Football managers do give us all a few giggles don’t they? Players too, I type, as Eric Cantona’s ‘seagulls, trawlers and sardines’ comment springs to mind. Arsene Wenger’s little battles with Mourinho, Fergie and anyone who cheesed the Frenchman off, were often the best, or worst depending on whichever way you look at it.
The only moment of possible happiness is the present. The past gives regrets. And future uncertainties. Man quickly realised this and created religion. It forgives him what he has done wrong in the past and tells him not to worry about the future, as you will go to paradise.” Arsene Wenger, speaking to L’Equipe in 2015.
I wonder if he truly realised just how much happiness his early days as Arsenal manager gave Arsenal fans, regret too in some ways because having witnessed the game his players played, what followed became pretty hard to watch. Perhaps that’s why he preferred not to look back.
Perhaps we fans shouldn’t look back either but it’s hard not too when football past is far better than football present as far as Arsenal goes. A long way back in the past. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time Arsenal strung a run of game’s together when the performances were good, regardless of the result.
Mikel Arteta has had nearly two years at the club now. He made a lot of changes as we’ve talked about before but it’s only now he really has a squad of his choice. Give or take a player or three. So is it time for us to stop looking back his Arsenal past and think about what might come?
Life brings you things and you cannot decide it. There are certain things that you cannot control. What is coming to you is coming for a reason. Sometimes we don’t want to see it, but it’s coming for a reason – and it’s probably for the right reason. Then it’s about how you take it and how you respond to that. The way that everyone around me responded is the way that I responded. That’s why it’s been fine. Mikel Arteta – AFC.Com
I’m not sure what he’s referring but if I had to guess, he’s talking about the challenges he’s faced as Arsenal manager. Injuries, Covid, players being punished when opposition players get away with worse, bad apples within the squad which he’s had to move on. He’s certainly had his fair share.
But as football fans, it’s easy to forget all of that for the ninety five minutes of a game. The promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ has been said too many times and yet here we are, sat with a dry old piece of toast with nothing to put on it because the jam has never arrived. Understandably, patience has worn thin after a few years of either disorganisation on the pitch, halfhearted performances, or sometimes both.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an Arsenal manager address the squad’s needs in a way Mikel Arteta and Edu did this summer. Specific players were signed to fill weakened areas rather than just signing someone because he’s available or because he’s been offered to the club by his agent. For a hefty fee of course!
If Mikel Arteta really is aiming for a particular style of football with a specific type of footballer, which is soon to produce much better performances on the pitch, then the 21 months of drab, boring football will have been worth it wouldn’t it? (FA Cup fixtures aside)
Quick fixes seldom give stability. It’s easy for a manager to throw money at a player for the here and now, a bit like Conte did at Chelsea only to be sacked soon after winning the PL. Fergie, even though retirement was close, he signed an ageing RvP because he wanted one more PL trophy. before he left. He got it but when he walked away, he left behind an ageing and unbalanced squad. When Arsene Wenger left, he too left behind an unbalanced squad which became even more unbalanced after Raul dabbled in the transfer market.
I know I’ve muttered, shouted even, ‘play to their strengths’ but that will only get a team so far. If there’s a new way, a new style, a new plan, something with longevity in mind instead of just tomorrow, it has to be implemented from day one. Otherwise, how does a manager find out who will or can fit into his long term plan? I think that’s what Mikel Arteta has done and our football has suffered because of it. I think that’s what the likes of Pep, Klopp, Conte etc have done but they’ve been able to go through the process quicker because they’ve either had the money or players to sell in order to raise the money they’ve needed to sign the right kind of players or their game plan. Which to a degree, Mikel Arteta has done over the 21 months and certainly this summer which is probably why he’s so optimistic about the future:
I can really see the light. I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time. I’ve seen the light and I can see bright lights. There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.
I’m not sure I share his optimism, certainly not yet but if he truly believes he finally has a squad of players who can play his way, whatever that way is, then the proof will be in the pudding so to speak. As said before, it’s pretty much his squad now so in some ways, last weekend was perhaps his day one of true judgment as all his new signings were available. I just hope for his sake, there are more bright lights than bumps over the weeks and months to come.
See you in the comments.