On Fitness, Flexibility & Transfers

Since the infamous “Catalyst for change” comments, very little has been seen of Ivan Gazidis in public. It’s not that he’s avoiding anyone, simply that the phrase has become another millstone around his neck. He wears so many that he walks with a permanent stoop, keeping him out of sight.

Perhaps he can get the new “director of high performance“, Darren Burgess, to sort his problem out. Where this leaves Shad Forsythe, who is listed as “head of performance”, is the unanswered question.

Is Dazza the new head honcho or does Shad get the players to a certain level and then the “highly-rated” Australian will take the fitness up to eleven? He’s arriving with the same kind of reputation as Forsythe in 2014. If it improves our performance on the pitch, then it’s no bad thing.

What will do that, according to Arsène, is flexing the players brains. It’s no good being robotic, they need to be “mentally flexible in their decision-making”.  Which is very true; Wenger points out that the players options are “green lights” and that “these lights become red very quickly, so then I have to choose another green light, and if I don’t do that quickly enough, that will turn red as well.”

It is vital, he says, that the players “are not stubborn”. While there is merit in what he says, there’s also no little irony in his demand that the players don’t possess his biggest trait: stubbornness.

This flexibility applies equally to the manager and the coming season will see if the ‘new boss’ has learned from the way last season’s Premier League campaign collapsed. He found an answer eventually but only after a few months. Change was too slow; Arsène needs to react quicker although I’m not sure he can.


Alexis featured for Chile despite ankle problems and set up Arturo Vidal’s goal in their 2 – 0 win over Cameroon. Emmanuel Petit believes if Arsenal sign players with the same “winning” mentality as Sanchez, he will sign a new contract.

According to the Frenchman, “‘At the moment nothing is decided and I believe Sanchez is waiting to see what players are brought in before he makes up his mind about his future”.

It might be a very long wait; we’re not renowned for our decisiveness in the transfer market; too many green lights turning red on the back of the manager’s procrastination.

To the chagrin of many, Petit pointed out that Sanchez’s “attitude and ­approach in every game is fantastic”, which flies in the face of what many want him to be: petulant, selfish, and greedy.

If ‘Porno flick’ Petit is right, it could be a long wait, making this a double-edged sword. Once mid-August arrives, replacing Alexis is nigh on impossible and he is walking away on a free next summer, unless Arsenal’s performances convince him otherwise.

The narrative, of course, is being peddled that it’s all Alexis and Mesut Özil’s fault we haven’t signed anyone yet. Their refusal to (publicly) tell anyone their plans mean the club are caught between a rock and a hard place. If only the club had someone responsible for negotiating contracts so that they don’t all expire at once.


There is some merit in that argument but Arsenal have to work on the basis the pair are staying, replacing them only if they actually leave. The surprising stubbornness in many ways, is Özil’s deal. We’re hardly drowning in a deluge of speculation about his future, are we?

The little boost the Transfer Window Action Team got from Jean-Michel Aulas’ claim that Lyon wanted Bertrand Traore, turned out to be a big boost; the sale is now agreed. You may think Lyon has a surplus of strikers, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

Elsewhere, there are claims we’re ‘Bacca’ in for Carlos, fighting Marseille for his signature. If only I could muster the enthusiasm for a ‘Chewie’ pun.

’til Tomorrow.

52 thoughts on “On Fitness, Flexibility & Transfers

  1. Good morning folks, you beat me to it Yogi, here’s one I prepared earlier.

    It looks like our next summer signing is imminent, an Australian bloke called Darren Burgess, he’s a fitness expert who has worked at Liverpuddle, has been the fitness and conditioning coach for the Socceroos and is currently working with the Aussie Rules club Port Adelaide.

    His wide ranging brief, at Arsenal, to include overall charge of medical, fitness, psychology and performance analysis, as well as working with the Academy. Even though this appears to leave Wenger only scouting, player recruitment, match day player catering, a bit of coaching and taking Sanchez’s dog for it’s morning walk, it is being spun as a victory for the manager as the words Director of Football do not appear in the new man’s title.

    Meanwhile, Arsenal a creeping closer to an agreed offer for Lacazette although we are well short of the €55 million asking price so far.

  2. Thank you, Yogi.

    I know from experience that writing lead Posts requires an occasionally dogmatic attitude to colour the narrative in order to engender comments, so in that context I have a couple of contra views.

    One man’s ‘stubbornness’ is another man’s ‘determination’ or ‘ perseverance’.

    That said, it is possible to read the transformation of the team set up from a classic 4 : 4 : 2 – to a more sensible 3 : 4 : 3 formation, which better suited the players we had available, was, as you said, the manager arriving slowly to an important change – or conversely, it could be seen as the manager sticking obdurately/stubbornly to a formation he preferred but that did not suit the available players, and only made the change because he was forced into it by injuries to key defenders.

    You takes your pick and Bob’s the biscuit.

    There appears to be some sort of ineffectual ‘committee’ approach to signing players.
    AW decides who he wants (and has made the club agree that he will also decide who he does not want); the owner, Stan the Man, is in charge of agreeing, or not, whether a given player’s cost is within budget, and Dick Laws will sort out the contractual terms, and ACLF will decide if it is a good acquisition, or not.

    Gawd help us. 😀

  3. HenryB,

    4-4-2?? I don’t recall that we’ve played that way for over a decade 😉

    I do like 3-4-3 though, makes much more sense given the squad that we have. Not sure how Santi fits into that though when he’s fit again. Another positive though is that we’re well covered across the back line, CM we also have depth for, so focus should be on a top class forward or two which is what many of us have been asking for for since RvP left in 2012.

    Given that we should have a clear idea of what we need you would hope that the indecisiveness of previous summers shouldn’t be so much of an issue. I’m not convinced that Lacazette is that man, but if that’s the way we go I expect that we will still be a better side with a more dynamic front three.

  4. Morning,

    So we employ another fitness man to ensure the players are in peak condition on the field, but still appear to be stuck with the same limited coaching that doesn’t develop players. Arsene’s comments appear to suggest that the players are meant to develop themselves, as he feels they need to be “mentally flexible in decision making”. So no attempts to actually train players and help them to develop themselves mentally as well as physically.

    On transfers, surely the players we should be targeting at the moment are those that can add to the current squad and take the team forward. If Sanchez and Ozil are convinced that the club is showing some ambition they have no need to go elsewhere. Waiting for the two players to decide what they are doing before moving in the market seems likely to ensure that they are leaving. Arsenal’s transfer policy under Wenger has always been reactive rather than proactive. Even when we have had teams who have won the league, there has been no real effort to build on the success the following summer. SAF was always looking to ensure that he stayed on top and the rumours in the market suggest that Conte is frustrated at Chelsea’s slowness in adding to his winning squad. Wenger usually sits on his hands and has therefore never been able to defend his title in the League. Before the emergence of the billionaire clubs the title was usually decided between Arsenal and United, but United achieved much more success.

  5. Wavey,

    Agree with that. 1999 & 2003 titles were effectively gifted to United with some poor performances in the run-ins. Most will forget we should have won the double in 1999, a man up (Keane off), penalty awaited in the FA Cup semi vs Man United. Of course we only ever see Giggs and his chest wig in re-runs.

  6. Good stuff Yogi!

    I don’t understand the logic behind blaming Ozil and Sanchez not signing their contracts as to why we haven’t brought in players. Surely the logic should be: sign players of quality to ensure that Ozil and Sanchez stay. For instance, Sead was a good signing because everything I have read about him, he is a really good signing and would seem to work well with Sanchez and he actually defends. But then everything seemed to stop.

    We have seen players move so its not out of the question. Aubameyang seems to be leaving Dortmund, why haven’t we put in a bid or why haven’t…o well I wait with baited breathe for the next signing!

  7. Salut mes amis, 🙂

    C, part of my professional qualifications involved contract law, and I carefully worded my comment to only include the process of recruiting new players in the transfer window. 😀

    Andy, you could have a point about 4 : 4 : 2, but you would have a hard job proving it – decades old system, or not – as the fluidity to the Arsenal ‘attack at all costs’ ethos in the early years defies categorising, and the more recent cross field passing and back again, at least two or three times, before kicking it back to the GK to thump down field to the opposition also defies comprehension – so away you go — convince me!! ‘Chance’ and ‘Fat’ are two words that spring to mind. 😀

  8. C,

    Surely Wenger allegedly said the same thing you mentioned above with just a little substitution of words.

    You said, -“Surely the logic should be: sign players of quality to ensure that Ozil and Sanchez stay.”

    Wenger is alleged to have said something like, – Ôzil and Sanchez are waiting to see what players we buy before signing. I am not sure where ‘blame’ was mentioned, but it can always be thrown into the mix, I guess. 🙂

  9. HenryB,

    I was making mention of it off of Yogi’s post unless I misinterpreted it.

    The problem is, we signed Sead but haven’t signed anybody else and the Confederations Cup
    or U21 World Cup shouldn’t have anything to do with it because Bernardo Silva moved to Citeh, Pickford has moved, Solanke has moved. If they are trying to bring in players of quality, I’m sorry but the pursuit of Mbappe is not the way to go especially since WE ALL know that if it comes down to Madrid or Arsenal, we all know who he choices and its not the red and white. I think a summer of signing 2 of Dembele of Celtic, Aubameyang or Lacazette would be great, hell even signing one of them and Rafinha, Seri, Rabiot, Ndidi, Lemina, Keita, or even Donsah (some say he is the closest thing to Essien when he was at the height of his powers).

  10. HenryB,

    I don’t have the professional qualifications but there is little doubt that I am a better recruiter than the current lot we have at Arsenal! I think with you handling contracts and me finding players, throw in a couple others and we can turn Arsenal around surely for less than what the current group are doing 😉

  11. Just wondering about the “high” part but the proof will be in the pudding. Or the hash brownies, I would reckon.

  12. HenryB,

    I know, we have to do something since Arsenal are yet again going out of their way to be a walking contradiction. I mean “Catalyst of change”: sign Arsene for 2-years, sign a LB for free when its clear we need a striker, our best players leaving because the club is showing no ambition or willingness to buy quality as the clubs around us continue to strengthen.

    Yup “Catalyst of change” must be a change in the the pen that Arsene used to sign this last contract 😉

  13. HenryB,

    At this point, I wouldn’t mind Dick Law leaving. I’d be interested to see what he is capable especially with the current contract situations of Ozil, Sanchez, Ox, Jack, Szczesny.

  14. An ill joke would be to think we have signed 3 people(instead of players,transfer window closes now) this summer.
    1. Sead Kolasinic
    2. Darren Burgess
    3. Huss Fahmy
    Though the director of football position has not been directly addressed, maybe Mr Gazidis is building a team of pro’s to fill that position or maybe time will tell.

  15. C,

    The contract situation does need settling at least in the cases of Ozil and Sanchez, the world that is Arsenal will move on undisturbed by the departure of the other three that you mention.

  16. Orson Kaert,

    I partly agree, the ‘other two'(Ox and Jack) that were mentioned were only mentioned because of their contract situation. I think the signing or bringing back of Sczcesny would give us stability for the foreseeable future but Arsene doesn’t seem to want him.

  17. C,

    I do not think Dick Laws has as much power as AW, but then who does?
    So the new guy will probably end up pen pushing and putting the various clauses into new contracts.

    Necessary – but not an ‘impact’ position.

  18. HenryB,

    Well hopefully the new guy is given more power than Dick Law had. I would gladly have the new man dealing and doing the contracts with Arsene only providing a list of players he wants, wants to re-sign and wants to get rid of.

    I guess one can hope

  19. Watching the Confederation’s Cup and I REALLY REALLY like Goretzka. I can see why he is so highly rated in Germany and Schalke are so desperate to keep him.

  20. Do any of you have a MacBook?

    I am astounded that a quality computer should a) lose its foot, and b) put me into a moral dilemma.

    When I say it has lost its foot, it would be more exact to say it has lost one of the 4 rubber bungs it stands on.

    The moral dilemma?
    Well it is not my machine, just a semi -permanent loan when not in use by others doing ‘normal’ working hours, and after fruitlessly searching everywhere, the damned foot just seems to have secretly disappeared, so I thought I would buy a another one and attach it with a little glue.

    Umm, No. — Apple say – depending on model the whole ‘floor’ would have to be replaced, at a cost of some £400, plus labour charges. If it is just the rubber foot, (that cannot just be glued back on – as the fumes would wreck the circuitry) that might be about £50 + labour £100 – why? because the 10 screws holding the base in position, are angled, and need to be taken off, and replaced in a complicated order sequence. Bugger!

    So the dilemma is – if it was my machine, I would trade it in and buy a new replacement (Apple don’t care about the missing foot, as they just strip the machine down and use the parts.)

    But, that would be about £1,500 for a similar machine, less about £300 for the trade in.
    I love my mate (in a totally manly way) 🙂 but not that much, and no one knows when the rubber duck disappeared. Who looks for that sort of thing before typing? It could have been anyone of five people using the machine.

    So, what do I do? What would you do? Did anyone know that a sodding bit of rubber would cost so much? No machine – no blog. (stop cheering!) 🙂

  21. I think another striker to think about is Timo Werner of RB Leipzig, 21 goals in the Bundesliga last season, the youngest player to do that in quite some time. Quick, pacy, strong, really good movement, good on the ball and likes to press.

  22. Is Var – Darth Vader’s brother — in that case I hate him too in solidity with you, C.

    If it is Video Assistant Referee, then my comrades affinity is under some pressure.

    That system, or something similar, is used all the time in Rugby and Cricket, amended for each sport, and has been used for a long time – you just get used to it, and it does improve the accuracy of refereeing decisions.

    I would be in favour of giving it a trial. Ooops — I mean, if you weren’t around, I might possibly, maybe, agree to give it a trial, C. 😀

  23. The other thing about Werner is that he is a tireless work up top with a fantastic work rate and a really good leap.

  24. More to the point, C, apart from my laptop problem – what is Rafinha the supposed makeweight in the Bellerin to Barça transfer like? Any good – do we need him?

  25. It looks like Dembele is leaving Celtic for Everton – oh, well, scratch another one off the list.

  26. HenryB,

    Yes Rafinha is good, his current problem is that he plays at Barca to be honest. He is the brother of Tiago of Bayern and plays identical both in quality and style to him. Do we need him, yes because he would be more of a like for like with Santi than many of the others that have been discussed and he is much more polished polished in attack than Ramsey but could offer the same sort of versatility with his ability to play on either the RW or as an ACM.

    Would I want him if it meant giving up Bellerin, NOPE!

  27. HenryB,

    I was looking at the Dembele of Celtic to Everton stuff and why for the 2nd time we aren’t in for him is well and truly beyond me. He is the exact sort of “Arsene” signing that Arsene used to be known for: Young, athletic, brilliant, loads of talent, and clearly has the ability to play across the front 3. The only sticking point would be price but I’m sorry, I have been saying this all summer and 2nd half of last season: If we are going to spend 100m on a youngster than I would much rather it be spent on Dembele than Mbappe.

  28. HenryB,

    The VAR is having a trial right now and its causing more confusion than anything. The ref doesn’t seem to understand it than you have what happens after decision is made.

    Its used here in the States all the time but it just doesn’t seem to flow in futbol the way its currently being used.

  29. If Liverpool and Chelsea are really chasing Ox, I wouldn’t be so put off to sell him for 50m.

    On that note, I will chat with you lot later, headed home for the day.

  30. All this talk about the impotent Dick Laws and his contract failings, got me thinking about other mysterious forces that cause havoc. I ended up thinking of the biggest sucker of all time, gravity. After googling some school kid info about it, in an urge to understand THE universe a bit better, I applied a long standing test (it’s been a long time since I was at school) of simply replacing just a few words in the text in a vain attempt to understand the Arsenal universe a bit better. Here goes….

    The laws of [Gravity] Dick

    [Gravity] Dick is the mysterious force that makes everything fall down. But what is it? It turns out that all [objects] clubs have some [gravity] dick. It’s just that some [objects] clubs, like the [Earth] Arsenal, have a lot more [gravity] dick than others. How much [gravity] dick an object has depends on how big it is. To be specific, how much mass it has. It also depends on how close you are to the [object] club. The closer you are, the stronger the [gravity] dick.

    Why is [gravity] dick important? [Gravity] Dick is very important to our everyday lives. Without [Earth’s] Arsenal’s [gravity] dick we would fly right off it. We’d all have to be strapped down. If you kicked a ball, it would fly off forever, a la John Jensen. While it might be fun to try for a few minutes, we certainly couldn’t live without [gravity] dick.

    [Gravity] Dick also is important on a larger scale. It is [gravity] dick that keeps the [Earth] Arsenal in orbit around the [Sun] Premier League Title. [Earth] Arsenal needs the [Sun] Premier League Title to survive. [Gravity] Dick helps the [Earth] Arsenal to stay just the right distance from the [Sun] Premier League Title, so it’s not too [hot] expensive on transfers or too [cold] revenue damaging.

    After such a detailed study, my conclusion is that I think our transfer aspirations and chances of winnign the PL in the next year or so, stand about as much chance as a ray of light in a black hole! Right then, time for the beach and a beer.

  31. Sky reporting Citeh might want Aubameyang, I think if there is any stall on Lacazette then chasing Aubameyang should be priority.

  32. calum chambers starting for England ahead of Holden bemused me but he is having a great tournament so far with his pairing with mawson of Swansea…… I think the loan move to middleborough did him alot of good… he seems to know how to defend now

  33. Henry

    I think someone is pulling your chain wrt your Mac.

    The ten screws on the base do not need to be taken out in a particular order, but you do need a pentalobe screwdriver (size depending on the particular model).

    The difficult part is removing the internal components to get to the base if the foot is attached from the inside, but it’s not insurmountable if you’re fairly handy, although it’s a bit trickier than a traditional laptop.

    however, the story about the glue sounds like grade A BS quite frankly.

    Even if there’s a hole that they’re “worried about, it should be relatively simple to ensure no glue drips through into the casing.

    Pity I’m in SA otherwise I’d happily assist, I’ve recently upgraded the SSD in both my daighters’ Mac Airs, so I have the correct tools and managed fine without being subjected to extortionist BS artists.

  34. NuckyC,

    Have you not read Yogi’s excellent post or my comment at 09.52?

    As a matter of interest an article on the subject appeared in this morning’s Telegraph and was delivered to my doorstep at 07.15. Lol?

  35. HenryB,

    Tend agree with Mike here. I don’t think you need to take the thing apart at all. The feet are readily available of eBay for the handsome sum of circa £1 – £4 for a bag of 4. Make sure you check the model/serial number (apple menu from icon top left on desktop in finder – about this mac). If you search for “MacBook feet” and include the serial number you’ll get the right ones. Have a browse through and you’ll see that most (all?) come with a 3M gel adhesive pre applied. Means you can glue away to your hearts content and no wet glue, so zero risk of internal damage

    £500??? Apple are proper piss takers when it comes to this stuff

  36. Good Morning, All

    Mike SA and Damon, a real thank you for helping me keep my friend, and fixing his MacBook. 🙂

    I should have said that I went into the local Apple Store, and spoke to a guy on the Genius Bar.

    A quick look at Amazon shows they do supply foot plugs and instructions for minimum cost — things are looking up! 🙂 Thanks to both of you, again!

  37. MikeSA, Damon,

    I promise not to bore you with a running commentary after this 🙂 a more thorough trawl through Amazon, this time with a model number, and I found the correct kit with all the necessary bits and bobs for about £5, and I have printed an instruction on how to do it from Apple Support.

    Now for the tricky bit:- I needed to find someone with slim, dextrous fingers (the exact opposite of mine) to manipulate the little foot pad, the smaller case screws, and the even tinier screwdriver!!

    A colleague has said he will ask his 12 year old son to do it – cost £20 – as he is always taking computers apart and reassembling them for school projects. Now that is genius in action!! 🙂

    I am so glad I asked you guys!! 😀

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