Well, what a response to yesterday’s post, but before we get into that, let’s talk about some of the action that happened last yesterday.
President of Arsenal Internet, Lord of The Meme, King amongst information elites… Sir David Ornstein, dropped the news that the club had released longtime club medic, Colin Lewin. The man has been with us for 23 years, an incredible length of time. He was Head of Medical Services but was moved on yesterday.
This is sad. I had the privilege of meeting Colin Lewin in 2011 when he gave me and some other bloggers (I met Goonerholic) a tour of the medical facilities. The article is here and it’s still interesting today. I think I was invited, because back in the day, the argument around Wenger mostly centred on injured players, and how bad his luck was/how bad our medical team was. My argument was that injuries were sometimes about luck (impact), but most of our problems were soft tissue and preventable. The problem was Wenger overtraining players and fatiguing them (in the hope our players would be fitter in the last 10minutes), hammering a small squad and not rotating, combined with a lack of interest in using data properly. 3 years later we signed Shad Forsythe who could help with those issues and never looked back.
Anyway, it’s sad to see him go. I really feel for the good people left at Arsenal at the moment. There’s nothing worse than a regime change. Everyone is on edge, bullets come when you least expect it, and it’s terrifying.
Some other media outlets are reporting that Steve Bould won’t sign on under a new manager. I’m not surprised, he’s at the stage in his career where he needs to manage a club, and I’m sure there are plenty that’d be willing to give him a chance.
One thing is for sure, the club are being absolutely ruthless about getting back to the top. Raul Sanllehi is not mincing his vision (maybe the first Darren Burgess bullet with Colin), so I expect to see more changes in the not too distant future, and my hope is they are all for the good.
Again, all of this points towards a club that has a decentralized power structure. We’re not hiring in a manager who will bring 50 of his guys through the back door because he’s a so-called big name. We’re going to run like Barcelona. The Director of Football will make the decisions about the setup on the footballing side. He’ll hire in specialists who will build out teams and report into him. He’ll also be moving on surplus players, another area we’ve barely spoken about in the melee of craziness.
Sven Mislintat will control recruitment and player identification. It’ll be fascinating to understand how he’ll work with the whoever we bring in. He’ll not just be scouting, he’ll be monitoring our first team and making decisions with the coach on who we sign and let go, hopefully using insights gleaned from data sources (something we know Wenger either ignored or was really bad at).
Yesterday’s article went off the rails, the busiest day of the year for the site. The great news is the feedback was incredibly positive. Excellent that it coincided with Allegri declaring he’s likely to stay with Juve unless he’s fired.
This would be a bold move for Arsenal. Arteta could be our Pep Guardiola or Zidane. All the key attributes are there. He’s been a Premier League player, knows the league, has been a captain, is emotionally attached to Arsenal, has a goal of becoming an elite manager (one that he seems to be pursuing with vigour), cut his teeth with Manchester City after saying no to Spurs, he was a critical part of a backroom team that just delivered 100 points in the league.
The Poch said this in his book, Brave New World.
“He will make an exceptional coach,”
This is what Oliver Kay (great read) dug up from City spies.
“Extremely bright, great attention to detail, on the same page as Pep when it comes to how the game should be played,”
“Very good communicator, does a lot of one-to-one work with the players.”
“If you listen to what people say about Mikel, he has helped them get better,” another source says. “He is one of several coaches working behind Pep, but Pep wouldn’t have appointed him if he wasn’t convinced Mikel had some special qualities to bring to the party.
You only have to look at how he presents himself to see that he’s not a water carrier.
You can read snippets of where his head was at when he was 32 years old.
My team-mates are always going “What are you going to do Miki? You’re going to be a manager, you should be a manager!” I know what the job means and I know how hard it is, especially when I look at the boss and see how many hours he puts in here. You need to sacrifice your family all over again, which I’ve done since I was 15. But I would love to manage a squad of players and staff – I’ve got it inside me, it’s true, and I want to do it. First of all I want to make the most of my playing career, because I’m 32 and in this game you never know whether you’ll end up carrying on until 34, 35 or 36. After that, I’m certainly going to stay involved in football because I think I’ve got something to add. I would like to prove myself, and prove my ideas about managing and encouraging people to do things in the way I believe is best.
This was his philosophy 3 years ago.
My philosophy will be clear. I will have everyone 120 per cent committed, that’s the first thing. If not, you don’t play for me. When it’s time to work it’s time to work, and when it’s time to have fun then I’m the first one to do it, but that commitment is vital. Then I want the football to be expressive, entertaining. I cannot have a concept of football where everything is based on the opposition. We have to dictate the game, we have to be the ones taking the initiative, and we have to entertain the people coming to watch us. I’m 100 per cent convinced of those things, and I think I could do it.
Here’s his view on a system.
I think you need to adapt. You can have an idea of a system, but you need to be able to transform it depending on the players you have – how much pace you have up front, how technical your team is, what types of risk you can take and whether your players are ready to take those risks. It’s important to analyse your players because you can’t always play the same way. There have to be different details and changes in how you approach things, and you have to look at how you can hurt whoever you are playing against. Is there something they don’t like to do? If so, we’re going to make them do plenty of it. Then the most important thing for the manager is that, the Friday before the game, you imagine what’s going to happen on the Saturday. And if what happens on Saturday is not what I had planned, then it’s not been good enough from me.
Even back then, he understood you have to work with what you have, you must to pay attention to the details, and the players have to buy into it.
I also thought this John Cross story about Arteta was pretty funny.
He was nicknamed “Coach” by his team-mates during his five years at the Emirates as they could see his determination to move into management.
That nickname was not necessarily meant in the most flattering way — some players thought he was too ‘busy’ and always trying to interfere in decisions.
Firstly, I find it very hard to care about the opinion of many of our players over the last 10 years, we’ve been in sharp decline, anyone willing to help the mess should be given a gold star for effort. Secondly, if you read the Pep book by Ballague, he stated that Pep and Mourinho used to do exactly the same at Bareclona with Bobby Robson, reworking his tactics on the sly.
Mikel will be an entertainer, so we’ll be taking the game to the opposition and focus on buying in players who can dictate the game.
The major difference between then and now is that he’s worked from the ground up with the greatest manager in the world. He’s dealt with big personalities being told they’re surplus, or going to become bit part players. He’s helped identify weaknesses in young upstarts and been credited publicly on improving them. He’ll have been there at the training ground helping Pep identify what needed to happen to deliver on the mission of winning the league in year two, when the whole world was saying they couldn’t do it the beautiful way.
When you put that all down on paper, you might not be 100% sure of what’s coming, but damn, you’ll be excited and you’ll want to give it a go.
Arsenal fans have sat on their hands for the best part of ten years making inane excuses for our slow decline as a club. We’ve bottled countless league titles, we didn’t get out of the last 16 of the CL for 8 years in a row, we signed terrible players, we didn’t sell underperformers, we were consistently out thought by top 6 teams, we never, ever learnt from our mistakes.
- ‘Mate, it’s only June, give it a rest’
- ‘That won’t be the last of our signings, it’s only July’
- ‘You get the best deals at the end of the window’
- ‘No point in moaning, best shut up and support the lads’
- ‘He’ll do something in January’
- ‘SHUT UP AND SUPPORT THE LADS’
- ‘Judge him in May’
- ‘I think he knows what needs to be done’
- ‘Hazard said Gervinho was the best player he’d ever trained with, actually’
Arsene Wenger taught us that winning was secondary to values, and we fell for it.
That’s why I know the fans won’t be divided on Arteta. It’s almost impossible not to progress the club because the baseline is so low. Put a system in place, tighten the defence, implement a pressing philosophy, hold players accountable, run proper video analysis, practice how you play at 1-0 up, 2-0 down, how you attack a corner, how you play out from the back, how you break down a deep block, how you switch systems after 10minutes, build a winning culture and rewrite the values of the club to suit the era. (Ryan Mason talking about the things Arsenal haven’t had, and he’s a Hull player)
Arsenal are a mess. If they hire Arteta, they’re hiring a brilliant young coach, and they’re building a team around him.
… and here’s the best point. If he fails, it won’t take 10 years to make a change, and it won’t cost a summers transfer budget to do the deed.
A slightly different scenario, but look at PSG. They just hired Thomas Tuchel, a manager I’ve been purring over since the Mainz days. He’s never won a league title in his career. Why did they sign him? Because he’s a world class coach with elite ideas. They signed him on a two year deal. If it works, they’ll be playing unbelievable football. If it fails, it’ll cost them fuck all. Even the big clubs are turning their backs on ‘winners’, because winning things doesn’t always tell you who is and is not a great coach with the formula to take you to the promised land in 2019.
I also think from a business perspective, in a world of democratised football coverage, clubs are having to work harder for new fans. United has been offering up criminally poor football for 5 years now, it’ll hit their business model at some point, because a ‘brand’ in a fickle world only lasts as long the success is maintained. You’re not a big club if you’re not winning big trophies, and you can only fool the fans with big name signings for so long. If the product is shite, people will eventually stop buying.
Anyway, all very exciting. My nose is bleeding because I’m not used to this much progressive movement at the club.
What a time to be a Gooner… I hope you’re excited about the future because I certainly am.
P.S. Mesut meeting Erdogan for a photo opp? Fucking hell… a real lack of self-awareness when you’re repping Germany as your home country.