The true gift of Arteta is that he has given us back a TEAM
I took a break from Arsenal match attendance over Christmas and New Year for personal reasons, but I am raring to be back in Block 31 on Saturday for the visit of Sheffield United. The reverse fixture was the day I lost any remaining patience with Emery. I made the trip to South Yorkshire to see Chris Wilder’s team dish out a footballing lesson to our so-called big-name players.
However, I am extremely confident that the same squad of players will comfortably gain revenge on Wilder’s boys. Why? … because the same players are already Arteta’s boys when they clearly weren’t Emery’s. Stop being cryptic and explain yourself Dave!!
In short: football is a team game, and as with any team sport the success or otherwise of that team relies on communication and structure. When Arsenal visited Brammall Lane, one team – Wilder’s – had structure and communication and one – Emery’s – had none. This it what leads, more often than we might imagine, to good teams made up of average or inferior players beating poor teams, made up of individually superior and technically better players. Leicester City 2015/16 are undoubtedly the most obvious and best recent footballing example – them winning the league was like hitting the jackpot at a Vegas casino.
Sheffield United, that evening and this season, are the living, moving proof of the adage – greater than the sum of the parts. Or let’s defer to Wiki shall we:
Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a group to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way
But what are the things a coach should instill in a team ethic to ensure effective teamwork?
The 5 Essential Elements of Teamwork
- Interpersonal Relations. Effective interpersonal skills are essential.
- Information. Every member of a team should know what everyone else is doing, especially in the case of a complex project.
- Incremental improvement. Long-term goals are achieved step-by-step.
- Motivation. Inspiring team members to better themselves while fighting for the common cause.
- Task Delegation. Divide and conquer. Efficiency and effectiveness improve greatly when the workload is shared.
Of course, those 5 key elements were not taken from a football website, but a business one, but don’t the same principles apply?
Arteta is a young coach and many raised eyebrows at the appointment but what is fast becoming evident, watching the team and listening to his and his players interviewed since his arrival, is that what he lacks in experience he makes up for in communication skills.
If we follow the above key elements to a successful team
- Interpersonal Relations.
Arteta is communicating one to one to one with his players and simplifying their roles.
It is clear from listening to the squad that they all know what is expected of them with and crucially, without the ball.
- Incremental improvement.
One game at a time – but Arteta is putting building blocks in place for short term goals which will lead to medium term and so on. Goals must be stretching but achievable and I am sure behind the seasons he has told them he is targeting silverware.
Motivation is a crucial aspect for the modern coach and the early signs are good. Arteta has given the whole squad a clean slate, and fighting on three fronts means each will get an opportunity. Clearly age is not a barrier and his treatment of Nelson, Saka and now Nketiah is encouraging. At the other end he has re-energised Ozil, transformed Luiz and brought Xhaka back into the fold. The whole squad wants to perform for him.
- Task Delegation.
Here the impact of the new coach is more than evident, Torreira in his desire role, Luiz playing out from the back but Sokratis not, Xhaka free to play forward passes with confidence. Maitland-Niles confident to play inverted and join the midfield, Aubameyang happily working the flank out of possession and joining Lacazette in possession.
Some of the above is clearly observation on my part, but much of it is based on what I have heard from our exciting young coach and his players when talking about him.
I have also mentioned structure as critical because all of the above becomes easier – especially the on-field communication and tasks – if the structure and playing patterns are known. Arteta is clearly set on 4231 and using the personnel at his disposal in their best suited roles. This continuity and the self-assurance that follows is also a huge contributory factor to a successful and improving team.
As fans we lost patience with Emery because we simply had no idea what he wanted his team to do and play. Now we can see a clear direction of travel and for the players and hopefully that direction will take us onwards and upwards and put the smiles back on our faces – It certainly has done so for the team.