Arsenal are in trouble, big trouble. Freddie isn’t the man to take us forward, and worse, I think the true rot is at the head of the football side of the business. I have very little faith we’ve hit rock bottom, I think that’ll come when Josh makes deeper cuts than simply the manager.
Freddie Ljungberg, despite the introduction of a suit, couldn’t raise a performance out of players that are totally broken. Our form is so atrocious, we look like relegation fodder. Brighton were the better side. They had a plan, they played for each other, and they genuinely believed they were coming to The Emirates for the 3 points. The tidbit that I found interesting was that Potter had his team dropping GG style offside traps, because VAR now makes that exercise worthwhile. I love that. Very smart.
The task at hand for Freddie is a thankless one, made even more difficult by the fact that he has caretaker in his job title. Deeper than that, I think part of the issue is that Freddie is as deeply entrenched in the malaise at Arsenal football club as Unai. It’s hard to ring in changes when the only difference is an internal promotion and a coach that’s switched from training kit to suit.
The starting 11, for a second game in a row, didn’t fill anyone with any sort of hope. Freddie opted once again for Kolasinac, he left Pepe on the bench, and he played Lacazette, Ozil, and Aubamayeng. He also started Willock again. The football didn’t really look any different, mostly because the players haven’t raised their effort beyond anything they offered Unai Emery. This is no slight on Freddie, but really, Arsenal need a new manager, and we need huge shake-up of the culture.
I know I go on about vision a lot, but having an idea of where you’re going gives people a collective belief that what they are doing has more purpose than just a paycheque. It creates a north star that people can either agree to follow or not. For those that follow, that vision is their higher purpose, the reason you go to war, work through injuries and sacrifice yourself for something spectacular. A great manager instils a culture in service of the vision. A set of expected behaviours or virtues everyone gets behind. We don’t have that at Arsenal, marked by the behaviours of the players on and off the pitch. No one cares, because they don’t have anything to care about.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of the winning culture, his vision was so powerful, so exciting, squad players would take half their market value to be a part of it. Jose Mourinho was win at all costs, he instilled fire in his players, it made his team rugged, nasty, horrible to play against… he demanded everyone do their bit, if they did, he’d protect them and deliver them glory (Think Eto’o for Inter). If you didn’t follow his rules, you were out and he’d chargrill you under the flames. Pep G builds his culture around winning the beautiful way. He creates art, he hires in artists, he trains them to think differently, to control territory, he express themselves in his vision, and players go to war for him… who doesn’t want to be an artist? (Jose)
Arsenal haven’t had a vision since Wenger left his soft boy socialist culture behind. Unai took over a spoilt group of players and somehow managed to make them worse. The players had no reason to believe because Emery didn’t know what he wanted from them. Add to that all the additional problems he layered on top with botched leadership votes, throwing players under the bus, pushing Ramsey out the door and countless other microaggressions and you land where we were last night. The players don’t give a fuck because there is nothing to give a fuck about. Freddie ain’t changing that in December.
We are still 10% off the pace, maybe more. Defenders aren’t sprinting back, players are half arsing challenges, our midfield isn’t interested, and there looks to be nasty ruptures in the overall spirit. The lack of leadership on the pitch is embarrassing, but that all stems from the previous two managers.
Freddie can’t save this, he’s not getting the job, and the players know that. Arsenal can’t give him the job until the end of the season, because we’ll be in a relegation fight. They need to hire for January 1st.
Trouble is, the options are very, very unsuitable. Making an ‘ANYONE’ hire could be devastating for the club. We’ll either end up hiring a show pony manager that won’t be good longterm, or we’ll hire in someone from Raul’s Rolodex, and that’ll be fraught with conflicts.
This next move is so, so important. My fear is our shortlist is so fucked, the only chance we have of landing on a good hire is by accident.
Arsenal should have had the shortlist ready in August. We should have known the way we wanted to play, who could deliver that style, and had a plan for refreshing the backroom team. Raul should have fired Emery before the international break and had a manager ready the next day. The fact we didn’t have a plan in place shows you how badly we’re being run. No contingency plan at a top 6 Premier League club that has a turnover of £300m+. Savagely amateur.
The Freddie experiment is doomed to failure. He’s not set up for success, that’s not his fault. The next hire has to be made soon, and my word do we need to make sure it’s not a journeyman or someone that can’t speak the language.
Raul’s reputation has taken a battering, get this next hire wrong and his head will rightly be on the chopping block.
Right, see you in the comments.