Over the weekend, a reporter for the Premier League by the name of Vaishali Bhardwaj, mused on Talksport whether bloggers should be allowed to attend press conferences.
“Journalists are meant to bridge the gap between the fans and the club!”
“I do wonder about the quality of questions we might get.”
Now, just to be clear, there are incredible journos out there that blow my mind with their insightful musings and well thought out arguments. Rory Smith, Rapha Honigstein, Henry Winter, Sid Lowe, Julien Laurens, and Gab Marcotti just to name a few. However, there are also lots of great bloggers that focus on a single-subject topic with laser precision culminating in work that has some of them being snapped up by monied publications like The Athletic. Bloggers don’t have the luxury of MSM backing to gain a huge following. They don’t get the traffic associated with access. The notion that a fancy degree trumps part-time obsession when it comes to being able to ask questions of power really is something. Anyway, skip forward two days, Freddie Ljungberg is being asked about his clothing decisions in the dugout, by a journalist. He was asked two questions about wearing a suit. He had to tell the world about his dry cleaning issues. You couldn’t make it up.
The new manager rifled through a pretty interesting presser regardless, touching on his plan to speak to Arsene and Sven Goran-Eriksson, bemoaning our poor transitional play, and detailing his hopes to improve the defence. No word on whether he’s popping down Kooples for a rock-chic deep navy suit for the weekend.
One thing I’ll never get bored of when it comes to Freddie… clarity. Oh, and data talk. Loved this point.
Other things is that my feeling that we got in behind their midfield and behind their backline a lot, has been backed up by data within the club, which we have been sky rocketed up to be one of the top teams in the league to get into the pockets and behind them. That feels very good that it has been backed up by the data and the feeling I had after the game, and of course we will try to keep on doing that.
It’s exciting to read that we’re improving in an area the manager was coveting. It means he’s paying attention to deficiencies and he’s at least hatching mini-strategems to move the team forward. I also thought he made a very specific call-out when he was asked about Brighton.
‘They look good, they change formations a lot, so we will see what they come with. They try to play out, defend well, they look very organised but for me we need to concentrate on our own game’
It’ll not be lost on him that the Arsenal players disliked the overly negative focus on the opposition under Unai Emery. We have a good squad of players. Not perfect, but we have a lot of talent. There’s no need to play 3 at the back against Southampton, we have the talent to cause any team problems on our day. Freddie’s focus on our strengths is what Arsenal should be all about. Overall, I love the positive vibes he’s bringing to the club, I also liked that he was borrowing ideas from Sven G-E on how to make players feel good.
The ‘who will it be’ news machine is in full swing. It’s hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not. Raul is so unpredictable and the BODs huge shortlist so lacking in a clear through-thread, it really is a toss of a coin as to where we go next.
Dave Ornstein echoed my commentary yesterday about the lack of money at Arsenal likely being a hindrance on some of the bigger name managers. I really struggle to see us shelling out £8-12m a season on someone like Allegri or Pochettino. I also think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be raiding Leicester to pay £14m to buy out Brendan Rodgers, followed by a £10m investment in his backroom team.
We’ll be looking to folk that won’t cost a lot of money, because as I’ve been telling you all season, we pulled money from next year to make the mad summer of 2019 happen.
Marcelino, the recently fired Valencia coach is rumored to be interesting the Arsenal board. My initial reaction was, ‘fuck, this is round two of Nuno’ that we’ll have to fend off. However, upon further inspection, it appears that Marcelino was the antidote to the Mendes era. He took over a club in a dangerous mess and insisted on technical autonomy with Alemany (Sporting Director). The new recipe worked, Marcelino took Valencia to the CL twice, commanded the love of a very demanding fan base, and was widely revered as the best manager they’d had since Rafa B. Peter Lim didn’t like that he’d been proved wrong so binned him at the first chance. Sad.
When it comes to style, Sid Lowe had a great overview here.
That speed, stamina and agility goes hand in hand with his style: playing in a 4-4-2, Marcelino wants the ball and, more importantly, wants it back when they lose it. But he is not interested in possession for its own sake. “A team with 80% possession and only three shots on goal bores me,” he said. Instead, it is the pace and precision of counter-attacks that most occupies him, built on defensive solidity. His teams are, as the Spanish word has it, very vertical, but that doesn’t mean a long ball: instead it means compact and coiled, always ready to spring forward and always in numbers, across the turf, players making runs across each other. The mechanism is built on repetition, carefully planned and conducted with intensity, underlining that while quantification matters individual analysis does not mean individualisation of approach: “You start with the idea that football is collective,” he says. Nor, he insists, can you ask a player to do something he is not capable of, although you can hide defects and maximise qualities.
I also think the nightmare of Arsenal would suit a manager that had to run an aggressive cleanup operation post-Jorge Mendes. We’d be a cakewalk in comparison, but this paragraph spoke to me.
Well, now at last they were fuori, on Voro’s well-placed advice. There was a dressing-room clean out, Enzo Pérez, Álvaro Negredo and Diego Alves among them. “Purge” may be an unpleasant word, but there was something in that. Marcelino called the players who went “prescindible” – expendable. He wasn’t naming names but it was, he admitted with a tinge of sadness “necessary … to change a negative run, there are players we had to get rid of”.
The squad had been made manageable; now he had to manage. Although some players say the serious image is exaggerated, that his demanding nature does not make him draconian, that he engages with players, reaches them and knows how to convince them, that he is likeable, his touch light at times, that Marcelino pushes them and it works. Direct and honest, he has talked about his admiration for Arrigo Sacchi and Rafa Benítez, while Diego Simeone says he identifies with him, and Marcelino insists on a building committed, competitive team. The word Gabriel used for him is “pesado”: roughly, a pain, heavy, hard work, tough going. Intelligent and intense, he wanted a squad that he could lead and that would follow him, creating a climate conducive to a change in culture.
The guy is a serious manager, he was the knight in shining armour for a club that was brutally milked for all it was worth, and he looks good in a suit. He’s also likeable, communicative and a disciplinarian. Main watch-out here is one of the deals he was looking for was Denis Suarez and his English might not be elite. Positives… he’s suited to a shit show, and we are a shit show.
Pochettino wants to get back into the game according to The Times, but all indicators point towards him taking a job in Europe. Bayern Munich has a vacancy that’d suit him and I think PSG will come up at the end of the year. He’s the ideal candidate on paper, but I’d be hard pushed to believe his sort of values would allow him to ditch 5 years of history to take the job at Arsenal.
Some of the stats bloggers have had their say. I’ve seen Roger Schmidt mentioned. He has certainly been under the consideration of Arsenal in the past, even before Wenger was fired. The German has built his career on hardcore tenants of Gegenpressing, he’s a trained engineer which bears little relevance to anything, and he had Bayer Leverkusen playing competitively for a while. He failed in China recently, he’s a free agent, and he can speak good English. It’d be an unspectacular hire, but no doubt a ‘safe’ pair of hands.
Fans are starting to warm to the delights of Marco Rose. The exRB Salzburg invincible is making waves at the top of the Bundesliga this season with Monchengladbach. He’s eloquent, he plays very sexy football, and he has the highly-rated Rene Maric by his side. Again, he’d be a risk because his ways have only been proven in Austria for the most well-funded team, and for a German side for just under half a season. As risks go, he’d certainly be a fun one. His organized disciplined brand of football is pleasing on the eye, and his approach to data and the modern arts of footballing warfare would certainly go down well with the fans. Problem with a manager like this is he’ll be hard to move at this stage of the season.
Some in the press have played up the notion that Freddie is a serious contender, I think it’s pretty clear he’s not. The club are just trying to buy themselves time here. It’s an amateur mind-game they’re using to trick the players into believing they are playing for their future. I love Freddie, but it’s too soon for him and I’m not sure he’s far enough removed from Wenger and Emery to feel like the radical change in approach we need.
Allegri is available right now. He’s an odd one. From what I understand, the club don’t rate him as a person or as a coach. I think the vibe is that the squad isn’t very suited to the game he plays when he’s at his best, nor do they think he has a character suited to the massive challenge ahead. On the face it, he’s hard to ignore. He’s won trophies, outperformed his spend in Europe regularly, and he’s been raised as a manager at club that do things with class and dignity (Milan and Juve). He is prestige, no doubt, I just doubt he’s for us… he’s literally too big for where Arsenal are right now and I think he’s been too successful to build from a very rubbish spot. Could be wrong though. As wrong as the time I told the world Eboue moving into the midfield was the future.
Whatever the decision, one thing is for sure, Don Raul is not looking like much of Don at the moment. The big voices on Arsenal are rounding on him, the papers are questioning his aptitude, and the fans are starting to wonder whether we’ve hired in a snake oil salesman just here for the payday. He has to make a decision that’s good for Arsenal, that’s backed by something smarter than ‘gut feel’… he has to shake the horrendous mistake he made when he shoehorned Emery in the door when Ivan G shit his pants at the thought of hiring Emery.
As a club, Arsenal is finely balanced on a precipice, but the fans won’t be fooled again. This next move has more than one job on the line, and so it should.
Right, see you in the comments. x
P.S. A lot of people jumping on that video of the players ignoring the mascot. Glad to see Big Cal Chambers put then right.
The cameras sometimes only show one side of the story. It’s always great to meet our Junior Gunners mascot in the dressing room before every match. We hope Billy had a great day at Norwich on Sunday and it was a pleasure to meet him. pic.twitter.com/qBBRZz1g8e
— Calum Chambers (@CalumChambers95) December 3, 2019