Category A game – CFC at home – Big boy football.
Cannot help but feel underwhelmed this week but playing big games get you thinking or at least it should do.
Now I’ve had time to think a 0-0 at home vs. the new Champions and not doing a MUFC at home (play well and lose naively) is not too bad.
We are “Competitive” once more and that is a step forward.
As for Chelsea….
We have to admit it they are big, we can mock their history but they are developing one. In the 10 years of Abramovich they have 11 trophies and 10 managers.
1. Claudio Ranieri (2000-04)
· 2. Jose Mourinho (2004-07)
· 3. Avram Grant (2007-08)
· 4. Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09)
· 5. Guus Hiddink (2009)
· 6. Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11)
· 7. Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12)
· 8. Roberto Di Matteo (2012)
· 9. Rafa Benitez (2012-13)
· 10. Jose Mourinho (2013-)
Turmoil, headlines, sackings, opulence, arrogance but they have developed an identity and position in the European game that cannot be ignored.
They have developed a winning culture. They are focussed on developing their brand as winners – At all costs.
From the Academy level (current youth Cup holders twice in a row) to the adult men and ladies game. They throw money at it, hire the best and then take pride in telling you about their achievements as if it was grown organically. It’s funded but they are getting smarter at using those funds.
Man that was hard to write and I hope you feel as sick as me when you read it.
I don’t like doing this but to compare and look at others help you understand why Arsenal take their path and it’s a path I’m proud of.
Some recent quotes from Ivan Gazidis:
“Feeling a sense of pride in Arsenal is just as important as European success, says chief executive Ivan Gazidis”
“When we talk about the destination, it’s not winning a Champions League, its making fans proud,”
“It’s about making the people at the football club proud of what we do and how we do it.”
“We get a lot of criticism, but we have people at the club who are very firmly fixed on where we want to get to and won’t get knocked off course by the whims that happen day to day. We are very much on that journey, and we may never reach the destination.”
Do you know how brave it is to think this way?
It’s so easy to move drive a boom and bust culture knowing the owner is there to ensure you don’t go bust.
You can be irresponsible. You can do things like pay Spurs £10m to allow CFC to hire Frank Arnessen to manage their transfer dealings.
I have spoken previously about how Arsenal should re-position itself mentally – then after I read Ivan’s quotes I realised Arsenal are operating on a very high plane. They have goals that go beyond football – AFC are focussed on developing a sporting organisation that is world-renowned for ‘HOW’ it operates.
That is the key word – HOW. Arsenal has a connection to its fans about ‘HOW’ it’s managed and run – the people within the club must operate and make decisions with a certain class. I know we get mocked for this but for many this is a key component why it’s Arsenal for them and choose not to support another.
Many are frustrated at a 0-0 and what it represents, but in the wider scheme of things this is just part of the journey and we must not let near term jealousies and hatred turn us into poisonous classless fans. We will beat Jose soon. Football will give us that joy – its part of the game!
You simply cannot just buy it
Ah – the game Clive – Can we talk football now!?
My last 2 live games have been Brazil vs Chile and Arsenal vs. Chelsea. I am a fan that goes to football live periodically. My reasoning is that if you envelop yourself in something you love sometimes clarity of thought is harder to achieve and in turn articulate.
A sensible gap makes everything clear – It’s like when you see a young family member every day, you don’t notice their changes so easily. If you don’t see them for a month or two then you see how they have grown changed got cheekier etc.
Back to the game Clive….
What struck me about both of my recent live matches is how important space is and how to manipulate and make space work for you. With the increased athleticism in all sports the pitches are looking smaller and the ability to work in not just yards but literally inches is what defines the normal player to the to the great player.
Great example is Neymar – A player that can work in inches with his agility and full toolbox of tricks, but he has the pace and long stride to also work in big spaces with his speed over 20 yards. He is a special player. One who if you defend deep he can dribble on you move you creating the one metre to pass around you, he can unbalance you, so you cannot stop him from shooting. If you defend high he can run past you and win races over the top or in channels to execute with a variety of finishes. He looked so special. His threat shone out like a beacon. A beautifully balanced natural footballer.
Another Example is Alexis Sanchez – A player similar in dexterity, pace and bravery in possession when under forceful attack from heavier bigger defenders who desperately trying to press him hard and early. Sanchez also tackles back – he is a player that recognises that disorganisation is more likely when the opposition has the ball so his ability to recover the ball is key to his efficiency. He is a street baller fighter. Not as smooth on the eye, takes more risks in possession but sharp of brain to get there first. He is another special player.
Both players are happy when pressed into inches and happy to operate on that fine line. Using space and managing space but more importantly challenging modern coaching based organisation is what we need to add.When we fans think about signings we immediately think of names. The way to approach it is to think of player attributes in a form of a profile.
For example my feeling is AFC need a wide inside forward preferably left footed a player that has pace trickery but a variety of finishes. This player must be penetrative, able to play with his head up. He must be able to press like our recent signings (Welbeck & Alexis) and he must be happy on the right mostly but have the ability to play left.
I write this because we do not have that player today in our squad. If you are looking to complete your squad we miss this profile of player. We need someone who can seize the moment and exploit quickly the space on offer. I wrote before the game in my CFC preview we needed diagonals and proactive 3rd man running to get behind CFC. I felt it was important not to go safe with Ramsey right but be braver and play Welbeck wide and instruct him and Alexis to challenge those wide channels. I did not feel we would open ourselves up to the counter by playing Welbeck due to his fierce work ethic both ways. We did not play that wide man and for Wenger it became clear it was more important to control the ball and not lose.
Watching the Chelsea game it became obvious we lacked this type of player happy in wider areas to stretch their narrow back 4 and challenge their unit. John Terry is a great player but he is a great player in the scenarios created for him at Chelsea and only in Chelsea’s current defensive strategy. They are compact and never isolate JT or anyone. They don’t give you an inch of space to work within. You have to challenge the space over and behind them.
They have a way of defending that is transparent to us all and protect them from their weaknesses. ABV tried to get CFC to press high and press the space. CFC and Terry rebelled and he was fired. The players were not comfortable too far away from their goal. The players took over, dropped deeper and the same players drove the team to the CL under an irrelevant De Matteo.
Arsenal will play teams like CFC more in the next few years as we will get stronger and will have the ball increasingly. This IMO means we need players that can operate in inches. – A special player.
We need a dribbler like Alexis who break down defensive systems. They have the unknown, the un-coachable the skill that is God given not taught. We need someone who can make their own chances and make their own space. For me this is the developmental area for AFC.
Sport is changing, I could be writing this about Rugby – Space is a precious commodity the players we love are the ones that can operate consistently in space with:
1. Smart Fast Ball movement
2. Thoughtful running line
3. Technical Awareness
6. Focused roles
7. Strategic Considerations
I could name names but the debate would deflect from what I am trying to say but Arsenal are ready to go now. We need that special player to add to this group and if we have to sell a few we love to get him then I’m ready to accept that so we can surpass not just Chelsea but Europe’s best.
I look forward to your comments on your ideas to what we need – who is your ‘special one?’