Come on everyone, be strong, not long to go, just one more week of relentless boredom over the international week, then we can return to politics. I’m kind of hoping that Jezza Corbyn will continue his epic ‘TAKE IT BACK’ campaign to The Arsenal. Take the club out of foreign ownership and fund it using the power of the nation! Free tickets for everyone. A beautiful vision of the game.
I’d vote for that.
The Mirror is reporting that Unai Emery has been given 4 easy games to save his job. The club are trying to make things as simple as possible for the manager to stay in place until the end of the season. I think more and more folk are convinced he’s on a 2-year deal, which runs counter to David Ornstein’s info, but would make a lot of sense considering we have a contracts man as dastardly as Huss Fahmy overseeing things. That technically makes it cheaper to keep him, but if he misses top 4, the math doesn’t look sexy.
The laughable part about the whole leak, which probably didn’t come from Raul or Edu, is the club don’t think sacking Emery will change things.
That my friends, has been the crux of my confusing point over the past few weeks. Emery is bad. Really bad. But binning him off isn’t the only solve. My bigger worry is that Edu has been here for quite a bit now and the feeling still remains that we’re in trouble regardless of what we do with the manager. That says we’ve not moved the needle on infrastructure, because well-run clubs can survive an Emery (look at Leicester).
What happened to Raul’s beautiful vision he shared this summer? Perhaps we gave too much of it over to bad decision makers. If the head of the fish is rotten, you know the rest. To still be at the start of a transition 18 months after Arsene Wenger left is quite something, especially when you consider the football upgrade was well underway before he was binned.
I’m not down with the doom and gloom though. I know that there are lots of problems at the club and they go beyond the man in the dugout. But a lot can be done with a galvanising figure running the show.
Firstly, a better communicator can sooth the fans and give them a realistic overview of what’s going on. The next manager has to be a statement about the next 3 years, not a hopeful gamble on the next 5 months.
Secondly, a better coach with clearer intentions will help the team immeasurably. Do we have the perfect squad? No. Has anyone ever stated that we do? No. Coaching goes an awful long way in football, and it’s clear we’ve not been getting our share of it. Whatever you think about our expensively assembled squad, the reality is it finished 2 points off 3rd last season, then we spent a fortune in the summer to upgrade it (and added some tasty young kids to the options list). We need a coach that can work with the talent he has and create an offering that is more than the sum of its parts. Nagelsmann did a brilliant job of that when he was at Hoffenheim. Potter built a mini Patriots when he was at Ostersunds, focusing heavily on rehabbing ‘finished’ players into a positive culture, massively out-batting his average. Marco Rose instilled his 11 principles into Salzburg and had them flying high in the Europa League and smashing an invincible season. Arsenal’s players look so bad at the moment because they have a drab manager that doesn’t know how to get the most out of them. We’re Leicester last season (and the season before that).
Thirdly, OUR biggest weakness, Granit Xhaka, is trying to exit the club. This is such a magical gift. So beautiful and pretty. If the club can kick into gear and find a replacement for him in January, it could restart our flagging season. We can target a mobile defensive-minded midfielder that wants to play with discipline. I know it’s a tough ask, but we managed to find a 25 goal a season striker 2 years ago with little problem and there might be clubs willing to sell after the first batch of teams exit the Champions League.
Arsenal is in a mess of its own making, but that should never be an excuse for inaction. Businesses make mistakes all the time, the key to fixing them is to generally own up to what you did, assess what the core issue was, then rectify it fast and hope no one notices. Throwing your hands up in the press and saying, ‘we’re fucked whatever we do’ is embarrassingly defeatist.
I think one of the biggest misses with Emery centres around his inability to create a culture. That problem stems from a lack of vision. If players don’t have anything to believe in, why would they adhere to a set of behaviours or actions that support the cause? That’s why we have a captain that still thinks his reaction to the fans was cool. That’s why we have players liking salty posts on Instagram. That’s why half efforts on the pitch aren’t nipped in the bud.
Find a manager that can focus the players around an exciting vision, then build a culture that supports it. How hard can it be to find a manager that can deliver on such a basic requirement of the job?
That’s why I’d support finding that manager in January. Get the grim December out of the way, put the feelers our for a manager with a vision and a plan, then when the tough games are done, see what they can do over the next 5 months. At worst, the groundwork for next season can be laid, at best, maybe the players make a run for top 4.
Right, PART 2 of my podcast with Matt Scott is below. Listen to it, enjoy it, share with a friend. It’s that straightforward.