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.