FA Cup Fourth Round fortnight has begun. What started out as a day has become so elongated that I am surprised the competition hasn’t become like the World Cup with a final every four years. To keep you company, this morning’s soundtrack, All Things Brighton Beautiful can be heard via Dad’s Jukebox in the right sidebar, the page of the same name or here in your browser.
And yes, The Who’s 5:15 features. Of course it does, a clichéd choice that I needed little incentive to include.
This morning’s papers still haven’t forgotten last weekend’s win at City. Were attacking principles betrayed or did a shard of pragmatism slit through the romantic principles. Every manager has his own beliefs on how the game should be played; romanticism is a term as readily bandied around as pragmatism. The successful managers find a blend of the two which brings glory that does not leave them feeling hollow.
Reviewing the victory over City, I wondered if the catalyst for the win was player input; Arsène confirmed that impetus came from the squads’ desire for change. He listened, something of which has been a regular criticism of him in the past but with, by his own admission, the ship veering off course, it’s a decision which paid off.
At some stage you cannot go against the feelings of the team because it’s detrimental to the result.
The team sometimes needs to be reassured and reassurance comes first from feeling solid and strong and then you can express your talent and our confidence in the big games had been damaged by these big results.
Of course (I listened to the players). Your tactics have to be aligned as well with the feeling of the team and with the confidence level of the team.
Not quite as dramatic as the England squad in 1990 demanding Bobby Robson switch to using three centre backs but one which gave the squad a platform upon which to end a dismal run in big matches. Arsène found it amusing that the needle of the footballing meter flickered from one extreme to another; I always thought it did, the circumstances of each match dictating when expansive football took precedence over the need to contain and vice versa.
It’s interesting to note the players involvement in the switch. As demoralising as it is for supporters, we forget – or don’t take into consideration – the impact of the sustained spell of failure in matches against rivals. These are matches which Arsenal might reasonably expect to enjoy some success at home, mixed with occasional wins on their travels; neither was happening.
That’s why you hear so many times in the papers or on television “let’s get back to basics”.
It’s not because a team doesn’t know the basics, it’s just to get the priorities right to reinforce the confidence of the team again because you gain it slowly back by feeling that you are not going to get blown away
It’s different mindset for the players to deal with from their peers at lesser clubs who for the most part expect to lose against the Arsenals of this world, and enjoy handing out the occasional bloody nose.
Crucially, the plan worked. It’s something to wheel out at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford, and elsewhere as is necessary. There are no points for artistic merit in, just a footnote in a season’s review that despite playing attractive football, the team were inconsistent and that has been Arsenal’s contribution for the best part of a decade. A healthy mix of flourish and muscle can be the platform for improved consistency.
Elsewhere, Arsène’s attempts to sign Ronaldo as a teenager are apparently exposed in a new book about Jorge Mendes which claims Arsenal couldn’t meet the asking price. Which Manchester United did so using the hyperbole the media so love, means they gazumped Arsenal. Which is what everyone thought had happened.
Using the latest analytical techniques, the book will expose how the club couldn’t bid any more money because they were building a new stadium. Such revelations are not resting easy in ACLF Towers, I can tell you.
Mesut Özil meanwhile was told that he was bulking up too much in a bid to regain fitness, accused of nicking the living of a gym club supervisor. The lad just can’t win. It’s expected the German will start tomorrow in a much-changed line-up at Brighton. It takes a lot of concentration not to mention The Goldstone Ground, even with this distance of time since its demise but that’s for the morning’s match preview.