Happy New Year fellow BKers!
I was ‘at the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve street party’, so they told us, at the foot of the wonderful Edinburgh Castle – one of the world’s most beautiful city-settings, I am sure you’ll agree. Tickets at £75 a head, taxis double the price, buses triple the price and two cans of beer, a red wine and bottle of water an eye-watering £22… but it was totally worth it.
The Hogmanay party had two highlights: the fireworks which were simply godly and Franz Ferdinand’s 1.5 hour fabulous performance on stage. I didn’t expect too much from FF, but boy did they give a show on the night: true entertainers who live for the music, and, all together, performed ‘in the moment’! Going since 2002, so 16 years and counting, and they still love to be on stage; and that happiness gave us all a buzz on the night. Alex Kapranos, Lead Singer, kept asking us ‘Are you with me, Edinburgh?’, and yes we ‘were with him’ all the way.
It made me think again that what’s is so important in anything that is being done by humans, whether it is serving food in a restaurant, driving people from A to B, managing an organisational change process, operating on a patient, selling fish from a market stall, performing on stage, or indeed, manage a sports team, is threefold: focus, energy/joy, and team work. Talent/know-how help too, but most things can be learned through hard work, education/training and tenacity; and relying on talent alone will not get you far. Without focus, energy/joy and team work there will not be real success, it will not be very enjoyable and you will not be adding much, if anything. to the job at hand.
And that is what I would like to see at Arsenal – on all levels – in 2019: focus, passionate commitment and VCC.
Yes I like some new good players too, but let’s not believe too much in shop-therapy. Just look at Manure and you know we cannot just buy ourselves out of a ‘crisis’.
Despite some personal irritations about Unai’s team selection and handling of players, I have no doubt that Unai offers Arsenal all three aspects in abundance. He is focussed: knows his targets, knows how he wants to play and knows what needs doing to make progress. He has tons of energy and really, really enjoys managing our club: his energy is infectious and he lives for football. And he is also a real team player even though certain players do not seem to fit into his team for the future, which is natural when a manager takes over.
Fact is it is going to take time. But let’s not forget Unai beat the Spuds already, we drew at OT and got close to winning there, gave Pool a real game at the home of football and could have won that one too, and we had a 23-game unbeaten run and are just a handful of points behind the fourth-placed Chavs (who were a bit lucky to beat us in the second game of the season). These are all signs that Emery has what it takes to make our club great again… eventually.
As JW1 keeps reminding us perspective is required, and we, as considered yet passionate supporters, need to trust the club and Emery and be patient in 2019. I have been critical about some of Unai’s player choices and decision making until now but am also aware that he is leading the troops from the front, and I am not. It takes time to reach a true crescendo of fireworks, and let’s see where Emery will take us in (just) 12 months from now.
Line-up for today’s game?
Hard to predict but this is of course a must-win so I expect the strongest possible team out (with the exception of Ramsey who has his head turned by five ‘big’ clubs who have a space on the bench for him to keep warm apparently – the sooner he sods off the better).
My line-up would look like this:
Let’s get the job done in the first half/60 minutes. Play with the strongest team and aim to score three before half time. High tempo, crisp passing, good movement, Ozil as the conductor (aligned with composer Emery), Auba with focus, Laca to get the service he deserves, Iwobi to do the penetration, Xhaka-Torreira to boss the midfield again, and Nacho to bring back balance on the left side and in defence.
We got a kicking at Anfield and nobody likes to experience this. But real winners don’t doubt themselves too long and definitely don’t become all self-deprecating. No they get up again, lick their wounds and go and win the next game.
Hope 2019 will bring you health, happiness and joy/success at whatever you do.