Morning all.

A little snippet from Arsene Wenger:

When you are a manager and you have a star in your team, for you, he is not the star, he is a player. But for the outside, he is a star. But he has a power in the team, in the dressing room. He influences other people. When you have the best player on your side, he makes you stronger. When he is against you, in the dressing room, you will lose the battle. You have to treat him a little bit specially. But without giving him too much power. He has to understand there is a level you are not ready to compromise anymore. And people are like that – when you are at the top level, they want the power. And, at some stage, you have to fight against that.

 

Sometimes I had, in some moments of my career, put my job on the line by leaving the best player out, because he was too strong and too demanding. And then you have to not compromise and put the interests of the club above that. It is a subtle game, but I would say that the basic is respect – because you need to respect your players – love and communication.

Honestly, I can’t remember Arsene Wenger leaving many so called “big names” out of his teams over the twenty odd years he was at Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez popped into my mind but that’s about it. Nicklas Bendtner was hardly a big name whilst at the club but perhaps his ego was the problem. Mesut Ozil was probably the biggest name Arsene signed during his second ten years at the club and it’s fair to say he had an ego too but there weren’t many occasions when he was dropped. But, I am relying on my memory which isn’t brilliant.

I understand what he’s saying though, there are footballers who get a bit too big for their boots. Players who live off of what they once did rather than what they’re doing at the time. A team sport needs team players and not individuals who think they’re better than the rest regardless of whether they are or not. Players who think they just have to turn up at training or on a match day and their job is done. Christiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest names in world football and I imagine his ego is bigger than my home, yet 99 times out of 100, he delivers on the pitch.

Mikel Arteta inherited a few who seemed to have big egos but weren’t performing on the pitch. Ozil and Aubameyang spring to mind as well as Mustafi and Kolasinac, who if their accounts were genuine at the time, voiced their opinion on Twitter. Certainly in relation to Ozil. Emi Martinez hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory when it comes to talking about his old club so it might just be that his boots had got just a little bit too big for him. But, he’d performed really well during Arteta’s first six months and was key to us winning the FA Cup.

Big egos isn’t just something we see in football though. Cricket has been full of sports men and women who have something about them and in order to become great, one needs that in my opinion. The late great Shane Warne, Ian Botham, Freddie Flintoff, Ben Stokes In tennis, John McEnroe, the Williams sisters, Martina Navratilova and Ilie Nastase, the list is endless. It was the ‘edge’ to them which separated them from the rest. I prefer to call them characters. Remember Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the USA womens football team. Egos galore but as a team, they were one of, if not the best.

If a club wants the best players, I think they have to accept there’s a good chance that at some time in their career, they’ll need to be ‘managed’ differently to the rest. Either that, or do what Fergie did with Beckham, Utd should have done with Pogba, Chelsea might have to with Lukaku, every club at some stage has with Mourinho and of course, Mikel Arteta has done at Arsenal with Aubameyang and Ozil. No player or manager is ever bigger than the club they work for.

Mikel Arteta has just two and a half seasons of football management on his CV. He says all the right things to the media and the fans but, how does he manage people, footballers who have won more in one season than he did in his entire career? Players who have played under some of the best managers in the game or even just managers who’ve forgotten more about the job than Mikel Arteta has had chance to learn? In the real world it must be like an apprentice on his first day out of university, telling you or I how to do a job we’ve doing successfully for the last ten years because someone thought it was a great idea to make him your/my boss. That isn’t a recipe for success is it?

That in my opinion, is why Arsenal as a club, has gone down the younger player route. It can’t be cost, because the club blew £50m on a player we could have survived without had William Saliba stayed at the club and whilst I know Odegaard, Lokonga, Tomiyasu, Ramsdale and Tavares didn’t exactly break the bank, they weren’t cheap either. Not what I would call cheap anyway. Lol

Also, if the club really are swimming in penny pinching waters, how could it afford to let players go when their contracts hadn’t expired? Why would younger players with potential be allowed to leave so freely? It doesn’t add up in my head. Why would it sell Emi Martinez for £20m only to then go and spend more on another keeper to replace the one which Martinez could, and probably should, have replaced in the first place? Why do the club have so many senior players on loan yet our squad was so small, it ultimately cost us a top four finish?

What’s going to happen with William Saliba this summer? Daniel Ballard, Flo Balogun, Charlie Patino, Omar Rekik, Reiss Nelson, Jordan McEneff, Omari Hutchinson, Zak Swanson etc etc? Sold, loaned out, given away? For what, yet another young player with ‘potential’ from overseas? Just because Vincent Kompany thinks one of his kids is good, or Thierry Henry for that matter, it doesn’t mean they are, or will be.

Surely we have enough younger players of our own to nurture?

Update – Mo Elneny has signed a new contract. He wants to end his career at Arsenal he says. Excellent news.

I’ve rambled on a bit, sorry, but I feel better for it….