That was the beginning of the end of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal career.
I was wrong about him. He let us all down. There’s little chance he recovers from this, and that’s coming from me, his biggest fanboy.
The young ‘manager’ had it all and he blew it. It’s not all his fault, but when you demand full responsibility, go out of your way to bolster your own power, then boy do you have to deliver. He helped create the ingredients of his own failure. Shame on Arsenal for allowing it, but there we are.
The Villareal loss was sickening for many reasons, but mostly because they aren’t very good and nor is their manager. We were totally schooled by Unai fucking Emery. That is humiliating.
Core issues from the game last night will be kept punchy and short.
Arteta doesn’t have a back to basics function. When he’s struggling, his default seems to be to show the world how clever he is. A week after embarrassing himself by opting for a kid as a false #9, he went for Thomas Partey pivoting the entire midfield. He made us play out of the back with Hector and Holding in his defence. He gave the gloves to Leno, who wants out. He fucked the entire structure with his forwards to the point where all our best creators could barely muster a shot on target over TWO legs.
Our players aren’t the best, but that squad could easily finish top 4. We’ve seen them go to war in big games and hold their own against the best. Against Villareal, they were petrified. It was pathetic how meek we were. That comes from one person… Arteta. Whatever he’s up to behind the scenes, it’s demotivating the players and putting doubt in their minds. There was no belief they had what it took. You knew no goal was coming yesterday, you could feel what the game was going to be like after minute 5, that is shameful.
Arsenal is a boring proposition. There’s literally nothing to our football. No style, no identity, no plan for where the game is going. We were utterly bland. We have been for weeks. This project is 18 months in and all the good bits we were seeing have gone. We can’t defend, we can’t attack, we’re a total mess… but the main thing for me, we’re really boring. Villareal in a semi-final should be exciting, it wasn’t, it was a really painful 90 minutes. Arsene Wenger, with that side, would have absolutely crushed them. Sad to say it, but so would Unai Emery.
The project is now over. Arsenal can give him a summer, they can bury their heads in the sand, but the reality is… this manager nicked his jugular last night and he’s bleeding out.
There’s money available for sure. Edu and Arteta are planning a big summer. Josh and Vinai should put a stop to it and remove both of them before they do any more damage to the club.
Edu will not have a good plan. It’ll be a bang average unimaginative offering that’ll waste another year. The two of them have appalling taste in players. Neither knows how to implement ideas. They have not earned the right to have another crack at it. Vinai is embarrassingly weak though, he’ll happily blow through another £100m of average because it’s the easy decision, he’ll let Arteta run the team into the ground again, then hire Roberto Martinez to fix the mess.
… and that does sound negative, I agree. But Arteta brought this on himself. That shit performance last night will stick hard with the players. They’ll know he’s on thin ice now, so if things go against Arsenal next season, the boys will absolutely down him just like they did under Emery.
Arsenal needs to move on Arteta now because he’s not going to save this. Too much is broken. The training ground is not a happy place. Arteta was given Wenger power without the receipts, and he blew it. He was allowed to hire average yes men around him and now he’s paying the price with a lack of know how. His goalkeeper coach is despised, that’s why Leno’s form has tanked and he wants out. Arteta’s contribution? He sacked Sal Bibbo and sanctioned Runarsson. Has he addressed the issue at all? No. He put his hire over one of our best players in the same way he favoured Willian over the kids. Why? His ego. Steve Round was the guy who worked with Moyes when he crashed United, hardly the future of football you want to cushion a rookie coach. What has his input been to tame Arteta’s weaknesses? Are our setpieces better with a specialist coach? Have our subs got better? Do we rotate well to protect players? Do we pick players based on merit? Do our stars look fit or motivated? Is anyone dying out there for the cause like they were last season?
The answer to those questions is no.
Time and investment is a reward for progress. We do not have anything to show on that front. The club now needs to act ruthlessly to protect the limited resources on offer.
Edu is a terrible technical director, just look at his record. He’s not a leader, he has no new ideas, he doesn’t know how to extract value from the market, and he will do bad things this summer with the guilt money he’s been given by our owners. He’s just a footballer who looks nice in a suit, yet a £2b valued organisation is going to trust him to strategise us out of this hole after he gave Willian a 3 year deal on £250k a week? Are you KIDDING ME. No, I’m not. Vinai is so weak, he’d rather promote Arteta to shield a massive error, than grow a pair and address the elephant in the room. There is ZERO leadership at Arsenal. I cannot say it loud enough.
Arteta cannot be trusted as a manager. He signed off Cedric and Willian. He crashed Thomas Partey. He made Auba a 10 goal a season striker in his prime. He benched Martinelli over and over again… and played Willian. He leaves Balogun at home and goes for two sub keepers. He binned William Saliba. Chose Leno over Martinez. All of these decisions made a difference to our shocking season.
When you have trophies and top 4 you can get away with these moves. When you fail like this, it shines a dark light on your limitations.
This failure could have been avoided. The job of a CEO is to build teams capable of competing. Vinai found a talented young coach then let him rot in a Petree dish of power. He should have hired him a complimentary technical director that could support his weaknesses. He should have controlled who the team around him was and put limitations on what he could do. He should have resisted the weird urge to promote him after 6 months.
… but he didn’t.
Therein lies the problem. We have a CEO who takes the easy option, every single time. He didn’t move fast enough to recognise the things Arteta needed to succeed. That should have been the job of the Technical Director, but Vinai already knew he was bad, hence the demotion last season. There is no one man fix in 2021 for the problems we have as a club. If Arsenal move on Arteta, they have to get serious and realise that the problems went way beyond just him.
… but we can talk about that another day.
I’ll be back with better thoughts later, but while you’re here… listen to The Arsenal Opinion podcast with Johnny and Matt.