Day two and the pain is still pretty intense.
I find the defence of the manager quite baffling, especially considering how strong the evidence of his failings has been. Underlying and data and literally what you’ve been watching all season tells a clear story. So spare the detailed unpicking of his body language or the theorising over why he said nothing in the changing room after the game.
Granit Xhaka, a man who has been front and centre for most of the experience is even a touch deluded about it all.
“I think we had a good season, if you take off the five last games in the Premier League.”
Oh my Granit, oh my. That said, he refused to answer the question as to whether we improved this season under Unai Emery. Well Granit, I can answer you, simply, no we didn’t.
I’m stealing some of Gambon’s posts that explicitly lay this out with hard numbers.
Regardless of how the season ended, Emery has failed to move the needle in terms of performance. Less goals scored, the same conceded, less shots, more shots conceded, less big chances, more big chances conceded, lower xG, higher xGA, By all performance metrics it isnt working.
— Gambon (@TheMightyGambon) May 30, 2019
By all accounts, the above is pretty shocking. You can say what you will about Arsene Wenger, but it was clear the problem with him in his last 2-3 seasons was his drifting further and further away from the basics. We mostly blamed poor tactics, a lack of preparation, a blindness to squad needs (which Sven went a way to fixing) and a loss of fire that once drove him to greatness.
When we hired in the new person, we hired in a ‘coach.’ The point of a coach is that they should have the ability to move the club forward without spending £400m. We even had the argument last year that we couldn’t hire in someone like Allegri because he’d want NOW money. Emery was the coach. Training would be high energy, he was a prep machine and he wouldn’t allow the players to be cowards.
So aside from it being clear that performance indicators have dipped, and it being obvious that the culture of the club hasn’t been shifted in an entire year, the other item people keep on comparing to is Liverpool.
Klopp came in, moved Liverpool from 10th to 8th. A poor return they say, that was rectified with time, money and patience. Yes, but remember, those three elements are a reward for tangible progress.
Again, we are in single data point territory. Football fans are utterly terrible with stats, so let me paint a picture using someone else’s.
By contrast, this is what Jurgen Klopp did in his first 30 games, with no pre-season and no transfer window. Emery has had £70m and a full, long pre-season. Klopp was still able to improve performance levels with a poor squad that were not his players. pic.twitter.com/OlXzATNuXX
— Gambon (@TheMightyGambon) May 30, 2019
Just to add to the above. As the season wore on, Klopp’s Liverpool side greatly improved. His team scored 52% of its entires PL seasons goals in the last 13 games. The fans were being electrified with rock and roll football. You could clearly see that without buying players, that Klopp was impacting the players, the culture and the energy around the club.
Additionally harping back to the goals conceded issue, I find it slightly worrying that we’re expecting a coach with limited defensive pedigree to fix our defence. At Sevilla, over his three seasons in which he finished 5th, 5th and 7th… he averagely shipped 49 goals a year. He look over a defence at PSG that had conceded 19 goals, when it was handed over, it clocked up to 27, then 29 in his final year.
‘BUT WHO WOULD COME TO ARSENAL FOR £6M A YEAR’
I have to tell you Arsenal fans, this is the most middle class ‘I live in a bubble’ comment I read.
Arsenal is a powerhouse club. You can bitch about it, you can say its dead, you can say we’re not attractive… but you’d be so fucking wrong. If Liverpool can attract Jurgen Klopp to live on Merseyside with a team that was sitting in 10th, with the promise of zero net spend for 2 full seasons, then Arsenal are not going to have a problem hiring in a top manager to take us forward.
Yes, the owner didn’t go to the game. But really, what are you bitching about there? Its YOUR sentimentality you’re whining about. Stan K isn’t in the day to day of any of his clubs, and why would you want him to be? Raul and Vinai run the show.
Stan can be called many things, but uninterested seems a bit of a meek jab. He invested as much of Arsenal’s self-generated money as he could have, we are the 3rd highest net spenders in the league over 5 years and we have spent more net than Madrid over 10 years. We have a £230m wage bill compared to Spurs at £140m. We fired Arsene Wenger and his team at a cost of £17m last year. Stan signed off on Ozil at £350k a week. We built a new structure at the club at great expense, and to be fair, the structure is modern and forward thinking. We paid £2m for a head of high performance. We brought in Sven for £2m a year. We revamped the training facilities at great expense. We are not lacking money and the myth that Stan is all about profit just doesn’t stack up against any sort of inspection.
‘he should write us a cheque for players!’
Look at what is happening to Manchester City with regards to flooding the club with cash injections that are allegedly not what they seem.
Anyway, my point being is this: It’s poor leadership to look at what Emery has done in his year, and think the right move is to carry on as is.
He was hired as a coach, his coaching has taken us backwards.
The easiest and most impactful thing we can do is change the manager. Rethink what we’ve lacked and make a bold decision. We will call it the Bruce Rioja moment.
We need a true leader. Someone who will bring some swagger back to the club. We need someone who the players want to fight for. Someone players desperately want to play under because they know they will improve. Someone in the mould of you know who down the road.
We also need someone with a distinct vision of how the game should be played. Emery’s chameleon approach is non-committal. How many teams have successfully been able to implement both possession football and counter-attacking at the same time? It’d be a monumental achievement to make that happen, and we certainly couldn’t do that on a budget.
My big worry is clearing out problematic players is all well and good, but if you are replacing into a blurred vision of football, you are actually further damaging the club. Emeryball is awful to watch. It’s not the next level. But we appear to be going hard at giving a failing manager the keys to our next 3 years. That is a terrifying prospect.
Is chameleon football part of The Arsenal DNA?
I had hoped not.
I was hoping that the good bits Wenger left would remain. I want Arsenal to play the most electric brand of football on the planet. I want Arsenal to embark on a transfer policy that prioritises the best young players that boast extreme technical capabilities, combined with outrageous power and pace. Give me what Ajax and Dortmund have, but bump it up two notches.
Instead, we’ll fall back on ‘class’, which is code for ‘lack of ambition’, and we’ll kick to tough decision can down the road for next season.
It’s a brutally miserable view, but the MD of the club apparently sent out an e-mail asking for people to get some perspective on yesterday. Someone ask Petr Cech whether that happens at CFC after an appalling showing at a final? Barcelona? Madrid?
The real perspective is we’re not built for success. We have a fancy structure, but as I keep on saying, if you do not fill that with the very best people, you are in trouble.
That said, the one HUGE positive I can give you is the noise around Edu is very positive. Firstly, there’s no kingmaker aspect to this hire. Raul is hiring him in because he’s good. You don’t do great things at Corinthians, then take a job with Brazil to be told by Raul you have to sign Ever Banega. Edu also has a lot of sauce about him, the guy looks money, and he knows the DNA of Arsenal and Brazil.
… but he has to be allowed to take an axe to the substandard people at Arsenal. He has to implement a vision, set aggressive targets and hold people accountable for delivering them. We cannot continue to skip along into the footballing abyss pretending our problems are going to be solved by throwing a boatload of cash at people that don’t know how to send it.
Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.