SECURING TALENT – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

Well, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting Frank Lampard to drop a masterclass on Spurs last night, and he sure did deliver on that thought.

It was like he’d never heard of Son or Kane. What a disaster hire. Is there a worse run club in the Premier League?

A total disaster of a 90. I’m honestly stunned at how bad Everton are. Even with Frank Lampard as manager, it’s quite something that so many quality players are just dead to the game.

Anyway, no point in complaining about that right now, Spurs absolutely pummeled them and knocked their goal difference up a gear. They are 5 short of us heading into a pretty consequential week. They have United, Brighton and West Ham. Win those three and I suspect they will be extremely close to Arsenal.

It’s a big ask of a team that lacks consistency. The context of Everton is they are totally awful, just as the context of their City game was they scored basically every shot on target they had… the reality we can’t squirm away from is they have spectacular individual talent that can destroy teams.

The other reality? They are still a defensive mess and they are Spursy.

Arsenal has to continue thinking about each game as a cup final because each game is a cup final.

The big lesson from the Watford game is that if we don’t put a shift in defensively, we’re going to get exposed. Arteta needs to work things out with Xhaka in that advanced 8 position because it didn’t work as well at the weekend. He also needs to root out whatever the fragility issues were. Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, and Gabi all suffered in that game. It’s odd, because most games, they are rock solid… but in some games you don’t feel things are clicking and everyone looks a little flustered.

Part of this is very basic: The team lacks experience.

Winning that Watford game was important because 2 seasons ago, we’d have lost. But this team, regardless of form, is still very much learning on the job. We don’t have the same Winnertivity IP that Liverpool and City has. If we did, we’d have skewered Watford earlier. That ruthless killer mode is going to take time, but you know it’s coming, there’s just too much quality in the side for that not to arrive at Arsenal in the next 18 months.

There’s an interesting piece in the Evening Standard about the culture shift at Arsenal. The PR brief looks very much like the club has decided they need to soften the harder edges of Mikel Arteta. I think Tim Stillman mused that some fans don’t like Mikel because of how ruthlessly he dismantled Arsenal during the rebuild. I can vibe with that thought. It is odd to me that anyone can dislike him or that they think their personal preference for his personality should matter considering how we’re playing. It’s also amusing that bemoaned the softness of the Wenger creche have actually been conditioned to have the same weak mentality as those Wenger players. The same demanding people action are the folk that tweet about Auba and Matteo G after every good game they have on the continent. The reality? Everyone’s a meat-eater until they have to hunt… watching Arteta spill blood and entrails on the dressing room floor has been ruffled the squeamish for sure.

Anyway… the PR.

‘Spontaneous themed lunches have become a way to make foreign players feel at home; they have also acted as a treat for the squad. On this occasion, small Brazilian flags and staff dressed in yellow accompanied the South American food.’

The article is interesting because it reads like an American manual on how to bring culture to an office. The points raised in the piece seem trivial, but they do contribute. Just look to your own office, who doesn’t love a boss that brings doughnuts to FriYAY meetings? When you’re on a pitch and someone rolls in with pizza and beer, does it make the situation worse? The little things are just as important as the big things when you build out a culture. Humans extract more happiness from lots of little treats (Bagel Mondays) that come consistently versus big blowouts (like contracts). The headline grabber focuses on Arteta throwing Auba in the boot of a car for being three minutes late to a game debrief, the things that truly grab people are treats like letting players bring their kids to Dubai (and throw tennis balls at the players). We are simple beings, always remember that.

I’m not always a fan of the ‘we’re a big family’ because family excuse bad behaviour, tend to hold each other to a lower standard, and you can’t fire your dad for a new one because he soiled himself by saying something unPC at the Christmas table (and believe me, I’ve tried).

It’s not family, it’s work… but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be personal.

I do love that whoever leaked that story is clearly really taken by the themed lunches.

‘Nah, I get what your saying Simon. The whole Matteo thing was brutal, the boy was in tears… but I tell you what, the Brazilian themed lunch was a bloody treat. Edu showed up with the BBQ. The empadão’s had little Brazilian flags, a total delight. There was a moment though, Benny White turned up in a sombrero, it was a bit awkward, but Gabi put him right. Arteta docked him two weeks for that.’

There was a bit of a debate yesterday about whether Arteta should get a new deal.

I’m sorry, there is no debate now.

  1. Because he is absolutely getting a new deal
  2. Because there is no rational reason to deny him

‘NOT UNLESS HE GETS TOP 4’ is one of those arguments put forward by people who want the world to think they have epic standards. It’s a stupid thing to say based on the assumption that Premier League football still has silver bullet managers for clubs that don’t have MEGA cash. The two most consistent clubs in the league are City and Liverpool. Both have sustainable models. The least consistent clubs? Spurs and United who both fired their managers for silver bullets that haven’t delivered. Arsenal will not wait on a deal for a manager that has:

  • Reworked the team into a Top 4 contender
    • With the youngest squad in the league
  • Kept the 3rd most clean sheets with a keeper everyone said was shit
  • Tied down all the young players
  • Developed our young players into fierce competitors
  • Has us playing scintillating football
  • Has The Emirates ROCKING like never before
  • Has done it all without a goalscoring striker

The psychology of a contract isn’t simple. If you offer someone a deal too early, they might get complacent. If you offer it too late, they’ll think you didn’t have their back, and the entire nature of the relationship will feel even more transactional than it already is.

Arsenal has been dumb with deals. After we won the FA Cup under Wenger, there was the chance to renew Ramsey and Sanchez on the fat deals they deserved. We shirked because Wenger didn’t want to earn less. What happened? Both players felt unseen, both players left for nothing, Arsenal rapidly declined.

Serge Gnabry is a PRIME example of ‘WAIT UNTIL THEY DO A THING.’ His deal was running down, Arsenal wasn’t at the table, he went to the Olympics with Germany, smashed it up… THEN we offered a deal. What did he say about that? How good is he now? Did you see him tweet a picture of himself in a vintage Arsenal kit yesterday?

Finally, let’s look at some clubs that get it right. Daniel Levy is an expert at deals, especially with his young players. He sees talent, he backs his eyes with data, then he offers a long, above market rate deal… then he’s got them. Harry Kane is stuck at Spurs because young impressionable players don’t know any better. Now he can’t get out of his Spursy nightmare. Also, look at Brighton, do you think it’s only Twitter that has noticed Graham Potter is a bit good? Of course not. Every club in the league sees it. Why hasn’t he left Brighton? Because his buyout clause is the biggest in the land.

Smart clubs don’t wait until the internet is happy to offer a new deal, they act fast to protect a hot asset.

Arteta is one of the best young coaches in Europe. Other clubs are paying attention. We should move to secure him.

The same goes for Saka, Martinelli and Saliba. Give them the Harry Kane treatment. You won’t lose on any of them. Overpay them now, make them feel valued, and secure our human capital to the club so if they want to leave… it’ll be pricey.

To be fair to Arsenal, we have been very good when it comes to deals, nearly all our talent has signed on. This summer is another big one. We have to get it right because nothing kills momentum quite like losing a superstar or a manager that everything is built around.

… and let’s be clear, Arsenal don’t have a plan beyond Arteta, there’s no way the club has had that conversation. Where we are now is happenstance versus the genius it looks. Edu would have Victor Perriera or Nuno in that hot seat if the job came up again… but that’s a story for another day.

Right, shorter post this afternoon, see you in the comments.

PS Did you see the people in the mixer for Chelsea? Baseball club owners AND the guy that owns the Jets. I only know about the Jets because Gary V said he wants to buy them because they are so disappointing. BRING IT ON.

REMEMBER, you can get the pod on: SPOTIFY | GOOGLE | iHEART | DOWNLOAD

Leave a Comment