The Big O Speaks on Future Signings As Sagna Points Way to Past Mistakes

They say the sign of a good band is that they could put reading the ‘phone book to music and it would sell. REM didn’t quite do that with “Voice of Harold” which featured Michael Stipe singing the liner notes of a gospel album. David Ornstein gave the Twitter equivalent, by confirming that he too reads newspapers:

What more can you ask? Ornstein reads papers, confirms we’ve signed two players, as well as wanting a goalkeeper and defensive midfielder.

Thanks, Dave.

But in a typically Arsenal way, he was lauded by a welter of photoshop experts and ‘tweet nickers’, rather than being called out for basically saying nothing. John Cross must be scratching his chubby little cheeks wondering how it was he fell from such grace.

Away from such japery, Bacary Sagna exposed the fundamental problem at Arsenal during the past decade. Not that it came as any surprise to learn the squad was “too nice”; it’s what we’ve been saying for years. To my mind, it’s the by-product of Arsène not permitting raised voices. The peaceful atmosphere dulled the competitive edge.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Sagna said:

“The team is and was too nice.

“They never liked to argue. We were just too nice to each other, we were like friends. 

“To be successful you need to be bad sometimes, to have a go at each other. It’s like any other business: if you run a company and expect more from someone you need to wake that person up. 

“It wasn’t happening at Arsenal. We were enjoying giving everything for each other but if someone wasn’t doing the job 100 per cent we didn’t blame them.”

The hallmark of the Wenger era, certainly in its’ second decade, was a lack of leadership and this is the manifestation of that.

It’s Good to Talk

In fairness to Sagna, he accepts he played a part in that environment:

“I’m a winner on the pitch but I don’t speak much [off it]. I’m a bit laid-back.

“If I had to change something I’d change this. I’d speak a bit more and try to have more impact on the team by talking more. I was too, not shy, but not assertive.”

And I think that’s a key point to note. The players could have changed that culture but for several reasons they refused to, consciously or otherwise. Firstly, Arsène signed non-confrontational players. The exceptions to that quickly found themselves moved on: think Adebayor and Sanchez. As soon as problems surfaced, they were sold or exchanged, even if their instinct as footballers was to stay.

Second, it’s easier to subsume into the culture of a club than to change it from the outside. Incoming players fitted into the environment, finding it all rather agreeable. No rollickings from coaches or team-mates; more Hi-De-Hi than Hi-Ho.

There have been a number of players who we’ve seen at the club in the past decade who would have delivered more if they were challenged. Arshavin is the main one; he needed to be challenged to produce consistent performances. Sublime when he was in the mood, average when he wasn’t. Walcott as well; challenged, could he have produced more as a younger player and developed good habits?

Central defenders as well. Think Senderos in the Champions League when he appeared a world-beater and then think of the Premier League player who looked more comfortable in the Championship. That the former came when Arsène brought in Martin Keown for defence-specific coaching says a lot. Challenged on his performances and attitude, he improved.

Had that continued and spread to other players, things might have been different.

As Long as You’ve Got an Ology

It cultivated a culture where winning wasn’t important. Arsène wanted to win ‘the right way’ which created an image of someone who wasn’t motivated by silverware as much as others. It underlines the point Emmanuel Petit made recently regarding the Real Madrid job: Wenger’s reputation is of a purist and not of a winner. He’d be more suited to a club such as Villarreal than one where the title is demanded.

Sagna thinks Emery will be good for Arsenal, if something of a culture shock.

“Emery asks a lot, he’s very demanding but he can get what he wants. Some of that team are young, they want to learn and be successful. He will bring some discipline to Arsenal.”

I think this will be the change in the type of player we sign. Hungrier than before and not so easy-going. Players don’t have to be friends to be a cohesive team. Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham couldn’t stand each other off the pitch but proved very effective on it for United. I’d rather that combination than great mates off it and habitually underperforming.

The former French international thinks similarly:

“They definitely need some leadership. Every single team has players with good influence. I’m not talking about quality and skills, I’m talking about behaviour and attitude. When you have winners in your team it’s really important: they’re the ones talking when you’re in trouble, waking players up. You need some players like this.”

We’ll soon see if Emery agrees.

’til Tomorrow.

60 thoughts on “The Big O Speaks on Future Signings As Sagna Points Way to Past Mistakes

  1. Nice one YW.

    First time in years I am excited and looking forward to new season, regardless of the outcome

  2. Well Sagna was very truthful, and it confirms what a number of people have observed. No sign of Jack signing; the coupe monde begins tomorrow, settling to some scouting by watching the second match of the tournament: Egypt vs Uruguay.

    Hopefully Elneny is in the starting 11, and LT is too. A good audition for who becomes 1st choice DM for Arsenal. Friday 1 pm.

  3. If the reports of the incoming are true, and things certainly look that way, we can for the first time in ages go into the season without feeling we are a player or 2 short. Kudos to the action team.
    Really looking forward to the new season, which will be great on top of my prize for winning Yogi’s competition 🙂

  4. That’s a great post.
    Timely topic with the prospect of bringing aboard Lucas Torreira. Don’t know of his demeanor off-pitch? But on it? Looks a bit of a bastid.

    I’ve long been a fan of Wenger’s for his principles. Loved watching those teams when they were at their best. That his philosophies transcended for a time– was something special– but raising the bar so high with those accomplishments– meant it could not be the norm. Particularly, as the PL environment changed over years; modernizing as well, closing the gap and several teams overtaking the club on-pitch.

    Odd I had that admiration– as it juxtaposed to my own competitive style going back decades as a player/coach/manager in several sports. Winning, any way possible, within the rules. Pretty didn’t matter.

    It’s going to be difficult– a few years down the road– looking back at what was, knowing we may not see football played ‘the Arsenal way’– again.


  5. You’ve gotta hand it to the Spaniards, they sure know how to party hard. Their World Cup preparation is having a little trumperism.

  6. Merci encore YW pour une fabuleuse post.

    Yes the quote from E Petit sums up AW
    to a tee.

    Last night the BBC Radio 5 Live Sport featured a Sports psychologist called Damien Hughes ( I think ).

    He noted how Guardiola on taking over at Barcelona built a ” CULTURE” at Barcelona. This Culture permeated everything to do with Barcelona.

    Humility, Respect and hard work..There were no stars or should I say ego. You would never see Ronaldo under Pep. Never

    The mandate was the Team. The Team came first. He assembled Players whom would buy into this idea. If you did not subscribe you were sold by the Club. It was about winning, about individual players being prepared to challenge one’s self for the Team.

    Hughes went onto speak about how Guardiola employed a Pyschologist whose job all season was Just to survey the ” Dynamics ” of the Players on the Bench, The Subs. Guardiola wanted to see the reactions of those not involved, he wanted to see player reactions when substituted, when chances were missed etc etc. All this to Guardiola was important in creating a Culture. Players whom sulked, did not give 💯 were sold or simply did not feature .

    We’ve seen what City did last season. They were relentless and will be no different next season.

    I’m personally happy that change has finally arrived. Is Emery the Man ? We must wait and see. I think a number of Arsenal players are in for a shock .

    Cant wait till next season

    As well as Culture being I

  7. I go to sleep, wake up and realize that Lichtsteiner is already signed to bring in leadership, mentoring to our uber talented 22 yr old Spanish RB as well as a bit of competition and now we are set to sign Leno, Torriera, Sokaritis and we are strongly linked with Martin….this new Arsenal is truly exciting because they identify the problem areas and address them immediately but does so by signing those quality gems that we know are out there.

  8. Brilliant stuff Yogi, have to say it certainly is enjoyable reading bright and lively posts during the summer.

    Leaders and voices, I think we had a couple but they were consistently quelled by both Arsene and then Captaon Arteta. Think how many times Mert vocalized not only openly but on the pitch….I remember his giving some players quite a tongue lashing after a match for not thanking our away suppporters. I think Xhaka is another one who has those qualities and was one of the things people raved about him in Germany as having but I remember quotes from Arsene telling him to be less aggressive and yelling at mates.

    Its also why the signings of Lichtsteiner and Sokratis are massive in that respect….not only winners but leaders on those winning sides.

  9. lari03,

    Elneny is one of the key figures for Egypt, he was brilliant bossing the midfield and defense when they won the ACON and is as important for Egypt as Salah is because Elneny plays both DM and CB for them.

    It will be a joy to watch, imagine Torriera and Elneny as our midfield pivots in a high pressing style….they would literally outwork any midfield and keep possession to spring our quick counters

  10. Hearing reports that our new soon to be announced Torreira will be on 3million euros annually which amounts to 52k GBP per week over 5 years. I’m excited to see what he brings to our team post-July.

    Now to focus on a top GK.

  11. C,

    A bit concerned about the Leno possibility.
    Have seen him sparingly– wasn’t too excited. The defence could have been better in front of him.

    The concern came this morning in the form of a WhoScored stat that Leno was just one goal from leading the Bundesliga in goals from errors the past three seasons with 9 total.

    Thought to do some Googling on it.
    The most disturbing thing I came across was from 2013. With the headline:
    “Will Bernd Leno Become the German Joe Hart?”

    Maybe he’s tightened it up this past season?
    Just fear we might be getting our own Loris Karius here.


  12. jw1,

    Leno is quality, he was in the same breathe as CourtoUs and De Gea the difference is he hasn’t found the consistency (due in no large part to Leverkusen’s shaky defense) but most reports had him as Madrid’s plan C should they not get De Gea and Courtious this summer.

    I think he will also bring much better distribution but also a commanding presense on crosses into his box.

    You talk about errors leading to goals, you do realize that Cech led all of Europe in that category? The other thing is, he just turned 26 so his best years are yet to come.

    I’m not defending Karius and his mistakes in the Final were shocking, but he wasn’t as bad as people made him out to be.

  13. Great post yogi

    I like almost any transfer rumor and Torreira sounds like a good addition.

    We have been debating about the culture of complacency that has infected the club for many years and Sagna adds another piece of evidence supporting long held concerns. Our record in game 1 of the season in this decade and the fact that our top players take the worlds longest summer vacations after an international tournament is further evidence of that culture. I think last season was the first time Mesut Ozil actually played in game 1 during his Arsenal career. How is the rest of the squad going to react if the highest profile highest paid player shows zero evidence of having a fire in his belly? Even Mert who was supposed to be a team leader acknowledged the unbelievable complacency during the World Cup hangover in 2014 and he actually admitted that he struggled with motivation for entire first 1/2 of that season. How can that be acceptable? Arsene gets the majority of the blame for the culture but as Sagna said the players have to take responsibility also. Emery has some work to do to break down the embedded culture and rebuild it. It will be interesting to see if our World Cup players come back into training in time to be ready for the start of the season this year.

  14. Borges Spinelli:
    Hearing reports that our new soon to be announced Torreira will be on 3million euros annually which amounts to 52k GBP per week over 5 years. I’m excited to see what he brings to our team post-July.

    Now to focus on a top GK.

    That’s quite modest compared to what we have currently. Do we have a salary structure now ? Or is it about individuals focusing on a package better than what they earned in their previous clubs? Can we look forward to getting value for money in this new era ? Exciting times!

  15. Very interesting that Juve are on the verge of signing Golovin which would then rule them out of needing Jack.

  16. lari03,

    Buddy i have no idea what the answers to your questions are. These are best directed to our new supremo-in-chief, Ivan Gazidis.

    Though Torreira’s reported renumeration (pending announcement) will be substantially lower than what senhor Wilshere is holding out for. Assuming Jack is all about the loot.

    Juve, while interested, are yet to commit to Golovin. Instead have opted to continue to monitor his efficacy over the Copa do Mundo.

  17. C,

    If Leno qualities are as good as we perceive it to be, he could be our back up to Cech, while we offload Ospina. To be honest, cech is a good kp and we had a shitty defense who allowed lots of leakage(goals). With a fair enough/good defense next season, it would be an opportunity for cech and Leno to prove themselves.

  18. Statistically speaking, Ospina was our best GK last season – which was as much a shock to me as well. He deserves to be 1st choice at a team other than Arsenal or its direct rivals.

    Cech while still a top keeper (reputation wise) has begun to decline. For his invaluable experience alone, ought to be retained – even if it’s as a backup.

  19. Borges Spinelli,

    Good point, and I rather have cech and Leno in my team not minding who comes first but let Ospina go. I strongly believe cech has something to bring to the team and it not fair just udging him alone for the few seasons he’s been with us bearing in mind we’ve not had a good line of defense (DM,CBs).
    With our recent confirmed/speculated acquisitions, we could all give it a go as this is also the manager’s first season to observe the players firsthand .

  20. Opus,

    I would have Cech as a GK2 but not as a GK1, hence Leno. I think the other thing is that Leno also has much better distribution and is better with his feet which is also something that Emery wants in a GK. Cech is in decline and sure our defense wasn’t the best, when your GK leads all of Europe in errors leading directly to goals, he needs to be replaced.

  21. Reports from Uruguay are saying that Torriera’s agent along with Arsenal representatives are off to Russia to finalize the deal.

  22. C: Golovin

    Golovin? But he isn’t shorter than Wilshire! I thought we were recreating a Team Smurf like we did when we had Arshavin Cazorla and Jack and other diminutive players on the pitch……and the other teams played for corner kicks (or Rory Delap throw ins)

  23. C,

    Sure, like I suggested, either one as long as cech’s in the team.
    …Wikipedia already confirm Torriera’s an Arsenal player as at this morning 😄
    Think it’s a done deal.

  24. My mate who follows the Bundesliga and unlike me, has social media and tracka it religiously like most 30 year olds do, has said that Leno has all but made it official he is set to sign for Arsenal.

    Leno, Torriera and strong links to Martin. Emery, Mislintat, Huss and Sanllehi are doing thr business. Have to say, hats off to Ivan for winning the war and bringing this group together.

  25. C,

    As exciting it is, I won’t get much until it’s confirmed officially. Had lots of bubbles burst in the past mate! Fingers crossed….😐

  26. C,

    Torreira is 0.5cm shorter than Cazorla. While Wilshere is 4cm taller than the former.

    For the life of me, i’ve yet to grasp why we overwhelmingly sign dimunitive players (as Philmar says) when all of our direct rivals in the EPL have an abundance of physically imposing, technically sound players to compliment their smaller ones. It must be the 21st century Arsenal way or something.

  27. Boys and girls, looks like Torriera is now a Gunner! Nothing official on the site yet but having a look around the futboling world during this briefing and all signs point to him signing and it being announced soon.

  28. Oops, meant to say Torreira is 1cm taller than Cazorla. While Wilshere is 4cm taller than the former.

    Borges Spinelli:

    Torreira is 0.5cm shorter than Cazorla. While Wilshere is 4cm taller than the former.

    For the life of me, i’ve yet to grasp why we overwhelmingly sign dimunitive players (as Philmar says) when all of our direct rivals in the EPL have an abundance of physically imposing, technically sound players to compliment their smaller ones. It must be the 21st century Arsenal way or something.

  29. Borges Spinelli,

    I could personally could care less about height. I mean outside of Torriera, take a look and we have taller players. The thing is, Citeh don’t have overwhelming height and they walked the PL, the year Leicester won they had Kante and Drinkwater, Makele was brilliant in midfield.

    I think the bigger thing is, how good are they and are they able to deal with thr phsicality. We can have players around them such as Xhaka, our CB’s, either one of our LB’s who are bigger, taller players along with Leno who will be able to deal with crosses.

    I personally think height and power, while good qualities to have, are overrated. I mean have a look around, outside of Manure and Spuds, who else has loads of big physical player in midfield.

  30. Speaking of GK. It looks like Wojo is most likely going to be the back up at Juve. Getting $10M transfer fee for a back up GK in the last year of his contact who might well have left for free was pretty good business.

  31. C,

    I disagree. Height and physicality are an asset, particularly when lack of both have been proven to part contributory factors to Arsenal’s perennial capitulation (mentality aside). A couple of seasons back Chelski had a rotating midfield Lampard, John Mikel, Matic and a younger Loftus-Cheek.

    Citeh had Kolarov, Yaya, Zabaleta & Fernando.

    During our most successful period under Wenger. We had Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu, Pires & Gilberto Silva. Height and power, my friend, helps in this league against teams who park the bus or like to fuse a little nasty in their play. I personally like the idea of opposing teams feeling trepidatious at the tunnel, knowing they are going to into war against men and not boys.

  32. Borges Spinelli,

    It can be an asset but its not key if you have playefs who are or can be physical. Arguably the best DM in PL history was Makele, need I say more. Taking a look at Citeh and you will actually realize that Fernandinho is only about 5’9-5’10. I think the difference is that they aren’t easily pushed off the ball.

    Having a squad full of shorter players might not be the best but it can be succesful. Taking a look at our players and players like Torriera(once official), Santi, Mozart, Cesc, etc I would take over a big lad evety day of the week because futbol is played between the ears. You can be physically strong without being big and that I think has been a part. For instance, players struggled to knock Santi off the ball but would regularly do so to Giroud, its a mentality.

  33. Borges Spinelli,

    Personally, I want a team to fear us because they know we will play them off the park no matter what they do, maybe its my futboling roots, maybe I’m just me but give me high IQ players who know how to play no matter their size over power and pace any day of the week.

  34. C:
    Borges Spinelli,

    Personally, I want a team to fear us because they know we will play them off the park no matter what they do, maybe its my futboling roots, maybe I’m just me but give me high IQ players who know how to play no matter their size over power and pace any day of the week.

    Agree with every word there C

  35. Taller and stronger are clearly positive characteristics if all else is close to equal. We have certainly seen over the years that team which is built solely around technical skill but lacks size strength and grit is probably going to look great about 1/2 the time but it will struggle to be consistent in the PL.

  36. C:
    Borges Spinelli,

    Personally, I want a team to fear us because they know we will play them off the park no matter what they do, maybe its my futboling roots, maybe I’m just me but give me high IQ players who know how to play no matter their size over power and pace any day of the week.


    That sounds great but I think we have to accept that without unlimited resources you can’t build a team which has such a dominant talent advantage that it can simply impose your will on the rest of the league. That is especially true in the PL. The lack of realism and pragmatism was a huge part of Arsene’s downfall.

  37. Bill,

    Right and Spuds built a team full of athletes and have won fuck all, and to be honest, thats the model for most teams in thr PL but lool at the champions of the last couple of years and you will find that most don’t and aren’t build around big lads. Its a shame people are still thinking the PL is all power and pace.

    City, Leicester, Chelsea(they had Matic playing beside Cesc under Mourinho remember) are hardly teams with loads of big strong athletes. Please don’t compare nowadays to Lampard and that lot from 5+ years ago because futbol changes.

  38. Bill,

    Yup because Citeh were only good for half a season, Leicester were only good for half a season, Liverpool were inconsistent all season and Manure is filled with big fuckers but won fuck all.

  39. There is not a manager in the world who wouldn’t want to win by playing beautiful attacking football and consistently impose his will on the opposition and play them off the park.

  40. Not everyone has to be big and strong but it helps to have a players who are. The last 2 Chelsea teams had Diego costa Matic John Terry Gary Cahill etc so they have plenty of height and strength in the squad. Fergies teams and arsenes best teams always had size and strength. You can win without some size and strength but it certainly helps to have it. Man City has an overwhelming talent advantage this season but we are never going to have that so we have to be more pragmatic

  41. I do think that physical stature is an asset, especially in the PL. Take The Invincibles, of the twelve who made ten or more PL appearances only four were under 6ft (Lauren @ 5’11”, Cole @ 5’9”, Freddie @ 5’9”, and Kolo @ 5’10”). In the middle of the pitch we had PV4 (6’4”) and Gilberto (6’1”) and occasionally Edu (6’1”). Up top TH14 was 6’2”, DB10 6’0” and people forget that Bobby Pires was not a short lad either (6’2”). Certainly a team of pace and power.

    Compare that to later Wenger sides and it’s like chalk and cheese. AW may have loved his technical midgets but none of those sides got within a million miles of a title. In the current squad outside of our GK’s and CD’s there are only THREE players of 6′ or more (PEA @ 6’2”, Xhaka @ 6’1”, and Welbeck @ 6’0”).

    Maybe it’s personal choice but I much preferred the style of the earlier Wenger sides than that of the more technical less physical ones that came later.

  42. I agree with Andy.

    Not every player on your squad needs to be tall and strong but it’s clearly an advantage to have several players in the rotation who are.

  43. andy1886,

    Let me correct you a bit, Sead is 6′, Ozil is 6′, Nacho is 5’11-6″. With that said, I do get your point but again, I’m not saying build a squad of shorter players but a player like Torriera is physical and breaks up play as most of a futbol match is played on the ground.

    When it comes to crosses, its something that has bothered me sinxe his arrival, Cech doesn’t command his box to take pressure off of players.

  44. C,

    CORRECTION: Monreal is 5ft 10.5 not 6ft. While Ozil is 5’11″and pretty weak. Gets shoved around easily, not to mention his unavailability for 20%-25% of games due to “sickness”. But that’s a subject for another day.

  45. Have YouTube Torriera. He looks like Santi with pace and bite in the tackle. Coquelin with ball skills? Looks very strong on the ball. Who cares if he’s short? A lot of people think Pogba is great because he has good skills for a big man, but he makes very little use of his size. MU paid a fortune for six inches of height that Pogba doesn’t use.
    Torriera and Elneny should be able to press all day. Very excited.

    P.S. If I was Ozil I would be very worried. If Emery wants to prove to the squad that nobody is indispensable, he’ll bench Ozil.

  46. Looking at the rumours/nonsense etc,now that transfer news is going into overdrive,it would appear Jack has posted on his Instagram page that there comes a time when you have to turn the page or close the book.He’s gone then.
    The minute Wenger announced ‘his’ decision on stepping down there must have been a fair number of the squad wondering where they’d be next season-knowing full well they weren’t up to it ,and that only under Arsene could they get away with it.I reckon Jack was one of them…..

  47. C,

    I’ll give you Sead, but as Borges said not the others.

    I don’t have a problem with Torriera per se, but in terms of physical strength it is the general rule that bigger equals stronger and a team that is smaller tends to get bullied by a bigger team (Roy Keane has commented on how physically imposing those early Wenger sides were). Psychology plays a big part in sport and for anyone it’s hard not to be instinctively intimidated by others who are physically larger.

    At least Emery should address our lack of aggression. I don’t want to hear other managers giving interviews and explaining basically how Arsenal ‘don’t like it up ’em’ like we’ve been hearing for the last decade or more.

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