This morning, I be mostly thinking about….mini pre seasons.
We’re in one right now. It’s a winter break in which Arteta has taken the lads out to Dubai to bond, talk tactics, probably look at opponents and most likely give a little bit of a reset on what has happened over the last six weeks.
He’s hardly had the epic new manager victory bounces you often see and we saw with the likes of Solskjaer, but before you chew my head off, I’ll point out that I don’t really have a problem with it. If the option of rebuilding confidence slowly, with a plan in place, hope for the future and excitement for when next season comes through is at the expense of a quick fix “get loads of wins on the bounce” but don’t have too much that you can see is happening in terms of developing a style and approach to games, then sign me up for the former rather than the latter.
Solskjaer’s United form last season was built on driving motivation and passion into the players but beyond that I don’t think he’s tactically the best manager. Does anybody really know the style of football he’s trying to play? I don’t. But with Arteta we can start to see the emergence of a type of football and most of us are liking what we see.
So this winter break – the first we’ve had in England – couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve had the players buy in to the Arteta philosophy, we’ve had some good performances, but also some not-so-good. Arteta has had a real baptism of fire with his team because he hasn’t had any time to properly get his ideas across. It’s been train-game-rest-train-game-rest, etc, etc. This mini break for the team will have them all together, re-bonding, evaluating what has gone wrong, what has gone right, then hopefully starting to work on some playing moves that can help us start picking up points.
In normal pre season it’s where you usually get players coming back from injury, recovering, getting their bodies back up to match fitness and there’s a renewed vigour from the fans too. I feel like after this winter break we’re going to have the same situation. If you think about it, ever since Arteta took over, he’s been patching together and XI from who’s available. That’s either been through suspension or injury but as the winter break ends this time next week, hopefully we’ll get some team news that will be more positive than negative.
I believe Kolasinac will be back. Hopefully Sal has recovered. We have no suspensions to deal with. The team will be refreshed after some warm weather training. Plus, having played a few away games of late, we get a few at home that we really need to be picking up points for. Newcastle visit the Emirates in a week and two days time. Then we play Everton at home a week later. My hope is that the team comes back from Dubai and can get a couple of wins under their belt because if they do, perhaps we can’t start to think about building momentum, because you’re probably as sick as I am with all these draws.
Momentum is everything in football. Confidence breeds confidence and our next game after the Everton one is Olympiakos away, followed by Portsmouth away in the FA Cup.
Quick aside – f*ck you again to the FA, who have given us another poxy Monday night game. I’m getting sick of this and it’s becoming tiresome. Every game so far has been a Monday night. It’s infuriating.
Imagine if we can win all four games? I know, I know, the eternal optimist of a football fan, but they should all be games we are looking at victories in. Win those games and it’s West Ham at home followed by Brighton away. And if your team has won a few on the bounce then suddenly the confidence is flowing through the team, the players are walking a little taller, the fans are a little bit louder, the season doesn’t seem so grim.
But we have to be perfect. Those players have to be ready for Newcastle and the eyes should be on Arteta to deliver. Honeymoon period is over, we’re all still impressed, but those draws need to be turned into victories and he will have to make some hard decisions on under-performing players. Especially those at the sharp end of the pitch.
We have a week to reset and get excited ahead of Newcastle. I just hope the lads are prepped and good to go after this mini pre-season. We need them to be.
Catch y’all tomorrow.