Dreaming of Ajax and why Arsenal need to Stick with Arteta

On Tuesday night I watched a veritable feast of football. I have always had a soft spot for Ajax because of their footballing philosophy and youth academy that’s second to none.

Borussia Dortmund were pulverised in a game that could have gone on all night if you were not a Dortmund supporter. It was fast and furious but with the ball on the ground and movement all over the pitch. I have seldom seen such organised frenzy leading to such devastating football. It was like an alien team from a superior civilisation had come to play a game on our earth.

To play such football it needs to be in your DNA. It needs to be trained at youth level and it is about understanding roles and positions, about sensing the bigger picture and playing machine like football based around individual expression. This may sound like an oxymoron and for most managers it will always be an incompatible combination, but some managers get it right. And when they get it right they reach the Apex of football. Cruijff, Van Gaal, Klopp and Guardiola are blessed with it, and Ten Hag is showing very promising signs to be another master of total football

The absolute basic is that all players on the pitch are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, are great passers and have a superb first touch. These are the sort of players Arteta is buying and growing, and we are not there yet.

Wenger transformed our club and how we have celebrated his football. The game moved on and under Arsene in the last decade there was too much individual expression and too little system based football. Klopp and Guardiola out-systemed him.

We now have Mikel Arteta: our hope is invested in him. He is transforming our entire approach to football – it’s a difficult and almost impossible task as the PL standards are so high now with all the best managers in the world and such a spoiled and impatient supporter base.

Mikel is getting there but it will take a lot of time and he may not be able to get us there all the way. But he will give his all for this grand project and he will need our support.

The job is hard as Arsenal got so far behind, but what a great journey we are experiencing. One day we will play Ajax-like football and it will all have been worth it. Arteta is getting us on the way and he may take us all the way. Key is to see the bigger picture and support the cause. We have some way to go.

By TotalArsenal

28 thoughts on “Dreaming of Ajax and why Arsenal need to Stick with Arteta

  • Like yourself Total, I’ve always enjoyed watching the top clubs and the manner in which they play the game. The thing that never fails to amaze me is just how fervent their supporters are and in many games that is what makes the difference.

    Our crowd seems to have improved somewhat this season – however we all know that it only takes a few bad games to bring out the boo boys again.

    I am in in full agreement that Arteta is managing the early stages of his project – lets just hope that he is given the time to see if through to fruition.

  • Agreed, GN5. It is hard to keep it evolving the footie. Watching Ajax on Tuesday made me realise the size of the mountain to climb for us.

  • Madness or brilliance? He obviously possess an incredible natural talent. I believe that being in the Arsenal camp and under the watchful eyes of our professional staff will be good for him and his family – they will be able to keep the wolves away from the door.

  • Oh, and they will also ensure that he has as normal an upbringing and schooling as possible. He is one talent that I would love to see grow into maturity – but age is against me………….

  • TA, I believe that Arsenal will stick with Arteta unless there is a really bad run of results or he loses the dressing room. With the number of players that have been brought in by Arteta (and Edu) the latter is unlikely and with the squad that we now have, the former should be too!

    It is clear from our summer activity that the BoD has agreed to invest in a long-term project based on Arteta’s ideas and philosophies. The headlines that keep popping up purporting to be about Arteta’s supposed successor are just click-bait and I refuse to click on them

  • Totally agreed, OX10. There is a vision and strategy and Arteta is central to this. Progress will be measured against different milestones than most of the fans have. Patience is golden.

  • From the previous thread, …….Kev, I really liked to read what you shared about how Cowley is taking his time with Azeez, protecting from negative match situations to help with his education. I had been concerned as to why the young lad couldn’t get a game at a lower league side.

    I do hope Cowley means well and, as you say, he is a safe pair of hands for the growth of young Azeez. Anything short of some playing time and Arsenal will be in their right to recall the man.

  • GN5, quite an interesting video about the 4 year old with precocious talent. I had seen clips some time earlier on social media but missed the part about him being part of the Arsenal set up.

    I agree with TA. It may be too early to conclude that we are onto something with him as it is usually easy to be great amongst cadets, when you have such innate talent. It is a different matter doing it at senior levels….and that is if he gets that far. I wish him well and hope we can keep him till we have a Messi on our books.

  • Total/OX10 regarding Arteta and Arsenal’s results in general we’ve gotta accept that there’s been an overall levelling up in the Premier League meaning that there really isn’t any soft touches anymore with even the Petrodollar clubs struggling at times to get positive results against the so called lesser lights!

    Arsenal have a good squad and a promising manager but the clubs around us also have good squads and switched on managers, everyone does the same in terms of training, diet, health, scouting, stats etc and Arsenal’s advantage has long gone, it was gone long before Wenger left actually.

    Look at Everton, they’ve spent a fortune and stayed exactly where they were before they were taken over and Man United despite spending an even bigger fortune can’t recapture they’re past glories and are slipping closer to Arsenal than challenging City and Chelsea.

    Maybe it’s our new reality?

  • TA, your optimism about this team, and Arteta’s impact so far, is infectious but it is just hard to see how what we have been served (apart from a sprinkling of games when we play on the counter and have looked sharp, usually only because we were classed as underdogs; I’ll come back to that syndrome) results in that kind of football you described Ajax as playing, not to speak of their philosophy.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish Arteta the very best and will be thrilled to have him stay on and succeed with the process he’s set in motion at our club. It just worries me that he has not got us even showing anything close to a deliberate and methodical approach to team play where we stay consistent with a philosophy, no matter what. We have good enough players; it’s just that they appear burdened with strict instructions that prevent them taking initiative and expressing themselves individually and showing cohesiveness, when team play is required and composure at key moments. These things are directly attributed to manager influence (see Tuchel at Chelsea, Klopp at ‘pool and even Vieira’s influence at Palace). I worry that if the team keeps this up, it won’t be long before fans start to bay for his head.

    Mikel Arteta can do it, given the kind of reviews he got/gets from City players he’s worked with and his impact in his first few months with our boys. It just looks like he is now distracted by the managerial/administrative aspect of his responsibilities.

    Finally, I promised to speak about how well we play when we are the underdogs. I notice that in games against sides we are not too far off from, but where the media write us off as rubbish, we somehow get to surprise everyone. That is not a good sign, for me, because it suggests we only get to play when we have a point to prove; or when we have the excuse to sit back and hit on the break: the approach of the underdog (unless you are Atletico Madrid). Arteta has to be looking to have the team playing in a certain way and mentality in a more consistent manner.

  • Yes Eris, that was suggested to me on another blog when I posted the Azeez piece there and I can understand the concerns of fans about Miguel’s lack of time on the pitch, but I think that Cowley used Smith Rowe the same and didn’t overplay him.

    All the same, I am disappointed that Portsmouth haven’t given him more time and as you suggest if Azeez is still not playing much come January then Arsenal might recall him and send him elsewhere?

    Mind you, if you’re Danny Cowley and you need some positive results and quick then maybe you could be forgiven for putting your own position before giving minutes to an Arsenal U23 player…

  • Eris, I’d loved to continue our chat but I’m cream crackered mate.
    Goodnight to you wherever you are. 👍🏼

  • We don’t want to be a club that keeps changing and chopping the manger. It will indeed have a deleterious affect in the long run. So it’s the interest of the club that Arteta succeeds and take us close to the promised land. But it would be fallacy to ignore some of the patterns that atleast iam concerned with the way the regime has shaped. I understand and whole heartedly support the transfer policy which makes complete sense. But few patterns which worries me are
    1. Ability to play as a team and make the sum of parts greater than the whole
    2. A clear style that gives an identity is still missing
    3. A single player missing causes a disruption in our play. Evidence last season of Tierney , strikers and not Xhaka
    4. Consistent performance over the period of the game. Even in our best game with Spurs there were periods where we were under siege.
    5. In game management is lacking and no evidence of who orchestrates the in game management.
    6. Treatment of certain individuals and specially younger players key being inconsistent utilisation of younger players. If tehre is a strategy here it’s not evident and we have wait for it to fructify.
    It is critical that Arteta succeeds as the club seems to have invested in him heavily. We love our club and pray that Arteta succeeds for the future of the club

  • Kev, absolutely. It’s getting harder to stay ahead of the competition and we need to do it around long term vision, style of play, management and youth/good buys. That’s the Ajax way but they still have to sell a lot of players…. We don’t.

  • Cheers Eris, good comment. It will take a long time before we see performances like the one against the Spuds on a regular basis. Instructions are part and parcel of total voetbal 2.0 and the team will have to come through this. Another season of adjustment is likely needed and we need replacements for Pepe and Auba this season or end of it.

  • I agree with your third point, Madhu. Wenger suffered from this too. Arteta bought wisely to give us more depth but there is no number two for Xhaka; we only have one conductor. Maybe Partey can do it but then he needs a solid DM type next to him to do his former job.

  • Yes Total, I agree completely regarding Pepe and Aubameyang, both are top players, both cost the club a fortune to sign and maintain in terms of salary, both were brought in under previous regimes and cannot be moved on easily but both also do not suit our present style of play…

    I’m sure if Arsenal were made acceptable offers for both this January or next summer, loss making offers but acceptable- whatever that would be – then I’m certain that the club would move them on and attempt to replace them.

    I think that Nicholas Pepe has to be among the most disappointing signings that Arsenal has ever made in my long time as a supporter, Mesut Ozil let me down generally but at least his first few years were reasonably decent, but Pepe has been a major disappointment to me.

  • I like them both because they work hard and want to change, especially Pepe. But this ability to comfortable with the ball in tight spaces and not lose it is key to the modern TF way of playing…. And it takes 11 to tango. 🍊 🍊

  • I really appreciate and admire your commitment, GN5.
    But I withdraw from the tournament.

    (There was an idea in the beginning that the latest prediction contest would have a small prize and a nominal fee, but I don’t know if this concept was eventually accepted or cancelled. If the former, I will certainly chip in, just let me know how.)

  • PB, The question was put to the participants -“Fee or no Fee” and the majority voted for no fee – and that was made clear at the time.
    So now it’s a “for fun” competition – I’m sorry to see you withdraw.

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