Well, I threw my toys out of the pram yesterday. Nothing like a Spurs loss to really bring the emotions out. Today, we get back to the mission… which is like, you know, a win or something.
Things aren’t great for Arteta. He can’t hide behind many excuses, though clearly, there are some. I think the theme that has come via the interesting criticism is that the biggest mistake of his tenure thus far has been enablement.
He came into a mess, he knew the stories, but he still backed the bums who always let the managers down.
He also threw his name on the strategy deck of short-term fixes, one he should have recognised was tainted badly by history.
His biggest mistake was to stand by ideas that have failed since 2014.
Is he a bad coach? No.
Is he finished at Arsenal? No.
Can we turn things around? Yes.
The journey was always going to be rough, maybe I didn’t expect it to be this rough, but still… this is a big job that requires more than one man to contribute value if it’s to be completed on time and in full.
Something has to change though, and I think there’s a pretty clear consensus amongst fans, explayers, and pundits on what that needs to be.
The season is more than likely over in the Premier League. We’re not competing for top 4 now. We’re playing for a respectful finish and some improvements in January. Arteta needs to front up about the season and he needs to look to the future. He tempted us with top 4 knowing we were 6 players short of what was needed. That’s quite the porky to tell the fans, now he has to rectify the lie, be honest, and tell us what IS possible. Get it out the way, no bullshit or protecting feelings.
One of the biggest things you learn in management is that it does not matter how likable someone is, if they are shite, they will ALWAYS let you down.
Now, I’m not talking about kids. I’m talking about experienced people that have entrenched behaviours and clear patterns in the way they operate when the pressure is on. Mental weakness never turns to strength. Laziness can shift into a blip of good behaviour, but always, the bad self waits in the wings. Character… well, that is set in stone. It’s even worse if a collection of bad characters form the backbone of a culture at a football club.
That is where Arteta is with this project right now. He thought he had fixed it with his cup win. He was wrong.
He has been burned for enabling. Now he has to draw insights from the wounds, formulate a simple plan forward, then implement it with brute force.
We have spent 7 years watching the club shuffle in ‘experience’ that just doesn’t have what it takes to deliver over the course of a season. The biggest letdowns are the big names. Most of them aren’t on Arteta. They are the responsibility of past managers, CEOs, and sporting directors. Two of them, Auba and Willian are on Arteta, but there is still hope there.
Xhaka, Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz and Lacazette aren’t cutting it and there needs to be consequences. It’s time to move on them. Make a statement. It’s time to accept that these guys will always, always, always let you down in the end.
Arteta came in like a fireball of logic and pragmatism… he played those that deserved it, dropped those that were shite. So simple. Where did that approach go? How can you soil your own non-negotiables so badly?
It needs to change. The big names need to be treated the same as the smaller names. Bad performances on and off the pitch must have consquences.
On paper, they aren’t up to the level. We know that. However, they work hard, they are all athletes, and on a good day, they make the system look like a system.
Arteta doesn’t like using them because they make mistakes. Well Mikel, so do the senior player that have us sitting in 15th.
AMN is the legs in midfield we don’t have. Reiss Nelson has the power and pace we don’t have out wide and he’s at the very least hungry. Eddie will doggedly press, he surpassed Shearer’s record for the U21s. Maybe ESR could offer more mobility to that #10 role we put Lacazette into. Could Balogun be any less interesting than what we have going on right now? If we like lobbing long balls into the box, Moller just landed player of the month for the U23s. At least he’s big.
If Arteta is honest with the fans, then the Hale-Enders approach is easier to implement. Fans know that we’re shit now. Our season went with Thomas Partey hobbling off. I think we’d all prefer to see the kids have a crack at doing something interesting. At least they’d care. At least they’d improve.
PLAY TO WIN
Arteta needs to do what works with players that give a fuck. He doesn’t need to play Pep-lite football. He doesn’t need to appease our every whim (irony of me listing three ways he can fix the football is not lost on me). He does need to give us footballers that look like they care.
If 4 at the back doesn’t work, then play 3 and ignore the whinging.
If Auba is best out wide, leave him there, the player wasn’t complaining.
If 10 games in a row will make one of the kids ready for the league, let’s do it and enjoy watching a team grow together.
The current approach of rolling out a transition system that the senior players aren’t interested in playing is really, really not clever.
Get back to what worked last season. Hungry players putting on a show even if it was disgusting to watch. A death spiral can be arrested. Miserable players can be brought back to life. You can get a 10 game run out of this squad. This can be better.
We need some magic and a lot of hard work. Let’s see what Mikel has because he’s not going anywhere.