It is GAME DAY and the big man Freddie Ljungberg is having a suit tailored for his first home game. Maybe not tailored. Probably pulled off the rack. Hope it’s a nice one.
Big story here: The elite journalists with good questions won out, I cannot thank them enough for their important intervention, and vital contribution to the world of football. One day, maybe, I’ll be as good at questions as them.
Before we land on the game tonight, it appears that by group consensus, the Arsenal family do NOT want to see Marcelino in the dugout. A real get in the bin appointment. Journeyman manager with about as much sauce as Unai Emery. No thanks. We’re not doing Heinz this time, we’re going elevated. Scoville levels off the chart.
There’s a lot of movement in Europe at the minute, a lot of managers that could be bucketed under the category of WINNER are close to the chop.
The one name that’s going to have a lot of fans desperately vommitting their opinion on people is none other than the man in black… Diego Simeone. There are very strong rumours the Argentine is about to get the chop at Atleti, a club where he’s done incredible things on a relatively modest budget over the past however many years.
I love Diego. If you could bottle his special sauce and sell it on the black market, no one would be talking about fentanyl. The guy is literally on a different planet when it comes to energy, touchline passion, and general all-round madness. He’s scary. Football’s real gangster. Pristine swept-back hair, elite enough to wear a black suit and a black shirt. Still as trim as one of his players.
The big challenge with him is two-fold. You are firstly hiring someone that speaks next to no English. Not that he couldn’t learn, but coming into a mess like Arsenal at this stage of our development, with a manager that can’t communicate the awful things he’d have to say about the players probably isn’t smart. My general rule of thumb is if you are going to be a bitch, do it in the native tongue.
Beyond that, you’d have to be able to get by on the cynical football. Not an impossibility by any stretch. Fans, first and foremost, like winning. Secondly, they like to see players die for the shirt. That’s what Diego brings you.
I know there’s a lot of Arsenal fans that just want a coach to come in and make us defensive beasts. Cut out all the fannying around. Get back to basics. Make the club George Graham when he was at its best. A great team, built from solid foundations. Emery tried, and failed. They feel that we need a real shock to the system. Someone who can come in and take a Stalin like approach to purging mediocrity from the club.
It’s a tempting thought, it really is. Diego is fucking unreal, even if I hate the football.
The other challenge for Arsenal is the expense. France Football had him pocketing €41m last year. He’s the highest-paid manager in the world. €788,461 a week. A quite incredible pay packet, but worth it for what he does over there. I think he’s likely out of our league. Not to mention he’s been very keen to move to Italy.
Carlo is also being touted. I have to say, I couldn’t be any less excited about the thought. He made a Sarri team worse, was outsmarted by Emery in the Europa League last year and generally would feel like a very flaccid attempt at progression.
Frontrunners from the shortlist I’m guessing at so far have to be Mikael Arteta and Brendan Rodgers. Most of the other names either seem out of our league, unsuited to the job at hand, or just far too expensive for what we can afford.
Onto the game tonight.
I was PLEASED to see Arsenal.com sharing videos of Freddie implementing some rapid fire one-touch football in training. No messing around. Combinations are coming back. Freddie is trying to impose his vision of football on a team that’s been in the football equivalent of a forced labour camp for 18 months.
Tonight is interesting because the action in the second half against Norwich was shite. He’s seen what the senior players can do, does he double down and go with the same players again, or does he start to introduce more of his thinking with players more to his liking?
For me, I struggle to see how a man with Freddie’s tasted for high-intensity pressing can opt with a frontline of players that don’t like to press. I said it on the podcast, could Martinelli be Freddie’s Nik Anelka? No one presses like him at Arsenal. If you had Auba flanked by him and Saka, you’d be a different beast.
Hector Bellerin will no doubt be back in contention. Huge questions mark over Tierney if he’s left out again. I’m assuming he was a precaution at the weekend because for me, he’s the future of that position. He’s a more capable defender than Kola and he looks where his deliveries are going from wide positions. It’ll be telling if he doesn’t start.
Let’s see what he does with midfield. The biggest problem we’ve had for a while is that we have to play Xhaka. I’d love to see LT given a chance in his real position, my concern with him is that he’s finished with Arsenal, and it shows in his performances. Either way, if Freddie doesn’t find a solve here, his tenure is going nowhere.
Brighton are a good side with a very interesting manager. Potter was a huge risk for them after Hughton, but you can see where their game is going, and it certainly looks like he’s making progress.
Right, that is me done, give Freddie the reception he deserves tonight, should be a fun atmosphere for once!