…or one of them, at least.
Thanks, Mesut. I was thinking of taking the weekend off…
In case you are one of the three people who didn’t see last night’s social media post:
So, Mesut was/is an Arsenal fan. There is surely only a matter of time before photos from his youth in Gelsenkirchen appear. A young boy looking out of his window onto the caged pitches below, surrounded by photos of Vieira, Bergkamp and a tatty picture of Marc Overmars scoring at Old Trafford. The unspoken dream of one day freeing himself from the lowly Bundesliga to reach Arsenal
OK, all facetiousness aside, no matter how many followers you have, you aren’t ‘one of us’ which was the message his PR team was putting out. Oh, and he isn’t leaving Arsenal on loan. Fair play, if that’s your attitude; the club gave you a contract and that’s our burden.
The timing stinks to everyone bar his fan club. A cynical attempt to pitch this as a straight battle between the player and Unai Emery off the back of a bad performance in the Europa League. Özil vs. Emery; the title fight. An unwelcome return to player power for the Spaniard. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into coaching…
It worked to a certain degree. The volume of #IStandWithMesut comments increased as did the ludicrous proposition that Enos gives a toss about the stand-off. It’s a local issue for the board to deal with, just keep me updated, boys. If Enos cared about Özil, he’d have acted before now. The German isn’t the favoured son of the owner nor is he about to “bin off” the coach over the issue just because it’s the cheaper option. He genuinely isn’t.
Fundamentally, Arsenal isn’t that attractive an option right now, not for the elite coaches which is where popular opinion says we should be looking for the next coach. No disrespect to Unai but he isn’t considered to be in the elite group. He wasn’t on the club’s radar until late in the recruitment process but even then, I don’t think Arteta would have found the situation any different regarding Özil.
The second problem is that in giving in to Özil now, the club makes the head coach job a poisoned chalice. Giving in to Özil by sacking the coach or at the very least neutering him, means the club backs the player over the squad. This isn’t about Elneny or Jenkinson and the collective; it’s about one player: Mesut Özil.
If Arsenal back him, they can’t invest in players who can bring us into the top four once again. What message does that send to potential coaches? “Don’t expect much from us, we haven’t got any cash. But, hey, we’ve got Mesut Özil, he’s better than Zidane and as long as you do as he says, you’re alright.”
Arsenal suits decided Özil is expendable. Unai Emery hasn’t issued a ‘back me or sack me’ ultimatum this early in his reign; he doesn’t need to because the club is perfectly well aware of the situation.
FFP is driving the decision as much as footballing reasons. The salary is a millstone around a Europa League club’s neck and no matter what anyone says, Özil isn’t going to take us back to the Champions League. He simply isn’t; that’s not his style. He doesn’t grab a team by the scruff of the neck and haul them to victory.
A supremely gifted individual, he needs others to do that kind of psychological bullying for him. Once that happens, he can shine. Except we don’t have that kind of player and anyone who showed any inclination at upsetting the applecart during late-era Wenger was shown the door.
Stories in this morning’s media point to his agents briefing that he won’t leave on loan this summer; it’s permanent or nothing. That’s Arsenal’s problem in a nutshell but also Özil’s as well. Loan deal suggests six months, maybe a year; insecurity which, for a man who is about to get married, is unwelcome.
There are two-year deals to be had but they are hard to come by. In reality, Team Mesut is backing the club into a corner: you want him gone, you’re losing him on a free. I suspect few clubs are inclined to match his current deal with a fee thrown in; Özil’s representatives are looking to leverage his way out of the club with no financial loss.
I don’t blame them. Gazidis blinked and gave him the deal; did Ivan already know he was leaving so it wouldn’t be his problem to deal with or was he just thinking short-term? Mustn’t lose Alexis and Özil for nothing; think of the flak. Whichever is the truth, his reputation is toast.
However, none of this alters the situation: for the good of the club, Özil must leave. With his salary, we can buy two or three players who improve the squad. If Mesut, as his team are trying to insinuate, is one of us, he’ll know what to do.
You Don’t Stand Alone
Which means we can then look at shifting on the likes of Mkhitaryan who doesn’t deliver given his salary level either. There are others at lesser levels whose money seems to be better spent elsewhere. The sum of the situation is that the squad needs a total overhaul and while we like the champagne lifestyle, we only have a beer income.
There’s much work to do and while it may seem that Özil is being picked on, just remember who put the player front and centre today.