I had. The best Indian. Of all time. Last night. Honestly, there’s nothing finer than standard UK Indian. Leave off with your fancy bacon naan’s and your Chef’s Table attempts at lifting the standards. Just get me down the local, any one of them, and serve me up exactly what I’ve been ordering for 20 years. 2 poppadoms, a non-descript meat madras, onion bhajis, saag paneer and f*cking massive Cobra.
Doesn’t take long to slip back into full-on Ray Parlour mode.
Right, onto the football, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE LOVE.
Let’s all laugh a Jose, let’s all laugh at Jose…
But hold on, he might have an excuse? Of course he does.
“One thing is a big club and another thing is a big football team. They are two different things,” he said. “We are in the second year of trying to rebuild a football team that is not one of the best teams in the world. Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers. When you speak about big football clubs, you are speaking about the history of the club.”
The man needs more than £300m to build a squad. Quite unbelievable.
Now, we have to get one thing out the way here, tactics and all that nonsense is important, but you still need great players to enact them. Never get away from the fact that having the best players usually puts you ahead of the pack. However, all this leaning into Pep for spending the money totally misses the point that the whole league is dropping huge amounts of money on a lot of average. Especially United.
Mourinho, Conte, Wenger, and Klopp are being beaten on ideas as much as anything. Pep is simply the more innovative thinker, he’s doing a better job with his players, he’s picking better staff to work around him, he’s empowering them to do their own thing. The problem with English football this season isn’t that there’s a financial bully in the hood, it’s that there’s an intellectual one.
Maybe I’m being a bit strong there, Arsenal, Spurs, and Liverpool can bleat because they are quite a bit poorer. Chelsea and United have no room to complain.
Bringing me to my next point, that centres around the outrage that ensnared my suggestion of Arteta as a potential replacement for Wenger.
Firstly, you have to remember where Arsenal are at the moment. We’re transitioning the club from the most powerful man in its history. He controls the shade of the lights, the length of the grass, to the accoutrement in the canteens.
The break is going to be painful. You have three ways you can go when this happens.
- You can sign a big name, like Blanc, Koeman or Carlo, and see how it goes but face the reality that if you’re talking to a manager 20 years into their career, they will bring their whole crew and dated ideas.
- You can sign a young upstart doing something hugely interesting at a smaller club, in the way Dortmund tend to operate
- You can bring in a fan favourite who knows the club, its values, and it’s problems (Like Barcelona / Ajax tend to do)
Now, I’d be game for the latter. Why? Because football generally works in 10-year spurts for a manager. You’re relevant and interesting until your ideas are sussed out and you’re exposed. Then you slip into the solid pack (if you’re lucky (sorry Rijkaard)). Carlo A is no longer super, mega, elite in the world of management. He’ll do a good job, but he won’t blow it out the park. Jose Mourinho will spend loads of money and make you better, but he won’t develop your club or think about the future. Rafa Benitez can fuck right off, as can Remi Garde, as can Laurent Blanc.
The brightest sparks make the biggest impact early when no one knows how to deal with their innovative thoughts. Pep exploded onto the scene and dominated for six years, Mourinho did the same at the start of his career at Porto then at Chelsea, to a certain degree, so did Diego Simeone. So did Conte last season at Chelsea.
Arsenal has the opportunity to sign a ‘what’s next’ manager.
We could look at managers already doing exciting things with relatively little.
This table shows how incredible the job City have been, but it also highlights the genius of Sarri’s Napoli. Do you want a manager who can go toe-to-toe with Guardiola, or do you want something that can counter him?
Thomas Tuchel played some mesmeric football at Dortmund, but he’s ruled out because he can’t work things out with our chief scout. Marcelino is doing great things at Valencia this season, after receiving plaudits from many at Villareal the season before. You have Jardim at Monaco who isn’t hitting the heights this year, but his Monaco team last year when properly funded was devastating. So plenty of attacking coaches that could make the difference.
Or, we could look for something different, maybe taking cues from RB Leipzig. They have a very interesting pressing philosophy and are one of the most effective in Germany at that. Their coach understands how to set up a defence, the whole club is developing players incredibly well, and they’re outperforming expectations again. What happens when you put more money into a manager with interesting ideas? Or is the manager only interesting because Ralph Ragnick knows how to build a brilliant infrastructure?
So if we don’t fancy doing the above, which represents a risk, then picking up a hot assistant from Manchester City isn’t the worst place to start. If you want to counter the monster that they’ve become, then stealing some of the brains isn’t a bad place to start.
So here’s why I think it ‘could’ work and people should STFU giving me jip for having an ounce of ambition on how the new manager could work out.
1) As I pointed out above. Strong and stable is not a f*cking vision, and it’s not going to take you far. Mourinho, Carlo A, Koeman, Kenny Dalglish… give it a rest with who you ‘think’ is a winner.
2) We are not a mega spending club. We are tier 2. If you want to go 12 rounds with a tier 1 spender, you need to have better ideas, it’s the only way to succeed. Tried and true will earn you top 4 mediocrity, you need someone who can coach and develop players, build out innovative tactics on the pitch, and you need a backroom team that can outmanoeuvre the market. There are worst places than City to build a vision from.
3) Bringing someone into the Arsenal fold who knows the history of the club, and understands in great detail what the problems have been is a huge, huge bonus. Other managers going in blind might take 6 months to get on top of the workload. Bringing in a familiar face would be a huge benefit to the culture, and it would keep the energy positive and settled. The players will also give more time to someone they know and respect.
4) Arteta is an ex-captain of 2 clubs, so he knows leadership. I think he speaks 5 languages. He’s played all around Europe. He was trained by La Masia as kid. He was tutored by the best on the planet as a manager. He’s highly revered in the game and he’s only just started out.
5) This isn’t really a reason, but it’s an indicator. Stan K is over the moon that he took a punt on the youngest coach in NFL history and it’s reaping rewards. That’s great news. Remember, the reason Stan K is bad owner has nothing to do with his outlay, it’s simply that he won’t sack Wenger. Ivan G is earning his coin building out the succession team, and I suspect he’ll make an equally interesting hire when it comes to the next manager.
This blog post outlines why it’s a viable option, and why you shouldn’t fear it. Does it guarantee success? No. But nor does signing a dinosaur who has won things before.
You do not need to go to Everton to earn your chance at a big club. If we want to succeed and break into the elite, we need to do things differently and we need to take a risk. This wouldn’t be a bad one to make, especially in a low expectation transition year.
See you in the comments, but only if you agree with me. x
P.S. Congrats to Spurs on their Calendar Year trophy the celebrated with a team picture. Nothing says you’re average in mentality quite like that.