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Time to reassess Arteta?
I just read that perhaps it might be time to reassess Arteta. It’s an interesting question to ask. Apparently, Arsenal are third in the league since December, a 23-game period – more than half a season. Considering what came before, that’s genuinely impressive if a little shocking. And it does make you question the quality of the league as a whole but that’s beside the point.
But does it mean we have to reassess Arsenal’s season? No. Such a run certainly bodes well for the future, especially if they can get necessary reinforcements in the summer window, but it makes very little difference in the context of this season.
This season has been a complete and utter failure for both Arsenal and Arteta. You can throw in whatever caveats you like but Arteta joined while they were in the Europa and looking to make the step up to the Champions League. Now he’s (potentially) dragged them downwards to the turd fest of the Conference League. A laughably low bar they are not yet even guaranteed to clear.
In the spursiest Spurs season in recent years and even accounting for Leicester’s brilliance, a top six finish should be the barest objective minimum for Arsenal’s squad. I know expectations have lowered for the club severely, but the fact they can’t make it must be considered not good enough not least because it is West Ham (!) – of all clubs – that is taking their place.
Perhaps Arteta has done enough to keep his job (I would say no) but that’s not the point. I’m not an Arsenal fan but I’m not a fan of big historic clubs fading away either. Whether Arteta stays or goes (he’s staying), the club must keep their eyes on the goal. A club may have a bad few years where nothing works but it is essential they don’t forget who they are and where they ought to be.
This will most likely be their second successive 8th place finish. My fear for Arsenal is their slide isn’t just in the league table but also in their mentality. Knowing what constitutes failure helps keep the perspective of what’s required for success. You may accept that things are looking up. You may believe the team is progressing. You may be willing to bet that they have the right man to take them forward. But do not accept or believe that this season is acceptable or even mildly passable.
That kind of thinking – far more than any incompetence in the squad – is the biggest threat to Arsenal’s resurgence.
Oh, I see Kane is already slipping back down the quality list. One suggestion that he is in the top 3 strikers and people cannot help but disagree. Not sure those same people would rather have Benzema than Kane, but hey, you’ve got to flesh out that list somehow.
James in Galway wonders what might happen if Kane is on the bench next season, or how Levy will feel being the bad guy. Based on everything about him, I’m not sure Kane’s performances would drop off to such an extent. He still has personal targets and would still be desperate to achieve those. The Eriksen situation is not comparable. He had 6 months left on his contract and was sold for £20m. And Levy has shown time and time again, and particularly this season, that he couldn’t care less about being the bad guy. He barely managed an apology over the ESL. You think he gives a flying fuck about England fans?
The ‘but what if he makes a big fuss’ mindset also misses one key point, namely that Kane’s image is very much based around his nice, decent nature. He isn’t flashy, loud, or abrasive. He barely offers an opinion on anything. He is clean and tidy, and this is a big part of his USP. Going on strike, no matter how his PR swing it, will have a major negative impact on that.
A better agent would have advised him not to sign that 6 year contract. Maybe you shouldn’t put major life decisions in the hands of someone whose entire pool of talent is their brother.
Also, please tell me that Nuno leaving Wolves is just a coincidence.
Ebrahim was really stretching with his suggestions about Kane yesterday. First of all, the only centre forwards (ones who actually play in Kane’s position – as opposed to the broad-stroke ‘forwards’ that would include a raft of wide forward players who categorically do not play in the same position as Kane) that belong in the same conversation as Kane are Ronaldo, Benzema, Lukaku and Lewandwoski. So he’s Top 5 at least, not Top 10, and a decent argument could be made that his all-round game is better than Benzema and Lukaku’s and arguably Ronaldo’s.
He’s also comparing apples with oranges with the parallels he draws with other transfers. Torres was demonstrably past his best, and it was a surprise that Chelsea forked out for him. Falcao was a loan punt whose career was winding down. Coutinho and Hazard both moved to new countries; Coutinho was not even Liverpool’s best player and was moving into a team with Messi in it – so instantly not the main man, and Hazard was moving into one of the world’s toughest, most unforgiving dressing rooms. A fairer comparison would be to look at British players moving between Premier League clubs for high transfer fees (within their respective contexts) at, or close to, their peak: Shearer, Cole (Andy, Ashley and Jo), Carrick, Lampard, Ferdinand (Les and Rio), Milner, Kyle Walker, Sheringham, Barry, Carroll, Stones, Sutton, Collymore, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaw. The vast majority of those players were unqualified successes at their clubs, with a handful of exceptions.
If Kane goes to any English club, without exception, he will come in as the highest profile player. There isn’t a team in the league where he will play second-fiddle to anybody. That is not necessarily to say that he is better than Fernandes, Salah, De Bruyne et al, but in terms of stature and profile, he will come in as the leading man. And in most cases, if he’s going to United, Chelsea or Man City, Kane will be finishing off the chances for the brilliant creators at those clubs. Imagine the passing/assist stats for the Chelsea midfielders and wide forwards if they had Kane finishing chances off instead of Werner, Abraham and Giroud. He may leave England, in which case, Ebrahim’s argument carries some validity. However, he is more likely to stay in England where he has consistently scored against every form of opposition in the league, whilst playing in systems as varied as Pochetino’s and Mourinho’s. He will score a bloody hatful in teams with the likes of Fernandes, Pogba, Ziyech, Mount, Pulisic, Foden, De Bruyne and Mahrez in them.
All of this talk of Kane leaving raises a lot of interesting issues, many of which have been discussed on these pages. For me (Clive) the most important question is whether he would cut it anywhere else, whether in England or abroad. Kind of connected to the recent “is he in the top 3 or top 10 strikers in the world” chat on these pages.
I appreciate that he went through the “one season wonder” and “two season wonder” stuff and proved people wrong. Fair play. But I for one still seriously doubt whether he can be even nearly as valuable for any team as he is for Spurs. I am a WH fan and so I freely admit that I am bias against him, but I am honestly trying to take that into account.
It would be fascinating to see him in Madrid or Barcelona to see what would happen. I think he would be a disaster. He is relatively immobile and slow and I think would flunk out badly. Unfortunately that’s why I think he won’t end up leaving Spurs. I think those clubs kind of know that and so their valuation of Kane will never be as high as the valuation Spurs have of him, particularly Levy. Anyway, I hope it happens so we can all find out, it would be very interesting.
Mike, Cayman (WHU to finish above Arsenal and Spurs, are you mad??)
Kane the next RvP?
It’s a loverly evening in the city of brotherly shove. The wee ones have submitted to slumber. The weather is gorgeous, with just enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay
I find myself sat on my porch couch(was told it was 89” long which would fit in the house, but turned out to be sodding 98”, so now on the porch it resides) thinking…self, Is A-Harry Kane the missing piece for United the way RVP was and B- is now the time to spend big on a striker??
B first, yes. Yes yes and yes. When a striker of that proven quality in your own league is available, then it’s a no brainer. He has shown this season that he is versatile enough to adapt to different roles as Mou requested he add playmaker to his role earlier in the season. We want to seriously contend on multiple fronts. In ‘99, we played 4-4-2, so had 2 sets of class strikers to rotate and sub on/off, and we won the LOT!! We play 1 central striker, hence Cavani and Kane. Cover for injury, Greenwood gets another mentor, AND we get another leader on the pitch(captain of both England and Spurs, tho there is the argument he has led neither to anything, but I digress)
Back to A- I think he actually could be. We have 1 20+ goals/assists contributor this season in Bruno…add another to the team and ALOT of those 0/1 point games become 3…similar to Rooney + RVP. A glut of goals cover many an on pitch issue. I would love to see us play a bit of a more aggressive style of you may score, but we’ll get more
Anyway, what happened to that rule that I never heard of before, that he can buy his way out because of age and serving 3 yrs of his contract?? Read it in a few mails, but haven’t heard a peep in the media or podcasts??
Is there anyone else who thinks Borussia Dortmund appointed a new coach too early, they were fumbling in the league and after a 5-1 thrashing to Stuttgart decided that it was time to let go of Luvian Favre who for me had done a great job and should be favorite for the spurs job after Graham Potter.
Up steps Edin Terzic, he quickly changed formations from a three at the back to a four at the back and tried to make Dortmund play faster as under Favre they had become too possession based and lost their counter attacking roots from the days of Klopp and Tuchel.
At first, it seemed fruitless but around the time Dortmund played Sevilla, it became evident that the manager was getting across to his team, at one point, they were 7 points behind the CL spots but now they have qualified playing some scintillating football as well, which also simultaneously shuts down the Haaland transfer rumours, they were also mighty impressive against City especially in the first leg, the man who shouldn’t be more than 4 years older than Nagelsmann masterminded two victories against him, the first, a spirited display from the whole team and the second, a show of class from Sancho and Haaland, he has also beaten the man who is destined to replace him to boot, it is a pity, he will not last more than the season because I think he deserves to, though, I should mention that they concede more than normal amounts of shots per game for a big team, but almost all are never from inside the box, let’s see what Marco Rose does eh.
For Terzic, I think Spurs will not be too bad a destination, I know you are not thinking of it Mr. Levy, I know; but that is exactly why this is the right option, right, Johnny?
Prick of the Week
As we head into the last game of a crazy season, an old F365 article came to mind that I thought was interesting. So back in November 2020, the 24th to be precise, Liverpool’s “army of Buzz Killingtons” were crowned the Prick of the Week. They were criticised for “spoiling the season” and chastised for “[being] the boring winners of the most unpredictable season”.
They obviously took this very personally and decided to do the best they could to make it an interesting season. They drew their next premier league match against Brighton and then in the next 18 matches their form was W6 D4 L8. In doing so, it marked the first time Liverpool lost 4 top-flight home games in a row since 1923. They even decided to lose these matches to their main title rivals Man City, Leicester and Chelsea – nevermind losing their unbeaten record at home for nearly 4 years and their first home derby defeat in over a decade.
Meanwhile, let’s cut to the oil barrel billionaires at the Etihad. Since the 24th of November, these spoilsports decided in their next 18 games to have the form of W16 D2 L0. With this they decided to comfortably run away with the league and had it sewn up by early April. Exactly the boring thing that was predicted the prickish Liverpool would do! But do we see them in the prick of the week? Do we buffalo!
But let’s get back to the present, and the last day of the season. With the title long won by the CityZZZens and the relegation battle a distant memory, Liverpool has done everything in their power to make the end of the season as interesting as possible. Having looked dead and buried they have now fought back to make the race for the final 4 champions league spots wide open and make the few weeks, and in particular the last day of the season, actually worth watching for the neutrals.
So I would suggest that just like Man City’s title win will have an asterisk beside it this pandemic season, Liverpool’s prick of the week should get an asterisk beside it as they did exactly as they were asked to do. And I hope to see City being called out good and proper for being the pricks that they are and they decide to do the honourable thing and make next season interesting by losing lots of goddamn games.
Man Utd transfers
Thought I’d throw it out there, some United transfer possibilities.
Ideally United should prioritize a central defender, a midfield destroyer, a right winger and if we can, an additional striker.
We have just resigned Cavani so that is a good start. The Sancho move looks like it can be revived and at a lower cost, let’s say 80M.
Pau Torres seems to be the central defensive choice and for about 40M. The central midfielders of choice would have to be NDidi or Rice. Let’s say either for 60-80M
Then there is the precarious situation we find this summer in that Haaland and Kane seem to be available. Let’s say 120M.
Another name I would like to throw into the mix, who should also be available, and somewhat reasonably, is Saul Niguez. Let’s say 40M and I’ll explain why later.
All in will come to 340M, give or take 20M. That is a lot.
To balance let’s take a look at how we can reduce this and how likely it may be.
First, Sancho, straight transaction, we are -80M. Second, Pau Torres, send Bailly + 20M, -100M. Third, NDidi, again straight transaction, 60M, -160M. Job done. Pricey but worth it and certainly there.
Now comes Kane, let’s say we send them Lingard 25M, Martial 45M and Henderson 50M. Straight transaction. Take out Hendo or Martial and put in the 50M and it’s still a good deal. Still -160M or perhaps -210M with an additional 50M asset.
Now let’s talk some sales. Alex Telles could go for 20M( I’d keep him), Matic 5M, James 25M, and controversially Pogba 80M. This is where Saul would come in as he would be the replacement and give us better balance for half the value.
If we could add Saul and sell the rest, that would leave us with a spending balance of -70M( or -120M if Tottz wanted some cash)
All in all I think this make some sense and would be somewhat realistic. Yes competition for players will happen and none of this will. But it was fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.