Well, yesterday marked yet another tumultuous day of back and forth over the most boring saga in football. Mesut Özil dropped a statement in the morning and played up that he felt hurt, betrayed, and sad. All fair comments, no professional footballer wants to be cut from the team, especially not a World Cup winner playing in a drossy team that barely makes the Europa League qualification places.
It was starting to look like Arsenal had lost control of the narrative. The bit in Özil‘s statement when he mentioned ‘humanitarian work’ was designed to whip up his base into assuming that the fix was in… Arsenal loved Chinese Yen and Vinai was a union buster that dealt out punishment to non-pay-cut-taking-slags.
We shouldn’t have worried. Mikel Arteta put on a masterclass in leadership, dropping one of the most candid, honest, and clear ripostes to the biggest crisis of his managerial career to date.
Here’s what was smart… he simply reiterated the same message he has from day one. He has set high standards for the squad, if you don’t meet those standards, you will not be part of the plans.
‘I have to see on a daily basis, the input, the performance and what every player brings to the team, and from there I make the decision.’
The message was clear, Mesut Özil is not delivering what is expected or needed. This was a footballing decision and it all focused around one of the greatest players of a generation not applying himself to the Mikel Arteta standards of 2020.
He also did what all great leaders do… he absolutely owned the decision.
Honestly, I take full responsibility. I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It’s my responsibility and again, it’s nothing related to anything, any behaviour or things like I read, like the pay cuts. It’s not true, it’s my decision. If someone has to blame me, and that will happen when we lose football matches, it’s my responsibility. I have to make the decision to get the best possible squad out there to win football matches and competitions as often as we can. In order to do that, I try to be fair with him and with any other players in the squad to defend, as much as possible, the interests of the football club.
Remember a babbling Unai Emery blaming the exec team for dropping Mesut? Pathetic and something the players noted. No one likes a weak leader. That sort of carry-on is why things went very south for him when he reintroduced the German into the side. Arteta has avoided looking like a beta male, even through crises of creativity.
Truth is, our manager held a lot back. He could have gone into detail. He could have shared granular incident reports and gone toe-to-toe. He could have rolled brand MÖ10 under the bus, but he didn’t, and that was classy. He also didn’t shy away from how he saw the decision.
I feel that at the moment, today, that I’ve failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team. In some moments I was able to get close to that but in other moments I haven’t been able to because I had to make the decision to leave him out of the squad.
Trying to get Mesut Özil purring again was always a big ask. We’ve been through it so many times before. He starts off well, then he slips into a footballing depression, then things go south. I had high hopes that Arteta could change his ways, like he did for other players that were flops, but at the heart of it, if the desire is not there, it doesn’t matter how good at coaching you are, you’ll never get a turn.
As my good friend Alfred from the podcast said to me… he dealt with this like a founder of a start-up. Direct, straight to the point, with care and compassion.
The overall message though was not about the player, it was to ask the fans to trust that this decision was made with the best interests of the team at heart. Everything he does is about putting Arsenal back on top of the game. That’s all you can ask of a leader.
I’ve seen some of the melt brigade disgracing their ‘support’ online by calling Arsenal classless. Please. This decision wasn’t 6 weeks in the making, it’s been coming for 4 years. This was the humane way to do things. The club has been honest with the player, they offered him a way out, and they’ve tried to negotiate his contract termination like they did with Mikhi. It’s interesting that the cuck collective of our fanbase, those who actively seemed to enjoy the years of decline under Wenger, are now up in arms we have a ruthless manager that is trying to build out a winning vision. Let’s take their outrage as a positive. There was nothing more depressing than hearing us become the home of ‘well, you are spoilt, we don’t have a right to trophies’ rhetoric. Weak sauce is not the condiment of choice for the 2020 era.
It hasn’t just been the weirdoes in our fanbase crafting terrible defences of a player who doesn’t care. We saw Gary Lineker explayer-splain to Piers Morgan that you can’t exit a player under contract, like we don’t have a transfer window dedicated to that exact process. Jack Wilshere weighed in saying Mesut is our best player and that professionals just want to play… again, Mesut could have left and wasn’t short of offers. All these folk have an axe to grind and that is fine. Though the reality is simple, if Mesut Özil was playing the maximum of his ability, he’d be in that squad right now and he’d be starting.
So that’s it, the Özil chapter is closed. We can all move on now because it is finished business. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go on a free in January. He will 100% not be playing for the club again. It is done.
A sad end to a story that could have been so promising… but it’s the best for Arsenal FC. As fans, we now we have to back where the club is going. There is a short, medium, and long term vision. It will be tough at times, the success won’t come overnight, but I tell you… there’s not a better young coach in the game that could be taking us on this journey.
Let’s look toward the positives. We’re no longer a banter club. This was a strong decision that put sporting excellence at the front of the queue. We have Bukayo Saka tied to Arsenal, an immense young talent hungry to impress. We have Gabriel Martinelli coming back into the fold, an explosive player tied to a long term deal. We have Thomas Partey earmarked for a debut tonight, the Patrick Vieira type midfielder we’ve missed since we sold the Frenchman. We have Auba, we have Gabriel, we have Kieran Tierney… we have a lot to be excited about.
So ignore the negative vibes. Let’s kick on and have a great season! But first, let’s crush Rapid Vienna. x