Rob Holding has bought into Arsenal’s new “culture we are trying to create”

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.

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags Arteta Holding

17 Comments

  1. Trudeau says:

    I love Holding’s “being it on” attitude. He seems to thrive on big occasions. Even when he was sitting on the pitch getting treatment he exuded confidence. Great option to have even if he is overtaken by Saliba in a year or so.

  2. siamois says:

    As the case with Hector,Holding having suffered serious ACL injuries,people don’t realise that it takes between 18-24 months for players to get to their pre- injury levels or close, I don’t care that some fans are saying that Hector has become slow but his runs forwards prove that it is not true yes he struggled for a while but it was a psychology problem,playing with the handbrake consciously or not,afraid of getting injured again,since the start of the season his contribution,performances ,assists haven’t been properly appreciated as they should be anyway if Rob manages to stay injury free there is much more to come from him,both players have been around for a while but they are still young for defenders and are entering their prime!

  3. Jose says:

    Holding has been one of the most improved. Love his attitude off late. He gives it back to the opposing strikers 🙂

  4. Atid says:

    Not too far away when we can hope to have our best 5 centre backs fit and fighting for places. Gabriel, Saliba, Mari, Holding and Chambers.

    We could then look to bring some cash in for luiz, sokratis, mustafi and mavropanos.

    Let’s not forget we still have Ballard, McGuiness, Clarke and Medley, all impressing out on loan

    I would also look to move on Soares Kolasinac, Macey, Iliev, Guendozi, Torreira and obviously Ozil asap.

    1. john wheeler says:

      could not agree more.

  5. Moses says:

    I liked him from the time he partnerd per metersaker to stop diego costa in that FA Cup final

    1. Ian Sorbie says:

      Yes, good call Moses. They were supposed to be our weakness in that final, but were our stars. Holding was top class that day, shame he gets injured so often

  6. Piers says:

    The Invincible’s showed the never give up fighting Spirit meant to players. The teams and Patrick Vieira’s collection of Red cards lays testament to that.
    Even before that, our “Do or Die” rock-solid defense was widely regarded as one of the toughest, nastiest in the world.
    Perhaps we are now starting to see a return of the teams MOJO, by hard work on and off the pitch, fighting for a starting place, team before self attitude, determination to improve and succeed at all costs, replacing the back passing, Sick Note Culture that had slowly took over.

  7. jon fox says:

    Holding did indeed show creditable determination to get fit so quickly and deserved his place , playing really well too. His attitude whenever playing is first class and his professionalism is not in doubt. However, I retain doubts as to his long term suitability, based almost entirely on his lack of pace.
    It is less of a problem when playingwith GABRIEL, who is really quick. But if paired with say Luiz or Mustafi,(God forbid) I see real dangers.

    PACE IS VITAL IN ALL POSITIONS, a lesson some of us but not enough, learned by suffering Mertesackers statuesque time in the team.

    1. hellhound says:

      Why do you hate on mertesacker? it’s the second or third time you ‘ve made the dig. Do you remember that he and koscielny had probably the best defensive partnership in the league over a couple of seasons? Yes he lacked pace but that was balanced by his supreme reading of the game and his partners pace. He was part of the defence that brought trophies back to the Emirates after a long time. Stop hating my man. Celebrate our success.

      1. jon fox says:

        hellhound, What you call a “dig” , I call my honest opinion.

        Firstly, I do not “hate” him and do not know him as a person. My impression is that he is a likeable,hardwoking, decent man, so that puts the juvenile and incorrect use of “hate”( such an inaccurate and untrue word to misuse, for simply not rating ability!) to bed.
        Now to the reason, since in your own odd way, you asked me “why” etc!
        I totally disagree that his good positional sense properly compensated for a total and extreme lack of pace. In fact in over 60 years of attending our matches, I have seen NO other player as slow. This extreme slowness and also being very slow to turn round – which is a bad handicap when all CB s are sometimes left one to one with an opponent- is the whole reason for my opinion, not “HATE”.

        I have answered your question and I hope you have the maturity to accept my reasons for my OPINION!

        And If I may suggest, when you debate with a mature fan as I am, please use correct English words, as nothing is more calculated to lose you respect than using juvenile language.

  8. Grandad says:

    Very informative article Dan which highlights the increasing importance of having an effective medical team at a time when the physical demands on players have never been greater.The speed of the game today ,particularly in the EPL demands more athleticism from players regardless of their position and in the case of Holding I only hope he can steer clear of serious injury in the future.He has toughened up this season and let’s the opposition know that he is no longer a soft touch on the ground and in the air where he is beginning to dominate.He seems to have formed a good rapport with the impressive Gabriel and as a pair they are working well.

  9. Hellhound says:

    Ah , the old hiding my passive aggressive negativity behind ” my opinion” excuse. Throw in lazy, rehashed internet comment terms such as “juvenile” and “maturity” and stir in a thick helping of condescension relating to my linguistic use and choices. How Cliche. Attack the person disagreeing with you. Therefore I shall riposte.

    The verb to “hate on” does not mean to hate. It’s a colloquial expression, nothing to do with being juvenile. But, thanks for making me aware of how my language might affect the respect I receive from some random person on the internet.

    So henceforth I shall switch to a more enlightened register of English that should make you feel more comfortable. I take your disagreement with my point and duely accept your right to express your opinion. However, because your perception of him being slow does not discount the solidity of the partnership with koscielny and the success they had , I shall therefore disagree with yours.

    Additionally, I still take exception to you slyly criticising Mertesacker and Holding and all the other Arsenal players you criticise on here. Just as I again, accept your right to express it.

    Finally please stop using your “Maturity” as a tool to look down on and put down the other posters on here. it comes across as lame and no one really likes a bully. However mature they consider themselves to be.

    1. Sid says:

      That is indeed a good comeback, my good sir! 👏👏

      1. jon fox says:

        Sid , no it was not! It was rude , disrespectful and plain wrong! It was also factually wrong, as there is no verb “hate on”! That expression is just juvenile slang!

    2. jon fox says:

      Hellhound, So you take exception to me having an opinion, as your own words have just said. Not a mature view on how to debate. By all means express your opinion, as you did and as I did too, but you have no right to object to me or anyone else having an opinion. I would expect that type of comment from Donald Trump.

      And “hate on” does NOT exist as a verb, despite your claim. It is merely juvenile slang.

  10. Hellhound says:

    I think I made myself clear.
    Cambridge dictionary disagrees with you :

    But Sorry , its technically a phrasal verb.
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hate-on-sb

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