It is FA Cup weekend and I’m having to scour the internet to find places to watch it because America’s English football TV is as fractured as it is in the UK.
I really can’t wait for the day that Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook writes a cheque for the lot. This isn’t like Amazon killing the high street, it’s just taking the football from one billionaire and giving it to another.
The Premier League and assorted cup games is a consumer product that is in desperate need of simplifying. I should be able to buy all of Arsenal’s games, I should be able to opt-in for highlights packages on the whistle, and there should be varying levels of service where I can buy one-off games or packages that give me the big matches.
I really can’t understand why it’s take so long for something like this to happen, but hopefully, with 5G coming onto the market hard over the next year, a tech giant will rip the package from cable TV who do a very bad job when it comes to value.
The good news keeps on coming with Mikel Arteta. He told the press this weekend that he doesn’t believe in 5 captains, which is a relief, because the idea was an utter nonsense.
“The more stability we can generate with our captain and the players we have in the squad, I think the more clarity we will have to transmit to the fans what we are trying to do.
“There are many factors, some we cannot control, but at the moment everything is OK and not the time for me to change things in place because I haven’t seen real things to make the decisions.
“I have been at clubs that have four or five captains. It is more a leadership group than captains. At the end it is one guy wearing the armband and after the team picks the leaders.
“The moment they pick the leaders is when someone talks if they listen or they are looking at the roof. That is when you see.”
This is a total basic of leadership. The 5 captains idea was basically Unai Emery’s socialist wage structure. If you give 5 people the leadership, you either have a situation where everyone is fighting it out to be the biggest voice which can be embarrassing and cause factions.
‘Leadership is related to how this team leads together. The moment you start to see different groups, there are leaders in each group but they are not shared in the best common interest of the whole squad. This is what I want to avoid.’
… or the opposite, where the assumption is that someone else will take the lead and no one does (hello, last 18 months). Then there’s the factor Arteta mentioned – because the roles are not clearly defined, no one knows when or who to pay attention to.
That nightmare is AUBA. Get it? Auba > Over?
The man from Gabon seems to be the defacto choice until the end of the season and I like that. He’s one of the best sharpshooters in the world and he’s currently putting in a shift out wide for the team. I also like his prematch huddles and the post-match attitude to the fans. Not sure if that’s come from him, but it’s been noted that the players are giving away shirts and staying on the pitch longer after games.
I think that’s the thing a lot of Arsenal fans are warming to… Arteta isn’t just about the details on the pitch. He seems to look at a football club like an eco-system. Part of that eco-system is the fans. If the fans aren’t happy, it’ll be acid rain in the ground, not rays of positivity sunshine. By working hard, saying the right things in the press, showing the correct body language, and giving the fans something back after the game… he makes everyone’s job easier to do off the pitch.
I think we’re in a phase where we’re praising Arteta for doing real basics correctly, but look, why not, we haven’t had an approach like this in a long time. Arsene created a bit of an enemy of a fanbase he thought were ungrateful, Emery just didn’t have a clue what was going on and whinged about us when the going got tough. We had major broadsheet journalists pondering whether the real issue at Arsenal was indeed the fans (quite staggering you can get paid for that sort of shite analysis). Now 2 weeks into the reign of a manager who understands modern fans and it’s a different vibe, long may that continue.
The important thing we need to do as fans is ground ourselves in reality. Arteta hasn’t solved all of our problems, there are still plenty of ups and downs to come, and we are in desperate need of some upgrades if we’re to find the next level. There will be some outrageous wins, there will be some shock losses, and there will be general setbacks as we navigate this season. We just have to avoid whiplash conclusions, which I hope is possible because everyone can see what the manager is attempting to do with our great club.
The next challenge we have is against Leeds United tomorrow night. Marcelo Bielsa is a managers manager. Pep, Klopp, Tuchel and Nagelsmann will all put him in their top three list. The guy is a genius, an obsessive, and he has always made his teams more than the sum of their parts. Leeds United go to war for him, that’s a managerial trait all managers want to have. The power of persuasion. Arteta said that players who go there come away better people and better players and they always talk highly of him… which I assume is what he wants.
It’s pretty clear from Arteta’s press conference that he’s very concerned about the overall health of the squad. He needs to get some energy back into the legs of first-team players, he needs to ease injured players back, so I would imagine he’ll use this game to give a run out to players he’s not sure about.
Dani Ceballos is the player lots of people have been whispering about. Since his first few games where he was electric, he’s massively lost his focus and belief. He was player of the U21 Championship, we know there’s huge potential, so the hope is that under a manager that can coach, communicate and plan, he’ll thrive. We could certainly do with his energy and enthusiasm heading into the back half of the season.
I also wondered if Pepe would start, just to keep some momentum going, and to up his under-fire fitness levels. Bielsa, who signed Pepe from Angers when he was at Lille, had this to say.
‘Pepe is a great player with big resources and is a goalscorer,’ said the Argentine ahead of a possible reunion with his former player with Leeds set to face Arsenal in the FA Cup at the Emirates on Monday evening.
‘And he’s a player who is able to unbalance a match. Obvious skills, then you have all of these skills in one player, the value is £72m. It’s just a matter of time and after, show those skills.’
Big words that I like to read.
Right, that’s enough for today. I’ll see you in the comments a bit later, check out the latest pod if you get the chance!