As a football fan you always look for the hole in a new situation and before the Norwich game I think we all did, as we backed Freddie, hoping for an instant turnaround. Of course it wasn’t to be and yet again we saw some pretty shoddy defending that cost us all three points as well as a second half in which we once again made a relegation threatened side look pretty nifty indeed.
So there was a wee bit of despondency – me included – on Monday morning as we realise that actually we just have a collective of players who are so out of form and playing badly, even if there were a few positives, which Freddie pointed out in his press conference.
But I tell you what, I have read the transcript of his presser yesterday and I must say, I found myself a little heartened by some of the things he said.
Freddie spoke about recognising that the opposition were winning the eight-yard sprint battle, which is where we were getting done on Sunday, then talking about how he knows how to correct that.
Absolutely superb Fred. Now make sure you do correct it.
Some of it might even be played changes because sometimes you can’t change the DNA of a player. For example, Guendouzi and Xhaka aren’t winning any sprint races when the ball transitions from the attacking third back towards our defensive third. Maybe you can teach Guendouzi or Xhaka not to sit so high so they don’t get embroiled in a foot race, or maybe you can bring one out in place of somebody who can. Either way if you have at least acknowledged and been public about what went wrong, you’re at least showing the world that you have the knowledge and belief you can easily correct it. And that’s what gives me cause for optimism this morning.
In one press conference Freddie has given us more than in 18 months of Unai Emery. Perhaps there was a communication issue, perhaps Unai did talk about this stuff but it just didn’t get picked up at these press conferences, but I was just pleased to hear a coach looking at correcting errors in his team, rather than talking about how we are in a ‘process’ or some other nonsense like that.
I’m digging in to Unai a bit and before I started writing this morning I said to myself that I wouldn’t bother, that I’d take the approach of Ljungberg yesterday and say “that was then, we must look forward”, but it’s hard not to read those snippets of the Swede talking about his approach and wonder if communication by Emery was not his biggest downfall. Imagine if he’s just been in a training session with the players and they’ve just heard that kind of intel, rather than Emery and his notorious video that we saw of him repeatedly saying “calm! Calm! Calm!”. There really isn’t a comparison and my hope for tomorrow is that we start to see a difference at home to Brighton. We simply have to.
He also referenced the data he’s been looking at which seemed to show that we were better in getting behind Norwich than we have been all season and, once again, you hear things like that and start to believe that he has a plan for us to be more attacking. Happy-effin-days. We can’t defend as it is so we might as well go ‘gung-ho’ in my opinion. Let’s see if we can flood teams with our attacking talent. Unai promised that when he arrived and delivered little evidence of it. Freddie has a chance to be a man of his word.
And words might be something he has with Wenger soon. He also said he’s going to talk to his old boss and for me that’s a good sign too. Whatever we thought of Wenger’s last couple of years, his philosophy has always been the same and if he can impart some knowledge on Freddie and give some advice then that sounds good to me. He doesn’t pick the team, half the players aren’t really Wenger players any more, he’s been away from the club for a long enough time that his influence has waned, so why wouldn’t you want to lean on some pearls of wisdom from one of Arsenal’s most successful managers? I hope that call goes in soon and I hope it results in some useful nuggets that can be translated into the attacking ethos of our team. We need it. We need it fast.
There’s still probably another training session to be had today by Freddie and hopefully they’re going through this fantastical new attacking approach that we’ve been hoping for.
And I hope they’re ready for Brighton at home. It’s time we got back to winning ways.
Catch y’all tomorrow. Maybe – I have my work Christmas party so depending on how much like death warmed up I feel like, I may or may not be kinder to stare at my phone for 45 minutes in the morning.