I am in LA this week. Outside my hotel? Drip Doctors. That weird little place Samir Nasri went to get an intravenous drip. I am going to head in their tomorrow and ask for whatever he had.
Back onto Arsenal. Arteta landed a vote of no-confidence from Henry Winter on the Sunday Supplement. He’s strongly against the Spaniard, citing Diego Simeone as the man we need to sort out the soft underbelly of the weak Arsenal stars.
“Arsenal need a complete clear out – they need a strong, experienced, individual to address the failings,”
“Someone needs to go in and sort out that dressing room, to get rid of Shkodran Mustafi and to coach Hector Bellerin.
“How many world class players are there in that squad? Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
“They need a Diego Simeone type. Someone who is tough and can get into that soft dressing room, that soft boardroom – there is a soft executive feel at that club. There is a malaise that runs right through the club, which won’t be solved by Wenger going – he was only partly the cause of it. They need stronger individuals in there.”
“Arteta was part of the problem with the Wenger era in terms of he was supposed to be a leader there when the club was drifting. He’s got to explain how he can break that.”
Aggressive words there, and I’m sure many Arsenal fans will buy into them. But for me, they’re off the mark.
The notion of a big scary coach is an old-fashioned one. You can’t shout your way to success these days, and I have my doubts that fear and intimidation is how Diego is extracting the most from his players so consistently.
I also don’t know where the notion that Arteta isn’t tough comes from? He left Spain to play in France, before taking his pretty boy looks up to Glasgow (which is a pretty brutal league and city). Then he played at Everton for years, before coming to a broken Arsenal that was replacing Cesc and Nasri. We didn’t drop out the top 4 under Arteta. In his last season, we made 2nd for the first time since 2005.
This piece out of Per’s book gives you a good idea of how bad things were under Wenger.
The youth players who were promoted to the first team smiled at these exercises. They thought we were meditating. They were happy with the ball at their feet but for everything else there was a lack of desire. “I play football and go to training. That’s enough.”
Footballers are used to working only three hours a day. And out of the three hours they are at the training ground they are on their mobiles for half of that.
A lot of players don’t even know what maximum is – for them it is about having fun on the pitch. But there is more to being a professional than that.
In the autumn of 2017 an under-18 player came and asked whether we could sit down for a chat. I nearly fell over, I was so surprised. That hadn’t happened in the six and a half years I had been there. He wanted to speak to me about leadership.
I used a lot of energy trying to convince team-mates they should do more for their bodies and try new things. But working long term to improve their weaknesses? Hardly anyone.
I just cannot imagine being a young pro and not wanting to leech the experience from a World Cup winner like Per! I told you the real story about how average Wenger was would creep out once he retired, there’s a little snippet.
Malaise doesn’t come from the players, it comes from the manager. When you’re at Arsenal’s level, there isn’t really such thing as a lazy professional, just an unmotivated one.
Just look at how many players left Arsenal during the banter years and won major honours. Look at how many great players came in and went totally off the rails. It was never about the players, it was always about a bad manager who didn’t care about the details.
The weakness at the executive level that Henry mentioned appears to have been addressed. We’ve hired the exSporting Director of Barcelona. We’ve hired in the best scout in the world. We hired in an elite contracts guy. Stan has taken a back seat to Josh K, who knows if that’s a good move, all I know is Wenger is gone and Josh has been here 14minutes.
Ivan is making the right moves.
He’s also making an ambitious play with his manager. He’s ignoring calls for a big name… and remember, the same folk calling for a winner were probably celebrating LVG at United, and then his subsequent replacement in Mourinho.
No one guarantees success, and the people least likely to give you that are the ones that have already failed. Carlo doesn’t have the ideas to better Pep, especially at a team that doesn’t have anywhere near the resources he’s had at previous clubs. Enrique and Allegri have already thrown in the towel, both leaking that they’d need £200m to do the job. Arsenal need a coach who is ambitious to do great things with the tools he has at his disposal. Klopp is doing it at Liverpool at the moment, he didn’t bitch about money. He just cracked on.
Arteta is a risk, but for me, the rewards on offer are very exciting should it work out. Give me someone with desire over a hack just in it for the pay bump. Just look at Conte this season, all he wants is a payoff and a nice sabbatical. Chelsea means nothing to him.
If you’re going to write off Arteta, let’s make sure we’re slamming him for the right reasons. Critiquing him for not being a tough guy is a nonsense. Alluding to needing a strong manager to scare the exec suite is also a bit of a myth. I’ve read so many people say the club are only hiring Arteta because they can control him.
THINK ABOUT THAT
No club in the world wants to hire a manager they can’t control, because a business is a structure built on hierarchy, values and respect. Accepting an out of control manager shows you are weak and insecure about what you want. It’s certainly not something any club would actively seek out. We’ve literally just binned a manager who bossed the board, and that problem took 10 years to solve.
The main stick to beat Arteta with is experience. He hasn’t managed a top club, and that’s certainly an issue when it comes to optics. However, we’ve seen countless examples of rookies crushing it this season, so if his ideas and vision for the club were exciting in the interview and the references check out… then you have an exciting problem.
Hopefully we’ll find out the decision this week…