Well, here we are my darlings, another day of planning our way out of this mess. This will be a joy-scroll, buckle up, it’ll be fun.
So, let’s get the bad news out of the way. It’s not good times on the injury front for Thomas Partey. If he’s fucked the same thing he fucked before, he’s going to be out of contention for maybe 8 weeks. That would be a huge blow to the project. You can understand why Mikel and his team took the chance. A willing player and a shit situation, but the reality is, they took a huge risk on a game we weren’t likely to win. Short term thinking to save a sinking season. Now the ship is sunk, then gamble looks a poor one.
The shame is that Gabriel M will be back early. He safely passed through 45 minutes of football and he’s well on his way to the first team. A huge moment for the team. He is the exact profile of player you want to see Arsenal stock up on going forward. He’s young, he’s hungry, he’s terrifying because he works like a dog, he wants to grow with the team.
As we move into December, Mikel Arteta needs to reshape the way he operates. He needs to bin the players who let him down, even if they’re the good guys behind the scenes. The fragility in this squad is both attitude, and sadly, functional purpose to the system.
Thomas Partey exiting the starting 11 should not be another opportunity for players that have been given countless chances under countless managers. It’s time to try something new.
The most obvious candidate for a run in the side is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. I can not longer tolerate the idea that he isn’t the correct choice for our midfield. I have seen the others fail, I know what the best is with them, it’s time to give someone a career here and coach the bad bits out.
Ainsley has the correct athletic profile. We’ve seen him pocket Traore. We’ve seen him control City attackers. When he is on, he is something we don’t have in the squad at Arsenal. He’s mobile, he’s dynamic, he has an underrated passing range and he should be developed.
The mistakes Arteta has made are clear. He wanted to shortcut to the Champions League and he made bum decisions that should have been rectified by a strong Technical Director. David Luiz, Auba, and Willian were not good decisions. Thinking he could take a squad where the senior players were either dreaming of their retirement or Bosman signings was fanciful.
The first stage of rectifying bad phase in the workplace is to identify the biggest problems you have. I don’t think Mikel has looked at himself, I don’t think he has people in his staff that are correcting him, but if he wants to escape this moment, it’s time to admit where it’s going wrong.
If you put 100 problems up on a wall at Arsenal and found the core patterns, you’d land on:
- Senior players letting the club down because they don’t give a fuck on and off the pitch. Auba is in the mixer I’m afraid.
- The wrong talent profile of players to operate a coherrant system so it’s functional
- Young players not ready to hit the heights of the ambition the club promised in the summer
Now, clearly it’s an oversimplification, but I write a blog, I don’t run corporate workshops of beleaguered football clubs.
But solve those three problems and you steady the fanbase, you show true leadership by admitting your vision wasn’t right, and you give people a taste of where things are going in a lower pressure environment.
The young players aren’t ready.
That’s a major problem if you are kidding the world Arsenal will be more than a midtable side this season. If Arteta starts dealing in truth, namely, the squad he enabled for another season is not fit for purpose, we can move forward.
If he sets out a new plan, one that works to his strengths, the fans might buy it. Arteta is a great coach, he will work better with kids than senior players who don’t care for developing, so focus on the kids.
At this point, most of us would be over the moon if we shifted to a Hale-Enders project. Fuck the players that never change. Give me a kid that sees Arsenal as the biggest opportunity in their world. Fuck the players thinking about their retirement fund and unauthorised weekends away with Salt Bae. Fuck the player that think they are too good for Europa. We are tired of those that think their seniority and past achievements mean they don’t have to hit the required level.
Being honest gives Arteta permission to play the system he wants to play. Will it make top 4? No. Will we get spanked occasionally? Yes. Will there be days when we turn it on and everyone salivates? Absolutely. The mission here is to show the fans where the football could go when we bring in more quality players that can do the things required.
The Hale-Enders aren’t perfect, but they sure as hell give more of a shit than the preferred starting 11 on offer now. You think Balogun is going to fuck his chance to be a big player? You think ESR would be static when a midfielder breaks the lines from deep? You think Reiss Nelson isn’t going to bleed to be a part of Arsenal’s future?
I have consistently written about Arsenal not being honest about their situation over the years. We have constantly let our ‘rep’ get in the way of the rebuild. In messy business rebuild, you have to go to the bottom to build back up. The foundations need to be set properly. You need good process. Then you build the right talent density to move things up a level. You get some things right, some wrong, but if the mission is clear, your rectify mistakes early and move incrementally forward on a quarterly basis
Arsenal has been unwilling to do the hard work. So many of our decisions are half baked. Ivan goes? Give the job to two unqualified people. Sven Mislintat quits because he was horrified by the antics of a horror show of a Football Director. What do we do? We let that soiled director carry on and replace scouting expertise with a coterie of shite super agents. We then hire a Technical Director that arrived via a super agent. Hire an inexperienced manager, watch him do some great work, then PROMOTE HIM almost immediately to a manager on the same level as the Technical Director people don’t rate.
Wow… the banter of that paragraph was intense.
Arsenal do not like hard work. They do not like a plan. They cannot be honest about the path forward being hard, so they shortcut it over and over. The hardest thing to do in football is to admit to fans that things are going to be shit for a bit, to show patience, and commit to something that makes sense.
We should be re-upping Project Youth. Imagine that team with the spine we have now? We’d be a top 3 side.
Arsenal should move to a Dortmund+ model. Come to Arsenal, give us 3 seasons, we’ll give you game time at the best stadium in London, and we’ll make you famous. Then you can fuck off for £100m.
Sign athletes. Sign players that care more about self-improvement than money (Balogun is agitating for game time, not £90k a week). Sign players with high ceilings. Make Arsenal a destination for progressive football.
I would buy that vision. You would buy that vision. It’d be exciting. It’d allow us to get back to an identity. It’d bring in a new fanbase. It would mean when we do make the Champions League, we’d actually have a squad that could compete for it, not disintegrate because they were injecting themselves with horse placenta to make it to the team bus.
Strong leadership is needed to admit that what is going on right now is not taking us the promised land. We need a new direction. Tough decisions need to be made around staffing, players, and the hard work ahead. The only way Arteta gets back on track is to do something different. He fucked the summer, his ambitions were too big for his belly, his idea has no chance of success, he has to change that now and craft a path forward and save his career.
Time to roll up the sleeves. He can do it. Does he have the cajones to? Jury is out…
LISTEN TO OUR NEW PODCAST. Matt and I talk about the root cause of our issues. Leadership, hard work, and lack of strategy… still. We also talk some positives as well.