaching the Champions League final on a very, very low spend and despite being part of the 4th best league in Europe.
Do we have a better tactical plan of action? Are we utilising data to the best of its abilities. Now, I’ve seen plenty of bad data being used by Arsenal folk online to prove the manager was right about not signing anyone. How are we using data and driving insight that has context geared around it? How are we grinding out the patterns that we can shake to our advantage?
Fitness is the big one this year. What’s our plan for making sure our slender squad doesn’t break every 2 minutes. We’ve already had a nightmare with WELBZ who is out until next year. A real shame. But don’t blame the medical staff. They give the diagnosis, it’s up to the club to act on it. You’ve got to stop blaming the doctors for the car crash they’re treating (unless they were driving the car). Point is, what’s the plan to stop injury prone players like Jack and Danny (cockney rhyming slang right there) from picking up injuries.
Anyway, if Shad can recover players quicker and Arsene can make sure he rotates properly so the players aren’t broken by December, we’ll be in good shape.
We’ll learn this season whether Wenger can listen. He has all his players fit right now. If he breaks them by Christmas, we’ll know that last seasons renaissance with fitness was because he only had his keys player for half a season. Fingers crossed.
Finally, motivation. The quote from above. How is Wenger planning to keep the boys focused? How does he bring out the nasty? How does he make them all play through steel reinforced walls to win the major honours? Wenger isn’t a man motivator like a lot of the other more personal coaches. He needs to find something, because I’m not sure, with this group of players, the…
‘Guys, can we all sit down for two minutes, and reflect on what it means to be a top class athlete chasing a two goal deficit’
‘Right, go out there and have fun. Remember to wave to your Dad, Theo.’
Having great team spirit is fabulous. But, if that just means they all have a laugh together, it’s not enough. People getting along isn’t productive unless they’re all challenging each other to be better. Great team spirit from 2002 is someone telling Patrick Vieira to stop falling asleep on the pitch. It’s a full on bust up in the changing room when you’re not winning. It’s each player fight themselves everyday to be a part of that starting 11.
If we can’t have new players, we’re going to have to win by being smarter than the rest.
Question is, what’s going to change to bring about those extra points?
Over to you Arsene.