Arsenal football club – strategy, what strategy?

Arsenal players wave to fans from the bus

A look across the majority of recent Arsenal blogs would find amongst the many conflicting opinions a general agreement that the mighty Arsenal FC have rather lost their way in recent seasons.  Whilst some criticise the direction being taken both on and off the field, many simply bemoan that fact that they see no apparent direction at all.  And this is what many people cry out for – firm, clear, decisive leadership that is transparent to the fans.  Arsene Wenger is at the very centre of this debate of course, with many simply concluding that he has lost the plot or the capacity to adapt with the times.  I’m a bit confused by this, on a number of fronts, so I thought I’d set out some of the tensions concealed within what many seem to see as an obvious truth.

Firstly then, the strategy question.  I would argue that looking back over Arsene’s career there have been very clear and distinct phases of club strategy.  His arrival heralded both new fitness and training regimes and the import of young overseas talent, in particular those from the French leagues.  The team comprised power, pace and technique, and the mix of players provided arguably the most exciting football of the premier league era.  Inevitably the formula was copied by every manager in the league.  None matched the end product, but our strategic advantage had gone as every club looked for the best foreign talent.

The next phase was shaped by financial stringency resulting from the Emirates project, whilst oil fuelled clubs raised the competition levels.  We can debate the timing of the Emirates venture – arguably in hindsight we might have been better waiting to higher earning times to reduce the proportionate debt load.  But hindsight is just that.  We adapted our strategy to live within a reduced budget and youth talent development became the central theme, as we could no longer buy the best from overseas, nor could we retain stars who wanted big pay rises.  This was a great time in many respects, for the sheer excitement of the young talent we could bring in and the brilliance of the football played, albeit inevitably without the consistency.  But any young player wanting to develop and get a chance to play in the first 11 of a Champions League side must have thought hard about joining us.  We started players at 16 if they showed the talent, and regularly fielded several teenagers in the same team.  Again, this strategy of trusting youth has been mirrored successfully by other clubs since Wenger introduced it.

As loss of key players continued to set us back intermittently we moved into a home-grown talent strategy, still operating within budget constraints, but trying to build our squad around a British core that could grow up together – in concept, much as we see the current Spurs side developing.  Sadly this strategy did not bear the fruit that was hoped for – too many injuries and too many young players who never quite fulfilled their promise.  The concept wasn’t necessarily a flawed one, but the players weren’t the right mix, for which all (Wenger included) must share the blame.  The vision and plan was clear and purposeful however.

As our finances finally improved we broke out of the spending shackles and started to make significant strategic acquisitions, players of the very highest calibre in world football.  The strategy has been to blend these in with the best of our established core, adding one or two a year.  This is exactly what most fans have been waiting for through the last 10 years.  The profile of our team changed accordingly, and the style of play also moved with this. We no longer play with so many youngsters in our team, and some of the brash flair has gone with it as a result I believe.  As we bought big names expectations sky rocketed.  And as these have not been met fans have turned and demanded further change – a new leader for one thing. And this is where the question of the next strategy arises, and is so important for us.  We are a team that is currently in transition, but what is the transition that we actually want to see played out?

I am struck reading so many articles that implore us to sign up Jack and Rambo.  I like them both, so I can’t object to that can I? Then I see articles about the players we would like to see bought in the summer – midfielders from Germany like Meyer, or wingers from the PL like Zaha.  Good players no doubt, no reason for me to not want them in the squad? Then I read articles expressing deep frustration for our failure to play the young talent that has been shining in our youth teams – players like Nelson.  Surely we should be playing these stars of the future? And we seem to be at risk of losing such young players to other clubs because frankly there are too many current stars in our squad already for them to have any chance of playing.

So what’s it to be? We can’t have all of these at once – we need to make some hard choices.  And I think there is a clear strategy to that effect being played out at Arsenal, that we saw glimpses of last summer and then bit hard in January.  We are now going to create space in our squad to either buy the very best talent or to allow the best of our youngsters to come through.  This means playing hard ball over contracts with those who marginal in our squad, and selling those who do not make it or are not willing to take less than stellar terms.  But we will pay top dollar to the very best.  Our strategy has hardened, and I applaud it.  It may well mean that Jack or Rambo, or even both, go in the summer if they aren’t prepared to fight for a place in this team – but if that opens the way for Nelson or another then sobeit.

I’m excited about this transition.  We have a lot of top talent, in particular in our attack, and we need to give these players time to get used to each other.  But we have lost some of that youthful dynamism that came when we played a few teenagers, filled with cocky confidence and out to impress.  I want some of that back.  And if that means letting some established stars and fan favourites go then I’m up for it happening.  We do still need to buy, but for now only at the back in my view – unless the proverbial ‘exceptional talent’ suddenly becomes available.

Soccer - FA Cup - Arsenal Winners Parade

He got his man! Well done Arsene and team to get one of the very best in the world to the home of football and so early on as well!

So what do we think, is it time for pruning this squad and making space for some youth as well as top imported talent, or should we keep all the current team and try to add to it as well?  Are we prepared to let some of our favourites go in order to fund these changes?

By  AB

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Arsenal football club – strategy, what strategy?

  1. jw1 says:

    Thanks AB–
    Reasoned and historic. Thoughtful, though with one eye on resolve and resolution.

    Correct, in that the club require defending more than any other attribute. Was going to type ‘defenders’– but in all honesty, it’s ‘team defending’ that is lacking. It begins with personality, with attitude of the manager or coach(es). If it’s not a focus? It can’t happen by itself– as in attack. It’s the antithesis of creativity, requiring regimentation. Not just talented, or in our case at present– just adequate– players.

    I’m trying hard to leave the methods to the new back-office team. If they choose a path to remake the team– then it’s their expectations I’ll adapt to. We all have differing opinions as to who or what or how. But in the end that’s a recipe for personal frustration. Example? Here at BK? I think we have an astute bunch of Gooners– and yet we are amazed when we can pick 10/11 starters! (Cheers again ‘Eris! 🙂 ). So thinking any of us has the right combination sussed– for any club to move forward with– is folly.

    I will say I like the already morphing circumstances around salary and merit. IMO? You pay for talent. You pay for achievement. There’s a pretty wide berth between those two ideals– and you hope to motivate to get the most value in either case. Not so terribly odd– that we’ve jettisoned deadwood, offloaded overpaid types– and most importantly, IMHO, poor influences– since the new admin team has arrived. The rapidity has been both startling and refreshing.

    There’s always the underlying tones of ‘value lost in terms of cash money’ when discussing a player leaving the club. Well, there’s an approach currently afoot in every major professional sport that understands the reasoning in losing assets of value– in order to break from entrenched methods.

    Arsenal still have more housecleaning to do. Whether that means burning down the house and rebuilding? Or re-purposing some of what we have– and finding the right pieces for redesign? Impossible to predict. But the timing seems very nearly right.

    How it unfolds is now down to some smart, successful, and savvy individuals.
    We’re about to see just how good they are.

    jw1

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    AB,

    Excellent, very well written post. You have summarised the club’s stages very well. I actually am very happy with the BoD strategy of buying top quality talent and established players regularly, keep hold of our best players as long as possible, and allow one or two youngsters to come through every year or two.

    Having said that, working in youngsters like Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Nelson and Iwobi comes at a cost: we are unlikely to win the PL or CL with this policy.

    What to do next? In my view:
    1. Let Arsene go this summer
    2. Have 16 top established players ideally and only give youngsters sporadic chances to impress.
    3. Hold on to our top players amap
    4. Buy at least one top talent every summer and keep finding cheap gems through our now improved scouting system
    5. Allow youngsters to shine in the League Cup and European games (when the team is already through etc)
    6. Scout for the v best youth talents

    So we have seen a clear out this January and a few more are likely to follow. The focus in the summer needs to be the defence… and then we are ready to roll (with a new manager imo.)

  3. AB says:

    Thanks JW. A couple of quick thoughts.

    Firstly on defending. I think there is a choice to be made. If we are to eschew the orthodox DM model, which is being applied succcessully at City, Chelsea, Manure and even Spuds, and operate with more of a quarter back type player in Xhaka, then we must have exceptional CBs behind the midfield to avoid looking like a very leaky vessel. I agree defence is for the whole team. But if we select players who are not strong in that department in key areas then it places a strain on the team. I think Xhaka is central to the plan – Wenger’s plan at any rate – so we need to see compensation in the areas affected.

    Secondly I’m torn around the wage model we adopt. Instinctively I’m attracted to the model that is centred on the team first, and pays all members of a successful team comparable pay without creating huge differentials. We’ve had this. And in truth it hasn’t worked. We’ve underpaid the best and lost them, and overpaid the weakest, and struggled to shift them. Now we are going with a market approach and we will see what impact this has on the team. It’s pragmatic and what other successful sides do. But I feel saddened by it I confess. But if it works I can’t complain. It’s a values thing I guess.

  4. AB says:

    Hi TA. And many thanks to you for posting this.

    I understand the reasoning in your suggestions there, and there is no flaw in the logic. My question though is whether this doesn’t simply leave us operating basically as every other football company and accepting our position in the financial hierarchy? We pay the going rates, buy the odd player such as we can afford and don’t rely on youth development especially. By my reckoning that would keep us in the 4 – 6 position in the league most seasons. And yet what keeps us excited about our club is the dream of overachievement. Beating the big boys through flair and brilliance.

    For my money this means making more of youth talent, as a longer shot than playing the percentages with established players. Poch is reminding us of the potential of this route with the spuds currently. So I think we need to open the team to finding more youth talent and giving it their chance. Some will be slow burners – Iwobi sadly. But there will be Fabs to be found in the mix too

    And this bring me back to the central question of Wenger. Will he go in the summer or be asked to work on the transition? Anyone’s guess. I’m a Wenger loyalist and I will probably therefore argue for his retention beyond the time that it is good to do so. But I believe he has been exceptional working with young talent. And the irony of the last couple of years is that he has stepped away from this to some degre. And it has not served him well. Can we find better? Well we must one day as he can’t go on for ever. Personally I would trust him for another season. To see us restructure the club and it’s development strategy. Starting squarely with our defence.

    It’s a long shot I confess. But I love the dream!

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Ah great comment, AB. Teams only get a good youth generation once in twenty to thirty years, I reckon. I like the idea of talent making it through, very much actually, but I would much rather use clever management and player buying strategies. More from me tomorrow.

  6. jw1 says:

    * * *
    “The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia
    They want to go back as far as they can …
    Even if it’s only as far as last week
    Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards”
    (~snip~)
    “Nostalgia, that’s what we want…the good ol’ days…
    When we gave’em Hell
    When the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it
    To a time when movies were in black and white …
    And so was everything else”
    (Gil Scott Heron / “B-Movie” / 1981)
    * * *

    I’ll not talk at-length about StatDNA.
    The video-driven data-analytics talent-grading system that Arsenal have bought, embraced, and are in-process of refining.

    I’ll not do that.
    Because it’s like managing IT systems; the work I do.
    Because if you do it well? Especially if you do it perfectly?
    Nobody will know if you’ve done anything at all.

    Standing on my soapbox at BK and trotting out the concept from time to time? Matters not. For no matter how successfully the club becomes in implementing ‘how they discover’ youth talent? Nobody will know if they’ve done anything differently at all.

    So I settle.
    For my digital soapbox.
    Preaching the next coming of The Arsenal.

    jw1

  7. jw1 says:

    Off-topic good news!
    (Evening Standard) Wenger is quoted on Mkhi’s injury status:
    “He will not be available for Thursday, Newcastle away, or West Ham the week after. He will miss these games but could still play at the end of the season.”

    jw1

  8. St. Henry says:

    Great post AB! 👍😀 For me at least it provided a good moment to take a step back and try to look at club with a wider perspective. Thank you. From what I read it would appear that there is a very strong youth core ready to take the next step up. Another element in the evolution of the club, I feel, also has to do with the new folks like Mislintat and Snallehi. Will be interesting to see their imprint on the club over the next few years. Mostly I suspect it will go along the lines of what TA wrote, though I hope #1 does not happen 🤔🙂

  9. Pony Eye says:

    AB, good post. I love strategic thinking.

    Firstly, I don’t understand how youth development and our strong desire to rule the world are compartiible. If something pops up from our Academy we should simply regard it as a bonus. But we must be realistic and understand that the top top teams sourcing players from their Academy must remain a long shot.

    A friend of mine said that Real Madrid has the whole world as its Academy. They wait until a young player has proved his world class status before they bother about acquiring him.. We can’t compete with their likes if we source from our Academy while they source from the world Academy. That brings us down to the scouting system. That is the key.

    There are talents in the market, believe me. Finding them was Wenger’s early advantage, an advantage we must strain to regain.

    So the first move in rebuilding is the setting up of a quality scouting department which appears we are already unto. The second would be the making of the best out of the recruited i.e. the coaching department.

    From where am standing, which does not give a perfect view, I see that the great Wenger is no longer able to entice enough energy and hunger from his boys. But then we have to be very careful in our choice of who replaces him.

  10. AB says:

    Hi JW. The next coming of the Arsenal eh – amen to that.

  11. AB says:

    Thanks Henry. Yes the new team are clearly making their mark and changing things. I’d love to know what their explicit brief is, but it’s not the Arsenal way to go public on such matters. It’s just for us folk to try and work out. As JW says it’s not going to be easy to notice the difference, at least not at the time. Hindsight makes it all a lot clearer. Or feel that way anyway.

  12. AB says:

    Hi PE. Yes it’s about finding the right blend in our strategy to give us the chance of an advantage. A straight financial fight for the best established players means we will lose. I think we can compete for the very best manager though, due to the stature of the club, it’s london location, and the stability of Board management. All would be very attractive to the right manager. Of course our view of what makes the best manager might be very different from what the Chavs view is for example!

    The strategy is about the blend. And if I’ve given the impression that it should be all about youth then I’ve got that wrong. I think we do need to be able to recognise a good crop of youth and makes space to let them come on. And if we are shopping in the second division of the talent market then we will need different scouts to be successful there. But neither is unique to us. So the ability to pay for some of the very highest talent (hence the Ozil contract) combined with smart business on the market at the cheaper end (Kola – crossing my fingers) and bringing through some real talent from the youth team (Fab still the last one for me sadly). That has to add up to our squad edge, plus a manager able to make the most of the constituent parts.

    Sounds easy….., if only it were so!

  13. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. Hi AB.. Great post..
    First I must say that I disagree with TA for Wenger’s out this season.. It won’t happened.. He will stay until his contract end next summer.. Not this summer.. We know how Wenger feel about this club and how he always stand by his contract.. And we know also that no one in BoD will cut his contract.. Hehehe.. So let’s enjoying his really last season with us..

    AB.. About strategy.. Wenger always stuck in one strategy.. People may say that he had no strategy at all.. He almost never change any strategy in the games.. And so depending from the creativity of the players..

    I love Meyer and Zaha also.. We must never underestimate a free player.. Hehehe..

    Our focus now must be UEL.. Last night game make me more confident that our second team still win the game.. Hehehe..

    Last.. JW1.. According to the last game against Soton.. Welbeck deserve a spot in the team.. And replacing Mhiki will be his great opportunity.. And also according to the game.. Wilshere on the other hand.. Don’t deserve to play.. Sorry TA.. Hehehe..

  14. Pony Eye says:

    About only 6 teams that we can’t go toe to toe with in Europe financially. We must first of all find that our level and then find the smartness to bridge that their advantage. Scouting and coaching are the keys, put simplistically. Just saying that broadly, I agree with you.

  15. njk84sg says:

    AB, long time no see (any comments from you).

    The state of the game is now riddled with players that are overpaid and transfer fees over inflated.

    It will not be able to return to the days where we can win titles with homegrown players, at least not in the near future. We were strong as a team with some good players as we have a good and strong attacking spine with Auba and Ozil, and Lacazette, which we bought. We also bought the defense, but we were exposed when one or 2 players have an off day positional wise.

    So the strategy forward? Buy players with the tactical know how in each department and train the existing players by integrating them with strong minded players.

  16. jw1 says:

    The way forward?
    Using means at your disposal to identify top-tier talent earlier than the the remainder of the top-10 clubs (in Europe). Sign as many as you can. Cost be damned. Develop them to the extent possible. Promote/play the ones who excel. Sell the remainder.

    Oversimplification? Yes.

    But Chelsea has been working this model for over as decade. Chelsea has developed their brand, and sells their product at a premium. Buying, developing and selling on many more prospects than the competition is the only legal way for Arsenal to subvert dominance from other top-10 clubs. From sharing in both that revenue– and the discovery of top talent.

    1/2

  17. jw1 says:

    2/2

    Arsenal can’t rival either the oil-igarchies, nor the mega-branded clubs for wealth. But you can use the system to hoard more prospects– and demand a premium price from– those clubs you can’t outspend.

    There is a ruthlessness in doing business that is required. It doesn’t require Arsenal to ‘don the black hat’ and act villainous. Where extremely efficient and proactive would suffice.

    jw1
    (The Beginning is Near! 🙂 )

  18. Pony Eye says:

    jw, … bold, daring!

  19. AB says:

    I hear you JW. But what is it about Arsenal that means we will be able to do that better than the 10 other clubs trying the same thing? We can put ourselves in that mix and hope that we strike lucky and win a title every 20 years or so – with others doing likewise and the top few winning most in between. Or we can try to find a niche that we are better placed than others to exploit and try to work that to our strategic advantage.

    Let’s be clear, Wenger has been our niche and strategic advantage for over 20 years, keeping ahead of most of the pack by playing smart on training, recruitment and youth development. Accepting that the end must come for this, whether that is at the end of this season or not that long after, we need a new approach. The package for our club most optimise the balance between our status and attractiveness to new managers and players, our financial clout and how we opt to deploy it, and our location and the pool we can tap into who wish to play in the PL and enjoy living in London. It will be a fine balance to achieve some degree of margin over the others, but find it we must.

  20. jw1 says:

    AB–
    I feel that AW can remain a part of the ‘next’ strategic advantage. So you and I are on the same page in feeling that he has a role to play in the club after his managerial career concludes. Wenger would love to be a part of the next revolution in football. The old dog is capable of new tricks.

    This link is to a 3-1/2 year old article:
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2269196

    Not comprehensive of my perspective– but worthy in its’ ideals.

    jw1

  21. AB says:

    Thanks JW. I agree fully about wishing a role for AW upstairs when he retires. It will be at a time of his choosing if he is to make the switch however IMO at any rate. In the data analysis, well if our tools are better than others then great. I will take an edge whoever we can get it. But I’m intuitively doubtful of how far the analysis can be taken before its margin diminishes. I guess this is in part values. If a game can be reduced entirely to numbers then it ceases to have any meaning as a sport. Clearly it can never be so. The art and the inspiration will always have a pet to play that cannot be captured and reduced to stats. And my feeling is that this will remain the larger part of brilliant management. Beyond the mist inspired mechanical planning.

  22. jw1 says:

    AB–
    Since I’d said I wouldn’t drone on about it here?
    If you’re interested in my followup– click here:
    http://jw1.com/afc/arsenal.htm

    I’m confident the club is on the cusp of positive things.

    jw1

  23. allezkev says:

    It’s good news week…

    Reiss Nelson is close to agreeing a new deal to stay at Arsenal, he may have signed it already.

    Mo Elneny has had his red card overturned, so he is available for the forthcoming EPL games.

    Arsenal are tipped to be signing another young prodigy from La Masia, as soon as he turns 16, any time soon. I can’t recall his name, but he’s a striker.

  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    Just catching up…while tuning into this all English CL 1/4 final…

    Whoa… VvD loses possession and Pool are cut open via Sterling… The cat will be among(st?) the pigeons now, maybe… 1-3 agg…

    GREAT POST, AB… More as this game settles in…

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    This, AB, is really a lovely post and you’ve hit so many points directly on the head.

    Being able to step back and get some perspective, I think, is exactly what Arsenal (and football) writing should be all about. Match to match venting (99%) and celebrating (the remaining 1%…) is what makes the Goonersphere the “virtual pub” of the Arsenal football watching world. My feeling is that–in the real pubs, and maybe on the terraces or just face to face among folks who enjoy and respect one another–that there are fans who are able to do these more perspective oriented discussions. I LOVE it…

    Unfortunately, in most online “discussion” things have become completely binary. Thumbs up (or more usually…) thumbs down (usually in the form of lock-step agreement with VERY negative and flippant Arsenal writing) seems the norm–check out your NewSnow headlines to gauge the depth of the click-bait culture… As we’re learning, it’s all about pulling strings to get hits (…or, more positively, I guess, to see what my friends think…) and then sell the data to the highest bidder… We’re down to about a half dozen folks here on BKesque (no hit-whoring for bits of coin…) and even we’re getting so deeply locked into our own corners that I have to wonder if it can be done…even in the best parts of the interweb…

    So, again, I have to say, great post…and I wish you were around more often…I think it could give me some hope… 🙂

    In the meantime… BIG thumbs up…

    Game’s down at City’s end a bit… Why not?… A goal means City would need 4 (more)…

  26. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mane gets yellow…as does Ederson… Ref handles it a good deal better than Marriner…

    Cheers Kev for the happy news about my avatar guy… Arseblog had an interesting twist on the Elneny ban (less playing time for Wilshere in the Ropy cup, more in the–meaningless?–PL games)… I wonder how things will play out now… Assuming we get through in Moscow the next couple don’t matter too much… If we can avoid Atleti in the semis we could also field a strong team for the trip to Old Trafford as well… It’s a good thing to have as many options as possible, I think…

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Back to the post…

    AB, I think you and JW are onto the real news…that OF COURSE there is a (or are several) strategies in play at Arsenal but that it’s all been masked by the short term equation (or zero-sum thinking…) that bad result(s) = new manager… Again, binary thinking IS the way of the web, er, world…

    IMO, IF you’re actually interested in football results–not just the entertainment value of revolving doors for players and managers and “winning” the transfer windows–the “duck” model (placid above the water, paddling with a purpose underneath) makes the most sense, esp. if spending money simply to SHOW ambition isn’t what ownership desires…

    Problem is, it might not “sell” as well as football-club-as-soap-opera, or, in a prettier language, club de football = telenovela… 😉

    Like JW suggests, it’s all pretty simple… Buy low, sell high (or let walk when the Alexis, er, asset has been all used up…) and using stats to figure it out (“moneyball”) that we’ll never be able to decipher, of course, makes (perfect) sense… Being able to buy players of a certain level (Ozil, Alexis and now Lacazette and PEA and Mustafi and Xhaka) is good but you’re still putting money into the coffers of the selling clubs… Better to do it by way of contracts… Kola on a free, re-signing Ozil = very important, as will making smart valuations (including by way of incentives for guys with less than stellar fitness records). Over time, you gotta believe (I think) that SMART money will prevail…

    Half time approaching and Pool are still holding out… To my eye, City need to get get El Kun in… It’s a potentially 2 hour match, however, so 60-70 mins seems about the right time… Has Salah gotten a touch? Not lately, at least…

    Whoa… Bernado off the post… Big let off for Pool there…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Pool make it to half-time… With the Ox looking impressive at the end (Salah might’ve done better–if he’s at all fit, which I kinda doubt he is–to fake pass and pull back onto his left foot…)
    And, for once, I’m innerested in the half-time studio stuff to see if they got the offside call correct, maybe?…

    Is nobody else around?…

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    Where’s JW?…

    At some point, I’d like to talk about Houston and Oakland sports stuff… The baseball and stats and moneyball are one thing, but what about the Beard & CP3 (and some other fine players, esp. that guy with initials, TA…) vs the defending champs… Barring anything stupid, however, that clash comes in late May…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Someday, I might have to actually try and understand the offside rule… Comes off Milner but not intentionally?… But wasn’t Sane onside when his team last touched it?…

    Whoa… Pep has been sent off the touchline?… Lots going Pool’s way here…

    2nd half on…

    Really? Nobody watching? Or maybe just nobody who wants to chat with 17yo… ;(

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Final bit on AB’s post… Youth vs Experience…

    Wenger’s definitely tried to play both sides of this coin and the string of failures is tough to stomach… Like pulling teeth in the DDS’s (dentist’s) chair, it can hurt… (DDS–in my twisted mind–refers to Diaby, Denilson and Song who were supposed to complement, Fabregas, Nasri and RvP, to a mess o’ trophies…) After the financial collapse (also well referenced in the post, AB, re: the poor timing of our stadium finance issues), and the first turn “inwards” (towards, nationalism, Brexit and the like)… the roster limits and Brit-core promotions were an even WORSE (IMO). Seriously, Carl Jenkinson 10x bigger than life? (Or 10x bigger than statues of Dennis, Thierry and Tony Adams outside the stadium…) Jenks, at least, had his big injuries on loan at West Ham… Theo, Ox, Rambo and Jack all performed to varying degrees of acceptability but ALL have had fitness issues… That said, I think we ought to be in the cat-bird seat with Rambo and a new contract… Does Piers Morgan think we should sign him, maybe, is the question we ought to be asking…

    Most certainly there IS a cost to playing young players but we’re just not (quite) able to compete (financially) and buy ready-made at the very highest level. IF we could offer some (REAL) support for our kids… But that’s another topic nobody wants to hear me drone on about…

    AND, this game is over….

    SALAH converts after Mane (falls for a pen)…

    World class, even if only half fit…

    Laters…

  32. 17highburyterrace says:

    Final point… The real loser here SHOULD be… the very special one, Jo-Say MOOOOOO-Rinho… Who had no patience for not just Kevin Debruyne, but also (my avatar guy’s int’l teammate) Salah…

    Wenger Out, Moo (or other two-year managers like him…) in, and…

    There’s (your) Arsenal… (Maybe… In other words, beware easy solutions and playing the blame game, IMO…)

    We can only hope…

    Sorry for all the (same old) drivel… Really, I was just looking for some chat… And I really did enjoy AB’s post…

    See you Thursday?…

  33. jw1 says:

    Sorry HTbro– working stiff here/today!
    Just about to hit I-10 and head home.

    jw1

  34. allezkev says:

    17tino, whilst not wanting to put the cart before the horse, the Atletico question is an intriguing one, given Arsenal’s appalling record in european finals against Spanish clubs, 3 finals, 3 defeats.

    I wonder if we might fair better in a semi-final against Atletico?
    Two games might alter the approach Simeone takes, just a hunch I guess….

    Maybe we’re destined to meet Lazio Roma in the final..?

  35. Pony Eye says:

    One option no one has considered is a final with neither Atletico nor Arsenal. OGAAT has been flung out of the window.

    Moscow looms!

  36. Pony Eye says:

    TA,
    You got a mail.

  37. Goonereris says:

    Nice, considered post, AB. A lot said on it already (the headline caught me a bit off guard though 😜). Just catching up on things here as it’s been rather busy for me, lately.

    I’ll just summarize my thoughts on the subject by stating my liking for the new approach: play hard ball on contract extension for the lads who have been at the club all these years (some carried by the club instead of the other way round), ease out those who are not “happy”, add one or two top talents each year (or window), promote any deserving top talent from the academy periodically…. until we get the right combo for great success. For long, Arsenal has paid top dollar for average talent. It’s time to do away with our “socialist wage structure” and make it more performance based!

  38. Goonereris says:

    Kev, thanks for the “good news”. I am particularly pleased that Elneny’s inexplicable red card was overturned. I will be waiting to know if Ashley Young receives a retrospective red card for that studs up, leg breaker tackle on Aguero. To see the Ref wave it away emphatically, when he really wasn’t sure was, to say the least, poor form from him.

    As for the CL Q/final games last night, I thought Roma were dominant, even if Barcelona kept possession. Shock of the night, for me still. Just tells you there’s nothing we cannot achieve if we apply ourselves to it. At 3-0 down in the first leg, it was always go8ng to be an uphill task for City seeing as Liverpool was always going to get that one chance for an away goal (they got 2 goals in the end), which will kill off the City fighting spirit. Pep has to wait for his next CL medal for another year, it will seem.

    Secretly, I fear that Jurgen Klopp can fashion another CL trophy for Liverpool, on current form of the teams in remaining. They look like they will give any team in Europe trouble. If he does it, he will be gunning for the EPL next. I’ll hate that but, you heard it here first.

  39. Goonereris says:

    PE, from what I saw of the first leg, Lisbon still have a chance against Atletico Madrid at home; the 1st leg scoreline flattered Atletico a bit. Of course, Simeone’s side can be dogged but I just feel Lisbon can shock them if they are carried away by the 2-0 scoreline. In the same vein, Arsenal have to be professional to avoid a shocker in Moscow. They have a vociferous fan base and will be quick off the blocks at home; we have to be ready for an onslaught and must do all to silence the crowd in the first half. Any of those defensive blunders and our advantage can be cut very quickly. The good news is that we are just as likely to score as many as we concede, so we should go through.

    Roma v Barcelona last night should re-emphasize the fact that it isn’t over until the final whistle of the ties.

  40. RA says:

    Good Morning All,

    I am late addressing the brilliant Post by AB and therefore I am probably chewing the fat after you guys have masticated the subject already.

    Anyway – I think AW has always adopted and adapted the well tried methodology of many businesses at the macro level, and managers at a micro level which is to have a stated Policy – Strategy – Plan which guides them, and, importantly, others involved as to what the business overall, and the manager at departmental level, within the scope of those edicts is aiming to achieve.

    For all intents and purposes the Policy of the BoD and AW have fitted like a hand in a well made glove.

    Football Policy: An agreed vision to play an entertaining and successful brand of football to the benefit of the fans, and also to the benefit of the owners as a result of achieving the vision.

    Football Strategy: To recruit the type of players needed to enable the successful achievement of both the club’s and the manager’s policy/vision.

    Football Planning: Over the longer term it is necessary to ensure that the correct environment is provided to nurture the players, to train them, educate in the style of play demanded, and to clearly define what the players are expected to do within the strategy and the vision.

    This clearly worked very well during the late 20th and early 21st Century under Arsène, but among other vexing issues, ensuring the planning and resourcing of the correct environment (the Emirates) the incremental progress of the vision has stuttered somewhat.

    When visions, strategies, plans start to come under pressure – the BoD need to take corrective measures, and there is evidence that that is starting to be prioritised with the recruitment of some high powered managers and directors to take the workload off AW.

    Fingers crossed that next season will be a key watershed in returning Arsenal to the top pf the tree, instead of remaining the perennial also-rans we have become in recent years.

    OK — you can wake up now guys — I have finished boring the asses off everyone.

    Once again, well done AB, the subject matter of your Post is clearly à point in these subdued times.

  41. allezkev says:

    PE, you are right of course, one game at a time and I am normally quite a cautious fan when it comes to predicting Arsenal, but we should be confident that our team can negotiate a positive result in Mother Russia, I think we could do a similar job on the Soviets as was done by Liverpool yesterday evening, of course we could do with a friendly referee as was the case for Klopp and his lucky Liverpool lads.
    I think, having seen CSKA defending or the lack of it, that we should have enough firepower to score against the Army team of Moscow and that’ll negate their goal from the Emirates.
    A first win in the Soviet Union for an Arsenal team should really be more than a possibility.

  42. allezkev says:

    Eris, I wish I could give you good news regarding Mkhitaryan, it seems that his season is over if the reports are accurate, even the injury website I look at has Mick not returning until the 23rd May and they’re usually quite reliable. So we might just get him back for our hoped for visit to the stadium of Olympique Lyonnaise, fingers crossed.

  43. Goonereris says:

    Really sad, that, Kev. He will be missed but I trust the other lads to make up for his absence. I like Mkhi’s positive energy and grit, plus his willingness to track back when required. He has something very few (if any) in the current Arsenal squad have: a bit of a nasty/feisty streak. When he shapes to mark an opponent, he is always focused on trying to win back the ball and usually achieves that. He shoots as soon as the opportunity presents itself (which puts paid to the lie that Wenger coaches that skill out of his players, by the way). He has some fight in him too and the ability to play through balls in tight areas. I am happy we have him and look forward to what he brings next season.

  44. Pony Eye says:

    Eris, you know Mkhi very well. Amongst other things I like him because he takes the 2 out of 10 chances for big events like goals. In football 2 out of 10 is a big chance. My grouse with Welbeck (he is a-changin’) is he seeks for the 8 out of 10 chances that never never come.

  45. Pony Eye says:

    Some blokes call it the “perfect goal”.

  46. Pony Eye says:

    Xhaka’s shooooooooot is roughly a 2 out of 10 chance.

  47. AB says:

    Afternoon BKers. Many thanks for the kind words above and my apologies for not responding sooner – I’ve been away with work for a couple of days. My reflection amidst all kinds of curious results and performances across other clubs is that a) there are fine margins in sport between success and relative failure, and b) Arsenal still have a very capable squad, albeit one in transition. I take a fair degree of comfort from these unremarkable statements. The team is trying to settle in a lot of new players and needs to manage further change as some players near their end will have to depart and others come in. We may not be world beaters next season, but we are not a long way from being a team that really could compete. We need to find that small margin to help us there. In the meantime defeats will frustrate – disproportionately so given our league position as there is little to be immediately cheered by. Europa league, youth development in the remainder of our league season and then the TW. Plenty to keep us thinking over the coming months. But we will have to bide our time a bit yet for the glory stuff.

  48. Pony Eye says:

    Every play demands its own chance factor. A back pass to the GK should have a success rate of not less than 1:100. A line breaking pass say 8:10. of course depending on the field situation. A through pass of 7:10 is excellent. 4:10 is good enough for box flicks. 2:10 good enough for an attempt on goal. Mkhi has good all round decisions.

  49. Pony Eye says:

    Sorry my above should have read for back passes ” should not have a failure rate of not more than 1: 1000″

  50. Pony Eye says:

    AB,
    There are countless view points from your post most pointing in the same direction.

    When we moved to the Emirate, because of our cash constraints, it can be guessed that a policy of just keeping pace with the front runners was adopted as adequate. It now looks like the only way we can brake loose from that mentality is by engaging a new management. Not that the new are intrinsically better than the existing, but they come free of that limiting mentality. The new comes with new inertia. I believe the club is on this track already, but managing it cautiously and sensibly.

  51. AB says:

    Hi PE. I’m not so sure that the change of management is such an automatic consequence of our direction. It depends what you look for from that role – and the person in it, now and in the future. If we seek understanding of the game and a clear philosophy around how best to play it, of the shape and balance required in a team to play to its potential, in the identification and understanding of the means to develop talent, then I am not clear of the need for change. Unless we have someone who shows greater skill in thes qualities available. If what is sought is someone who can connect with the players closely in terms of playing experience and has shown recently that he can rally players to high performance. Then that might mean someone different. But I would question whether this needs to all come from one manager, or from the combined leadership team. Kevin Keegan was great at the latter aspects. But in his own words, a little bit short, of the former. We need to be very clear what we want and at what point in our transition is the optimal time to make a change. I’m not convinced that we are yet at the point in transition where it would make sense to shift from someone with vision/design strengths to one who is a more straightforward implementor of the chosen design. We shall see what the Board think only too soon, assuming Wenger doesn’t make the choice for them before then!

  52. Pony Eye says:

    AB,
    I feel we need a change in ambition and I wonder if the old guard have it in them to engineer a self change. Change is more easily achieved through new impetus from fresh ideas and not from ideas within the same old prison walls. We need a jail brake.

    The management I feel already recognises this need, hence the new recruitments in management but they also know that a jail brake attempt can end up tragically. So they are proceding cautiously. In other words we (fans) should exercise greater patience. Tough call any day.

  53. jw1 says:

    “We need a jail brake.”
    Oddly, an accurate mixed-metaphor PE!

    The club do have new impetus in the decision-making process. Most were not surprised and pleased with the moves in the Winter TW. Stunned by the rapidity and decisiveness shown. Not to mention the savvy involved.

    The club has been swept of deadwood and overpaids. Salary-structure cut from the moorings. Negotiations on merit.

    Other than throwing belongings on the curb and changing the locks? 🙂
    Not sure how much more could be expected in just 60 days since January 31st.

    jw1

  54. jw1 says:

    **most WERE surprised…

    jw1

  55. Pony Eye says:

    😭 jailbreak

  56. Pony Eye says:

    TA,
    Chech your box for a revised mail.
    Xhaka out with flu.

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi PE

    Sorry have been travelling for a few days. Will post tonight or tomorrow.

    AB

    Well done with getting so many responses to your excellent post.

    I respect your view re youth being a good differentiator but I would rather opt for clever management that fits our culture and playing style as our main differentiator. Wenger offered this for a long time and now it is time to get the right person for the new era that we are in.

  58. Goonereris says:

    Great drama in Madrid. Michael Oliver hands Madrid a lifeline with an 89th minute penalty and a red card for Buffon, which gave our boy, Szczesny a chance to be a hero. It wasn’t to be though as CR7 crashed the kick into the roof of the net.

    Not sure Oliver will have too many friends in Turin at this time.

    Dramatic couple of days which should serve as warning for our boys.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s