It’s Wednesday, it’s the middle of the week, but it is only another couple of days until matchday and after the disappointment of Sunday’s draw there is half of me looking forward to hopefully seeing the team put it right at home to Southampton, whilst the other part of me worries that a rut has set in, even if they are the team bottom of the league.
Perhaps that is a good thing. After the Liverpool game I had started to think that wins against West Ham and Southampton would be just the buffer we would need going in to the Man City game this time next week. That overestimation on my part also manifested itself at the London Stadium on Sunday and now having seen us show what happens when you get too cocky and arrogant, I am back to fearing every single game, including the one on Friday night. I’ve kind of adopted that stance for most of the season and now that I am back in to that mould I feel oddly a little more normal again. Fearing that you’re going to get your nose bloodied is better than going in to matches expecting wins and getting a bop on the metaphorical nose.
There will start to be more team news trickling through after today I suspect, with the big questions about Zinchenko probably more than Saliba, so as the media looks to fill the dead air time with more rumours and conjecture, the latest one we have is that Mikel Arteta wants to go to Real Madrid and they are looking at him seriously given Ancelotti is supposed to be going on to take the Brazil job in the summer. If that happens – as is widely expected to be the case – then there will certainly be a big appeal to join arguably the biggest club in the world and it is something that I do feel like we should have some fear for. Arteta is an ambitious man, he is a guy who has shown that he is very capable of creating an impressive side who have so far outstripped all expectations. And he will back himself in any situation. A move to a club like Madrid – if the conditions are right – could see him turn in to the best manager in the world. They have pedigree, they have history, they already have a very good – albeit ageing – side who are currently in to the semi finals of the Champions League having won it last season. But they are miles off in La Liga and that is something that the Real Madrid fans will want to fix.
Would Arteta be tempted to go back to the land of his birth?
I do wonder you know. There are pro’s and con’s, of course, but this isn’t a simple answer that we could just dismiss. He loves Arsenal, I think we all know that, and with the way the club stuck with him there certainly will be an element of loyalty he will feel lies with the club. That is what we have in our favour. There will also be a part of him that will look at how long it has taken him to get the team in the shape that he wants it to be in. He’s had to oversee quite some overhaul at the club and he’s done it ahead of schedule, so who knows what we may see if he is given assurances from the Arsenal board that they will back him and get the players in he wants in the summer. Can he turn Arsenal in to a domestic and European powerhouse? Maybe. A few more additions and a young squad that hopefully only gets better and maybe we can see a beautiful few years ahead for Arteta.
There is also the fact that Real Madrid is one of the most difficult jobs in football. Unless you win the Champions League and La Liga, you are merely considered to be ‘making par’. Ancelotti won the Champions League last season and could win it this season, yet he is still moving on. Zidane won it but moved on. The shelf life of a Madrid manager is probably two to three years at most. Does Arteta wants to take that risk? Especially if we don’t win anything this season; if he joined Real Madrid this summer and then they slip up in a few games early on, then those white handkerchiefs of the home support will soon be out. They have no loyalty to Arteta; he was a La Masia kid, he has grown up loving Real Sociedad and Barcelona; they don’t have an affection for him and will happily turn on him unless he is perfect. And the Madrid squad is probably at the point in which another rebuild is coming. Benzema may still be ace, but he’s 35 and isn’t going to last forever. Modric is 37, Hazard is 32, Kroos is 33, Alaba is 30 going on 31, Rudiger is 30, Carvajal is 31. There is a whole squad overhaul that will come with its own risks.
Yet Arteta is a man who has such high self belief in his own ability, that he might back himself to take that on. But would the Madrid fans be as accepting of a rebuild that could result in a couple of years of pain? Are they the club that can take on a project and ‘Trust the process’? I’m not so sure.
So whilst Rio Ferdinand is talking about how ‘the streets are talking’ with regards to Arteta and a possible move to Real Madrid, I don’t think it is as simple as ‘well, it’s Real Madrid, so he’s going to go, isn’t he?’. I think there are more nuances to it than that. And ultimately, I hope for him if the call comes in the summer, the ‘pros’ to join Madrid are far outweighed by the ‘cons’, coupled with the potential of this Arsenal team that he has built.
One to keep an eye on though.
Catch you all tomorrow.