Happy Monday you absolute rascals.
What have we on the plate today?
Well, some pretty sorry news from Le Grove author James. He informed me that yet again, Arsenal fans were beating the shit out of each other after the game yesterday. Real sorry scenes. I don’t know the details, but I can imagine it had something to do with banners and Arsene Wenger related vitriol.
Sad times. Fans fighting each other is pretty grotesque. It’s happening online, it’s happening on podcasts… it’s just not very nice.
I’m game for a divided fanbase in the sense that there’s no such thing as a united one. If I head to a bar to meet my Arsenal pals and we all agree with each other, there’s literally only one thing that could be going on… we’re smashing every competition we’re winning. As that rarely happens, you’ll always have a divided fanbase. Because that’s the nature of sporting opinion.
But that’s very different to violence and nasty behaviour. I might disagree with people and their views on Arsenal, but it’s always in the spirit of the game. If you love Arsene Wenger and want another 3 year deal for the man, then jeez, I’m going to disagree on that, but it’s nothing personal. Football should never be personal. The game is a campfire to gather around, not an amphitheater to fight it out.
Calm it down people. There are far more important things we could be doing, rather than beating each other because you don’t like a view.
I think Alex is going to touch on some of this tomorrow, but I was sent this article on Pep Guardiola and his 2-3-5 formation which he’s rocking on the regular. There’s actual science that sits behind the idea. It’s a meticulous plan of how to attack in numbers without sacrificing your defensive abilities. As you get further down the article, you can see it in action where the Bayern team is set up so when the ball flies back out, they have players positioned to counter press.
I read articles like that and it makes me really sad. I had a fiery debate with a pal yesterday about the state of things at the club and his argument was that the players need to take a massive chunk of the blame for what’s going on at the club at the moment. Part of me likes that argument because it’s an easy one. You can lament things you can’t really see… if the players cared a bit more, maybe we’d win a bit more? Unreal in how intangible that is. Look at Leicester last season, what’s the difference? Is it caring more? No way. Professional sportman care. Performance comes from more than caring. It’s about being trained and prepared properly.
Look at the club and the way it’s run. There’s a autocrative management structure at the club. The manager is not an innovator these days and he’s only interesting in pushing the club along on his terms. Quite often, he’ll make changes that advance the club then he’ll revert back to what he knows when things pick up.
Point here is that if you don’t empower people to think for themselves, because you’re the vision, you can’t then lambast them when things go wrong.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t empower the team below him to work things out. He doesn’t empower the players to advance the mission. Therefore, he has to take the blame when things go wrong.
Wenger should be giving players detailed dossiers on what their role in the team is. He should be looking at our senior players who’ve played under more successful managers and asking what he could do to make things better. He should be asking his coaches to go off this summer and study other set ups and come back with a plan on how we right the wrongs of last season.
We should be learning more than one way of playing the game. The 4-2-1-3 is too predictable. Where’s our 4-4-2? Could we adopt a 2-3-5? What can we do next season that could make us less predictable? We need to vary our game and we need to get our players more tactically astute so they can manage themselves.
Our in-game management needs to be smarter. We need to be able to shut down games when we’ve taken the lead. The players need to know they can’t bomb forward, they need to all be on board with that. Again, that comes from the manager instilling that discipline in the players. That comes from him making examples of people who don’t want to play the game the new way.
We also need a pressing philosophy. Pochettino built one into his side after a half a season. Players who didn’t want to work to his vision were moved on. Players who did excelled. Wenger needs to get a squad of players who know how to tactically press. He needs to make sure that everyone is onboard with that. Pressing isn’t running around like Sanchez. It’s focused on pressing in the right areas of the pitch. At the moment, Sanchez and Ozil give zero fucks about defending for the team. It’s not acceptable. Who is going to tell them that the team must defend as a unit? And press as one?
Finally, Wenger needs to get to grips with his squad. There’s far too much durge in there. If Coquelin isn’t cutting it, get someone who can. If Ramsey can’t play with discipline, make a decision. If Ozil wants to be here, give him a striker who can convert his chances and motivate him to play like he did in the first half of the season. Get a new striker in. If we need creativity out wide, let’s bomb off Theo and Chambo and buy Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
We need quality players through the whole squad. We need players to be educated to play smarter. We need to think about how we bring something fresh to the table next year.
… because fans fighting over the malaise is not acceptable.