Leicester Preview: Derby Names, New Manager Requirement, & Santi

Football these days must name every match. The ‘North London Derby’; the ‘Chapman Derby’; if the Premier League felt like christening tonight’s fixture, it would, according to social media, be the ‘Entitled Fans Derby’.

Arsenal supporters, so ours betters tell us, are ‘entitled fans’ for expectations of not finishing sixth. The dozen or so who remained at the King Power escaped the vexed Gary Lineker’s ire after Saturday’s disastrous ‘lap of appreciation’. They possessed ‘short memories’ – possibly shorter than the club’s owners when they sacked Ranieri – he claimed. 2016 is such a long time ago, in footballing terms.

There’s a vacancy in north London if he’s interested…

It’s an awkward match tonight, one nobody really wants. Nothing can be achieved by it; we’ll finish sixth irrespective of the outcome and Leicester most likely ninth.

The ‘On The Beach derby’ fits perfectly.

It’s managerial shenanigans which dominate the airwaves. Max Allegri fuelled the rumours by telling the press he planned talks with Juventus at the end of the season. This just a week after he told everyone he was staying in Turin for another year before he left. Not hard to see how Ornstein put two and two together. Or maybe it’s a ploy on Ornstein’s part? “Max, my credibility took a dive last summer. Listen…”

John Cross can only look on enviously at the sheer cunning of the BBC’s man…

Of course, we can all gaze into the crystal ball and see what we want to. Like social media, it’s self-reflecting; you want this, then the stars are aligning to prove it if you look hard enough. The question of who should be new boss occupies most of our minds. More so than new players. The latter comes when you see what sort of style the manager used previously.

Are You Experienced?

That doesn’t mean we don’t have ideas of who should take charge. Inexperienced isn’t one of the key qualities I think the new man should have. While Bertie Mee had no managerial experience, he is the exception which proves the rule. Then again, football is one of the few industries where failure is rewarded at every club.

We’re beyond being a testing ground for a new coach. The likes of Mikel Arteta should prove themselves at another club before we look at them. George Graham learned his trade at Millwall while Arsène was experienced in football management also. Rioch, Neill – even Don Howe – tested themselves managerially before taking the reins at Highbury.

And football was nowhere near as big business as it is now.

There is a sentimentality about the appointment surfacing. We must appoint an attacking coach; it’s in our DNA. No, it isn’t. Arsenal’s DNA was always a strong defence. It’s only in the past decade that we’ve seen defending become an optional extra.

Finding a balance between the two is tough. Sitting in the extremes at the ends of the scales is so much easier but the successful teams are those which find the balance. That’s what we need to do. Maybe an inexperienced coach would succeed in that. There’s no hard and fast rule which says that he can’t. It just seems very unlikely and they will be tested by the lack of transfer funds.

The question is why would Mikel Arteta take the Arsenal job? It’s a great opportunity, but if it goes badly, it will torpedo his burgeoning reputation. Most likely, he would struggle to find another managerial role; football is forgiving but not that forgiving. Ask Bryan Robson, David Platt, David O’Leary; they know how getting a job wrong ends careers.

Have You Ever Been Experienced?

Ending careers is something injured players contemplate. Laurent Koscielny will be out for six months according to Arsène and Arsenal will sign an experienced replacement in the meantime. As promising as Chambers, Holding and Mavropanos are, we need someone who knows how to defend to come in and lead the back four. A centre back with the mindset of Nacho Monreal, for example.

How the back four reshapes with a new manager and different ideas will be interesting. Will Shkodran Mustafi discover his defensive id?

The Arsenal squad of the time questioned in their minds – and I dare say collectively in private – Arsène’s appointment. How would many of the current squad respond to an inexperienced coach? Positively, to begin with, it’s their futures, but what about in a crisis or when things go a little awry? Will their doubts begin to cloud what he is trying to achieve?

Another man missing is Santi Cazorla. His time is up, fortunately before the horrendous new season’s kit is unveiled. His contract expires this summer and in the new era, is unlikely to be renewed. Look at the way we treated Jack Wilshere for the pointer on that one.

We won’t get to say goodbye either. Santi’s departure will be reduced to a showreel and a few web pages on dot com. Which is a pity. He deserved a send-off similar to Tomas Rosicky’s, feeling the love one more time, especially after the past couple of years.

He will travel a well-worn path, back to Villarreal if the papers are to be believed, following in Robert Pires’ footsteps. Hopefully, he can enjoy another couple of seasons and who knows, an Emirates Cup return for a proper goodbye.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

55 thoughts on “Leicester Preview: Derby Names, New Manager Requirement, & Santi

  1. Great post: sums up exactly where ‘things are at’. I get misty eyed over Santi’s departure in a way I never could do about Wenger.

  2. Santi was a wonderful player to watch. However, we got found out in the end, when teams started realising, that pressing deep and stopping Santi and Mesut/Ramsey et al from dictating the pace of the game meant we would lose possession in our final third and more often than not result in a goal.

    I’d agree with the sentiment that our DNA from time memorial has always been defense, defense, defense (remember the chant “boring, boring, Arsenal”). A return to those heady day’s may not be appealing to the eye, but it does return a stability on which to build upon. I’m more inclined that the new guy whom ever it maybe, should coach the hell out of Holding, Chambers and Mavropanos. Sell Mustafi and Kos. Bring in one more athletic defender of the calibre of Sol/Gallas (prior to melt down, when he still had leg’s) Toure. And an athletic defensive midfielder of the ilk of Vieira/Song. The new guy has got his work cut out to turn Xhaka into a decent midfielder. The core elements of a decent midfielder is in his makeup but he needs to learn the basic principal’s and nuances of defensive/offensive midfield play. I’d also like to see Maitland-Niles make a position his own and hope the new guy will see we have a genuine talent and use him accordingly.

    I live in hope the board won’t fudge this one up.

    Thanks for another great write up YW. Till tomorrow

  3. A young up and coming coach might stand a chance if the squad was in good shape but this is a job that is going to need some serious work over several seasons. I don’t agree with Wenger’s claim that with two or three new signings we could challenge for the title, he says that every year and he’s been proven consistently wrong. He may be leaving but he’s still deluded IMO. We need someone with a least some experience of managing not only at a high level, but with a big club and all that that entails.

    Regards our defence I’m one of those that believes it is as much about the cohesion of the defensive unit as it is about the quality of the individual components. Look at Leicester, defence made up of rejects from other clubs that were drilled effectively and clicked as a unit. I wouldn’t be too worried if we stuck with what we have IF the players were taught to defend as a unit.

    One other comment, totally agree with the point about the ‘Arsenal DNA’ being about us as an attacking side. More garbage from the PR men swallowed by the gullible. AFC were know for decades for being a well organised side defensively that were hard to beat, not for creative flair. History shows that only when Wenger’s attacking instincts were married to a solid defensive base was he able to win titles. As soon as those defensive foundations were gone we never got near again.

  4. As for selling Mesut to free up some of the wage bill and supply the new guy with additional funds. It’s never going to happen, because the only teams that can afford his wages, don’t want him. Better to sell Ramsey, renew Jack’s contract and then sell him. Sell Kos and Mustafi.

  5. The board couldn’t go too far wrong by employing David Dein to aid them in finding their new head coach. Just saying!

  6. YW,

    Are you on the beach with the players?

    You didn’t give us your predicted line-up for tonight fixture? 🙂

  7. Santi just like diaby before him gets better and better the longer he is out. Some (tin hat wearing divas) have even proclaimed all our ills are due to him being out.

  8. andy1886,

    Completely agree with you about our defense. Obviously we will need a Kos/Mert replacement, I think the players we have are quality players but lack the coaching that is required.

  9. Great preview yogi.

    I hope I am wrong but I would be concerned about the way some of our experienced players might respond to an inexperienced manager who has never been tested and has not won anything. They have had it relatively easy under Arsene’s regime and they might not be happy if an inexperienced manager tells them that despite playing in the World Cup they have to be ready to play in game 1 of the league season. Practicing defense on the training pitch is relatively boring compared with practicing passing drills and doing tricks and they might not be happy if they are asked to repeat the defending set piece drill for the 100th time in a row. We need to exorcise the Wengerian culture and mindset ASAP and that is not going to happen automatically when Arsene leaves. Some of the players who consistently become invisible during our PL road schedule or decide to skip the game when they have a bit of a tummy ache are not going to suddenly develop a positive fire in their belly. I hope there is some squad shake up this summer and we sell a couple players and replace them with players who have not experienced life under arsene. I think the new manager will need to have a pair of size extra large cojones.

  10. The new manager will not be able to work with his squad this summer because of the World Cup. It would be a disaster scenario for an inexperienced new manager if his squad starts next season in World Cup hangover mode. Unfortunately that might be the mindset of some of the players who were allowed to wait until January to get their brain in gear after the last World Cup.

  11. We have seen in the last 3-4 home games that Arsenes tactics are adequate when the players execute and nothing works when they disappear. We are not going to suddenly get better with a new tactical approach unless he players are committed and they execute on a consistent basis.

  12. It was nice to develop beyond the boring, boring style but, having grown up watching great defending and appreciating it as an art, the recent years have been hard to watch. I really enjoy good, hard-but-fair defending and would welcome its return to Arsenal. In fairness, this is harder than it once was. The refereeing now heavily favours the attacker and is, in any case, shockingly incompetent. A new manager who could bring balance would be welcome but I’d take being boring for a few months, just to lock down a bit more defensive organization.

  13. P. S. Sorry, YW but I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an industry where incompetence isn’t rewarded, especially at the higher levels!

  14. Bill,

    Good point. We don’t need another lovey-dovey father figure as manager we need someone who is prepared to be ruthless and upset the apple cart if needs be. Shape up or ship out, no more free rides for overpaid primadonnas.

  15. Dukey,

    In his first season, he played in every game and carried an average team on his back. Honestly, I think that kind of knackered him and he wasn’t consistently so good subsequently. Still a talented, two-footed player but not a regular enough finisher and perhaps not someone who should have been dropped deep and asked to slide tackle.

  16. We can all name prospective managers who could do a better job, than Wenger, with this squad. Most are experienced, most are in their 40s or 50s. But frankly it matters not one jot. We will get what we are given and we may not like what we get. I have no faith that Kroenke will deliver a top manager and fund the squad back to being consistent regular PL challengers. The moustachioed dwarf is happy with maximising his ROI through minimal funding for a 3rd/4th place prize fund.

    For that reason, I cannot get excited about an Enrique or Allegri. They have the credentials; experienced, not father figures yet not immediate ex-players, likely to deliver a few size elevens to the lazy arses, open-eyes to see the flaws and the potential of the club. I’d be very happy with either, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they rule themselves out with demands than exceed the Board’s budget. Stan’s words about wanting to win the CL are hollow.

    My expectations may be tuned down, but I just hope we get someone with a bit of nous, passion, and some experience. No father figure – Ancellotti. No polite yes man – Rodgers, Howe etc. We, the fans, just need to be inspired again.

  17. .C:
    Looks like Jack is staying if reports are true, reports say 4 years£110k/wk

    I agree with you and I think if we keepJack it would probably going to turn out to be mistake. We are already overloaded with #10’s. Hopefully this is a sign and sell or else someone thinks they can turn Jack into an adequate defensive player. The other possibility is we could sell either Ozil, Mkhitaryan or Ramsey but whatever happens we certainly don’t need 4 players who are all high profile attack minded central midfield types who don’t score very many goals and are not an asset on the defensive end.

  18. Ramsey is probably the easiest of those to sell. Mikhi and Mesut would be difficult to move on, because of their wage demands. If rumours are true then Jack would also be easy to sell on. I’d rather see Mesut go, for big money. But that won’t happen.

  19. It’s obviously important to decide whether a team is is going to organized and play solid defense and the overall tactical set up of counter attacking vs ball possession is important. However, the small tactical nuances that we talk about are highly over rated just like in basketball. A long as the team is committed and executes any squad with Michael Jordan or lebron James is going to win with no matter who their coach is or what tactics they like.

    I am not taking anything away from pep because there are plenty of managers who spend money and fail. However pep’s success has a lot less to do with his tactics and is much more related to his ability to get his highly paid players to commit to the effort needed to make his system work. Stay organized on defense and attack at pace and find a way to get the ball forward quickly before the defense can set up. Man city was unable to do that in their last game against Huddersfield and none of pep’s tactical tweaks helped.

  20. I suspect one of the reasons Pep only stays with a club for a few years is he recognizes that it’s hard to maintain the sort of squad mentality that he needs for more then a few years.

  21. Any manager who wanted could study thousands and thousands of hours of film and copy pep’s tactics if there was something magical about the things he was doing. However it’s not going to work without an significant talent advantage and the proper squad mentality.

  22. I have a bit of an issue with the statement that “attacking is in our DNA”.

    No it isn’t, and it certainly hasn’t been prominent for at least the last 5 years or so.

    Yes, we do have the odd game where the team does play some outstanding football, but it’s very few and far between.

    Most of the time we camp out in the opposition half, stand still and pass ourselves to sleep with close on zero shots at goal, at which point the opposition grabs the ball (or we just pass it straight to them to make it a bit easier), and fucks off up field to score while our players are still scratching their balls and picking their noses.

    Attacking in our DNA?

    You’re having a fucking laugh.

  23. Bill

    > However it’s not going to work without an significant talent advantage and the proper squad mentality.

    It’s the latter which is more important. He can get what he wants from any squad so long as they apply themselves. It won’t be to the same level but I am guessing that if he could get our heads right, we’d be a damn sight closer to winning the league than we are currently.

  24. YW,

    Completely agree. I think while additons are clearly needed, we are in no way close to the mess that Fergie left and I fancy another manager would get much more out of this group.

  25. Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mavropanos, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Welbeck

    Subs: Mertesacker, Ospina, Mustafi, Nelson, Nketiah, Osei-Tutu, Willock

  26. Cech
    Maitland-Niles—-Holding—-Mavropanos—Sead
    —————Xhaka—-Ramsey—-Iwobi
    Mkhitaryan—–Aubameyang—–Welbeck

  27. Anyone else suspect that Mustafi might be being kept on the sidelines pending a potential sale in the summer?

  28. .C,

    Nope just you mate. Think Arsene is rolling out the youngs lad because these are basically ‘get experience’ matches.

  29. WEll this is all going to shit pretty quickly.

    consolsbob,

    Funny the focus is on Ozil and now Lacazette is probably done for the season, Jack apparently signs a new deal and then is out and probably done for the campaign.

  30. Mustafi coming on

    Maitland-Niles looks like he is having a bit of a problem.

    @andy

    Guess Mustafi isn’t being saved anymore huh

  31. C,

    Nope!

    More dreadful Arsenal defending. I feel sorry for our away fans who pay good money to watch this nonsense. Only a game and a bit to go though, thank goodness.

  32. Wenger never fixed the defense problem. Bet, he never allowed Bould to shape the defense. What I am angry about is that he thought he was indispensable , and hence did not put an effort to shape the team into winners. the 6th place did not seem to bother him as he thought he could con into getting further years’contract to stay. Good that he is leaving. Yes, a legend until 2004, and if he joins another club as a manager, I bet, he will be sacked within a season. He should leave the sport, buy a vineyard in France and bottle “Winger Red Wine”. The club is in my Borough and I cannort countenance, it going down so fast.

  33. andy1886,

    I gave up on our defending overall not just our defenders but our midfield (even though Xhaka has showed well outside of the terrible missed tackle against Pogba) as well. Just try to enjoy Aubameyang, Lacazette and Mhkitaryan.

    Aubameyang scores again, that lad really knows how to score. I honestly think that next season with a different manager, we could see more of Ozil (I read an article somewhere about how Ozil flourished under Mourinho and does so now under Lowe consistently because they challenge(d) him constantly, maybe he is a player that needs to constantly be pushed because he is so naturally gifted) especially playing next to Mhkitaryan, Aubameyang and Lacazette.

  34. Maitland-Niles really is a joy to watch and you can see his midfield talents when he plays. I hope he gets a chance to win a midfield spot

  35. YW:
    Bill

    > However it’s not going to work without an significant talent advantage and the proper squad mentality.

    It’s the latter which is more important. He can get what he wants from any squad so long as they apply themselves. It won’t be to the same level but I am guessing that if he could get our heads right, we’d be a damn sight closer to winning the league than we are currently.

    YW.

    I agree. If you look at the table our usual low 70’s point total would have been enough to get back to the CL. I think a different manager could have brought this squad a top 4 finish.

  36. Naughty Mhkitaryan.

    Have to say, even though he just made that mistake, Mhkitaryan has been really good

  37. Nothing stat that shows just how shit defensively we have been:

    Arsenal have conceded 50 goals in top-flight campaign for the first time since 1983-84 (60), which was also the last time they finished 6th. Quirk.

  38. .C,

    Agreed.

    He basically tore Keown a new arsehole.

    Keown’s best move after that would be to stop being such a little bitch and shut the fuck up because I don’t think Ozil’s agent has got much time for Keown and won’t be so gentle next time.

  39. Our away record this season has to be close to the worst in the league. How many arsenal teams in the last 100 years have only won 2 out of 17 games away games. This will be the fewest points we have collected and the worst table position of the Wenger era. It will be the most goals we have conceded since before George Graham.

  40. Our team defense is clearly the biggest problem. However we have only scored 10 goals in the 15 away games we didn’t win. We have been remarkably poor on both sides of the pitch away from home.

  41. MikeSA,

    I wouldn’t mind him being my agent especially when my supervisor criticizes me.

    It is funny that Ozil is blamed for quite a bit of our poor season when we just let in our 50th and 51st goal of the season…

  42. Bill,

    Not for nothing mate but if the score is 0-0 then teams will still lool to attack anx through 4-5 players forward and there will be space. When we go 1-0 down teams can park the bus and look to counter with 3 players and that situation is generally enough because we are Arsenal and counter attacks always get us (see Atletico first leg with JUST GRIEZMANN) and when that happens we are down 2-0 teams put 10 men behind the ball.

  43. andy1886,

    As I read the few posters who still feel obliged to denigrate AW and treat him like a fool.

    Any chance of him getting any credit for teaming up Kolo and Sol?

    Yes Sol was ready made and needed no drilling (yawn) but to envisage how a high energy midfielder could dovetail was inspired no?

    If you are good at your job don’t micromanage that person

    In short let’s stop with this oh so simple drill instructor theory and short memories

    Nuance

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