Last night I went on the Gooner Ramble and we talked Arsène and Arsenal and life after him, but on the Podcast I only briefly started talking about the type of manager I would like to see us get in.
I’ve been asked that by quite a few people and when I give my response of “I don’t know, I just know the type of football I think Arsenal should play” I get the occasional nod, but I can see behind the eyes there is a slightly frustrated person I’m parlaying with because I can’t give them a definitive answer.
Then you get the non-Arsenal fans that make comments like “you wanted him gone, but you don’t know who you want in to replace? Pfffh” type of response. Well, to those people I say unto thee:
- I have no influence on the decision anyway
- I am not paid to make that decision – paid handsomely too
- I know football and love football but I’m not in football
What’s the point in speculating on a specific person and then being disappointed when they don’t walk through the doors at Highbury House when the appointment is made? What is the point in already assigning a black mark against a new manager, just because it wasn’t ‘my’ choice?
So no, I don’t know who I want and no, I’m not sure I’ll every give a name as my definitive answer. What I just hope is that Arsenal are going to get the right person who can play the right way with the players we have.
The right way of course being the winning way. But there are lots of different ways of winning and then it becomes a discussion about which style one believes will fit our team.
And we do have to select a style to fit a team, which also means we need to fit a style for our manager because let’s all be honest with ourselves here, he’s not going to be able to bring in five or six £25-£30million footballers in multiple positions, is he?
We’ve just spent north of £110million on players in the last 12 months, plus bumper contracts for some players, so any new manager coming in is going to have to work with the existing team, maybe with one or two players in key positions.
For me that means less of a root overhaul and more of an evolution in the style and structure of our team.
So what should the new man do? How should he change things?
Well, for me, I want to see a high pressing Arsenal team. I love a high press, me, and I love when teams are put under pressure high up the pitch and turnover the ball in their own half. Defenders by their very nature are risk averse and so if you’re a high pressing team then you can either force errors by getting them to panic and cede position, or go long and turn over the ball.
It also means we play on the front foot and quite frankly, it’s the only way I see this current crop of players being able to play. Imagine relieving Mustafi of last ditch defending because we’re adopting the principles of a high press with Lacazette and Aubameyang up top and Ramsey pressing too?
Of course under a high press the key positions for me then become a better ‘keeper in the Ederson role of ‘sweeper/keeper’ plus better central defenders with more recovery pace. Think Koscielny but five years ago.
The high press is easy to teach as well. It’s about knowing your zone, having the fitness, but also pressing as a unit. Alexis was a classic example of when that doesn’t really happen and I’m sure we can all recall the countless times he pressed a defender, only to look back and see nobody else had, which meant massive gaps had opened up around the pitch.
The high press is also exciting. It’s energetic, it’s what gets fans excited as teams like Barcelona hunt high up the pitch as they used to and at a time when we’re all pretty bored with the way Arsenal play, wouldn’t it be nice to get back some of that excitement?
I know I’d be keen. Sure, it’s a little more risky, but just look at our back line as it is. We’ve been kamikaze all season anyway so imagine how good it could be if we have a structure and a style designed to be disruptive higher up the pitch and keep the ball as far away from that back line as possible?
I don’t pretend to be a tactical expert in football, I’m not a stats person, nor do I know the European leagues and every manager under the sun. But I know the type of football that I think will excite us and I know that there will be plenty of suitors who can deliver it, whilst still not ripping apart the team and also potentially giving some of our young players a chance.
Some Tuesday morning thoughts for you to all ponder.