Arsene Wenger has often spoken about how he sees things like team spirit, unity and togetherness in the Arsenal dressing room as important as having individual players of the very best quality. (So that is why he has not been spending the big money to bring in the top names then!)
But it really is a key factor in any team and we saw from what happened to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho this season after they stormed to the Premier League title just months before. In modern football and especially in the English Premier League, most teams will have more foreign nationals than homegrown players and while the whole idea is to bring the best from around the world this can have it’s own problems.
How many times have you heard about little cliques of players from one country, continent or even religion? So it is vital that the Arsenal dressing room is kept together and that each player is happy and the Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker has told Arsenal player that this is a crucial and large part of his job. Perhaps the fact that the German is a huge giant of a man helps him to keep the peace but our BFG reckons it requires a much more subtle approach than that.
He said, ““I try to be at my best, be calm and give our players the best from myself but communicate as well and give good information. That is what I need to do and that is my job. Everyone gives energy and everyone gives advice and needs to listen, including me.
“You have different characters. You won’t say the same to Laurent or Hector as what you say to Alexis. You have to put your words in a different way sometimes. You know now how people react to certain advice so I always try to adapt on that and give good information for their character.
“I don’t want to upset people and it is really good we have a lot of people who don’t take it personally – but if you put your words in a different way it may happen. I try to always be careful on that front because it is a sensitive topic.
“On the pitch you cannot handle that sometimes in the perfect manner, so it can be shouting or trying to give information. That is what I mean by treating everyone the same but a little different at times.
“Preparation is good but communication is vital and if you see something you need to tell you partner because that can make the difference at the end. We have a good group here but we still need to prove that we can be consistent to the end and play a major role in the Premier League.
“We can still learn and have experiences but the team spirit and how the team creates energy together is absolutely vital. If some things [are not] going your way, you need to try and find solutions and do the best you can as a team.”
I do understand the need to treat different characters in different ways but it also sounds to me as though Mertesacker is bending over backwards to accommodate his team mates. Might it not be an idea to give them a bit more of a kick up the backside every now and then?