Well, here we are, looking over a wrecked start to the season trying to work out if what we’re seeing is a disaster predicated on a severe mitigating circumstance or a mitigating circumstance that has given cover to a disaster already unfolding.
There are a few worries that I have post-Chelsea game and actually, one of them comes from reading Mike McDonald’s yesterday.
‘I saw Arteta refuse to address a simple tactical issue on Chelsea’s right and I saw what I fear will be his downfall, a lack of humility. None of this has anything to do with unfortunate circumstances.’
Mike put this down to stubbornness, which would be kind in my opinion. I had a different take. I think Arteta is far more similar to Jose Mourinho than any other manager out there. He’s very transactional by nature (bye bye Willian), he seems to be a bit of an egotist (falls out with everyone), and if he doesn’t get what he wants… he throws his toys out the pram (Brentford presser).
He’s also very, very intelligent. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t see Arsenal getting hammered down the left. It was so obvious, it almost looked like he let it happen to us to prove a point. That is a Jose tactic from back in the day, if he didn’t get his signings, he’d do something self-destructive to make a point, then he’d get his shopping list addressed.
It’s moves like that that kill me. That’s not ability, it’s immaturity. Same sort of carry-on before the Brentford game. That game was lost in the press conference and the behaviour that preceded it. That’s not ability, that’s maturity.
You can do things like that if you are delivering. Big coaches behave badly all the time. Pochettino had a massive sulk about the coach/manager position, refusing to wear a suit, but he had earned his stripes. This Arteta nonsense doesn’t hold weight with the fans, who let’s be honest, are at best neutral to him… and it shouldn’t hold weight with the club.
Having an obsession with being right is a bad trait. We let Arteta hire yes men around him. Children or people grateful for his gift of a job at a massive club. When you surround yourself with meh, you have to be so unbelievably good at your job, because when things go to shit, no one will tell you that you’re not wearing clothes.
William Saliba is doing a great job in Marseille at the moment. He has his own set of Ultras that own one of the most potent propaganda networks in world football. They are persuasive. It is getting desperately hard to not look at that loan and think it was all about Arteta. Do I think Saliba is controlling Lukaku at the weekend? No. But do I think he’d have grown from the experience and offered us more from the dismal Pablo Mari? Likely. Again, Saliba getting 3000 minutes this season will be major… but I can only accept those minutes going abroad if our back-up defenders don’t cost us points like they have in the last two games. A 28-year-old defender with beautiful hair getting rolled in our box was embarrassing, and that rankles fans, especially the Ultras. We had Pablo on loan, we watched him in training every day, we made that loan perm… and he’s not that good.
Arteta shouldn’t have leverage at the club, but he does, because we have weak leadership and a knee capped Technical Director. The calculation is quite simple from Arteta… are you really going to sack someone you just gave £130m? If you do, what are you going to bring to the club? The best Spurs could do was Nuno. The best Everton could do was Rafa. Who do you think we’re getting midseason? Antonio Conte… a chequebook manager, a demanding winner, a total lunatic, bad with kids? No chance. He’s not matched to our new vision. Graham Potter? Brighton paid £2m to release him, do you think their poker playing owner hasn’t thought about his release clause? We’d be hiring the type of nobody that rocks up on a boat with Raul, Edu and Kia in Monaco. I think that factors into how Arteta behaves.
The way I see it, the manager has 10 games to save his career, and I suspect he probably will.
- NCFC (h)
- Burnley (a)
- Spurs (h)
- Brighton (a)
- CPFC (h)
- AVFC (H)
- LCFC (a)
- Watford (h)
- LFC (a)
- NUFC (h)
We need to be extracting 23 points from that lot. Liverpool is probably a write-off, but at least we should have full complement of players to choose from. Spurs has to be a win. Leicester has to be a win. I cannot have Patrick Vieira bossing us with his new Palace side.
Things I’ll be looking for:
- This is Arteta’s squad now, so where is the better football?
- Can he make his players press intelligently for more than 6 minutes?
- Can he get on a run like post-Xmas
The key to any success for me is getting Auba back to his best. That’s why I was shocked to read yet more ‘Auba could go’ stories doing the rounds yesterday. It’s Arteta again. The player isn’t working out, so instead of making things better, he just wants to discard last summer’s toy. He’s like Donald Trump. Everything is zero sum. Who is holding him accountable? Which coach is the counterpoint to this?
His job is to get us back to 2 seasons ago Auba. A man who loved his football, who scored goals for fun, and lifted the fans. You can’t just bin him because you don’t fancy him.
Willian is about to exit. For me, it’s quite refreshing to have a player in the side on a big contract who actually wants to play football and actually reacts badly to being disliked by the fans. We’ll be exiting him, but no doubt picking up a huge chunk of his two-year deal, especially if he goes to Brazil. Who is being held accountable for this? No doubt Raul and Edu were pushing the player… but let’s not pretend Arteta wasn’t championing this guy and his special qualities.
There are also other exits lined up. Kola will leave to Turkey, Eddie will get his move to Palace, and Torreira is going to Italy.
We await a new on the right back… but dear lord, don’t let that player be a 31-year-old that’s been bombed off by an elite side. Do we ever learn?
We play West Brom a little later. We’ll have the chance to see Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale make their official debuts. We’ll probably see Tavares and some of the players that are around the periphery. It’s a must-win game whoever he puts out there. Sadly, I’m not looking forward to it… when your biggest backer is getting bored, you know you are in trouble.
Let’s see what he has, because the time for excuses is well and truly over.