The running of the club is under question now the transfer window is over. Sven Mislintat left yesterday so there’s a natural concern about future recruitment. Ivan’s departure left a power vacuum which I remained concerned that Henry hasn’t filled.
Names in the frame to fill the technical director role are Monchi and Marc Overmars. The sooner they are appointed, the sooner we can find out what a technical director actually does. We presume it’s taking over Sven’s role but we don’t know what Raul has in mind. Wait and see is the game to play rather than creating a crisis. We’ve got one of them on the pitch so off-the-pitch is a relatively low priority.
I know off-the-field dramas – gee, thanks Ivan – affect the on-the-pitch efforts but we’re in danger of blowing this out of proportion. Now Sven is gone, I’d expect a reasonably quick decision on his successor. There will be some impact on identifying summer targets but before we adopt a ‘Chicken Little’ mentality, can we adopt a bit of patience?
The interesting or more pertinently, relevant issue is the Europa League squad. The ‘A’ List was updated yesterday which highlighted the structure of our squad. Before going on, the ‘B’ List is where the youth players are located.
However, the ‘A’ List is the Ronseal of UEFA competition; it does what it says and has your 25-man first team squad. Or in our case, 24-man squad because we only have seven homegrown players over the age of 21. As a result of not reaching the required limit of eight, we have to lop one off our allotted number of 25.
Further investigation shows Bellerin, Welbeck and Holding are included in the 24. So effectively, we’re looking at a 21-man ‘A’ List. And yes, that includes Shkodran Mustafi.
There are all sorts of trade-offs here. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on the ‘B’ List, as well as the likes of Willock and Nketiah. Fringe members of the squad and those whose members comprise the majority of the bench.
One name missing was Dinos Mavropanos. Ineligible for the ‘B’ List – he hasn’t been at Arsenal for two consecutive years – he was omitted from the ‘A’ List. Ornstein said on the Arsecast that there were question marks over the player, that he was prone to errors and nervousness. Not surprising if you consider his partner would likely be Mustafi. He makes us nervous so goodness knows how his team-mates react to the German on the pitch.
Does that mean Mavropanos is not trusted? Not in that sense; he’s likely viewed as untested and not ready for the unforgiving arena that is the Premier League. Don’t forget, he’s made just 24 career appearances. As we saw with Rob Holding, playing regularly improves players and breeds confidence.
Or makes them error-prone with a devil-may-care attitude.
It’s a little of the devil and deep blue sea with the pair. Do you prefer experience but error-prone or talented, raw and error-prone? We’ve got enough defensive problems as it is and in such a febrile atmosphere – on line, at least, and players that young tend to be heavily involved in their own social media accounts – is it wise to expose the youngster?
None of our defenders is perfect but Sokratis and Koscielny are the ones you want in situ to bring through youngsters in a back four or three. Why let someone with bad habits and ill-discipline influence a novice?
The Homegrown Garden is Threadbare
The issue highlights the change we need in our scouting of players. Reports before the January window suggested Mislintat found English/Homegrown players horrendously overpriced. Yet, we find out European squad decimated, do we need to look at the lower-placed Premier League clubs.
Finding gems in the Championship is hard and expensive. It’s not much cheaper in the top-flight either; Bournemouth’s David Brooks is quoted as a £50m player which even allowing for hyperbole is an lunatic price for an £11.5m signing last summer. It’s the market situation which many predicted when the homegrown was first brought in and nothing has changed to prove them wrong.
This is all to do with transition, of course. The move to replace Wenger and revolutionise the club was never going to be smooth – this is Arsenal – with these off-the-field issues the manifestation of that.
While we shouldn’t dismiss them as the issues inevitably filter to on-the-pitch to some degree, they shouldn’t take over from on-the-pitch. To some extent, I’m tired of these shenanighans as I am of talking heads on Brexit; it seems a bit headless chickens at the moment, for which a fair bit can be laid at the feet of Ivan Gazidis. He started a process and didn’t see it through.
Settled times will come; Wenger hasn’t been gone a year yet so we are moving from an all-pervading power to becoming a dynamic organisation. It takes time and there will be hiccups but let’s not blow every issue out of proportion. Sven is a scout. A good one, but a scout. Good scouts aren’t ten-a-penny but they aren’t as rare as unicorn crap either.
A bit of patience if you can.