Paris St-Germain provide the final opposition for the Singapore leg of the pre-season tour. At this point, the klaxon ought to sound and a recording play: “The result is not important. Do not lose your s*** over it.”
Unai Emery said the same in a more cerebral way, declaring:
“For us, it’s about continuing our preparations. It’s another match but we don’t want to change our focus. Our focus is to get every player up to speed and work on tactical things to get better for when we start [Premier League] competition.”
Not for him worrying about where we finish in the ‘table’ of the ICC 2018. Thankfully.
As the players watched his press conference unfold, a few shifted uncomfortably when the Spaniard said he wants “to build a team with a good spirit, a good energy and a very good quality of players.” Eyes scanned the room, noting Mustafi shuffling uneasily on his feet.
Poor old Shkodran. Everyone picks on him. It’s a shame he’s not the captain, because then he’d be ‘Shkodran Leader Mustafi’ in headlines where he played well. Ah well, can’t have everything in life.
The work on getting the players ready for the new season physically is largely completed reading between the lines. Now, Emery is focused elsewhere:
“Now, for me, it’s the moment to work on tactical things, to work on getting every player up to speed. The result isn’t the most important thing for me right now, it’s other things. It’s all about the positioning, the movement on the pitch, the individual quality and the combinations together.”
There you go; he’s not overly bothered by results treating victory and defeat stoically. I wonder how he manages defeat or a half-time deficit? Hairdryer treatment? Or more reasoned analysis? I’m going with the latter.
Alex And The New Deal
The last World Cup ‘stars’ return to training on Monday when “the combinations” become clearer. Everyone’s raring to see Lucas Torreira in action. Then we find out if he is the best thing since a baker looked at an uncut loaf and sliced it.
One player impressing Emery at the moment is Alex Iwobi. That’s no surprise if he’s the energetic and enthusiastic Iwobi; wait until the shrinking violet turns up. And he will; at 22, he isn’t old enough to know how to drag a team out of a slough and is dragged down with the rest. That’s not his fault; players at that age who can pull a team through are few and far between.
The darting runs will impress the new boss. He likes the lively players who make things happen. Every time Emery talks about his side, it’s about energy and hard work because that’s what he wants from a team. Iwobi gives that but needs to work on his end product.
As with other members of the squad, his goal output isn’t where it ought to be for a player of his talent. It’s a cop-out to say his game isn’t based on that; as an attacking player, he ought to be a goalscorer as well. They all should be, no matter how many assists or pre-assists they rack up. In the league, title challengers need attacking midfielders to score around 10 goals a season unless you have a phenomenon up front.
Iwobi – and Özil – can grow the selfish streak or self-belief in their decision-making. There’s a balance between the two but sometimes, shooting is the better option. As Germany showed in the World Cup, creating is nothing but frustration without an end product.
Enough cod psychology for the day, eh?
Joel-loan, Joel-loan, Joel-loan, Joooooeeel-loan
Elsewhere, Joel Campbell thinks Arsenal won’t loan him out because he is in the final year of his contract.
“A loan deal will be impossible, I have only one year of my contract left so they won’t loan me. I now have to see if I stay or if I’m sold.”
It’s surprising he or his agent haven’t spoken to the club. A Skype conversation or phone call would resolve his future quickly you’d have thought. And for a player whose future isn’t at Arsenal, surely that was the priority. I think he’s overly pessimistic about a loan spell. The club will take anything to get him off the books for another season.
What’s interesting is that none of the clubs he spent loan spells with has come in for him. Maybe they did but Arsenal wanted too much money. I don’t think so, though. Where he will end up, I don’t know, but a spell in the lower echelons of Portugal or Spain’s top-flight seems likely. Maybe the MLS is his level? Whatever it is, I don’t think he’s cut out for the Premier League.
His signing underlines how poorly we spent money in the past. Every manager has blind spots – Mee, Howe, Graham all made bad signings – but when we were relatively cash-strapped, we outdid ourselves with bad deals.
Enjoy today’s match wherever you are watching it.