Arteta article by The Aussie Gooner
What will ensure our beloved Arsenal are successful? That’s a question I’ve asked myself often. Of course, the question recurs in my mind because I love the club. But the question also comes from a desire I have to reduce the complex to simplicity. If only everything could be so formulaic.
The truth is that there are so many factors that go into what makes a club in the Premier League competitive. Ownership desire and investment, the manager, the players that have been acquired, the depth of a squad versus the match schedule.
But I think that singularly, the most defining factor is the manager and his/her vision. Whether the owner is hands-on or not and whether they are willing to invest or not, I think the most defining factor is the manager. It’s the manager who is working with the players, who knows them and what motivates them. The manager implements an identity.
An identity that relates just as much to the way the team plays on the park, as well as how they do life day in day out. The manager sets the vision and the transfer policy. Yes, the board may not back the manager up, but the manager is the one who convinces them. The manager is the one who compromises with the board and makes the final call on who to buy with limited funds. The manager is the one who implements a philosophy.
And what do we, Arsenal fans, want in a manager? I don’t know what we all value as a collective, but I know what I value. I want a manager who loves the club and is not merely doing a job on a career path. I want a manager who is resolute when it comes to what he wants on the pitch as well as off it. A manager who knows how he wants his players to carry themselves. A manager who knows the attitudes that he wants his players to have and not have. A manager is a good communicator to various stakeholders, the players, the board, the fans. I want a manager who is a lifelong learner. A manager who is always gleaning things from his colleagues, always tweaking things but not disrupting the flow of what he wants. I want a manager with passion.
I think, at Arsenal, that we the fans are in a privileged position to have seen what we don’t want. Arsene Wenger epitomised innovation when he came to the Premier League but respectfully, he lost his touch towards the end of his tenure. And I believe that perhaps it was because he stopped being a lifelong learner. He was reluctant to change systems of playing in favour of what he knew. Our defence was a shambles. Additionally, we saw a lack of enforcement of desirable attitudes in the club with players being favoured despite their lack of fight. Mesut Ozil comes to mind. There seemed to be an indifference in the club when it comes to relationships between the manager and players. The players ‘loved’ Wenger up until the end of this time, but is that authentic when ‘anything goes’? Of course, they loved him if he didn’t enforce any expectations or keep them accountable.
Emery did not communicate his desires effectively it seemed like. And on the side of the pitch, I always longed for him to stand up and shout. I wanted to see action from him. I wanted him to get up the players, to yell. I wanted him to show some emotion even if it was because he was unhappy with the players. And then when he fronted the media, he gave the fans nothing to connect to. Every time he spoke, especially after a loss, I was left angrier than after the loss. There was never a desire to share with the fans the real reasons things were going wrong.
And that’s why I make a case for Arteta. Yes, he’s not as experienced as Conte and Allegri. But he has all the things that we have been missing in the last decade. His passion on the side lines! I love watching the bench cam just so I can watch the outward demonstration of his inward desire to win. I love that he’s young, and that he knows his team is not perfect but he’s innovative. He has found solutions for some of our issues. Most notably, he was improved our organisation in defence. We’re a much more steely team under his leadership.
I love that he’s clear about what he wants his players to be like. He holds them accountable for their actions on and off the pitch. As a result, he’s slowly relieved our problem players from their duties. Again, Mesut Ozil, Guendouzi, David Luiz, Willian. He did so whether it was his decision to bring those players in or not. He was not bull-headed enough to overlook the misdeeds of the players on the second half of that list despite the fact that he brought them in. He got rid of our captain. No exceptions. Aubameyang is a Barca player as this is written.
He’s personable enough to have players playing for him, motivated to exert effort for the shirt. But at the same time, he’s not so personable that he cannot be calculated. He has leaned out our squad. So many of our mediocre players have been either sold or sent out on loan. Kolasinac, Torreira and Chambers to name a few.
And when he speaks to the media, he gives the fans information. A clear communicator who does not feed us meaningless catch phrases. He’s disclosed reasons for poor performances and made no excuses, but had been shrewd enough to hold some cards close to his chest. If anything, at times I’ve felt that he’s naively disclosed too much information. But I’d rather a manager who naturally empathises with a fan than with the politics of the game.
We may not be convinced by our ownership and their desire for success as translated into silverware, but Arteta seems to have negotiated well, along with Edu to make suitable investment in the last summer. And really, when it comes down to it, Arsenal Football Club may change hands again in our lifetime, but I want a manager who expertly negotiates to leverage advantage in terms of spending. In the end, a good manager does not just have a great tactical understanding but is also able to bridge his vision from his mind to the boards’.
I think Arteta is just what we’ve been looking for. He’s what’s been missing from Wenger and Emery. He’s bringing back the identity of the club that Arsene and Graham instilled before him.
Behind Liverpool and Man City’s success is an amazing manager with those variety of skills that are rare to have in combination. I’d rather Arsenal have a manager with those arrays of skills, than be like a club with a rich owner and a manager revolving door.
Chelsea’s identity is Abramovich. I’d hate for Arsenal to become a club that is just an extension of its owner. A good manager knows what represents the club… a good manager is ultimately one who becomes one of the fans.
The Aussie Gooner!
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