Monday 19 April 2010

Why did we capitulate? Calmer thoughts

There was a mixture of disbelief, anger and pure frustration in my veins on Sunday. Having had some time to reflect I feel we have learnt a lot about our players in recent weeks, some things learnt have been good, others not, what is clear is that we do seem to have a clearer picture of what we lack and what we need for next season.

Some of the reaction has been way over the top, some calls for Arsene's head on a platter are embarrassing. However when the most moderate and sensible commentators such as Goodplaya are saying some rather worrying things, I think now is definitely a make or break time for the manager and this is with good reason.

Mentality. Some players are leaders and fighters, Sol Campbell, Thomas Vermaelen and RVP strike me as such men, you need a core of these kind of characters in your side to fight through the tough times, the tough games and the tough challenges. Whatever the reasons for the surrender of certain players, it just occurs to me that maybe we need more fighters and less shirkers. Are all our players sufficiently motivated and determined to carry our club to the next level. One man who has shown a lot of recent fight has been Samir Nasri, he hasn't always played superbly but he has invariably run his socks off for the cause. When your team is playing badly you need your work rate and fight to pull you through, without this capitulation is much more likely. I wonder which players you feel lack these vital mental attributes to succeed at the highest level?

Experience. Personally I don't think experience is our biggest problem, we just lack the right balance in the squad in terms of playing attributes, we have a lot of experienced seasoned internationals. Experience may be a bit of a red herring I feel.

The Personnel. There is no doubt that in certain areas (GK, CB, DCM) we do not have the quality. We lack a first choice centre back pairing that complement each other, the quality cover is also not there, this is also the case in defensive midfield.

Coaching/Organisation. There are undoubtedly some things that we are brilliant at, for example our fitness and technical levels are top notch. One thing that can definitely be pointed out is the lack of cohesion we have as a team, whether this is more down to the personnel than the coaching is difficult to work out as an outsider, but something is certainly amiss.

Overall we're not far off, but there are clear deficiencies in several key elements that are needed for success at the highest level. I think massive changes to the squad would be too much and huge shifts in players can create new problems, but minimal change would be too little. I think we need to send out a message to those who have not shown the fight or passion for the club, at least a couple of players must be jettisoned to send out a stark warning to the remaining squad members. Those players that we do recruit in the summer must be cut from the right wood, they must be battlers, they must be willing to fight for the club, we need to unearth the Sols of the future if we are to recreate another golden generation.


dan said...

we need a new manager full stop, he is no longer hungry for success, (other than his own personal targets), any manager who happily states that two of the four available trophies are not worth his interest (unlike chelsea and Man utd) needs to be replaced by someone who is dying for success, any success. this year has been awful from him, wrong formations, lack of so many obvious replacements and gaping holes in the squad, awful tactics and substitutions, the new contracts handed out to so many under achieving and average players, the list just goes on. best quote of the year, i didn't replace adebayor because of Vela!!! if that doesn't sum up how far from reality he is then nothing will. time to start again. shame the club have no balls.

Tom Dennerly said...

I agree with him about the cups to a certain extent. Although it would be nice to get to the Wembley bog, I don't think a cup would offer anything more than scant consolation. It's a shame, but they just don't seem special anymore.

You could tell from Wenger's last interview that he is ready to change his transfer policy and bring in some badly needed reinforcements.

I'm prepared to give him another season.

simab said...

the cups are crucial, you can not go in to a season saying i am only interested in the two hardest competitions in the world to win, one we have never won and another that is more competitive than ever. it is no disgrace not winning either of them, they are bloody hard to win so you need to get that winning mentality somewhere else. it is no coincidence that we haven't one single important game in 5 years as they simply don't know how to win, they don't have a winning mentality. chelsea and man utd have it and it is no coincidence they regularly win domestic cups as well as success elsewhere. the players and fans want cup finals and medals etc. There is no fun finishing 3rd / 4th every year, it is boring!!!! we will never win anything with wenger again as we are not good enough to win the "big 2" and don't try in the others. he even threw the league this year with his poxy team selection at birmingahm and wolves, for what a game against barcelona!!!! he only wants the champions league and as a club that is unacceptable. i don't understand why the board think that that is ok/

Stroller said...

Yes, another balanced and well-argued article. I think that you have called it about right regarding what's needed. I'm afraid I cover my ears to the Wenger-out brigade because I've yet to hear a coherent and realistic assessment of the way forward if that happened. Because of the man he is, I don't think that he'll sign a new contract if he feels he's taken the team as far as he can. So next year is key in that respect, but as you say we are not a million miles from success and the decisions made during the summer could determine which way it goes.

dan said...

i agree that he won't sign on if he feels he is done. there are plenty of managers that can get us to 3rd 4th every year with the players and money at his disposal. i don't think he does anything above the minimum with those players. personally i would be very happy to see david moyes become the new manager. he is a manager who does the best with what he has, wenger has been doing the minimum with a team full of internationals and in the past few seasons money burning a hole in his back pocket.

GlancingHeader said...

A lot of supporters are engry, upset, and horrendously embarassed by the loss at Wigan but if you really sit down and think about it, a new manager will need a few years before he can mold a trophy-winning team. We have a squad that has some deficiency but we also don't have the 100 million transfer budget that enables the manager to buy whoeve he needs at whatever asking price. So letting Wenger finish his contract is the sensible thing to do.

Harris1985 said...

I never thought I would say this but i also think Wenger has to finish up at Arsenal. He is still one of the best managers in the world, Arsenal have got the best out of Arsene but i think new ideas are needed at the club. Wenger does bring beautiful football but he lacks the killer instinct.Ferguson doesn care what price a player cost as long as it brings him success thats the mentality every manager should have. I would love to see a young talented manager come in, assemble a balanced team of players that dont have attitudes e.g Arshavin Gallas Diaby. The Blanc's / Peps / Rikarrd.

marcus said...

Good post, 1979.

My personal measuring stick as to whether or not it's time to at least start seriously THINKING about *not* renewing AW's contract is whether or not I'm open to the idea.

And I am.

I am one of the blindest, most loyal supporters of Wenger but even I have started to think "let him finish his contract but no renewal." I'm not wedded to that opinion, but it's something I see now as perfectly reasonable.

For me, it has now come down to the nature of the TRAINING and MANAGEMENT and DEVELOPMENT of these players. Which is something far more fundamental than just saying "we need a keeper."

Re dan's point about the smaller cups: until recently I went along with sidelining them in favor of the bigger prizes but I've come to realize that this sets up this developing team for failure. I look at 2 of the most astute, winning managers of the sport: Ferguson and Mourinho. When Mourinho first arrived, he targeted the smaller cups first to build momentum. He first won the
CC and went on from there. During Ferguson's recent re-building phase (a 3-yr period in which spoiled Utd fans created online petitions demanding Ferguson's head), he too used the lesser cups to build momentum. He won the CC in 2006 and went on from there.

Both these managers understood that--since they were working with new, developing squads--they had to target smaller competitions first, in which these transitional squads with a lot of younger players would know what it's like to win a trophy, how to fight for it.

They also knew that younger players need older, experienced players alongside them - preferably ones who've won trophies. So they kept a good balance between age and experience.

By contrast, Wenger has set up his young, developing team for what may be perpetual failure. He tells them the lesser cups are not important to compete for - yet they're not yet ready to succeed in the bigger competitions. And he gives them no wise heads to guide them in these competitions.

How can they compete for the biggest prizes while never having the experience of seriously going for smaller ones? It's an entire step in their development that he's dismissed.

I won't even go into the other points: AW's poor tactical acumen, his substitutions, how he runs his first choice players into the ground so that by the end of the season they're exhausted and injured (despite his rhetoric, he actually shows little trust in his squad players), and his abject failure in instilling in his squad defensive cohesion, discipline, awareness.

Related to the above is the appalling lack of communication and understanding among his players. It truly is astonishing to watch this from a team competing at this level.

Then there's the coddling, the failure to instill into a talented player like Diaby after years at the club (he's 24 now) the simple, basic concept of FIGHTING for the ball, KEEPING the ball for 90+ mins, defensive nous, etc.

I've gone on long enuf. Sorry for the rant.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Arsenal are intrested in Rene Adler and Juventes are intrested in Persie.