A new era and maybe one day we’ll be in the Champions League final. Qualifying for the competition is the first order of the day.
Shoring up the defence is the order of the day and Sven’s taking an unusual approach to resolving it. King Stephan of Liechtenstein is bringing his 38,000 or so subjects with him. It’s a new line of thought in packing the defence but I foresee a problem playing the offside trap.
Signing a 34-year-old full-back, with all his experience, is as underwhelming as Perry Groves arriving from Colchester or Gilles Grimandi from wherever. I wonder what is driving the signature; a cheap back-up option or one whose experience will do Hector Bellerin the world of good?
He made 21 Serie A starts under Allegri – including three as wing-back – last season so he doesn’t appear to be a Silvestre-type of signing. The Juve boss isn’t noted for his sentimentality and with Napoli breathing down their necks, there was no room at Juve for it.
I’m sure his stats are good but I wonder what Mathieu Debuchy makes of it all over at Saint-Etienne?
How much input has Emery had in the decision to talk to Lichtsteiner? Did he negotiate the ultimate veto on signings? The news emerged quickly after the Spaniard’s appointment which suggests he had input into the news.
It’s easy to dismiss the deal because of the nature of the signing. While the Swiss international can play on a reasonably regular basis, it seems unlikely that he will usurp Bellerin on a permanent basis. Lichtsteiner might deliver a short, sharp shock if there’s a drop in the younger full-back’s form. That kind of ‘punishment’ wasn’t acceptable under the previous regime, so it will be interesting to see how he and others react to that change in approach.
The first test of Emery’s appointment is Jack Wilshere. His contract expires at the end of June and despite the recent claims, there’s no announcement about him signing da ting. Once that’s decided – one way or the other – there’s the issue of Ramsey and Welbeck. Those two are the test of whether we’re in a new era. After all the palaver with Özil and Sanchez, do we let this dynamic duo run down their contracts or sell them this summer?
Certainly in Welbeck’s case, I’d argue it’s sign or sell; no messing about. He isn’t – and won’t ever be – an indispensable player. He is a good squad player, but no disrespect, not outstanding enough to warrant throwing money at. The club’s bread-and-butter is the Premier League and he has never reached double figures in one Premier League season. Two injury-wrecked seasons didn’t help and maybe Emery’s favoured style of play will help achieve that. I doubt it, somehow.
Ramsey is the interesting case. Stories of him being one of the players Emery wants to build the side around make for good copy. Maybe they are true but such is the untrustworthiness of msm reports that you can’t be sure if there’s a shred of truth in them.
The Welshman certainly has the stamina to play the pressing game. Of all the central midfielders, he and Maitland-Niles offer the least concern in that sense. Mkhitaryan and further forward, Aubameyang, know the style from their Dortmund days, thriving in that environment.
But for the pressing game to work, the midfield is vital and must be disciplined positionally. For some, that last aspect will be a new concept, almost alien under Wenger where they were given lattitude to make positional decisions themselves. Emery demands the plan is followed.
The cull of the coaching staff makes sense as well. They must transmit intensity in sessions, getting the players to buy into Emery’s plan. I am not convinced those who left would have done so; Lehmann and Bould? No such qualms; I think both are coaching chameleons.
Bould may be weighing up his options but as he saw from Pat Rice’s time when Arsène took over, having a familiar face makes transition easier for the squad. Other managers have noted it gives them a conduit to the squad, someone who can judge whether the ideas are sinking in.
For our molicoddled bunch, that’s no bad thing. They need time to grow up into the adults Emery will expect them to be.