DO MANAGER’S REALLY HAVE FAVOURITE PLAYERS AND, IF THEY DO, DO THEY PLAY THEM REGARDLESS? by Ken1945
Some of the many accusations that some fans hold against successive managers/coaches at The Arsenal over the years have been, firstly, they all had favourite players, secondly that they all tried to fit their tactics and play around said players and thirdly, that they all played them regardless of the results.
Here are my personal thoughts on the subject, as it is impossible to get any manager or coach to even discuss any/all of the above thoughts…even in the autobiographies I have read…perhaps because the ultimate conclusions are too absurd to even have been considered or thought about:
Of course they do, especially if they are players that they themselves have brought to the club. There is also the likelihood that, for a younger coach, such as Mikel Arteta, that they may have even played with some of the players they are now coaching and developing.
Some of them use a hands-on management style, while others have a more standoffish way in their approach. It is also true that players themselves need to be treated in different ways, as some respond to a more one to one approach and this could be seen as having favourites, by those who are looking for such scenarios to exist, when there is actually none there to find.
At the end of the day, however, football is a results orientated industry and no manager/coach can afford to have passengers simply because he likes them, or because he signed them… but nevertheless, there must be the tendency to indulge in a player who has been signed personally and needs the one to one involvement – to the fan, this could look as if there is a bias towards certain players and leads me nicely on to point two.
TACTICS AND PLAY:
It must naturally be assumed that when a player is signed, the overriding reason is to try and improve the club. Each manager/coach has his own ideas about what he wants to do, how he wants to play, what formation he sees suits the players and, usually, has a plan A and a plan B.
Obviously plan A is the one that he sees as, tactically, his vision for success and in that vision, he plays those men who he has signed or, in Arteta’s case, those players who impress him during training and, hopefully, during the game itself as well. It follows, surely, that he would use his “favourite “players, as these are the ones he feels can deliver plan A? Nothing to do with whether he likes them or not, simply the fact that he favours said players to deliver his vision over others in his charge.
PLAYING THESE PLAYERS REGARDLESS OF THE RESULTS:
This is where the fans come into the equation, having witnessed the match day results, but with no input or idea on what has gone on during the week. As soon as a match day team sheet is produced, the fans compare the previous game with that selection, based solely on that one factor. We have no idea what has gone on between the two games and how the previous performance was viewed by the manager/coach.
The fans have no idea what instructions are given, both individually and as a unit, all we really care about is winning the game.
Scapegoats are immediately identified, argued about and “favourite” players identified, with the insistence that these players be dropped for someone left on the bench.
I have never seen a team selection universally accepted and praised as long as I can remember and there are always the accusations that the manager/coach is selecting his favourites.
The most incredible suggestion put forward by the fans, however, is that the manager/coach has only one thing in mind when selecting his team, being that he has to ensure his personal favourites are guaranteed a place. Think about it – why on earth would a manager/coach put his position at a club like The Arsenal at risk, just to play someone who isn’t performing?
But the biggest reason for not believing this ever happens, is the reaction of the other players to such a ridiculous suggestion. Place yourself in their position – would they all accept this unsustainable situation? Turning out game after game, being asked to cover for the manager/coach’s favourite player and getting grief from the fans, media and everyone else, when they lose a game, without any complaints being leaked to said media, fans etc by an “unnamed source?”
Would the likes of McLintock, Storey, Keown, Adams, Vieira, Henry, Cazorla, Campbell, Aubameyang or Xhaka put up with this situation? Not in a month of Sundays – yet we are told this scenario was/is happening at our club!!
Honestly, ask yourselves what their reactions would be if one was able to ask them if this was/is what they were condoning? They would laugh you out of town, shaking their heads in disbelief that any fan would question their professionalism, their commitment to our club and their intelligence, along with the same examples for the managers concerned!!!
MA is just seven months (four if you discount the coronavirus interlude) and he is already being accused of this practice when every match day team sheet is produced, just as GG, AW and UE were before him – when will the fans of The Arsenal ever ignore this fantasy, ill thought out and idiotic idea, and simply trust that the man in charge is selecting his team on the merits he has set out for himself and his vision!!!