Arsenal: Study the past, if you would divine the future

@foreverheady ponders the rippling pool


Managers come and managers go, but the Arsenal dance goes on forever, as Pete Brown almost said back in 1970. By and large though, our managers spend longer looking good on the dance floor than most, with just four men, Chapman, Allison, Graham and Wenger setting the playing style of the club for over half its long history.

Can we expect a similar length of tenure for Unai Emery, or will Arsenal now follow the example of most other top clubs and change the boss every few years or so? Most commentators seem to think that the latter course is more likely, although should our new man prove a reasonable success history suggests that he too might be in for the long haul. We’ll have to wait and see, and one day no doubt time will say nothing but I told you so.

The last few weeks have been interesting ones for Arsenal fans: whether you were Wenger in or Wenger out his resignation came as a shock, greeted triumphantly by some, occasioning grief for others. But whatever camp you were in and however you reacted to the emotional final goodbyes it soon came down to the king being dead, long live the king.

As Robert Frost so succinctly observed, “they, not being the ones dead, turned to their affairs.” and so it is with us as we debate the style the new man will adopt, predict the players he will move on, the ones he will keep, and the ones he will usher in. There is a delicious sense of being confronted by a whole series of known unknowns, and Tom Stoppard gets it about right in his play Arcadia: “It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”

Arcadia of course promises us a blissful release from the labours of the day, a promised land where we may rest a while, and this to me is what Saturday afternoons bring (OK, I know that most matches don’t happen on Saturday afternoons any longer, but you get what I mean) and the thought of a new side playing in a new way with a new man in the dugout has certainly piqued my interest.

But as Shotta warned us last week, perhaps remembering Poussin’s shepherds, however luxurious the promise of paradise, disappointment is also an ever present in Arcady.

Who knows, but what might be interesting is to pause for a moment and think about what a manager – or Head Coach as they are more fashionably known these days – actually does. And this is another thing that most of us who have never managed a Premier League team don’t know – but it certainly doesn’t seem to stop people from having very strong views as to just what the manager should be doing. Actually I think I am a very good manager: I watch most of the European Leagues, scout extensively on YouTube and pay great attention to the tactical breakdowns on Monday Night Football. I know just when to bring on my subs and have no truck with players who give less than a 100% for the shirt, knowing as I do just how heavy the cannon is.

What perhaps I am less good at is getting my ideas across to players who do not speak English as well as I do, given that my grasp of French, German, Italian and Spanish is sketchy, whilst my Dutch, Russian and Swedish is non-existent. I find it hard to know just when and how my tactics need changing because the opposition manager has altered his in an unforeseen way. I am not always at my most confident when I need to factor in the risk/reward quotient of making substitutions before the 70th minute given the medical advice I have received that two of my players are likely to tire in the last quarter, or when a substitution has been forced on me in the first half and three of my players are already on Yellows. I am not very good at keeping the right balance between stick and carrot when dealing with a player who has just discovered that his Mother has cancer, and despite plenty of experience still find it tricky to keep the egos of 20 young alpha males appropriately in check and balanced, especially when the agent of one of them finds out that another player is on more money than his. Or that a rumoured new signing is likely to see a regular starter move on to the bench.


And I have still not quite worked out why players have good days and less good ones, or why a player won’t pass to another one, or why the presence of the most obviously talented member of the group seems to inhibit the form of the rest of the midfield unit. So maybe this managing business isn’t quite so easy after all, and a bit of me feels for Unai who I see is already being criticised on account of various transfer rumours that fans either approve or disapprove of. It seems that whoever we buy is either too young or too old, too expensive or too cheap, too little or large. He is not as good as Arsene or is much better. He has too much authority, or not enough; he is a maverick and doesn’t understand the Arsenal way, or is an embarrassing yes man only too willing to bed down with mediocrity. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but find myself already wishing away the summer that I have been looking forward to for so long. And it’s a china orange to the whole of Lombard Street that just about every true Arsenal fan is feeling just the same way as the long countdown to early August begins.

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88 comments on “Arsenal: Study the past, if you would divine the future

  1. Ed

    Today’s first was absolutely stunning. Second pretty good,too.

    And this was him playing in unfamiliar wide position.

    Sort of scenario I’ve so often seen promising youngsters struggle in when given an opportunity at higher level or with national team. Unfamiliar position, other players in spaces they want to be. Pressure of wanting to impress. Threat of being subbed off before showing what you can do.

    He stepped up, as he’s done at every stage to date.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wenger named Nketiah as closest to the first team among the youth. Ahead of the much vaunted and clearly talented Reiss Nelson.

    I’m excited for the potential from among the reserves to come into the first team in the next few years.

    As well, it must be remembered that with transfer prices rising, not only is it essential to develop your own players, it can also be a source of income.

    Might have to get used to some players leaving us after a short time in the first team though.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love that he is two footed with his finishing so a nightmare to defend against. Not just a great finisher either. That Guy in the Wire, I was wondering who it was who he reminded me of.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. He can head the ball too! And what a header that was! Incredible scenes. “Merci Arsene” said Eddie, and scored again!

    Yep. We can logically conclude that Vengarrrghhhh was clearly losing his eye* when he gave this exciting talent a go in the first team, on the bench in Milan, etc.

    *It must be exciting, even exhilarating to run with the heard. All those heavy hooves stomping and churning up the turf. One must remember to try to not get trampled and flattened into a pancake.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So Amazon’s hat is in the PL ring !!

    And a bloody big hat it is too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Linked with a very interesting player today, Lukas Klosterman.

    Saw a lot of him two summers back when I watched all Germany’s Olympic games (to see Gnabry in action). Reminded me of Lahm in his neatness, composure, decision-making.

    Was top notch. Left back but big enough to play centre, and now see he has been right back all last year for club. Was excited when we were linked with him immediately after tournament but he then lost a full year to injury.

    My guess is Leipzig drive a hard bargain so it’s unlikely, doubly so as young Germans rarely seem to push hard for moves abroad and are typically ultra sensible with next step in career, but it would certainly be something to be pleased with on off chance it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. anicoll,

    Is that- Amazon- one too many for you to fork out for? Think it will be for me.

    Found it annoying enough that Eurosport seems to have lost all rights to youth tournaments, including Toulon, so I had to search for a crappy stream to watch Eddie yesterday, as Free Sports not available on Virgin Media.

    There was another channel as well- Premier Sports?- I shelled out a tenner for in desperation last summer just to see one of two of our pre-season friendlies.

    To boot, some other new contenders bought La Liga rights recently, so that’ll be gone from sky and presumably will see another pay channel enter market. Bah. Probably should have watched a bit more of Messi when had the chance.

    You technological whizzes are presumably laughing with these premium streaming sites I hear you speak of, for a reasonable price, but I just can’t see myself going that route.

    I associate streams with disappointment, irritation, and the fear some swines have infected my computer with crap.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m already on Prime Rich so my guess is it will be an add on as they do with NFL and tennis. Amazon don’t need to charge – they just need to smash up the opposition.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Crappy streams are my lifeline and I hope they never die, the mega rich can fuck right off with their 20 channels to watch the PL. I don’t have sky bt Amazon uncle Tom cobley an all so crappy streams it is. Unless I’m there of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So are we agreed that the four main eras of ARSENAL are
    1: The managers under Norris trying to establish the club
    2: The Chapman influenced era Managers from Herb to Whittaker.
    3: The Don Howe influenced era leading to
    4: The Arsene era of which we are still in (don’t tell the wobs they don’t realise)
    I know these overlap but to be honest that’s why we are a massive club.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Oh and by the way I’m not really keen on any of the kits. Pink on the sleeves doesn’t seem right on the first kit and I’ve never really like blue. Yellow or cup final gold for me all day long.
    Although I’ve only seen pictures and not any players in the kit for real so I might like them later on

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sweet one from Eddie;

    Liked by 4 people

  13. All-types-a-goals Eddie. Don’t want to get carried away but he keeps showing more to his game all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So Scudamore is soon to leave his position. he claims to be a fan of Bristol City, but he will soon have more time to indulge in his true football passion should he choose, I am sure he will be welcomed with open arms in the expensive seats or boxes of a certain north west giant

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m sure he has partaken of Hospitality quite liberally and will do so in perpetuity no doubt. Then there are the splendid Lodge banquets at PGMO Towers to attend.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Alex Iwobi
    Has a chance, as with all young players, untill they get to 25 they are still not sure to make it. Especially at a club like Arsenal,Iwobi at 22 years old is being written off in many parts of the fanbase.
    There is talk amongst the fan base that Iwobi is ‘Free-er’ playing for Nigeria, people who have no idea what patriotism looks or feels like to any African country. A continent where after a team did not play up to standard in a competition, the president refused to allow the players to leave and locked them up in an army barracks. Premier league, league un, La Liga players, locked up in a barracks by a man that had already led a coup.Imagine Theresa May sanctioning that.

    Playing for any ‘Developing World’ country is as hard as any big country in the world, Andrés Escobar is a player that is not totally unique in the world of football. In local football in South and Central America ,Africa and Asia there have been several kidnappings and a murder associated with Footballers and football matches. Some players have been never heard of again after returning from a bad World Cup for a country in South East Asia. That is not totally unusual but the suggestion is there is a much darker reasons for the absences after The Chairman grew angry at the defeats.

    There is no ‘Easy’ countries to play for in the ‘Developing World’ , in some there is so much patriotic, flag waving, chest pounding ferver (thats just the women). The pressure is high, it is REAL, in many teams the players are literally playing for their lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Superb article FH.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dragomir amongst eight youngsters offered new deals as Beckford and Benson are released
    by jeorge bird

    Arsenal have offered new contracts to eight youngsters, including Vlad Dragomir.

    In addition to talented midfielder Dragomir, defender Tolaji Bola has also been offered an extension along with Josh DaSilva and Yassin Fortune.

    The Gunners also want to retain the services of goalkeeper Deyan Iliev, while Robbie Burton, Tobi Omole and Dominic Thompson have all been offered their first professional contracts.

    Meanwhile, the remaining second-year scholars, Josh Benson and Jay Beckford, have both been released.

    Midfielder Benson featured in the FA Youth Cup but failed to impress sufficiently to break into the U23s on a regular basis, while Beckford, who was signed from Leyton Orient as a schoolboy, frequently seemed out of his depth at U18 level.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Arsenal release seven youngsters including Keto, Huddart, Marc Bola and Moore
    by jeorge bird

    Arsenal have announced their released list, with seven youngsters set to leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of this month, including goalkeeper Hugo Keto.

    Fellow shot-stoppers Ryan Huddart and Alex Crean have also been let go.

    In addition defenders Tafari Moore, Marc Bola and Chiori Johnson are also departing along with winger Aaron Eyoma.

    Keto joined Arsenal four years ago and the Finland youth international produced some impressive performances at youth level, demonstrating his excellent reflexes.

    However, he found it difficult to break into the first-team squad with both Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev ahead of him, a problem also encountered by Huddart.

    Huddart was named on the bench for two Champions League games against Anderlecht as a 17-year-old but was rather phased out last season as he barely featured.

    Crean, another goalkeeper, arrived at Arsenal in 2016 but struggled to establish himself in the U18s, mainly due to the excellent displays of Joao Virginia.

    The departures of Johnson and Eyoma have been inevitable for some time, with both players having been sent on various trials in the second half of last season.

    Bola gained experience while on loan at Bristol Rovers and Notts County, while he was on the bench for the Arsenal first-team in the League Cup, but leaves in search of regular football elsewhere.

    Moore produced some encouraging displays on loan at Wycombe Wanderers but he was never going to realistically challenge Hector Bellerin for a place in the starting lineup for the first-team.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. 18 year old defender Daniel Ballard has signed his first professional contract with Arsenal, after enjoying a fine season, including being captain of our FA Youth Cup team. He can play midfield too, and is an Northern Ireland u21 International

    Liked by 1 person

  21. ACL Soccer
    ‏ @ACL_Soccer
    57m57 minutes ago

    Arsenal official monthly magazine will close down this August. #afc #arsenal sad, but things evolve

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I see the BPL have announced that from the 2019/20 season their will be a mid season break, it will be 2 weeks in February, but with a difference as there will be 5 BPL games each of the two weekends of the break.
    The FA cup will be played midweek and will have no replays, to make room for the break, and League cup from this coming season will have no extra time


  23. Marcel Lucassen (55) goes to work at Arsenal. De Venlonaar has signed a three-year contract with the top club in London and will work as Director of Football Development on 1 August.

    Lucassen thus becomes responsible for the development of both the coaches and the players of the teams Under 9 to Under 23.

    Lucassen worked for the past three years as Head of Al Nasr Education from Dubai. Before that he worked for the German Football Association for seven years and in 2011 he was assistant coach of TSG Hoffenheim. “What I’m going to do at Arsenal is to further develop the football philosophy, as I did earlier with Al Nasr and the German Football Association, and it was time to start working closer to home so that I could have my family in Blitterswijck. living, can see more often. ”
    By Qasim Hakim


  24. Technical Director of Football Club Al-Nasr FC in Dubai. Lucassen is responsible for the club’s youth academy and in addition, he will support the Football Federation of the UAE in coach education.

    Lucassen was the Technical Expert with the German Football Association (DFB) from 2008 until 2015 where he successfully implemented an effective structure with all National Youth Teams. Lucassen had full-time responsibility for the individual technical and tactical training of the German national youth teams. He also supported Christian Wück as assistant coach of the U-17 national team that won the runner-up at the European Championships in May, 2015.

    Prior to joining the DFB Lucassen has worked among other things as an individual coach for Manchester United, the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and MSV Duisburg.


  25. Arsene has done the job for 22 years and all of a sudden we need 6 people to replace him? £8m a year seems cheap now!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Eddie Nketiah
    Looks like Shawn Wright-Philips scores goals like Ian Wright, has centainly grown in size since the day he came over from Chelsea Academy. He always looked undersized at Chelsea compared with among others a year and a half older Tammy Abraham and the year younger Hudson-Odi he was released. A very tough choice for Chelsea, a very tough choice, but for Arsenal that decision could be a classic story in football.

    As Arsenal and the fans are constantly reminded of an Arsenal supporting Striker was released and now is the saviour of football. Eddie for all his ‘Joe Cool’ demeanor is a ‘Mighty Mouse’ (althought he looks to have had a growth spurt) is filled with ‘Short Man’ fire . For him to ‘Sit’ Abraham must have given him a massive boost.

    Last season “Eddie” progress was strong seemingly in the shadow of Reiss Nelson, but when Nelson fadeded towards the end of the season the young finisher seemed to maintain.
    He turned 19 at the end of May, his goal scoring record for England at every level so far is breath taking. The next step for this young ‘Gooner’ will be exciting for all fans. There will be bumps like all young players, the Europa League I hope will give him a chance of first team football .
    Tonight is his biggest game in an England shirt, could be glimpse at the future.

    9 June 2018 18:30 (UK-Time) BST
    Mexico v England
    Stade Francis Turcan, Martigues

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Dominic Thompson
    Got offered a contract , I am pleased for him , not sure if he has the talent to play for the first team . Heart and desire are two ingredients that he will not be lacking, good left-footed left backs are not ’10-a-penny’ with his mental and physical toughness, it gives him a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. He is composed for a 19 year old infront of the press in his first

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Liked by 1 person

  30. I’ve been stuck at a train station. So I was reading some Gibberish written by one of our splintered experts.

    Apparently this expert is not sure whether Iwobi is “Arsenal quality”, whether he regressed during “Wenger’s decline” that period when AW forgot how to coach etc. whilst winning the Arsenal’s greatest Fa cup triumph, or is the two greatest Fa cup triumphs…

    If Iwobi isn’t AFC quality due to poor coaching then consequently the much loved Hillier (on the .com now) or Stephen Hughes (think he was a signing not a graduate tbf) or even the esteemed Adrian Clarke (also on the .com) were never “Arsenal quality” either! Lol?

    The authors implication required in order his Opinion appear to be reasonable is that either you play like a 19 year old anelka or viera or you are not “Arsenal quality”.

    These cunning linguists and gibberistic orators have no shame they’ll literally write any old rubbish to in order to prop up their vacuous and idiotic Opinions on the Football, or get five seconds at 07.05 in the morning on a 24/7 soon to be irrelevant sports broadcaster.

    Let us be fair:
    These blaggers and podcastateers are not Arsenal quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Arsenal quality? It is very hard for any young player to be judged as Arsenal quality through the lens of “it was better when I was a boy”. I am fully expecting the coming World Cup to be not really World cup quality. And my wife points out (so frequently that she might as well turn it into a looped podcast) that I am no longer husband quality. Oh what is to be done with all this miserable un-achievement?

    Liked by 3 people

  32. The funny thing is that ‘Arsenal Quality’ they speak about is almost certainly the high benchmark Arsene Wenger set, who couldn’t coach apparently.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Come on!
    AW couldn’t coach defence! He inherited the famous back five.

    Cole was a fluke.
    As was the signing of Campbell.
    Putting Lauren at RB? Beginners luck.
    Kolo at CB? This was just further evidence of AW’s discrimination against African footballers – might as well chuck such rubbish in alongside the can’t coach defending rubbish, why not eh? When Ivan left AW with a squad with one fit senior (just about senior) CB for his last season all the blaggers’ dreams came true. Furious mastication upon those podcasts.

    According to these grit merchants beating the petro-pumped champions in the club’s greatest ever fa cup final is not the stuff dreams are made of: “Putting the pressure” on whilst not getting 50 deserved red cards for clogging and diving in the league is!

    Liked by 3 people

  34. What kind of clown would use an iterview with Squillachi, who was way poast his best when he arrived at AFC on the cheap, to underline their assesment of how AFC played at the back?

    Why not quote Gallas or Sol Campbell on their thoughts considering that they played for the club in some of their peak years? Sol Campbell famously had a bit of a bad moment when he got upset at the club selling off their best players and not bringing in top level replacements in their peak years, instead bringing in players like Squillachi after their best seasons.

    I ask again: What kind of disingenious liar would use a Squillachi interview to try and convince their readers of that which can be so easily dismissed as Per the paragraph above (or by referencing the goals against columns during the peak BFG & Koscielny seasons?).

    These nasty little blaggers are entitled to their opinions but that won’t hide their distinct lack of Arsenal quality.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Thing about Sol Campbell is he was England’s best CB since the 70’s.

    Twice voted into World Cup teams of the tournament, such praise for this footballer is not my opinion but the record of what the coaches in those tournaments thought of the then Arsenal CB.

    But he still gets the “John Barnes treatment”.

    From the Arsenal blaggers no less.

    And these disingenious cowardly podcastateers have to airbrush his career, his thoughts, his great distress not at the coaching but during a cycle of poorer quality defenders coming into the squad, in order to propagate their Opinions upon their readers.

    These ‘Arsenal supporters’ can be observed and concluded to be prioritising their meek little careers as hacks over acknowledging the careers of the great servants of Arsenal Football Club, players and managers.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. New post up


  37. Collina says there have been 335 incidents checked of which 14 were on-field referee reviews. Refs have called 95% decisions correctly, improving to 99.3% with VAR.so it’s all going very well. What’s unmentioned are the fouls that are not being called; like the two Kane ‘penalties’ and the stamp on Neymar today.
    So, in my opinion it’s still not quite ready for the PL (as much as I’d like to see it next season). Give it another year’s trial to iron out the flaws first.

    Liked by 1 person

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