The World Cup is hotting up but it is scant a distraction to our wait for real football that begins in August. Am always out in the open lighting myself cigarettes of things Arsenal, World Cup not withstanding.
It’s widely believed that Emery wants to build his team around Ozil and Ramsey even though the story fueling this belief materialized as it were from thin air and there has not (to my knowledge) been a confirmation of it from Emery or any source close to him.
I was sceptical of the story when it broke soon after Emery’s appointment. It is not unreasonable to imagine that the meticulous Emery would not rush into such a decision with as yet a superficial knowledge of the team. He might known enough of the players to impress in an interview, but the real knowledge that can back such a massive public declaration can only come from working with the players.
An experienced coach knows that videos tell only part of a player’s story. There are many vital things it cannot tell; for instance, how amenable to instruction a player is. There are players whose playing habits have become fixed. There are some who are self willed to the extent of resisting instructions that they don’t fancy. There are even some who want to assert their own will over the coach’s in matters of training, tactics and selection of players. PSG, full of big egos was a nightmare for Emery for the latter reasons. With that haunting experience, he would least want to commit himself with such a premature pronouncement. Granted he must start on a certain premise but as an experienced coach he is bound to leave it open to revisions as his knowledge of his players improves.
Further more, a seasoned coach always mindful of the ever sensitive dressing room, knows better than to canvas certain ideas formally or publicly.
What does it really mean to build a team around a player? I find it a lot more agreeable if it means building a team to accommodate a player’s strength and weaknesses. But then isn’t this what is being done for every player in a team? Torreira is perceived as one who would help to cover Xhaka’s defensive weakness amongst other things.
Let us examine the case of Ramsey. His strength is his stamina, his indefatigable spirit, his box runs. On the down side is his apparent lack in understanding of defensive positioning. If Emery is able to take away his unguarded box runs (which I doubt he can) Ramsey’s game might just go flat or at best become average. That could decide Emery to leave him as he is accommodating his weakness by adopting a 3-man midfield or pushing him up as an attacking midfielder. Each of the above two options would mean one of the front four of Auba, Laca, Mkhi and Ozil (our likely 1st choice front four) dropping out. I doubt anyone sees that as a clear cut choice. If it’s no clear cut choice then there is no basis expecting Rambo to be central to Emery’s plans.
In the case of Ozil we all know his strengths and his weaknesses. Emery has clearly indicated that pressing is a major change he will bring to the team. He did not say it for the benefit of the press. It is a clear message to his players, Ozil inclusive. He obviously wants them to use the holiday to get their minds adjusted to it and it hardly rhymes that Ozil would be the heart of the team that has a major plank of its tactics as gengen pressing. Yes, Ozil will be there, but not as the centre of things.
Meanwhile Emery has signed Lichsteiner and Bernd Leno. Torreira is awaiting official confirmation. Sokratis Papastathopoulus looks in the bag. Rumours of a distant phone call to Ever Banega is everywhere. Non of these have a smell of Rambo and Ozil at the centre, let alone the fact of Rambo’s contract running out in a year. Emery is building a team of eleven players and not a team around two players.