Unai Emery dealt with his first major humiliation at Arsenal in a game that was of no surprise to anyone paying attention to what’s been going on over the past few months. We sent out a group with sticks and stones to respond to players with nuclear weapons. There was never a chance. It was an obliteration. The spanking was so hard, there wasn’t even a bloodbath, because we’d been vaporised.
Fans had to have seen that coming, we’ve been getting away with a lot of average over the past 5 months. There was always going to be a correction. The defence has been incredibly porous, but we’ve rode our luck. Our strikers have been outrageously efficient in every game. Our style of play has yet to be defined. This result was always on the cards, but we hoped the slap back to reality wouldn’t be so brutal.
There are two conflicting issues we’re running up against here that could cause challenges as we look to progress from 14 years of squad and backroom neglect.
The coach has to get a free pass is the first.
It’s very difficult to apportion too much blame on the manager. We don’t live in a world where there’s one man who makes all the decisions. There’s now three. No man, woman or child can look at the squad Emery has and say that he’s been given anywhere near the right tools to do a good job at Arsenal. We are woefully short across the board. Our keeper looks fragile, our defence is old, our star midfielder is slow and ponderous, and we have no wide players of note. That is not the work of Emery alone. That’s the remnants of Arsene Wenger and some teething problems with Sven Mislintat.
As a friend pointed out to me. Klopp finished 8th in his first season with Liverpool, the Poch dropped fewer points than Tim Sherwood in his debut with Spurs. You don’t build an elite side in a season unless the owners invest properly, or you get very, very lucky.
The concern I have is what comes after we invest?
As much as I want to believe in the current man in charge, I’m struggling to see what the offering is at the moment. This feels like a transition moment. Like the club is upgrading the gym, injecting some energy, and fixing the basics. We’re 6 months into this project and I can’t see what the plan is. What’s the style? How are we solving the defensive issues? Things have been so rough that we’ve only led once at halftime in half a season. That says the coach doesn’t know how to pick a good starting 11 and he doesn’t know how to fix the defence.
This is the conundrum the club is in. We have made our bed and the only way to give Emery a fair crack is to supply him with a shit tonne of money we know almost certainly isn’t coming.
So we are in a stasis situation. We’re exacerbating our problems by funnelling resource into someone who is unlikely to take us to the next level, which is probably going to put us further back. I don’t think Arsenal can absorb the cost of a transition coach like United have been able to. There’s too little interest from the owner to be able to afford that.
That’s the brutality of elite sport. Bad decision after bad decision puts you further and further out. I’m sure we’ll be in a better place by the end of the season. Things won’t be that bad. However, I don’t think the coach we have in at the minute is better than any of the coaches above us. If you want to find the next level, you have to find someone with new and original ideas. Someone who can extract more out of less. I just don’t think we have that, and unfortunately, it’s going to take us 2 years to come to this exact conclusion, because no exec team is going to own up to a mistake this early on.
So what do we have to look forward to?
Well, the club can certainly make some aggressive moves in January. We need to clear out the players that can’t help us moving forward. Say what you will about Emery, the biggest challenge he’s had to deal with is having his two best players in conflict with his vision. Aaron Ramsey has been deemed not good enough which is the correct decision. He needs to be shipped off. Mesut Ozil is a broken player who hasn’t given a fuck for 3 years, let’s do whatever we can to clear him from the wage bill.
Then we need to sign in better. We need the cream of the 22-year-old’s so we can elevate our play.
We also need to move on the players that are clearly too old or too weak for where we need to go. Mo Elneny shouldn’t be with us if he has no use outside league cup games. Lichtsteiner has been a miserable experiment. You can’t adapt to the Premier League at his age. Koscielny is finished. Love him, but it’s over. Granit Xhaka is never going to hit the level, it doesn’t matter how many passes he sprays around, he’s too slow and prone to bouts of dimness.
The squad needs to be aggressively shaken up, because everyone around us it getting better, and that’s before United find another 100m to spend with a proper manager.
The biggest concern for Emery right now though is to inject some belief into the squad. Those players will switch off from him very quickly if he doesn’t get them firing very quickly. He’s made some bold decisions, but they’re not paying off. He needs to get everyone back on side and he needs to rally those troops fast. We cannot afford to have a Wenger like flop in January and February, there’s too much riding on this season for it to be over now.
Just before I go, the absolute atrocity of the exAKB ghouls who came bounding online yesterday like they’d just won the lottery was truly shameful. If you can’t piece together the direct implication of Wenger in our current mess, you truly have no place commenting on football. Taking joy in a loss because you think your average opinions of Wenger having a rough ride over the past 14 years is the height of shit fandom. And yes, there was a lot of that yesterday. Utterly pathetic.
We are paying the direct consequence of not firing Arsene Wenger 8 years ago when it was clear we were on the slide. We let everything fail, from top to bottom. We let good people rot, we passed on innovation, we didn’t bring in great players and we failed to maintain a grip on an elite mentality. That’ll take any coach longer than 6 months to fix.
Right, that’s me done, see you babes in the comments.