Crisis usually brings you closer to the truth in football. When shit hits the fan, people on the inside leak out the dirty secrets. Players bitch to agents. Coaches whine to journalists. Directors call up Arabic ITKs to brief against their staff.
Arsenal right now is in a crisis worthy of leaks.
Everyone is second-guessing the process, the recruitment, the moves we took to rocket launch back to the top. It’s all on the table right now because we have a brand new team of fairly junior players trying to rebirth Arsenal.
The leadership at Arsenal has been fumbling for the last 4 years to get a footing on a club in freefall. The Kroenke’s rested on their laurels and didn’t recognize that Wenger was past it and that investing in a busted coach would eventually lead to a very steep decline. We’re still at the mercy of some of his decisions, the remnants of his signings still haunting the setup. Arsenal has tried a host of ways to reimagine the post-Wenger Arsenal and they’ve all failed. The latest iteration showed early signs of promise, but the half-baked approach to summer, because of financial constraints, has left the club in shite football purgatory.
We’re trying to cycle out the deadwood, bed in new first-team talent, blood youth, reinvent scouting, cull the wage bill, survive the pandemic, and work towards an exciting brand of The Arsenal Way football.
It was always going to be tough this season. There’s no stability anywhere. Even our BoD has swirled.
Stories are now swirling around relationship strains.
I told you way back when that rumblings would start to happen around Edu. Those started yesterday when Kike Marin said the two of them are not getting along. He indicated that the stronger candidate normally survives those battles, alluding to that being Edu… I think he’s way off base here.
Now, I don’t know that the two of them have had a falling out. I do know that there have been question marks over Edu since he arrived. Let’s be honest, he was a curveball hire when he took the job after Monchi said ‘no thanks.’ His actions since he’s arrived don’t speak to a man of independence. He was on the books of Kia and he happily ate the slop he was fed at great expense to Arsenal. He was the right-hand man of Raul and happily gave the technical credibility to some of the worst transfers of the last 5 years.
Two contracts for Luiz. A 4 year deal for Soares. Pablo Mari. Willian on a 3-year deal at 32. All of the super-agent variety. That can of course be partly countered by bringing in both Gabriel’s and Thomas Partey. But overall, the picture looks grim. Made even grimmer when Vinnai sat him in a garden and made him tell the world he was happy about being demoted to the same level as a rookie manager with less than a year under his belt.
Hardly a lot of leverage going on there if you’re talking performance.
Then factor in Arteta going to town on DAZN. He basically went public to assure the fans he’s not a football terrorist, he’s just working with a busted squad. His latest PR tactical masterclass was to tell the media he wants an attacking 4-3-3, but he’s SIX players away from that. Holy mother of Jesus… what a thing to drop a few days out from a North London Derby. Peak Mourinho, except when Jose eviscerates his players, he’s usually got a billion-dollar squad to keep him going until the cash flows.
Now, the flip side of that sort of carry-on could be that he knows KSE is going to invest in January, so he’s keeping us tuned into his thinking, namely 1) he knows the squad is shit 2) they are fixing things. Either way, it seems a huge risk to take with a mentally weak squad of players known for downing tools.
He’s not wrong though. Think about the things he can’t say publicly.
He has 6 or 7 players in the squad, that are senior, that are not being offered new deals, that will be gone next summer. How fast was creepy Keith from accounts processing your expenses when he handed in his notice? Imagine his slowball mentality in elite level sport. The players going are BIG personalities as well. Have you ever been at a company with directors that are toxic? They can bring you down man. Players that know they are shit and know that their next deals will be half what they earn now. Ouch.
Arteta had a shite midfield when he picked up the squad last season, but he got a turn out of them. This season, it became pretty apparent, pretty fast that Xhaka was taking a backseat in the new world. He knows there’s no future, now he’s bumming around in the midfield like he was in the bad days. You think that’s a coincidence? He’s not the main man. He’s not interested again.
Arteta also made two huge bets last summer. He invested £500k a week in Willian and Auba. Both have been utterly shite. Conte and half the Chelsea fans could have told you Willian was a waste of money. A fair few of us wondered about re-signing Auba. But that’s what Arteta and Edu thought was right and so far it looks, so, so wrong. The on-paper logic was there, but Arsenal history was NEVER favouring those deals working out.
I was once told that if you really, really pursue an objective, like, live and breathe it – when you finally achieve it – the win can really impact you negatively. You can go into a deep depression. I don’t know what the psychological term for it is, but you are basically mourning the loss of an objective like you’d mourn the loss of a pet dog. There are a LOT of players that play well for the deal, sign it, then go off into a funk. Auba looks like he’s there. He looks shot. Lost. Without purpose. It’s sad, but maybe that’s it? Bale. Adebayor. Theo (lololol).
Whatever is happening, it’s all going wrong for Arteta at precisely the wrong time. He’s never dealt with pressure like this and he has to find a way out. I’m not sure shitting on his squad / the way the club has done business was the correct approach. Excuses are not cool.
… but at least he’s confident that something will happen in January. I just hope it’s not Christian Eriksen. That’s not how you get back to the top. Signing the blonde-haired version of Ozil would be criminal. Edu should not be allowed to keep investing in past-it players that other clubs don’t want. If there was true leadership at Arsenal, someone would just say, ‘guys, no fucking way. Mikel, here are some elite young players, go do some generational coaching.’
Shooting for Champions League football with bum signings in Jan is sooooooo 2017. If we’re spending, we should be spending on players that have a future. Players that will hit peak in 3 years time. Then we’ll be left with a squad that can compete for years, not 1 year, then everyone leaves and we go back into the same cycle.
Arteta and Edu need to get back to basics. Elite young talent. Tell the fans we’re clearing out the shit players and we’re starting again. Don’t tempt us with top 4 dreams then inform us in November you thought HALF the starting 11 wasn’t up to it.
The ride just got a little bit rougher people. The honesty should have come in the summer. All this moment shows is there’s no one at the club truly leading. The glow of the FA Cup final win should not have allowed so many players back into the mixer. We should have binned the deadwood at the peak of their powers, not indulged one last job for the boys. We rode into this season on emotion, not data and facts. That’s not good enough. That is the type of nonsense fans engage in, not handsomely paid execs.
What. A. Mess.
The banter years were never gone, they just waited in the wings, as always.
How very fucking Arsenal.
See you in the comments.