So, what shall we talk about today? Oh… squad lists.
Mesut Özil has been bombed from our Premier League squad list until February at the very least, but the chances are, that’s him finished forever at Arsenal FC.
It’s always a shame to watch someone push the self-destruct button on their career, and let’s be clear, that’s exactly what Mesut Özil has done to himself.
Most of his downfall is related to one thing… a lack of application. This is not an ability problem, he’s one of the most capable footballers to have lived. No, the issue is he simply doesn’t want to apply himself in 2020.
Arsene Wenger, the mollycoddler in chief, decided that he’d let him take tough away days off. Unai Emery knew the German wouldn’t do a shift, so he attempted to exit him in Jan 2019, then he lost his bottle, reinstated him, and his job shortly after. Freddie couldn’t stand him.
Then Mikel landed.
He knew what might happen because everyone at the club explained. After playing most of the games pre-lockdown, the old Mesut, lurking in the wings, reared his uninterested head. He apparently missed team Zoom calls, he didn’t do the homework the club set/tracked, and those ‘injuries’ didn’t go unnoticed.
Additionally, he didn’t play the game on the pay cuts, deciding that he’d need more info on how Arsenal losing £90m in gate revenue might affect the finances. Now, I doubt this was the main sticking point. Auba, Kola, and Mustafi were also apparently against the move. The problem, I think, is that when you are trying to build a united culture, having your most high profile player doing all of the earlier explained issues, plus not accepting a pay cut, can cause optics issues.
I know some people will say he was correct on the pay cuts. On reflection, sure, we fucked-up our restructure and the comms were atrocious. However, football is a team game. Mesut Ozil didn’t take the cut, the young players did. That might seem ‘clever’ to some, but the reality is, he just looked like a selfish individual while everyone else is pulled for the greater good.
Performance on the pitch was also a problem. He is not the same player he was 5 years ago. He’s a traditional #10 in a world that doesn’t allow for them. Andy Carroll managed more assists last season than Özil has managed in two. He simply doesn’t impact games in the way he used to. Remember, he went from blowing it up with Giroud, to tanking with… Auba. All his stats cratered.
A lot of people are trying to insinuate this move is about his righteous attack on the Chinese for their disgraceful treatment of the Uighurs. Again, I’m not so sure. He played games after that happened. This is a player that also had a brutal human rights abuser at his wedding. He also avoided blowback then as well.
He’s out because of football reasons. He doesn’t apply himself, he’d prefer to win cheap PR points than fight to get back in the team. The whole drama is just so fucking boring.
Arteta is trying to create a high-performance culture at Arsenal. One that we’ve lacked for years. People that work alone tend not to understand what goes into creating an elite team culture, which is why the beta male types that had it so absurdly wrong when it came to talents like, say, Arsene Wenger… still have it wrong with Mesut Özil. An artful quip does not make a good manager, just like a high salary and a ‘READY’ tweet does not make an elite #10 in 2020.
In a high-performance culture, every single cog in your machine needs to be at the very top of its game. Any weakness brings down everyone else. Mesut Özil is now a weak cog. He doesn’t think the rules apply to him. If Arteta gives him a pass, he gives everyone a pass, he loses authority, and performance levels dip.
Elite culture is about setting agreed standards, holding people accountable to them, and acting swiftly if people step out of line. We finally have a coach that will do that. Very few in elite level sport have been around a more extreme performance-driven setup than Arteta had been at Manchester City. He’s not guessing, he knows. So let’s trust that he has this covered.
What is clear is this: Arteta has to crack creativity. We need to find internal solutions. Willian has to look like value. Thomas Partey can’t simply be a defensive shield. We need our attack to progress, otherwise, the Öziltologists will start petitions and writers from the Crouch-End-Beyond-Meat-bacon-sarnie-set will start making poetic noises about our heathen manager that they’ll claim only goes to battle with barbarian pillagers. We can’t have that. Let’s hope Arteta can simply prove out that he was right by delivering us a ‘now’ solution that’ll lay to rest a miserable 3 years of Mesut Özil.
Right, see you in the comments.