I don’t know about you, but it just hit me hard that the Premier League season is nearly over.
What an unbelievable race it’s been.
Imagine being Liverpool and not winning the league with a points total as high as they are likely to go.
The greatest ever second placed finish of all time? Not an accolade Klopp or the Liverpool fans will relish. You never know, but it’s not looking good for them.
… but, hand it to Pep G. He’s the greatest. So many people want him to fail, but he, along with the MIGHTY Arteta are creating a brand of football that is once in a generation type stuff.
The issue the rest of the league has is that the football they deliver, at core, is about incredible coaching. They are spectacular on the ball, they are even better off it, then factor in that they are also the richest in the league… it’s simply not fair.
The Premier League can no longer be snarked at. Not only has it been the best league on the planet for years from an entertainment perspective, now it’s climbing up to the top from a technical viewpoint. More and more of the best players are slinking over here, and we’re making the other leagues look seriously weak. All Spain had was Ronaldo vs Messi.
That makes me very happy.
As a carry over from the argument I pitted against Emery yesterday, I do want to double down on some of the things I like about the manager, because those haven’t changed.
#1 He’s a fans manager
I genuinely think that he manages for the fans. I think he’s a acutely aware of the misery that we’ve been through over the past 10 years and I think he’s trying to give us something to smile about. Hard to say that about someone like Mourinho. I think Emery struggles a little bit to deliver what we truly want, but his focus always seems to be on getting the fans onside. I like that. I also like that he’s a fan on the touchline. His resting face is all of us sitting in the stands or at home.
#2 The man will pivot
I honestly thought that we were heading into Wenger MKII when the manager dropped his two best players to the bench. I couldn’t fathom that he might change his mind. To be fair to him, he’s done that a lot this season. The start of the year was marked by halftime changes in every game, which grew to look like indecision, but it was still a breath of fresh air. The latter half of the season saw him suck up a big chunk of his own pride as he reintegrated Ozil and Ramsey to great effect. A lot of people say this was his masterplan, I can assure that this damaging approach is never anyone’s masterplan. He dropped Aaron because he didn’t fancy him. He made a decision on him too early and he wanted rid. I think part of this decision making was down to not understanding the rigour of the league, but whatever, he brought him back. The Ozil fallout was even crazier, the player was literally trolling him online… but he brought him back. Say what you will about the German, he certainly bring flair to this squad. Say what you will about Emery, results come first.
#3 We’re a bit of a mystery
He’s a good tactician. Not a great one. But he’s certainly brought back an air of mystery to proceedings. He’s doing the basics, he’s looking at the opposition, he’s testing ideas, and he’s looking at the tools he has available and mostly using them correctly.
He’s still not perfect. I think his early season use of the squad left a lot to be desired. When I went to see us play Huddersfield at Christmas, we looked utterly one paced. I’d never seen a game so slow. Part of that is just not understanding the league. Pep and Klopp made the same mistake when they arrived here, both realised you can’t play the pressing game in the league because there are too many games and no winter break to speak of.
I also think some of his selections have been baffling. It’s like he sometimes picks his sides based on league position, versus the reality of the side. If you’re at PSG, a team in 10th is shite and you’ll steam them. In the Premier League, every team in the top 14 can beat you if you give them a disrespectful starting 11. Everton was the warning shot, and we could all see that coming. Palace was simply unforgivable considering the power, pace and giant killing power those boys have.
However, you have to say that we’re a force against big teams. We didn’t allow Napoli to score against us over 180 minutes. We’ve taken scalps against top 6 sides. We’ve competed in every one of those games bar the Liverpool one at Christmas. Whatever you think about the man, he has the players believing in the big moments, not something Wenger managed in his last ten years.
We’ve also clocked a lot of points in a dreary transition season. Year two, you’d hope the improvements would really bed in and we see true Emeryball.
I’ll land where I usually land. I think Emery is a transition manager. If he can get us into the Champions League, the selection has been a huge success. I don’t care about points accrued. It’s all about where we finish.
The big challenge we have as a club is what to do with that £45m investment. There is some serious wheeler-dealing to do and I don’t trust Raul and Emery to do it. We could really do with Paul Mitchel or a Luis Campos, otherwise this is going to be the blind leading the blind. Denis Suarez and Malcolm is where the thinking will be.
Right, that’s me done. BIG love to you all, see you in the comments.
P.S. SPURS CHOKED AGAIN. Right back in our hands. I am now convinced tomorrow will be an embarrassing loss to a Vardy Pardy, but let’s enjoy a day of laughing at Spurs.