It’s a mad world we’re living in fam. You have the AKBs talking about how important it is that the club wins trophies RIGHT NOW. Then you have the #WengerOut crowd preaching for calm and time.
Oh how times have changed…
I think there is a level of insincerity if people are genuinely expecting Unai Emery to drop a wonder season at his first attempt. This isn’t a man taking over a winning machine, no, he’s taking over a pampered creche of spoilt rich boys.
You have to be realistic about the targets for year one, firstly, because we’re trying to topple a well oiled and monied Pep machine, secondly, because even if Emery were Pep it’d take at least a year for his ideas to settle into the club.
Demanding a title challenge at the first attempt is fantasy living. It could happen, but it’d be a lucky fluke. This isn’t 2014, and we didn’t hire in Ranieri’s magical fairy dust. This is 2018. The money in the league has landed, there are some seriously great coaches deeply entrenched in their projects, and we don’t have much money to pull ourselves out of the mess we’re in.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see progress.
A lot will hinge on how quickly Emery and his coaching staff adapt to the language. Explaining complex systems through a translator isn’t ideal, you can pretend it’s fine, but if you’re British, and you’ve tried talking to a BT call centre in Newcastle about how to turn on your set-top box, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Emery needs to get to grips with the club, and his grasp of English pronto.
The second most important thing is that the players gel with his ideas. He’s dropping 12-hour video analysis sessions and it’s likely going to be testing for a group of players who currently rock about 3 hours of training per day (half on their phone according to the BFG). The players will be finishing their days later, they’ll likely be dropping double sessions to make up for the time they’ll have lost to the World Cup, so we’d best hope they’re down for giving Emery the grace period he needs.
The third thing we need to pray for is an easy opening set of fixtures (just like United land every year, and don’t tell me it’s a luck thing). We’ll be seeing the World Cup players returning late, they’ll have fatigue and maybe injuries. We need to hope that Darren Burgess has a plan the new crowd agree with, and we need to have a little bit of luck. It’s not just physical issues you have to deal with, occasionally, you end up with football depression, which can fuck a season. Remember when Bergkamp lost the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup? He came back a broken man…
If Emery has a shocking start, we’re in big trouble. The players will lose faith in the manager, the ideas, and there will likely be big issues on the training ground to deal with. However, if he kicks things off to a flyer, his ideas will be embraced, the players will see themselves improving, the fans will be behind the new approach and everyone is a winner. The start really is absolutely key to a great season and a successful tenure for Emery.
We need to aim low as fans though. Think about the things we really want.
A winning culture:
I want to see players fighting the full 90minutes until they look like they’re going to collapse. For the last two seasons, the squad has downed tools in February. Imagine going all out for the whole season? That’s why the club is hiring in older heads. They need to set a new tone for a dressing room in which our most important leader took over the academy. Sokratis and Lichtsteiner are all about leadership and instilling accountability in the youth (and seniors tbh). Remember, Wenger’s first years at Arsenal were built off the back of pure winners. After 2004, Wenger dismantled the know-how and never recovered it.
Having experience and know how is hugely valuable. I shouldn’t have to say that, but it’s lost on a lot of people.
A playing identity:
Did you see that video of Peru playing out the back in their warm up World Cup match? Have you seen the intricate passing of Napoli? Have you seen how Hoffenheim press? What is going to be our magic sauce? What videos are people going to be sharing about our style of play?
I can’t wait to see what Emery does to the football.
Sevilla in Klopp’s first euro cup final knew Liverpool would press the fuck out of them for the first 60minutes, then they’d fade. Emery setup his side to absorb the obvious, then pick off the scousers when they dipped. He had a plan. He executed that strategy to perfection. When was the last time Arsenal tried anything interesting? It’s been such a rare occurrence. We now have a football nerd hungry to prove he’s a better thinker than more prestigious names. That’s exciting. No one knows the line-up, no one knows the setup, no one knows the subs.
We’re about to witness a different type of philosophy.
When you have the above three, you create excitement. How are you feeling about coming to this blog? Pretty good no doubt. Le Grove is now an acceptable read. How are you feeling about the club? 100% better than you were in January. Imagine how that’ll translate in the stadium? For the first time in years, fans are looking forward to going!
It’ll be amazing!
Now, you can be an arse and demand a top 2 finish next season. Or you can look for progress on all the above items. Realistically, we need to make up 12 points. That shouldn’t be too tough. We had the 3rd best home record last season, and we only picked up 3 points away from home in 2018. That’s a fucked up points tally and not par the course.
Next season, we’ll be planning, we’ll have a young energetic manager, we’ll have people on staff genuinely trying to fix the problems and we’ll have the right blend of youth and experience in the sqaud… it’s hard to see how we don’t make up those points.
Factor in that City won’t drop 100 points again, Chelsea are in BIG trouble across the board, Spurs will have to deal with a new stadium (and Harry Kane crying about memes all the time) and United will certainly blow up under a Mourinho who is destroying morale and pissing off mega names.
This season is about top 4 and a good show in Europe, anything more is a bonus. Ignore any exAKB telling you this year is about winning the Premier League. Bitch please, you only just put your tear-drenched ‘In Arsene We Trust’ banner into storage, don’t start pretending you have the right to
Right, see you in the comments.