Great Leaders in any field will seek to inspire through words and deeds, to drive their charges on to greater heights and to ensure that mental focus is not lost on the road ahead. William Gallas is facing such a challenge now and is aware of it,
I will tell you why there was a difference between the performance at Milan and then in our next game at Wigan — it was in the head…what we needed was an even higher level than we had in Milan. We all have to understand that quickly because time is running out this season
It is a bit late in my opinion for this epiphany; that was needed before Wigan and Middlesbrough. However, Gallas needs to get inside the collective psyche as well as individuals. There is undoubtedly a great togetherness within the squad but there needs to be more leadership, to raise others to be more influential in the final third because it does not matter how many you concede so long as you score one more than your opponents.
The key aspect for me of recent games has been the inability to break down stubborn resistance. The number of chances created each game is dipping as is the ratio of shots on target. Confidence is dented as Arsene acknowledged,
I feel they gave absolutely everything, but there was a little fraction less of belief. There was a big disappointment in the dressing room. It was like a defeat. It is the flattest I have seen them after a game
I do not think anyone can fault the physical effort they are putting in. However, mentally you wonder if the collective nature of the squad is dampening some leadership spirit; whether perhaps some are keeping harmony ahead of what might be considered a ‘good old fashioned rollicking’. Sometimes, talking is cheap and letting off steam is more productive.
There is a danger that we have slipped into the same ways of the tail-end of last season where it drifts which would be a pity for a team that has achieved considerably more than was expected of them. The pressure will be on them this weekend because realistically, Chelsea will be level on points following their visit to Tottenham on Wednesday and by the time kick-off comes at Stamford Bridge, I fully expect United to be six points clear. A draw under those circumstances will not be good enough.
It is not just the players and Gallas as Captain that has to find motivation. Arsene does as well, for himself and the squad. The mental ability to retrieve a deficit is well documented but it is the extra level of killing a game off that needs to be found. In Europe, that does not seem to be an issue but domestically, it has been lacking.
I feel the team fights, we came back again against Boro and this team will fight until the end. I believe we need to keep fighting and then to turn things around. We didn’t lose against Middlesbrough, a draw was not enough – but we have to lift the spirits and go for the next one. We can do it – but first we want to turn our form around again, lift the spirits and focus on the next one
Fortunately, the next one is a big one. It will not end the title race but with games fast running out, it could be hugely influential. I do not believe that motivation will be an issue for this game but the visit to Bolton in a fortnight is crucial and these are the fixtures where we have been lacking mental fortitude. I believe Arsene and his staff can find the answers before then, as they have done in the past.
Elsewhere, Barcelona apparently want Eboue, we are after Diogo, a young Brazilian and the commercial departments at Nike and Arsenal are going into overdrive to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of winning the league at Anfield. Oh, and Gilberto has apparently decided that he might leave. Stunning, is one word I would not use in connection with that revelation. In fact, revelation is another word I would not use in connection with that news. In fact…
Keep The Faith. ‘til Tomorrow.