Spurs, the ultimate banter club are ruffling a few feathers this morning because they’re firing Nuno… which is amusing, if not a little sad… and likely hiring Antonio Conte, which is hard to pin down to a true opinion or set of expectations.
On the sad hand, you have one of the biggest winners in the game rolling up to our biggest rivals. He oozes eliteness. Even his wig is the best wig I’ve ever seen. He usually picks up trophies wherever he goes. He has a very simple approach that usually ends up delivering something. He picked up a Jose mess and turned it into a league win in year one with record points.
On the ‘maybe this isn’t quite it’ hand, you have some very difficult issues that rock star-ness would struggle with. Firstly, he’s a cheque-book manager. There’s a certain profile of squad he needs to do bits with. When he went to Chelsea, he had a great squad that had won things within distant memory. The culture at Chelsea was set. He just revved it up, gave it more rigour, and rolled with a formation no one could handle. It did go to shit though. His first season was unblemished, his second season saw him gain access to transfers, which he botched, he then went on to finish 5th… then he was sacked for falling out with everyone. He’s also a rock star. Rock stars bring the entourage. It cost Chelsea an extra £26m to bin all his staff.
Just on some of his transfers when he’s unleashed.
Usually, you map a manager to a profile of squad. Chelsea play a certain way, always have done (back then), so he fit the bill. What do Spurs have that works for him? Harry Kane, who wants out. A hodgepodge of middling players. I mean, it’s going to be really hard for him. Daniel Levy doesn’t like to spend money, that will cause friction, unless the plan is to sell Kane in January.
It’ll be interesting. I’m not sure how to think about it. This all feels a bit like PSG’s or United’s transfer window. Great on paper, but with a more mature eye on it, you are asking for a lot to go right with a character that is very, very volatile. Force of personality only goes so far in a league with a lot of money and a lot of elite managers and coaches.
With the best will in the world: Conte is a short term strategy. He doesn’t hang around. I honestly thing I’d have been more concerned about the direction of Spurs if they’d gone with someone like Ten Haag or Graham Potter and invested in a longer-term vision. Remember, this is the second time in 3 years we’ve all been worried about a manager that plays tough football with a winning vision can do at Spurs.
So we’ll see.
Newcastle are also chasing down Unai Emery for their vacancy. Quite a nice role for him. Moving a team from 19th to anywhere higher is going to be a win there. I suspect he’ll get a better Sporting Director to work with and he’ll be funded to buy the players he wants. His job would be to make Newcastle hard to play against. If he can implement what he does in Spain, he’ll be in good shape, so we’ll see there.
However you look at it, the Premier League is getting better outside the top 4 clubs.
So what about Arsenal?
Well, we have a different approach to getting back to the top. We’re rolling with Project Premium Youth. So far, it’s looking like that reengineering of our vision this summer could be a sharp move. It should have happened a year prior, but there you go.
We’re 3 points off top 4 in November. If you’d told anyone that at the start of the season, before the 3 losses, they’d have bitten your arm off for that sort of progress.
It’s important, when we’re on a bit of a run, to temper expectations.
This squad is still very young. It is threadbare to a certain extent, one or two injuries and we’re in trouble. This sort of form will not last.
When I read people say ‘NOW ARTETA HAS TO DO THIS EVERY WEEK’ it kind of makes me laugh, like the only way people can tolerate this operation is if we win every week.
This is the time to accept that things are going to dip again. This is the time to understand that young players have to learn to deal with adversity. This is the time to remember that the support we give to the players in the downtimes is more important than the support we give when we’re doing well.
Elite level sport is about confidence. When you are winning, everyone wants to be your mate. When things go to shit, you need people to dig you out of it. That’s why the fans in the stadium have been so good this season. Their support, it would seem, has been unconditional. Which is a testament to the performances and the scouting… and also the maturity of the people watching. They feel something special is brewing because we’ve been here before with young players with big personalities.
We have to deal with Watford this week, which will be tough for many reasons… but mostly the concern of complacency that can come with a run.
Post-break, we’re going to be in a fight. Liverpool right after the International break is going to be beastly. They are an awesome outfit. What we have learned this season is if you show them no respect, you can rattle them. Brighton could have won at the weekend. How do you deal with Liverpool? Play through their press, make them ask questions of themselves, play with confidence. Reads well on paper, but let’s be real, we have shown far too much respect to City and Liverpool the last two seasons. It’s time to have a crack at them.
If we go there with our best team, we’ll hopefully put up more of a fight than we did against City and Chelsea earlier in the season. Everyone will have to be on their game in that run out.
Right, short post today, jump on the video or the podcast and have a damn fine hour or so listening to a joyful chat between Gooners.