51 Comments

Trusting Arteta’s Process. Good Luck With That!

I remember Tiger Woods when interviewed after a round where he two-putted every Green, saying he was really pleased with the way he’d putted. This seemed strange, especially as he’d gone round in par without recording a single birdie: when asked about this he replied that his putting stroke felt really fluid and it was only a matter of time before the putts dropped, and pars became birdies. In much the same way, you will hear cricketers these days talking about the importance of bowlers getting it into the right areas, and this football season has seen more and more reference to the expected goals statistic. Get the process right, success will follow.

These days the concept of ‘life coaching’ is increasingly prevalent, emphasising as it does the importance of process-driven growth, rather than a goal-oriented approach. The idea being that rather than setting your sights on short-term peaks of success, a longer lasting value-driven approach will lead to greater happiness: this also finds its way into sports coaching (or was it the other way round?) and most young athletes these days are exhorted to find, and then trust, the process that is best suited to them. Going back to golf for a moment, the thinking is best described like this: if the player thinks ‘if I hole this putt I will win the tournament’, the putt is literally make or break, tension creeps in and disaster beckons. Current coaching philosophy says ‘forget about the outcome, trust the process that has seen you hole thousands of such putts, go into auto-pilot, and the likeliest result will be the successful one’. I find as I write this not golf springing to mind, but rather Steve Davis’s missed Black in that epic encounter back in the 70s. He would have done well to put outcome out of his mind at that moment.

But what of The Arsenal amongst all this? As the signs began to emerge this season that Mikel Arteta was not necessarily the answer to The Arsenal’s on-field issues, fans were either quick to call for his head or offer support by suggesting he needed time to get the players he wanted, and then more time to get them playing his preferred style. ‘Trust the Process’ became the cry, the implication being that at long last the club was going about its business in the right way and that once the non-negotiables were no longer being negotiated, success would surely follow. After all, he had been Arsene’s on-field general and knew the Arsenal way, while many Manchester City watchers were also quick to suggest that he was the real brains behind Guardiola’s success. Well maybe, but it’s worth remembering that not many monkeys make it to organ grinder.

And trusting the process surely became the mantra for the players too. Keep believing, keep doing the right thing; keep creating triangles, keep seeking overloads; keep executing the training ground plan, keep finding the final pass and as night follows day expected goals will become actual ones. What could possibly go wrong? Theoretically very little, but there’s many a slip between theory and practice, as this season has so eloquently demonstrated. While it is right and proper to go into a game with a plan, most managers would have a couple of other plans up their sleeve should the preferred option prove unsuccessful – and one of the main frustrations for Arsenal fans of late has been laboured sideways and back passing repeated ad infinitum, with seemingly little real intent to quicken the pace and go for the jugular. Even some of the great Wenger sides would occasionally lump it long, and they certainly knew when an injection of intent was needed.

But watching the so-called season-defining game last week against Villareal I realised two things. The first was that if a single game is season-defining then you have the exact opposite of trusting the process: the single match has become too important, the players too fixated on the outcome to play with any natural fluidity. And the other thing (which is no doubt why we ended up in such a situation) is that the players do not seem technically good enough to play the way the manager expects them to. Too many passes are hit fractionally behind players, causing a breakdown of momentum, too many passes needlessly gift up the ball, too many passes when received are mis-controlled. Playing out from the back becomes an open invitation for the other side, attacks (when they finally come) are telegraphed so long in advance that any defence worth its salt can snuff out danger whilst also having time for a cup of tea and a read of the paper. Midfield control is out of the question, especially when the only midfielder worth his salt is played out of position. And, most damning of all, the moments of individual and unchoreographed brilliance needed to take charge of a game have long since been either coached out of the players, hampered by chronic uncertainty or are simply not available to players who seem at best just a little bit better than average in Premier League terms.

Trusting the process needs a process worth trusting in, but it also needs players with enough ability to make it work. If we are to stay with the players we currently have then I think a different playing style is needed, a process that is more robust defensively and less complicated in attack. The sort of approach adopted by the Leicester title-winning side maybe, which once in a blue moon may see outrageous success but is more likely to consistently see a placing between 4th and 8th. It would need to see a different manager and would likely be the cheapest and swiftest way to see progress from the shambles of 20/21. If the club decides to stick with Mikel Arteta, and if he continues with his process, then he is going to need much better players to make it work. It will take time, a lot more money, and far greater ambition than I suspect the club is willing to invest in. It is also worth wondering if Arteta has the confidence to coach players more talented and successful than himself: past experience does not necessarily seem to say so.

My guess is that the club will end up falling between the two stools: Arteta will stay, there will be a few arrivals and even more departures, a lot of money (but not enough) will be spent and this money will be largely wasted because the new players will not be quite good enough and the manager will not be pragmatic enough to ditch his Pep inspired tactical dreams and settle for something that might actually work. I can’t see next season being much different to this one, I’m afraid. It’s all rather sad, to be honest, but with mainly Saturday afternoon non-televised games, and no European matches to look forward to, I will at least save on Sky and BT subscriptions, which is certainly a process that will go down well with the rest of the family.

Tim Head @foreverheady

5 Comments

Stan and Mikel, A Match Made In Hell.

Today @shotta_gooner and I look at our win against Fat Sam’s relegated army and discuss why Arteta will get more time that good sense suggests he should.

Pedantic George.

47 Comments

I’ve Had It With Arteta.

Good day one and all.

This is supposed to be the match preview of our game against Fat Sam and his gang of relegation standard players, but honestly, I neither care nor can be bothered writing it.

There is zero interest in this game and even less in it from me. Is there anyone left that is looking forward to watching our team? For me it’s become a chore, something I feel obliged to do, but frankly it feels like a complete waste of my time. This game and the next few will tell us nothing other than whether we finish towards the top of midtable or towards the bottom.

The season has lurched from one disappointment to the next. From the moment the season started without Ozil in the team, I have predicted a bottom half finish, that ignominy might be avoided, but it’s touch and go.

Arteta has his tried and trusted PR ,with variations of “I take full responsibility for everyone else being crap”

He has made one crippling balls up after another.

We are 10th in the league, went out of both domestic cups early door and failed to grasp the lifeline of the Europa league, despite not once having to play a half decent team. I don’t believe there is a single valid ecuse for this season’s debacle.

This is not a great squad of players, but, it is no worse than the 5th best in the league, so we need a coach that can at minimum achieve that. Arteta is not that man.

The project has failed, He has failed and if we as fans, and a club, fail to see this failure, then we will be getting exactly what we deserve.

I think we are stuck with the owners and their business model, but we shouldn’t be stuck with Arteta.I don’t care who bought the players, how much they cost, how long their contract tie us to them, the first job of the manager is to get them at least performing to their par. Their par is not this.

So that’s me for today, Mr. Happy . Sorry, but “POSITIVELY Arsenal” today, I am not!

Pedantic George.

42 Comments

Arteta Didn’t Work, So What Now?

Today @shotta_gooner and I wallow in the misery of yet another disappointment. We know the questions but have no answers. The future looks bleak and Arteta is a big part of the problem.

80 Comments

Arsenal must win The Europa League

In todays podcast @shotta_gooner and I look at recent results and performances and discuss how vital winning the Europa League is to Arsenal’s, Arteta’s and the players future. Also how par for Arsenal is being 5th and 5th most likely to win any domestic competition, every single season.

Pedantic George.

35 Comments

The #OwnerOut Derby

Good morning all.

Today is going to be a battle between two camps that both want their owners out. It could be a struggle as they have more experience than us. If there were fans in the stadium there would be bedsheets and A4 everywhere. Not that either Stan or Mike could care less, but at least it would give us something to look forward to, because the football is less interesting. Both clubs, 11th and 17th in the league, with squads that are way better than their league positions would suggest, have basically nothing to play for.

The interest in the game for Arsenal comes from the selections that will be made ahead of Thursday’s second leg against Villarreal. Does Arteta rotate big time? Does he play the eleven that could start that game and hope to get some rhythm? Does he rest vital players or play them because without them there is a risk of yet another embarrassing defeat that could shake our confidence even further? Do we use it like a training game and a fitness exercise for players chasing fitness?

When anyone is critical of Arteta, the stock response from his champions is usually “he won us the FA cup”, but even this last straw get out of jail card has an ever diminishing shelf life. However, a “EUROPEAN TROPHY”, as they describe the cup for second rate teams, will give the manager and his defenders some more breathing space and the £ that come with entry into the european competition for good teams will help us going forward.

I really can’t remember the last time I didn’t watch an Arsenal game, and I’ll likely end up watching this one, but it won’t be live, because the snooker final interests me more. And that that is the case is very sad. That’s what it’s come too.

So enjoy the game, or snooker, or whatever you choose to do this afternoon.

Pedantic George.

113 Comments

Kroenke Out, ATS In. Yeah Ok Lads!

Good morning all.

Reading through the comments section I saw this post.

eduardo792April 24, 2021 at 4:16 pm Edit

Former PM Gordon Brown was on Football Focus this morning and he basically ruled out the 50+1 model for the UK game, he backed some of the points I made yesterday on that model, you just can not force billionaire owners to sell their shares, to give up control, to in fact make their shares worthless or at the very least massively devalued. It would even affect the stock market in a big way.
Plus that model has not been a success in Germany, 17 of 23 titles to one team.

I actually saw some of the 50+1 guys suggest that the fans wouldn’t even have to buy the shares, they would just be given majority voting rights – for f. sake I ask you just how self entitled are these people? Well you don’t have to answer that, we all know about Tim Payton, it’s been his view for a very long time that he is the man best placed to run Arsenal and that he should be co-opted on to the board.

Arsenal Values is the slogan the noisy fans have spouted all week, but ask them what these values are, and they can barely string a few words together.
Yesterday Elneny put up a post asking for fans support when things are going poorly for a player, and the replies were filled with guys with the #kroenkeout and #wecaredoyou and most of their responses to Elneny was along the lines of “you useless tw*t get out of my club”, what Arsenal Values are they the guardians of?
We have the Arsenal Value brigade say they don’t want a sugar daddy owner, but almost to a man if you question them about what they do want, its filled with “an owner who cares”, and “an owner with ambition, and of course “an owner who will invest where needed”, and then the real gem, “an owner who listens to the fans”, each and every one of those replies mean “I want a sugar daddy owner who will buy AFC success, but don’t you ever dare suggest I want a sugar daddy”

As ever Eduardo hits some nails on the head.

Now let me be clear, I would love to see the back of Kroenke and his conservative business model but realistically, it’s not happening.

Firstly, he doesn’t care what the fans think and want , to anything near the extent “the fans” think he does. Fans are important to the club but he’s the 100% owner, I’m fairly sure he thinks it’s his club and not theirs.

“The fans” wanted Wenger out, he listened and it has cost him a fortune, I can’t imagine him listening to the same idiots again.

Who is going to buy the club, if he changed his long term, and recently confirmed intention, to stay long term? And how much would it cost to buy the club then invest enough to make us competitive?

“Arsenal are the eighth most valuable club in the world according to a new Forbes report that estimates the worth of Europe’s biggest teams has risen on average 30% over the past two years.

Despite the pandemic and owner Stan Kroenke’s unpopular management of the club, with supporters groups not satisfied by the lack of direct financial investment, they have seen a 23% growth in 24 months with a current value of £2.04bn Forbes say.”

So if Kroenke doesn’t want to sell, and he doesn’t, in order to make seling attractive, a buyer would have to pay a premium that is enough to tempt someone with a huge sports franchise to relinquish one of the jewels in his crown? Another £ billion on top of the £2 billion value? That’s £3 billion already. The city and Chelsea owners has subsidised their clubs to the extent of about £2 billion.It would take similar spending to compete with City, always assuming that they just don’t up the ante from the north of £2200 billion available to them in the overseas development fund of  Abu Dhabi.

Ok, so we are looking at a spend of upto £5 billion now, just to hopefully challenge City , United and Chelsea. Where is this billionaire Knight in shining armour coming from?

Let’s look at the new hope, Daniel Ek. We will be generous and say he is worth £3.5 billion. That doesn’t mean he has £3.5 billion in the bank, it means his business is valued at that. So to buy Arsenal (which he could just about do by my calculations, but with nothing left for squad investment) he would either have to sell his massively successful business or borrow against it, with it’s own cost implications. I’m telling you now, it’s not happening.

I’m sorry, but we are going to have to make peace with Kroenke being the owner and hope that he makes some good appointments to run the club better, and also accept our place in the pecking order. That means 5th or 6th should be the reasonable expectations at the start of every season for the foreseeable future. In my opinion all these protest will achieve is making any enjoyment of watching the team, more difficult to get.

Finally, look at the motives of those leading the noisy protests, they either want attention or they will profit financially from the unrest.

Pedantic George.

104 Comments

Everton, A Dead Rubber In A Dead season.

Good morning all,tonight it’s Everton.

This is a game that for Arsenal has taken on almost zero importance. Fans and management seem to have accepted that hanging around mid table is where we are and where we will stay. This would normally be seen as a disaster for a club like Arsenal, but somehow we have convinced ourselves that it ok because we might win the Europa Plate competition, the competition for losers is now the limit of our season’s hopes. Oh my goodness.

Now on top of not really caring about three irrelevant points, we are all busy with our hatred of all things Kroenke. The hypocrisy of the Arsenal fan base has gone ballistic. Let me be clear, I’m all for #Kronkeout, but because KSE keep making bad decisions and appointments, I agree with a self sustaining business model, but I’m furious about the application of by our owner. However it appears to me that the vast majority of fans are upset that Stan doesn’t fund their desire to be competing with City and Chelsea for the big prizes. The irony is that if you suggest these fans want a sugar daddy they are outraged and vehemently deny it. They will come up with soundbites to justify their denied desire, but none of these distractions bear scrutiny because a sugar daddy is exactly what they want.

This European Super League malarkey has been a disaster for the club. A PR nightmare and more. Most of the criticism from “the football family” is justified but some of the hatred towards our owners is misplaced. In the end, if it had happened and Arsenal were not included, fans would go berserk. Of course the thing is unjust and unfair, but so is the financial doping that City and Chelsea have done, the same doping that our fans are desperate for Kroenke to provide.

On top of this we have fans thinking that the ESL collapsed because of fan power. Now fan power might have played a very small part, but it was FIFA, UEFA , FA, SKY, Talksport and the billionaire controlled media that actually killed it. It died because the greedy sorts that control the money in the game, wanted to keep that control. Fans have just helped the existing greedy shower keep their grip.

We have seen fans thinking they should have a say in how and who runs the club. The AST trying to turn things to their advantage and get a say on the board, a powers grab by the lunatics that feel the asylum is rightfully theirs. I can’t imagine anything worse.

Let’s be honest, when the fans demanded that Arsene was sacked, Kroenke listened. If I were him I would say “These clowns ruined my business last time I listened, never again”.

Right, back to the dead Everton rubber,

Aubameyang and Lacazette are out…………………………….oh forget it, I don’t care.

Try to enjoy the players and keep safe.

Pedantic George.

107 Comments

Prague, Fulham and Super League- The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

Today we discuss recent games and the Super League, I don’t get the outrage and immediate condemnation, but @shotta_gooner does.

Pedantic George.

127 Comments

Arsenal vs Fulham. What Now?

Good morning all.

Today at 1.30 Fulham come to the home of football to face the mighty Arsenal.

The mighty Arsenal on a bit of a roll , by the way. In our last two games we have comfortably seen of Sheffield United and Slavia Prague. Ok, not the mightiest opponents, but we have dispatched them with somewhat of a flourish. Things are looking up. We may not be flying high, but at least there is a bit of an accent, we should enjoy it while it’s going.

Fulham are desperate for points, but they are finding them very hard to come by. They find themselves in 18th place, and 7 points behind 17th having played a game more. In other words, they’re relegated. They have lost their last four games and although they play some nice football, it’s not nice enough to get them any points.

If memory serves it’s a battle of the two youngest managers. Both have struggled this season but neither of their jobs seem in danger, That’s odd these days.

I’m back to guess work on who might play , personally I would go with the same eleven that started in Prague but of course I have no idea about fitness levels or anything else, so it will likely be all change.

This is a game I expect us to win comfortably and with a bit of style too. We need a bit of cheering up and I think we will get it.

Enjoy the game and stay safe

Pedantic George.