Today, I’m here to give you all a bit of a pep talk. NOT PEP G. Just whatever a pep is. What is a pep?
I’m here to give you a textual team huddle. NO, my office cleaning lady is going to take this one.
Over to you, Esther.
*hands over keyboard*
WE ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY
WE ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY
WE ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY
I think there’s a lot of deflated chatter amongst Arsenal fans at the minute. The lack of leadership at the club is breathtaking at times, we don’t seem capable of making good hiring decisions and we’re short on resource in important roles.
However, there is light at the tunnel.
Arsenal CAN compete at the top of the game. We don’t need £400m to get back to our best. There are other ways outside SPEND SPEND SPEND to achieve greatness.
Don’t believe me?
Look at Spurs. Our wage bill is at least £80m higher than their one. We spent £70m more than them last summer. They have dropped about £50m net since Poch joined. They are competing.
Look at Dortmund. 2 points off the top of the league with 3 games to go. They might not win, but they have found a way to make the league competitive. They’ve been to a Champions League final. They have won things.
Look at Ajax. They have been out in the cold for years. But, as Bamford from the comments said, they are the most exciting sporting story in the world right now. Accident? No way. It was a concerted effort from a group of their old boys to get back to the top of world football. There was a vision, a plan, and the energy to follow it through.
I have written about this many times before… Arsenal’s main issue is we’re not prepared to be honest about who we are as a club. We are never going to be City, we’re never going to be Bayern, we can only be Arsenal.
That means we are constrained by the realities of business. Which, if you’re totally fair, look pretty good for us. I repeat… our wage bill is about £80m higher than Spurs. We are through the worst of the stadium debt and can spend what we make. Sponsorships keep rising for reasons not related to performance. We have an outrageous net spend over the past 5 years, 3rd highest in the league. We have a bigger net spend than Madrid since 2010!
Our wage bill is 4.8x larger than Ajax. Mesut Ozil would represent 40% of their TOTAL wage bill alone. Don’t tell me we can’t play nice football and compete at the highest level.
What we don’t have is a vision. I think we expected better from Emery. Outside the bland football, across most statistics, he’s tanking. This data from @ShivWhorra is compelling if you don’t believe your eyes. Note that he’s not comparing us to last season alone, because ONE DATA POINT IS NOT HOW YOU ANALYSE. Wenger had largely the same crop of players, and if anything, Emery has a better squad after the great additions of Sven last summer (RIP brother).
I decided to take a look at Emery’s first season in charge in comparison for the last few years. All the data here is publically available through https://t.co/lfNHyt1kp0. It took me 15 minutes, you can check it for yourself. #thread #arsenal #coyg
— Shiv Whorra (@shivwhorra) April 30, 2019
Factor in that we’re the most clinical team in the league, with facts pointing out that we’re worse defensively, our points total will not be much of an improvement over ten years of data, our xG league position has us as a midtable team. When the luck runs out, which it will (it has), what are we falling back on? There are no visible foundations that have been set in a year (bar being more competitive against bigger teams). Pelligrini has had a rough year, but you can see what’s going on there. Chelsea have had an even rougher year, but you can see what the manager is trying to do, what are we doing?
You can say all of this doesn’t matter if we make CL next season, and you’d be right on the surface. This is a game of realities not xG hypotheticals. If he makes the CL, he’s done his job. However, a correction is looming, and even if we make the Promised Land (which I genuinely think we have a good chance of), I would say it’s still the beginning of the end. Reality always catches you in the end… a bit like the trophies Wenger won papering over the shit show he was presiding over.
The players are leaking to the press. Matt Law wrote a damning piece where other players are chastising their teammate’s selection. Hugely disrespectful, but when it all comes at the same time, it’s hard to doubt there’s an agreement in the squad that they’re not enjoying what’s going on.
So, where is the light?
Arsenal are going to bring in a technical director. We know that’s on the cards. There is no way Raul is going to do a Ralph Rangnick and take the rebuild on himself this summer. We will be hiring someone and I suspect it’ll be to great fanfare like the Sven signing.
A technical director is important for many reasons. Firstly, they set the tone for the future of the club. They are the visionary film producers of football. They know what they want to make, and they bring in the people to make it happen (anyone that tells me producers aren’t important in the comments land a ban).
What I doubt will happen is anything drastic when they arrive. As many of us have experienced when we’re young, you take a big job and make big changes too soon, everyone hates you and you struggle to recover.
The new man is going to come in and assess what the fuck is going on at Arsenal. One of the things Emery has going for him is the whole club is a burning mess, there’s no way they’ll do anything drastic to his contract until there’s an understanding of what the plan is. Sometimes you have to let things break, that way, people beg you to fix it. Fix before and you’ll have doubters and moaners. Make them grateful for implementing your agenda.
For me, this new technical director needs to be grounded in reality. He can’t be an exBarca exec. They’ve lived the life of luxury. I read a great book called Principles by Ray Dalio, brilliant if you run anything, a very process oriented look at how he built the Bridgewater hedge fund. Anyway, in his book, there’s a loose comment where he’s like… ‘oh man, everyone needs an AI guy in their office’… errr… not in the real-world my friend.
That was always my fear with Raul. He’s never slummed it with an Elneny in his life. If we get a TD from Barca, and they’re like, ‘oh man, let’s get a Neymar in here’, things aren’t going to work.
We need to have someone who can assess the club for what it is. Bottom of the elite in terms of financial power, but built in the GREATEST CITY EVER, incredible training facilities, massive stadium, ability to play great football, and a wonderful heritage of winning things.
I will say this a thousand times. Our best way back to the top is to set an exciting vision of how the game should be played, i.e. Wengerball 2.0… then get the best young players, coaches and visionaries in the game to make it happen.
That’s what Ajax has done, that’s what Dortmund do, like it or love it, that’s what Spurs has done. To a lesser extent, that is exactly what the RB franchise has done (3rd in the league this year).
‘But who would manage Arsenal?’ is such a pony fucking response. Who wouldn’t! Ok, so maybe we’re not prime meat for Allegri. But why would we sign a coach that is in the top 3 in the world if we can’t offer him a reality he needs to succeed (big money / ready-made players / Champions League in season 1)?
We need someone capable of building a squad, someone who can develop players, a person with a point to prove, and a candidate with something a little special about the way they think. There are a lot of great coaches in the game, there are good options everywhere, we just have to be smart about where we look. It doesn’t have to be a big name at Arsenal. Poch came from Southampton, a massive risk for Spurs. Monchengladbach have just hired Marco Rose from Salzburg. Dortmund have been brought to greater heights by Favre. RB hired in Nagelsmann. Rennes just won the French cup with Julien Stéphan (38) and he’s been great for them in the league.
This simple approach works for the club as well. Tell Josh and Stan that we’re going to hire in a young coach with elite ideas for £2m a year and give him two hires of his own, we’re going to hire the scrappiest Chief Scout in the game that finds diamonds (RIP SVEN MISS U), we’re going to play the best brand of football in the world, we’re going to do it with young hungry players who we’ll heavily bonus, and we’re going to build out a backroom of elite coaches so if the manager tanks, we don’t lose ten people and get a massive bill.
If this works, we push into the Champions League and compete again. If it doesn’t, at least we have a squad of young players that didn’t cost a lot, but will likely still be in the top 6. We could also sell on players for massive money and build from there like Liverpool has done.
It won’t be an instant success, but if the club is honest and open with the fans, who wouldn’t buy into this sort of plan?
This technical director role is so unbelievably important. They will have their ear to the ground, they will make impartial decisions about the club, and most importantly, the brain we hire in will be the vision for the club for the next ten years.
Get it right and we’re on the way again after a sputtery start to the post-Wenger era.
Fuck it up, and we’ll slide into mediocrity and become an Everton like irrelevance.
All on you Raul, all on you. x