As I made my usual walk towards Uxbridge tube station this morning I started to think about Arsène and how much he has fallen from the pedestal that I put him on in my mind. I started to think about how a man who I once hoped could manage us forever, is now a guy who I think it is time to move on with. I am ready for change and the season just gone was a key part of that. Not even for the final league position or poor performances, but for the predictability of the way the season played out. We’d all seen this record before and the music was starting to grate on us.
But as I walked towards the station I started to think “what could he actually do to change my thoughts and feel like he isn’t just doing this again for another two years because he doesn’t know anything else and is no longer doing it for the club but for himself?”. I started to wonder what it could be to turn me back in to a person who thinks he knew what he was doing and wasn’t just acting on selfish means. There are some on either side of the Wenger divide who will argue that there is nothing that can sway them either way. For those people whose belligerence clouds their very view of Arsenal football club I feel sorry for. Because either way their own myopia prevents them from having logical and reasoned argument. Their view is no longer about the good of the club but for their own narrative. Whether they are extreme ‘for’ or extreme ‘agin’ they are blinded by Arsène and that takes away from their ability to try to enjoy football.
To be fair, I think there are very few that are one way or the other, in the extreme sense I mean. Right now I am somebody who thinks the manager should go, but because he is the manager of Arsenal and I want Arsenal to do well, I retain the faintest of slithers of hope that somehow the planets align and Arsenal are successful.
So I started to wonder what Arsène could do to turn me back in to a fan of his. And I came to some conclusions. These are in chronological order and certainly not in importance order.
Have a good summer. Quickly.
I don’t want to hear about mega bids that fail. I don’t care how we go about finding talent for next season. All I care about is that Arsenal are in prime position to start the season with a squad that is better than last year in personnel. That means signing new deals with Alexis and Özil or if not, just getting them out quickly and replace them the second they are out of the door. The players who have stagnated need to be swiftly moved on to make space for new acquisitions and like we all felt in January when very few people were clamouring for new signings because we thought the squad was good enough, we need to have that same feeling come 6th August when the Community shield takes place.
What does Arsène have to do? Act swiftly and have all player questions answered by Mid July.
Demonstrate he can change by mixing up his coaching staff and getting better at rotation.
All of the top teams rotate now, from a positional and tactical sense, through to a playing staff sense. They all know that if you’re at the top of the division (nobody calls it that any more, do they?) then you’re likely to be playing more games and more than likely it’ll be 50 to 60 in a season. So you need to learn when to rotate and rest players. Games at home in the cup are ideal, games like Everton, Stoke, West Brom, etc (I’m not saying he did that this season, just using as examples), are not.
Arsène needs to learn that to keep his players fresh, but he also needs to be able to switch formations and set ups against opponents so that we are either more solid and harder to break down, or are more fluid and top-heavy if we’re going for a win at home against a newly promoted side, for example.
He needs to have fresh ideas around him. He needs people who will challenge him and give him some ideas. He doesn’t have to be the one who thinks of everything. Many heads are better than one.
What does Arsène have to do?
What does Arsène have to do? Bin off some of the old guard. Demonstrate he’s willing to change and show that he’s ruthless. He wants to win the league? He has to mix things up in his coaching team as well as the playing staff.
Update: I’ve just read Arseblog News and seen the rumours of new deals for all of the backroom coaching team. Sigh. So much for fresh ideas there.
Win the league.
Ha, easy, right? I know this might be the least achievable of all of the things that will turn me, but actually it’s the one which kind of trumps all. If we have a shocking summer but win the league, I couldn’t give a monkeys who is in the squad and how much they cost, because winning the league would catapault Arsène back into my good books and he’d have climbed straight back on to the pedestal I put him in my mind.
I am an Arsenal fan. I just want to see Arsenal win things. Everything else is just noise. Would I have taken fourth for the FA Cup? Never in a million years. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever. I want Arsène to be the bringer of an even greater memory, which would be to see Arsenal win the league.
What does Arsène have to do? Find a way to be better than all of the managers in the league. Out-think, out-smart and our-motivate Pep, Jose, Pochettino and Conte. Consistently over a 38 game season.
Change his setup to prepare for a new man.
Then, if we’ve won the league, I want him to start the preparation with Ivan to hand over the reigns. Hey, if he won the league in the next two seasons then maybe I’d be wondering whether he get a new deal, but even then we’d still need to be in a position whereby we’re ready for transition. Because he ain’t going on forever. So he needs to work with Ivan on delivering a structure ready to appoint a new manager, because it’s clear the current board have absolutely no idea how to do that.
What does Arsène have to do? Help to convince Ivan to get football people on the board. Work with him to get a proper transfer negotiating team and not just have him as the grand high master.
So that’s pretty much it. As I say if he wins the league the rest of these points kind of become redundant, but i think that likelihood is less than the other elements. If he can achieve a number of the points I make above, I’ll certainly find myself turning back towards a person who has more positive thoughts on Wenger than I do at the moment.
Catch you tomorrow.