INTERESTING TIMES by AD
What happened at Swansea was so depressing that it brought pealing fit of laughter from me. Interestingly though we have three parallel propositions of varying circumstances and positions for an observer to finally take a subjective as well as objective call on the quality and competence of our Mr. Arsene Wenger.
Normally, it is not easy to compare for more often than not you end up comparing Apples with Oranges. In real life as opposed to easy theoretical textbook problems the variables are nigh improbable to quantify. An easy argument for someone seeking to escape the damning judgment that such a comparison may cough up. However, a fortunate turn of events has landed one such opportunity (not ideal but still one that can be argued as optimum) in our laps to take a verifiable judgment call on the efficacy and effectiveness of Arsenal’s manager.
So, we have Mr. Pardew of Newcastle United, Mr. Martinez of Everton and Mr. Klopp of Borussia Dortmund (I have deliberately not included Liverpool for they are battling an anomaly in the loss of the best forward PL has known in sometime in Suarez. Yes I believe Suarez is better than Aguero). All of three managers listed hereinabove presently have to face in their respective clubs (together with one staring at Mr. Wenger now) a steep trough, and in it presents a unique opportunity for informative comparison that shall play out live in short term future.
Of course, the compulsively argumentatives amongst us would certainly present a cogent point on difference in resources, competition, quality of players available et al. But to my mind these variable can be adjusted through subjective concessions and as for the rest certainly a competent manager (or a great one as I am certain our Mr. Wenger believes himself to be) can account for such factors in the larger scheme without letting it affect his goals for the season too adversely. And the aforesaid managers have been selected primarily upon the expectations they have to manage. Newcastle have the kind of pride that makes their present situation truly unpalatable, Everton is suffering from cautious optimism (owing to Lukaku buy as statement of intent and talk of new stadium a.k.a greater financial power), while Dortmund have always had huge expectations from themselves.
Newcastle is on an upswing at the moment but their inherent weaknesses make this recovery interesting to say the least. A united team where a player plays for his teammates as much as for himself can mask many shortcomings but only for a period of time. It is the team with least appealing players (of the four), but is currently punching above its weight category. But the question is how much and for how long? This is where the quality of manager is tested. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Pardew manages his team. They say nothing brings a team together like adversity but what keeps it motivated to stay together needs to be found by a manager. Found and supplied. Will Mr. Pardew find it? Only time will tell.
Everton this season has been confusing. I believe their sins of last season are catching up to them. You cannot play fast, attacking football that relies on possession and quick passing without a strong back four (ask Barcelona or more importantly us gooners). Possession needs numbers committed forward as most of the attacks build from the CBs (which need to be good passers and interceptors) that means you are always liable to be game for quick counter attacks. This is where the strength and understanding of the back four is always tested. Barcelona found a smart way to cover up their deficiencies on this count by full pitch pressing. Thus, allowing their back four space and time to realign after an attack. Heck, even Messi was then seen doing slide tackles with disturbing regularity.
Everton is paying for updating their game flow over and above anything seen during Moyes’ era. Unfortunately they forgot to update their defence. And so they will be always susceptible and leaky in defence. After a transformation the second year is always tougher as your opponents have analyzed you dry. What Mr. Martinez does now shall be very interesting and shall in all probability make him as a manager to reckon with. Exceptional managers always find a way.
The worst of the lot is Dortmund. It’s a team I absolutely enjoy watching, but love to hate. There is so much good about them – the fluidity, the pace, the sheer work – rate et al. But it is not the beautiful game. For us lovers of classical football a Barcelona or Bayern (under Guardiola) present a greater allure than sheer effectiveness of Dortmund (or for that matter Real). Of course, even beautiful game remains attractive so only as long as it is effective (not the Arsenal way that cause more frustration and misery than oohs and aahs of appreciation that Barca got out of so many). That Mr. Klopp has got a problem is an understatement of some merit. Dortmund has the most appealing talent than any of the teams listed above including Arsenal. Reus, Gundogan, Hoffman (oh Mr. Klopp how could you do something so asinine as send him on loan), Bender, Hummels, Sokratis, Aubmeyang etc Yet it faces the same injury crisis as Arsenal, and the players bought have not assimilated the way Dortmund would have wanted particularly Jojic, who has been the greatest disappointment. Watch for him guys, if he comes even 80% as good as he is believed to be capable of he would put Gundogan under shadow. So Mr. Klopp is facing similar problems to us Gooners in assimilation and injuries. He has the squad to not only challenge Bayern but even beat them. Unfortunately, his squad is underperforming spectacularly in a way enough to cause him to pull out his hair plugs. A the moment it seems Dortmund would need 50 chances per game to get a goal, and for a team that believes that attack is best form of defence it is a big problem. It would again be hugely interesting to see how Mr. Klopp gets his team out of this hole.
Then there’s Arsenal. Wouldn’t say much on this subject as every aspect has already been debated to death. Suffice to say Mr. Wenger is well and truly under the cosh. Would he again do a Houdini (as to be fair he has done on more occasions than I would care to remember), or finally he has no more rabbits to pull out of his proverbial hat. Since we as gooners can do no more than write on forums such as here, might as well settle down, raise legs and buckle up for an interesting ride.
The Chinese would like to say something about interesting times at this juncture but practicality dictates it would take something truly extreme to climb out of this one considering our dwindling resources in defence. May the force be with us….