Not Everything is the Coach’s Fault
We always talk about results as if managers were magicians. Here is the truth: no manager can do better than his squad. Or better put: a manager can do better than his squad maybe once or twice but not over time. Everything regresses to the mean eventually.
What is the mean in football? What is average performance? Take a look at that PSG super team. Despite all of the great players they have acquired, they will still lose some games. The difference is that they will win most games. Just like those famous Barcelona and Real Madrid squads of the 2010s lost some games but they won a lot as well. This is why managers always want to buy quality players both on the defensive and attacking end. Your quality ultimately determines how far you go.
Sometimes, a team will perform worse than its quality or perform better, but no team can escape its inherent quality. A popular adage says that you are only as good as the worst player you field. This adage demonstrates how far a team can sink.
Look at the team we fielded against Brentford on Friday. In that team, we have a defender bought cheaply from South America in January for 4m euros. We have an academy boy whose best stint was playing out of position for a relegated side and whose value is surely no more than 15-20 million euros. We have a new 21-year-old from Anderlecht. A 19-year-old prospect. A 20-year-old striker from the academy who has never played Premier League football in his life. And then a 72 million euros ‘superstar’ who can’t dribble past one player.
No matter how you spin it, the team is a shambles and it was close to the best possible team we could field, given the circumstances. People will say that Arsenal still fielded a better team than Brentford and should have won. True. However, football does not always work that way. You don’t always beat teams you are better than 1-on-1. The difference is that a better team will win more points over time than a poorer side. But anything may happen in a one-off game.
Mikel Arteta, compared to Chelsea, United, City and Liverpool, is working with absolutely nothing. Maybe only 2-3 of our players arguably enter any of those sides. That is a staggering difference in quality. It is staggering and it will show.
Arteta has only gotten 3 serious players across 2 windows so far and all three are defensively oriented. Chelsea signed 5 serious players in one season. Liverpool and City, who currently have two of the best first teams in football, are still signing the likes of Dias, Grealish, Jota, Thiago, Konate and Kane into their already superb first teams. United are adding Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani. Chelsea are adding Lukaku, Havertz, Werner, Mendy, Thiago Silva and Hakim Ziyech.
Do you see it yet? Or are you still thinking Arteta is the problem?
Even Tottenham have signed a 50M defender of their own. That’s Tottenham. We haven’t bought one attacking midfielder for Arteta yet. No forward. Only signings like Nuno Tavares for 8 million, Willian on a free transfer, Pablo Mari for 4 million, Cedric Soares on loan. It is a comedy show and you are watching the stage manager.
We came into this season knowing that we needed major players at CB, CM, AM, RB and maybe ST. That’s 5 major players. Five! And how many have we bought? One.
That is the fault.