Emery Can Learn from Mercedes’ Toto Wolff How to Treat the Genius of Mesut Ozil

You can never turn a tiger into a hyena, or an osprey into a magpie. Mesut Ozil is a hard-thinking, hard-running, intelligent player, a genius at finding and creating space and he possesses that rare overview of the entire pitch and sense where the ball needs to be played next. Mesut is of course also the former king of the key pass as well as king of assists in the PL. Yet Unai Emery is desperate to change him into a hard-chasing, constantly harassing hyena/magpie, and in the process he is killing a very loyal Gunner, and with that the quality of the football we play.

Oh I’ve heard people say, Mesut is ‘an employee’ and needs to do what he’s been told to do. They say that he has not been giving his all and is far too stubborn. They say Ozil should grow some balls and fit into ‘the system’ – WETF that is.

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives anything except genius.” Oscar Wild

Oh how wrong they are. A genius like Mesut Ozil only comes around every ten years at a club like Arsenal. Mesut is like Dennis and Cesc: players who bring the game to life and around whom a team needs to be build. Key is to leave them be, embrace them, love them, and listen to them. Today I read an interview with Toto Wolff of Mercedes and I reckon he understands much better how a genius needs to be treated. Talking about Lewis Hamilton, the highly successful Formula1 Mercedes driver, he said:

Most important is to acknowledge that we are all different individuals and we need different frameworks in order to perform well”.

“Lewis is somebody who needs to be able to pursue his other ambitions and interests. And rather than putting somebody in a box and saying, ‘This is how a racing driver needs to behave – you need to be on time, you need to avoid jet lag before the race, or don’t record music overnight when you are jet-lagged but try to sleep,’ I realised very early on that giving him the freedom of pursuing his interests, we were able to extract more performance on track.”


Wolff is talking about Lewis’ outside of work activities and personal interests, which is of course not an issue with Mesut. But key in it all is to accept a genial sportsman for what they are and how they are wired. Wolff does not force Hamilton to be an exemplary driver on AND off the pitch but rather opts to embrace his full character, qualities and needs, resulting in a happy and yet highly performing driver when it matters. It takes an intelligent and humble manager to understand this.


I reckon it is not yet too late for Emery to accept Mesut for what he is and has to offer. Build a team around him and show him the respect he deserves. Provide him with a bespoke framework so he can perform to maximum levels once more and from which all will benefit. By embracing Ozil’s genius and showing him the respect that he has earned,  and by not forcing him into the one-framework-for-all he wants his players to fit into, Emery can still both save Arsenal and his own career. He is a lucky man to have Ozil, but a fool to misunderstand/mistreat him.

By TotalArsenal.

39 thoughts on “Emery Can Learn from Mercedes’ Toto Wolff How to Treat the Genius of Mesut Ozil

  • Comparing Ozil to BergKamp and Cesc is an insult to any true gooner and to the great players themselves. BergKamp and Cesc were never shy to get stuck in and did whatever it took to make the winning and that included defending.

    Funny how minnows like Arnautović are getting ridiculous offers from China but no one is remotely interested in the “genius” that is Ozil..

    PS: For all of Ozil’s acclaimed assists, how many times has he led the league in assists?
    Or how many times has he cracked double figures in assists?

  • Aah azed, that is what is all about isn’t it, getting stuck in. If you don’t see it, then you cannot be helped. Who had top assists in 15/16?

  • Yes. A good manager like Wolff is what we need. Wenger manages his team like Wolff does too, and a good man manager does not micro manage. Macro manage is the way to go.

  • Early last season I wrote a piece on how Emery has to meet the players half way. Very few appreciated it. I feel now that he can’t. When he failed to create the team in his image he got lost. Something has to give, either him or Ozil and it looks like it’d be Ozil.

  • Beyond his genius, I have come to see that Mesut Ozil is one sensitive, yet dogged character who knows when to stand his ground. Here is a man who took all the flak from the German federation officials (plus some fans) which came his way before and during the World Cup 2018. He went on holidays, returned for pre-season and when least expected, sprung a scathing “retirement from international football” speech on Germany that had them (still does) reeling, scurrying for cover and on the defensive. He had the Turkish president on his wedding train, to boot, and for good measure.

    Fast forward to the post-Wenger Arsenal era and Emery’s attempts to get him to conform to his way, or bail. What did he do? He has remained professional, played when asked to and made the “right” statements in the media about his intention to see out his contract. You know what, he doesn’t look like he would leave, unless it is on his own terms. If Mesut wants to leave and instructs his agent to find him a destination, he will get the offers aplenty. Of that, I have little doubt, so all the talk about him not getting any interest is just balderdash. It doesn’t have to be the Big sides, either….

    What I am trying to say here is I agree with your position, TA. Treat Ozil right, show him some love and you will have him back to his creative best. Treat him with disdain and you have a guy who will just stick it to you and wait it out. Today, I see a player holding back, trying to keep to the game plan (?) and refraining from trying those passes we knew him for, so as not to give away possession. He can frustrate at times (and boy, does he frustrate the hell out of me for showing weakness and appearing not to put his body where it hurts) but I guess we have to learn to live with those times and count on him to compensate with many moments of magic. I only hope it isn’t too late to see more of those as he enters the twilight years for footballers.

  • PE, on the contract on which he is on and at his age, I am not sure Ozil will blink first. You sense there is a battle of wits going on and if he is forced out, in any way, it will cost the club because he is in a good place with his terms.

  • Cheers guys. If you have time make sure you read the article; it is full of good management insights, especially in terms of how to motivate a team that keeps winning…

    I think, Eris, you got it about right re his character and pride. I was reading on Wikipedia re Mesut and was quite surprised how much he referred to the respect Arsene showed him before he decided to sign with Arsenal. This is really important to him and I have no doubt this is partly due to the fact that he grew up as a Turkish German in Germany where respect (the lack of it) will no doubt have been an issue. I have been watching the ACN and understand a bit why you reckon that ‘not to put his body where it hurts’ is an issue for you. I reckon that his focus is on being available and constantly looking where the opportunities are, and then playing the right ball. He may also get quickly injured if he were to get more physical; in short, like you say, that is just not his game.

    I reckon that Ozil will stay and that Emery will (have been told to) work with his star-performer. It is much more likely that Emery will leave in the next 3-12 months before MO11. The two will need to work together and lift Arsenal up to where it belongs…

  • Eris, am not saying there is a battle of wits. Just that neither seem able to adjust to the other and that’s a problem.

  • PE, okay, I get it now.
    TA, rightly, called it his pride and need for respect. I think that about sums up the man. He looks like someone you don’t trifle with.

    TA, Lol @ taking a cue (about my idea of a footballer) from the AFCON. It gets very physical when Africans come back home to play against one another. Zaha hardly got a sniff before his late goal (one of few shots his Ivorian side had on target); even Salah found it hard going. I do like to see a professional who gets paid so we’ll be willing to put something on the line for the team. But, I understand and accept Ozil isn’t going to be like that.

  • Our boy, Iwobi did well today for Nigeria vs the South Africans, assisting one goal and generally being a threat. Ended 2-1 Nigeria. So, Iwobi May be late for pre-season, guys, having hit the semi finals which guarantee a run to the last weekend of the tournament.

  • You are right. The manager should work on his team building skills. You can’t have 10 men running after the ball. I think about Veria would have been a better manager. He know what Arsenal is about.

  • Hey TA… Another good one…though I again fear you’re in Dreamland… Soon the season will be upon us… like a far too loud alarm clock…

    Alas, I’m in transit so no time to write. (Plus, I’m currently thumbing this from my phone–even worse.) Hopefully, I’ll get settled soon and have a keyboard at my disposal…

    Let me just say this… Ozil’s game is all about space… which is the opposite of getting stuck in… If people can’t see that, it likely means that they can’t see anything away from the ball which means they can get just about all they need to know from the scorelines and the highlight vids…along with some predictable outrage about contracts and pounds per week… Unfortunately, that’s Emery (and money) ball…

    FbF… (Freddy by February)… ☹️

  • And Laurent Koscielny appears to be throwing a tantrum at the club. It is reported he refused to join the rest of the team on pre-season tour over his desire to leave for any of the club’s who want him in France. Club has put out a statement rightly expressing disappointment with his behaviour.

    On my part, I am not sure why we cannot let the man have his way, at this age and with the young defenders we have coming up.

  • Been reading about the Laurent Koscielny situation and find he is trying to eat his cake and have it. On what planet does a player in the last year of his contract imagine he will be allowed to go for FREE, earn himself a hefty sign-on fee and get a new contract at a new club? Well, certainly not when the club’s finance has been hurt by years of not playing CL, owing to sub-par performances by the team, under his captaincy.
    This is rather unexpected from Koscielny; a man who got paid top dollar while he was injured many times and even while the defence was woeful. He must know Arsenal owes him nothing and the idea that he deserves a free transfer is laughable. The club is not a charity and he has a contract that he must either see out, buy out, or be sold for a fee. There is no justification for his action, which is rather unprofessional, so I hope the club fines him to the maximum and if he fails to retrace his steps, throws him into the reserves, as a deterrent to any other player having similar thoughts.

  • Agreed Eris, we don’t know all the facts re Koz’s behaviour but in principle it is disappointing. Didn’t see that one coming..

  • Thank you, very good and insightful article! And despite Mesut not used to his best, he is still our best creator… I don’t get UE…

  • Eris, in this current defensive situation Kos looks like he is a gonner.
    They have to play it the hard way and fine him if the reason that he gave is absurd.
    Emery looks like he is losing it. How long more before the rest of the players go against him completely is anyone’s guess.

  • Looks like the board had decided that we have the players we needed and go slow at buying new players.. “if there is one and he is willing to have lengthy negotiations then we will buy him” mentality has got to go out the door.

  • Hmm

    Interesting thoughts and I would agree. For me, if our defense had performed like prior years (to this last one) we would have been far higher and not having this discussion. I.e. yes, Emery has a system and Ozil doesnt fit, and yes, it’s stupid. BUT, it’s also a symptom of our poor defense.

    For me, the key is noting that even if Ozil had chased and done way more, our defense would have still given up virtually all those goals. Just review prior discussions on the various issues and poor defensive choices, and injuries etc. The root cause of our malaise is not attacking but defending.

    For Emery, and others, to then put that burden on the attackers is misleading and not helpful

    my 2p — jgc

  • Goonereris – completely agree on Koscielny. I will be forever thankful to him for playing through pain because I know what working through pain means and how responsible one has to be to opt for working in those circumstances instead of sitting on your couch at home and picking a paycheck without doing nothing.

    However, what he did is beyond stupid and should be stripped of captaincy.

  • Look at what Ozil did during his contract debacle a few years ago, and what Kos did…..
    Who is classier?

    Rapids were no match for the youngsters and it is the first game for the lads to let Emery look at them well. Saka and Olayinka did really well and Martinelli’s goal reminded me of a certain player that we should have kept him. Good for the team to have bought him, and bring on the Munich team.

    Good start lads to wave off the bad news of Kos.

  • Fine outing by the boys late last night into this morning, as they edged Bayern Munich 2-1. We started the game with the “big guns”, went and stayed 1 up (O.G, after scintillating wing play by Auba) for a long period of the game, before Lewandowski equalized late in the 2nd half, threatening extra time. Emery then made a raft of changes hooking Ozil, Laca, Auba and Mkhi and on came Nketiah, Tyreece, Nelson and Saka. It worked as some youthful, energetic pressing, plus some give and go’s in the area put the German side on the back foot towards the end of the game. Nketiah got a late goal, off some good work by Tyreece Jon-Jules, to see us win the game.

    Good work-out for both teams too.

  • Sorry, meant to say we stayed up for long periods of the second half, after scoring our goal early into the restart. **

  • Jon-Jules looks quite a promising prospect. He is tall and strong, and he looks to me like a creator-type midfielder. Looking good to score against a strong Bavarian team.

  • The boy never stopped running. Amazing kid; paid close attention to him, for the first time, in this game. Looks a prospect. And Nketiah is so strong in possession….

  • Good to hear from you and know you’re okay, otherwise. Enjoy, my man!

  • TA, back on Monday is perfectly timed. Things are looking up and this week might be it.


  • PE

    Your teasers are as good as the ones at the cinema! 🙂 …

    IMO, if Emery is as attack oriented as claimed we will need some defenders that can defend. Saw Fiorentina highlights and watching Mustafi seems to prove aliens exist. At least the ones who come and take people’s brains.. sigh sadness…

    Rest follow suit my first commment. We don’t need attackers to chase as much if our defenders are good / better

    Cheers — jgc

  • Prof,

    It seems that we have seen enough of Mustafi’s brain breakdowns to leave him out completely. It’s not that he doesn’t try. He tried too much and made things worse.

    Other defenders are ok, but if the DMs doesn’t help then even if we bought De Ligt we will still concede goals. Look at yesterday’s spuds vs Juve match. He did well to block a couple of shots but couldn’t do anything to stop their freak punted goal.

  • Prof …. We keep it boiling, somehow.

    njk …. I agree. Defending as a team is a bigger issue.

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