On Ramsey, Özil, and Shenanigans

UEFA’s Nations League is the ICC of the international arena. There, I’ve said it. A pointless competition with the supposed kudos of being ‘champions’ at the end of it. Adding it to a football association roll of honour is the same as releasing a DVD celebrating a Norwich Hospital Charity Cup final win.

A number of countries are fielding depleted squads this week with the sheer pointlessness of fixtures laid bare. Grabbing the headlines is Denmark, with their futsal team managed by Faxe; the absurdity of it all laid bare when Martin O’Neill worried about how the situation would affect their group. You’ll still finish bottom of it is the answer nobody gave him, so be happy about that.

Aaron Ramsey will disagree; it’s a very important tournament but only because he scored in Wales’ 4 – 1 win last night which if nothing else, boosts his confidence. Another whose confidence is boosted is Matteo Guendouzi, voted the first Player of the Month of the season.

The youngster’s enthusiastic start to the season displays the kind of energy you hope is infectious to other players. It isn’t always and even when it inspires, how that manifests is different from person-to-person.
It’s a point Nacho Monreal was keen to make as he dismissed the talk of a feud between Mesut Özil and Unai Emery. Which, for what it’s worth, Özil needs to get over it for what it’s worth. Emery lost out to Neymar; Ivan isn’t going to back the player against ‘his’ man.

It’s a big change for the player, from the paternalistic approach to an environment where the coach is ambitious and driven. Very hands on judging by comments and photos of his training sessions which show Emery taking on the defence. Probably winning in a Brian Glover kind of way.

The Tunnel Of Love

Anyway, Monreal warned people need to stop trying to make Özil into that which he is not.

“People must understand that every player is completely different. He is like that [quiet] and 10 years ago he was the same.

“So you can’t expect on the pitch that he starts to fight, to talk with the referee because he never did it. He is not going to change in this case.

“The important thing is he plays at his highest level, gives a lot of assists, scores a lot of goals and basically helps the team. That’s what he knows. He doesn’t know how to go up to a player and grab him by the throat.”

Therein is the rub. We, the supporters, want a player to show passion for the club. Each man is different but any outward sign of emotion, of playing for more than a wage packet. That’s the perception, rightly or wrongly, that players who don’t show passion or something similar, are only in it for the money. A guy who is the highest earner at the club but has a languid style, with its attendant body language problems, has problems.

Monreal makes the point that Özil is never going to be an archetypal captain. Not for him a bollocking to others when they aren’t pulling their weight. The German isn’t going to hang someone on a clothes peg and then read the riot act while they struggle free. It isn’t him.

And it only matters what sort of body language is displayed when the performances aren’t at a level expected. If Özil was playing well and we were challenging for the title; not one jot would be given whether he sullenly strolled off the pitch on being substituted.

But we aren’t.

Shenanigans!

This is the downside for Özil of last season’s contract shenanigans. It’s something for Ramsey to be wary of, with neither looking at Theo Walcott’s gradual demise in popularity as any kind of warning worth heeding.

As if the players particularly care at the moment. A downside for us of the febrile atmosphere is that they have developed a hard skin when it comes to us, the supporters and what is being said. Pleasantries will be exchanged with the majority and in public, but when the grief manifests, I’d guess they shrug their shoulders with the rest of the squad viewing it as ‘Hector’s turn this week’.

That doesn’t mean the criticism isn’t justified – nor that it is all over the top – simply that the players aren’t going to change because of what we think. They ought to be impervious to that because the quickest way to lose confidence is to believe what the fans or social media think.

’til Tomorrow.

20 thoughts on “On Ramsey, Özil, and Shenanigans

  1. Good stuff certainly Yogi, though I wonder how Ramsey felt that he got his pocket licked so easily taking too many touches and the next touch of the ball seen Wales lose a clean sheet.

    Anyways, Nacho put it perfectly, Ozil is who he is and I also think that supporters at times view ‘languid’ not necessarily as somebody who puts in a shift or shows passion. I also don’t buy the talk that, ‘ Ozil can’t do it for a demanding manager, he needs to be pampered…’ but people forget that he flourished under Mourinho(Mourinho loves Ozil and how many creative players have failed because of Mourinho?), pre-last World Cup Low and Thomas Schaaf when he was flourishing at Werder Bremen.

  2. Great post yogi.

    Sports has always been business for ownership so we can’t really begrudge the same business mindset for players? As the players wages have become higher and higher the business part has become more important which is human nature. I suspect all of us would do the same thing if we were lucky enough to have that talent. A player has to make enough money during a very short playing career to support himself and his family in the style they have become accustomed. The players have to understand their performances on the pitch will be scrutinized more once they get their big contract and they will lose some of the fan support if they get involved in drawn out contract negotiations. Like it or not a few million extra in the yearly pay packet makes up for whatever love is lost from a few of the fans.

  3. C

    Ozil played for those other “demanding managers” several years ago and things change as players get further along in their careers. At this point he won lots of big trophies and he has nothing to prove. He also has a lot more miles on his legs and he has his last big contract and his ability to influence the game is clearly not the same as it once was.

  4. Morning all thanks for the post YW.

    Bill you raise a good point and I have to say I am always wanting to be ‘pro-player’. Arsenal is run by some crooked rich walmart owning american wanker, if I was a player i would be holding out for as much as possible. As a fan i think giving Ozil that contract is madness. Flip the perspective however and Ozil is doing what he can to make all the money he can while he is young(ish) and still active in his career. If you wanted to make mega bank, play pretty delicate football, not care about actually winning a title, arsenal has been the place to be for a decade now.

    Unai is changing it lets hope we start to see some evolution here this season.

  5. Bill,

    As always, you miss the point. I was talking purely from a managerial style, the notion that you and many others have put out there that he can’t play for a manager that is tough, demanding and not always the ‘go play’ kind yet, outside of his Arsenal career, those are the only types he has actually played for.

    Couple of Questions: Have you ever thought about the prpspect that Ozil aside, how many of the players in our current squad 1. Can play for a demanding manager and 2. Play for a demanding manager who to high press but do so with a high futboling IQ? I would venture to say that list probably contains quite a number of players whose work rate might be high but do are they actually pressing effectively or just running around like headless chickens?

    High pressing isn’t about just work rate, its has a lot more to do with pressing as a team, because the moment say Ramsey chases when he shouldn’t, it all goes to shit because he then leaves a gap and then the press breaks down. Its why Sanchez struggled at Barca, work rate is great but doing it individually and not as a unit is pointless running. I would be pleasantly surprised if I didn’t see a different Ozil in the coming months than we do now especially without being able to work more with Emery and understanding what he wants and how he wants to do it.

  6. Bill (from yesterday)

    ‘GK is analogous to what I said about technical skill vs defensive skill for DM and CB. The first 9 reasons you have a GK is to stop shots and prevent the other team from scoring. A GK ability to distribute the ball is a secondary consideration. I suspect the reason Cech is still playing rather then Leno is because Emery believes Cech is significantly better at preventing the other team from scoring and that has to outweigh any differences in their ability to distribute the ball.’

    Bill

    My thoughts exactly. It is likely Emery is playing him because he is the better shot stopper. I think I saw a stat that he has saved the highest percentage of big chances in the division (perhaps because he has faced so many!).

    It therefore falls to the defenders to make good quality backpasses to his stronger foot and then the defenders and midfielders need to give him options.

  7. Thrillbo

    The amounts of money flowing into football from TV contracts and other sources has become a raging flood and that money has to go somewhere. I dont blame the players for wanting their share because if they don’t get it then it goes to the owner. I certainly don’t blame any player for negotiating the best possible deal. However, I do blame them if they get the big deal and they justify the riches with their performance on the pitch. In Ozil’s case I think it should have been obvious to anyone who watched that his ability to influence the game has been fading for the last couple of seasons and it seems like a strange idea to expect that he would regain his best form as he gets further along in his career and enters his 30’s. The opposite is much more common. However Mesut had the club over a barrel and took advantage so he should be very happy he has a good agent

  8. C

    And a high press requires confidence, something that this team lacks. That will change, I believe, but meantime they have a fair amount of history/baggage that they must first rid themselves of.

  9. Blue Yonder,

    Agree and I think we could possibly see more confidence as the team continues to play together. When you consider that we played 2 extremely tough matches, had plenty of chances and should have beaten Chelsea but have scored goals. I think the pressing at times has been good and other times, meh.

  10. On the topic of pressing we all saw Lacazette wreaking havoc up front he got a few takeaways. The lad has got to stay and PEA needs to figure out how to play off Laca! C has mentioned that PEA can come in off the wing, that is good but Hector needs some defensive support so Auba will need to sacrifice some goal scoring in order to maintain security! Is he willing to drop back and put in the work?

    Personally, it might just be my area (Chicago) but people take pride in being a big bad defensive unit. Solid defense can actually lead to high percentage offensive opportunities (see: high pressing). We need guys who love being stubborn assholes in defence just as much as PEA loves hanging around the box and sniffing out goals.

  11. Thrillbo @ 5:03

    Nacho gets about the same amount of help defending the wing that Hector does but we don’t have any worries about making sure we build our line up to help Nacho. I bet we would not be concerned about getting a lot more defensive help if Lichtensteiner was playing RB. Nacho is obviously either a much better player or the better alternative is Hector is still not ready because he does not know how to balance defense and attacking.

    The one thing we have going for us is 2 good forwards and if we make them alter their game to cover for a fullback whose decision making has still not matured then we are shooting ourselves in the foot. I understand that Hector is our fullback of the future but we need to do everything we can to finish 4th this year. If Hector still needs more time to figure out the right balance then we should probably be using Lichsteiner at least until Hector has figured out his role. No?

  12. Bill,

    Totally agree with you Bill. PEA and Laca are the biggest goal threats so ideally we can let them do their thing in the offensive half of the pitch without forcing them to track runs into our box. Our attackers need to be confident in the defense behind them, not sure they feel 100% solid with the back 4 and central mid. I always think back to some better days where we let RVP, Fabregas, Nasri, and Theo run wild on teams. I’m not sure who was sitting in behind them but i know that we had a front 4 that terrified teams for a while.

    We never worried about who was in front of Sagna, and same goes for Nacho. He survived with Sanchez in front of him for a long while. Hopefully we will start to see that from Bellerin , until then I think teams will continue to attack down that side.

  13. Bill,

    Rubbish, actually watch the matches and Nacho does get more help than Bellerin. First and foremost when he gets forward, Guendouzi covers the space allowing for Nacho to get back to where Xhaka does not. Lets not also forget that for quite some time Kos would cover that space, also allowing Nacho to recover. Bellerin isn’t afforded the same, I’m not taking anything from Nacho but this bullshit notion that Nacho does it all on his own or geta forward as much as Bellerin is rubbish.

    I would venture to say that Lichtsteiner might offer more defenaively because he is a better defender at thia point in their career AND he wouldn’t get forward as much as Bellerin but, based on your same logic with Cech, Emery muat want Bellerin to get forward like that otherwise Lichtsteiner would have started or does your Emery logic only apply when its applicable to you?

  14. Thrillbo,

    I think the other thing that works in both Sagna’s and Nacho’s favor is that the opposing FB can’t bomb forward because Sagna had Theo banging in goals and Nacho has had Sanchez and now Aubameyang, Mhkitaryan or Iwobi to deal with that starts wide so they can’t get forward. Infront of Bellerin has been Ozil and last season it was basically a committee but they are players who drift centrally. A perfect example is against Chelsea when Mhkitaryan FINALLY decided to attack, Alonso couldn’t get forward so Chelsea decided to just go over the top of our CB’s and then when Mhkitaryan struggled again in the 2nd half, Alonso bombed forward more leading to the goal.

  15. C

    No matter who we have started in front of Hector, the right side of our formation has been our weak side for the last 2 years and its been just as apparent and perhaps even more so this season. I have been following the blog now for more then 10 years and I have never seen us talk about altering our line up and our tactics to give more help to a fullback because he was struggling to control his side of the pitch. We make excuses all the time but there is nothing wrong with accepting reality and admitting that Hector is just not a good defensive fullback. Perhaps he will get better someday but until he does the rest of the league is going to continue to get most of their attacking joy down our right side.

  16. For many years we had Sagna on the right and first Clichy and then Gibbs on the left. Similar to what we see now it did not matter who played in front of our fullbacks because the left side was the weaker side of our defense. At this point in his career I think Hector is similar to a right footed Gibbs and Nacho is analogous to a left footed Sagna.

  17. Bill,

    In all my years of supporting Arsenal, one player stands out as the most one-footed.
    Gibbs at left back, was completely unable to use his right boot.
    And it amazed me that in all his tenure at Arsenal, the coaches could not rectify this grievous fault. 😉

  18. Nicky

    I am sure they tried to work with Gibbs to improve his right foot but I suspect he just didn’t have the aptitude. Their will always be a few players on the far ends of the bell curve in regards to their ability to use their weaker foot and Gibbs was on the bad end of that curve. Cazorla was on the good end of the curve. He was almost completely ambidextrous.

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