Well now, that was an interesting press conference yesterday, wasn’t it? I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think there’d be much of note to come out of the presser yesterday and I wondered if Arsène would be tetchy and downbeat, but he seemed rather jovial given the performance of his team in midweek. There was the occasional smile, he seemed happy to answer most questions, plus there was even a few comments that I’d not heard froM the manager before.
Firstly the team news though, in which Koscielny had a scan yesterday and I’d expect the club to announce the results of that either today or tomorrow. He’ll almost certainly not play on Monday, but the hope is that if he’s out injured, he’ll have a couple of weeks out only. The way we played with him out of the side was abysmal and the next Premier League game we have will be a well rested and high intensity Liverpool side, so we will need all the help we can get from our good players in that instance.
Whether or not Arsène rotates most of the squad on Monday still remains to be seen though. He did talk up the ability of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and a few others, so you’d expect him to give a chance to some, but I think he’ll give players like Welbeck, Lucas, Maitland-Niles, etc, the chance like they did at Preston away. If that is the case, it’ll be a decent rest for Alexis and Özil and for many of the players, perhaps it’ll be an opportunity to take stock and have a look at themselves and what they want to achieve this season.
Inevitably though, the conference quickly shifted away from the game on Monday night and towards the noise surrounding Arsène’s future. Having told a Germany station that he’ll decide in March, Arsène confirmed that to us all in English, but this time he had a few extra snippets for the media to jump on. The first, and one that stands out, is that he said he’d manage next season whether it’s at Arsenal or somewhere else. That statement – albeit said quick as a flash – is something I’ve never heard from Arsène before. As he’s often at pains to point out, he’s been doing this job for 20 years, which also means he’s been doing press conferences for 20 years too. He’s an old pro at this and there is no word that comes out of his mouth that isn’t merticulously placed. What he said was designed to be a statement in defence of his standing in football. It was a statement to people who want him gone that “guess what? I’ll manage next season and it might be somewhere else”. It was designed to show that he doesn’t think he’s done and that all he’s thinking about is whether or not he lacks it in with Arsenal, not that he packs it in full stop.
That statement really hit home to me how much work is going to be needed when he does go, because he’ll take a few of the back room staff and I suspect any new manager will want a clean sweep to bring his own people in. The move to the next phase for Arsenal may, as Arsène said, not necessarily be smooth.
But for me it still has to come. When you’ve got a cut you don’t just leave the plaster on, you have to get air to the wound so that it can repair quicker. We need to take the plaster of Arsène off so we can let the wounds heal quicker. It might be a bit gammy at first, but eventually it will heal and we’ll be better off as a result.
Arsène was also at pains to point out the club’s European record before he arrived and now and whilst he’s right and he has delivered consistency in getting in to the competition, one does also need to factor in to the play that the European Cup as it was under Graham and other managers in the last was a knock out featuring only the Champions of each league, not the top four teams. Let’s all just bear that in mind when we talk about the club’s pre-Wenger European history.
So all-in-all it was an interesting presser he delivered. We know he wants to continue after this season. We know he will make his mind up within the next couple of months, plus we know that perhaps he’s even thinking it might be time for change. After all, did you notice he talked about Arsenal as a ‘they’ and ‘them’? I’ve never head him talk like that before. I think that’s telling.
This might be the beginning of the end. We’ll find out soon enough.