Well, this is awkward… Mikel Arteta is… a… Xhaka fan.
“When I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching and we were looking in that position, he was one of the players on my list,”
“This is how much I liked him. I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“ He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded. But I have been amazed as well by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very, very positive about him. Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”
This certainly appears to be the dead body under the patio the entire exec team missed when they interviewed him late at night when it was clearly too dark to see!
I mean, there’s only one thing to do here, look for the light that shines on this turd the best.
There’s no one else in the squad that can play the better bits of Xhaka’s game like he does, so unless there’s a spare £50m in the pocket of the Kroenke’s, it’s very likely this is as good as we can do right now. Just to double down on the claim that we spent next summers money last summer, Raul said this to the press.
‘It is in general. The strategic window by definition is the summer window that’s when you plan the season ahead. ‘Last summer we did an incredible effort where we were very grateful to the support we got from our ownership.
‘We went really one step further and made a real investment that increased our expectations for the season.’
Doesn’t sound like he’s keen to splurge. I’m also not sure I trust the club to do good work in January, so unless there’s a player we can loan, I’d rather us save what little powder we have for sharp moves in 5 months time.
Back to Granit.
You either build him up, or you cut his throat right away. If we’re in the hearts and minds phase at the moment, there’s no one that needs as much heart as the player who told us to fuck off in a shit fit the other week. It’s also clear to anyone that’s been paying attention that Xhaka is a big personality behind the scenes… he managed to bulldoze his way to the most undeserving captaincy of all time. It makes sense that anyone who is feeling out the squad would give him a chance to make good on his ‘potential’ because he really does have to show some of the players his words mean something (they didn’t under Emery who flip-flopped).
I really do think we have to take a lot of the press talk with a pinch of salt over the next few weeks. Arteta has to win over big names in the squad and he has to make the best of the mess he picked up from Emery. I would imagine he’ll also fancy himself as a proper coach, he needs to have case study signed off over the next 6 months, no bigger player to take on than one of the most misunderstood (as in, WHAT DOES HE DO?) and mistake-ridden players of the decade.
This following quote kind of confirms my thinking, but as it’s Boxing Day, I’ll be honest, I read the below quote and built my blog around it to make it seem like I’m insightful.
“I don’t want to change everything drastically in two days,”
“I want to put my feelings slowly, I want to see what is going around, and in the right moment I will make the decisions for the benefit of the team and the club. At the moment I don’t think it is the right time, with the amount of games coming up and the amount of things that have to be done, to change too many things.”
The most important thing for today is the win (also insightful). Bournemouth is in a mess, they’ve won 2 games in 8 and lost the rest. Sure, they beat United and Chelsea in that time, but they’ve been awful. Their confidence is shot to pieces, they’ve conceded 10 in their last 6. Literally the worst team in the league right now… but remember, we are normally a gift for struggling managers, and it’s not a given that we’ll get a new manager bounce.
That said, we are still only 4 points off 5th – if we beat Chelsea, we’ll be 3 points away from top 4 at the start of January, which is unreal. There is certainly a very real chance we could make a power play for the Champions League this season if Areta gets things to click. Again, it feels unrealistic considering the drama, the contracts and the confidence… but hey, crazier things have occurred. Spurs are going to be up and down, Jose struggling to impact them like you’d have thought. Chelsea boasts a young squad with a young manager that will be inconsistent, and United are shite.
I still think the brief to Mikel is simple… find out who is worth keeping, deliver a quick appraisal of the kids, and lay the foundations for next season.
“The context is very important, and the context right now, here, is not Manchester City. It is completely different. So I can’t demand the players to do some things because I will expose them and that is the last thing I want to do. I want to give them confidence, reassurance and guidance. But slowly, slowly, slowly, hopefully we will get to where I want.”
Today is a huge first step and it’s exciting. However, I want to stress over and over, the next 6 weeks are going to be very difficult. We could well be replacing 7 first-team players this summer, he has to find out if the kids have the mustard he needs, and he has to win over the fans. Arteta has to somehow build a culture, lay technical foundations, and make brutal decisions all without a preseason.
Bear with it… it’ll come good. I’m certain. See you in the comments and listen to my podcast if you were rude enough not to have already.