Here we are, like groundhog day, overseeing the wreckage of another defeat against a team we really should have beaten.
It feels like the project is over. It’s likely not, but I think football careers of managers at top clubs can deal with blips, but not mega craterings. We’re now in the end of days of Emery. There is no real clue how to stop us from losing, and the biggest mistakes of the summer are coming back to haunt us.
We are a top 5 team. We have top 5 players. We should be in the pack of clubs at the top of the league fighting it out every week, particularly this season. The fact that we are not doing that speaks to bad decisions.
Arteta started strong when he landed here, he had a nice little run of games. He played those that deserved minutes, he dropped those who did not, there was some sort of vision, and the players were into the process. Since then, we’ve seen Arteta slowly dismantle what he came here to do.
Mesut Ozil was dropped from 10 games on the bounce to a nobody… without a viable back-up plan. He wasn’t electric when he played, but we had a far better brand of football with him in the team and he was a threat.
He moved out arguably our best player of the back half of the season. Emi Martinez was a dominant force in the box and he perfectly represented the new meritocracy that was forming. We sold him in the summer and I’m sorry, I just don’t rate Leno that highly. The bigger message was that big performances didn’t seem to matter to the system. We also attempted to sell AMN, another breakout star, who is one of our best defenders.
We doubled down on a plan that hasn’t worked for three years. We gave Luiz a new deal, we broke the bank for Auba, and we signed Willian. Those three moves look tragic right now. All three spoke to yesteryears short-termist strategy that has consistently fallen short.
Those three areas of failure are badly impacting us now. They show a lack of planning, a misunderstanding of how far-reaching alpha boss moves could be, it shit on meritocracy, and it showed subservience to super-agents and undeserving older players.
The starting 11 yesterday was miserable. No creative players and no one who could score. The performance was much better. The system actually looked pretty decent at times. But that’s not enough. We are way beyond showing a bit of style to justify this car crash. We are in the depths of hell and it’s unclear anyone has the knowledge to get us out.
The problem is, if you fire Mikel, look at the talent replacing him. The guys that sat in a room and doubled a 32 years old wingers wages when he wanted to stay in London. The guys that allowed Ozil to be exited from the squad without a plan. The people that signed the cheque on William Saliba and said they’d be fine for him to rot for 6 months after a great loan spell.
The real move is a football CEO. You have Ralph Rangnick and Luis Campos out of work at the moment. The exec leadership equivalent of 2015 when Pep and Klopp were available. Older guys with a history of creating football player conveyor belts. Rangnick set up 4 clubs that all feed each other for a net neutral cost. He’s blooded young managers. He’s been written up in the New York Times as a visionary. The power move would be to accept that the three-point plan the club has is shite and being run by 3 people first jobbing. The honesty would be to stop dreaming of the Champions League Final in 3 years and to make the hard decision to accept the way back is a 5 year plan that should start this January.
Arteta has flunked out this season, he changed what was working, and he lost control. Don’t let yourself be convinced that he wasn’t helped along the way. Vinai and Edu gave him the keys. They didn’t lead when bad ideas were suggested. They indulged fantasies someone like Ralph Rangnick would have nixed. There simply aren’t many coaches in the world that could fix Arsenal without a proper structure. These players are failures. The club is borrowing window to window. The whole thing needs a rethink… otherwise, we’ll be back here in a years time pondering the same questions.
As for Arteta? It should be over. He can’t motivate his players. We aren’t hitting the target. He’s not moving the pieces fast enough to get a different output. It’s pretty dire. I don’t think he escapes this… and here’s the thing. The January transfer window is a reward for progress. Where is that progress? Which players are getting better? What does the xG say? What the fuck are we working towards?
If the idea is that we’re 1 creative player away from this side clicking, again, I think there should be an intervention.
The club might be better off ignoring January, getting in a caretaker who could resurrect the players we have, and seeing what a proper Football CEO could do for us over the next 5 months. We cannot allow a management team that is failing to keep adding to the mess with short-term panic signings. The next manager shouldn’t have to deal with another two windows worth of half baked attempts at resurrecting a style of football none of us are really convinced can take us to the promised land.
How utterly depressing I’m writing this after such a strong start to Arteta’s Arsenal career. The biggest lesson for me is that there are no rockstars in Premier League football these days. There are rockstar teams. We don’t have the support network in place to help managers thrive. Wenger, Emery, and now Arteta have all failed because of a lack of leadership… there are two options on the market that could help fix that, will anyone at the highest level recognize what we all see? I doubt it.
See you in the comments.