Holding Only Played On Sunday Due To ‘A Change In Culture’ by Dan Smith
Arteta stopped short of criticising the previous regime this weekend, he’s too smart for that. Our manager instead was very selective with his choice of words indicating that the only reason Rob Holding was able to play on Sunday was down to ‘Credit to the medical staff and that’s the culture we’re trying to create.’
The defender was expected to be out for a couple of weeks and shocked many of his coaches by managing to take part in a training session late last week. He then convinced his manager to play him at Old Trafford due to our injuries at the back.
It makes his performance all the more remarkable and his desire to start would have impressed his boss who prides himself on setting high standards.
Trying to create a change of culture suggests the Spaniard is questioning the environment he found when taking the job last Christmas.
Did players have the mentality to fight through the pain barrier?
Were medical staff overly cautious?
Were the squad just conditioned to not take any chances?
Listen I’m not a doctor. At the end of the day clubs pay serious money to have the very best medical personnel in the world. They have a duty of care not to win 3 points. Their priority is giving the best treatment and reporting facts and figures. So if data shows a talent is in the red zone and in danger of an injury all they can do is share that information.
Yet a ‘change of culture‘ does indicate that it’s felt the previous system was failing. That could be a range of factors.
Were there better treatments not being used?
Were the lengths of recovery unrealistic? Or even too soft?
Were individuals being pushed to fight through the pain barrier?
I’m not saying Arteta would send anyone out with a broken leg, but it does sound like Holding displayed a mentality that his boss has being trying to implement.His shock that the centre back was so eager to play maybe suggests that 12 months ago that wouldn’t have been an option.
Let me stress that’s not saying anyone was being lazy but you’re a product of your environment.
If you know you have a manager who listens to every word of the medical team and those in charge are known to be very thorough before clearing you, you are less likely to work that extra bit harder.
The assessment on Holding could have been ‘he could do with a rest but if he does this he could play.’
The manager and player happened to listen to the second part of that sentence. Another person in the same role might not have added the second part.
Again, I’m in no position to doubt experts who would be top of their field but it’s worth mentioning that over the last couple of years, the medical team was one of the departments to have a serious staff overhaul.
Laura Andrews this summer was promoted to Lead Nutritionist.
Flo Newton was made head doctor in May, Ricky O’Donoghue, a physio joined from Palace in pre-season. Those changes have been under Arteta’s watch but post Wenger also saw a change in who is in charge of Strength and Conditioning (Sam Wilson was promoted to the first team in 2018) and who over saw Medical Services (Gary O’Driscoll).
Anyone who grew up under Arsene Wenger will remember that not just did our youngsters pick up plenty of muscle injuries, but there never seemed to be a fixed date when they would return.
The likes of Walcott, the Ox, Gibbs, Ramsey, Chambers, etc could never get through a whole campaign without a spell on the side-lines.
Many began to suggest something wasn’t quite right, even questioning was the surface and/or the type of training boots causing muscle strains?
This adds to the narrative that some grew too comfortable under Mr Wenger. If you been at one club since a teenager and your only used to a cautious fitness team, then that’s not the players fault.
If you remember after World Cups and European Championships Mr Wenger would follow data, to the letter of the law, ensuring players got a period of rest, even if it meant they missed the start of a season.
I’m not doubting the Frenchman. He introduced dietary and training methods which were seen as revolutionary in 1996, so he’s well-read on the subject.
Yet it can’t be a coincidence that as soon as he left (and remember he controlled most aspects of the club) that there was a massive revamp.
I have always been a big fan of Holding and was resistant when there was talk of loaning him out this season. I like the idea of having an old school British defender who would have grown up knowing what an honour it is to play for The Arsenal. That’s how you make leaders.
I believe he’s young enough to be coached to be better, which is meant to be our managers strength. You sense that Arteta has worked out the players long term he wants to build his team around.
Something tells me Holding might be in his manager’s good books.
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