Mails: Did Arsenal change their minds? Or just the media?

Date published: Tuesday 22nd May 2018 9:03

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A shock? A mess? Only the media tell us that
Am I the only one that distrusts the media representation of how Arsenal are choosing their new manager? The sages have spent a week telling us it is definitely Arteta. Now it’s definitely Emery. Neville tells us Arsenal are bouncing from one name to the other, well Arsenal haven’t said that only the media. It sounds like a face saving exercise from Neville and co. Arsenal are fickle and keep changing your mind. Or maybe your information was just wrong.

Ian Wright says it’s horrible how we’ve treated Arteta and Vieira…based on what Wrighty? Now according to the Sun, Emery was interviewed two weeks ago and blew the ‘kingmakers’ away. That doesn’t sound flippant and it doesn’t sound unfair to have given an unproven manager like Arteta an interview, the opposite in fact. Don’t even get me started on the revision of the impact of those appointments. Arteta was a foolish risk until suddenly Emery was ‘not the bold choice that was promised’… So Arsenal needed to appoint an experienced manager with no experience and a sure bet who was a total risk. As long as expectations were fair!

Arsenal don’t always do things well but the only people changing their minds in all this are seemingly the media and then trying to execute the standard hatchet job because they made the wrong call. It just shows that unless a story includes quotes it’s not worth the paper it is printed on. Nobody called Wenger’s leaving/sacking coming when it did so it shouldn’t be surprising they couldn’t call the new appointment.

I would love to see us pull them in our press statement when it’s announced.

‘After conducting extensive interviews we decided to make a shock decision and appoint the most qualified and able candidate…’
James (I wish we had a better quality sports media in this country)


A conspiracy theory: Arteta was played
The timing of Emery becoming available and Wenger being sacked shortly cannot be a coincidence. Emery was identified as a replacement a long time ago and when he became available, they snapped him up.

However the board didn’t want to just announce him as direct comparisons to Wenger would take place. So why not tout an underdog nobody wants to lower expectations first? That way when Emery magically reenters the race and is announced, it’s a major relief and the board look like they’ve first examined all options and are the heroes. Apple used a similar strategy when they announce iPhone iPads at a much higher price pre-launch, then slash the price for launch.

Arsenal fans will now be giddy with this appointment…well played Arsenal board… and sorry Mikel, you were played.
Ken Slagathor


Cautiously optimistic about Emery
The word of today is ‘swerve’, defined as ‘to change or cause to change direction abruptly’.

Quite so…as in my case as I was ready to compile an article on the various risks associated with appointing Arteta when suddenly the news broke yesterday that Unai Emery is set to be named the next Arsenal head coach/manager, or whatever title the club deems fit to give him in this new continental structure. It’s classic Arsenal though, let’s be honest they have previous with this and we as fans once again never saw this swerve coming. Just as when Arsene was selected over Cruyff and Venables, or when Mee and Graham were appointed in years past you never quite know what is happening behind the scenes. I also suspect the £50mn budget isn’t quite what it seems and it may be a way of deterring clubs form demanding obscene transfers value for our summer targets.

I like this appointment, Emery has won 10 trophies in his time as a manager, that’s more than Wenger, Graham, Rioch and Mee combined before they took charge at Arsenal. Emery has his critics, some will point out PSG’s capitulation against Barcelona and indeed the manager’s poor general record in the Champions League. It is also true that we are appointing a manager whose history suggests that in major leagues he is good at getting a top-four league finish and winning cup competitions but has only ever won one league title in his career, and even that was in a relatively uncompetitive French League. But at 45 years of age he has his best days ahead of him, and he also has something to prove; that he can take a top club to consistent league championship success and into the latter stages of the Champions League. These are the exact challenges that Arsenal themselves are faced with going forward so it could be the perfect union.

My feeling is there wasn’t a whole lot of choice out there given the remit we were working with; a limited budget, a pre-defined structure for the coach to slot into along with the ability to play attractive football. At Valencia and Sevilla he ticked all three of these boxes. Emery didn’t really fit in or was appreciated at PSG, the players disliked his meticulous preparation and obsession with tactics, given what we have heard coming out of the our own club about players wanting more guidance on the pitch, Arsenal’s current team may actually embrace his approach.

We must also question what the expectation is for the new manager next season? Are we going to challenge for the league title? Unlikely. How would we feel if we secured third and won the Uefa Cup? To me that would sound like progress along with the possibility of better coached and prepared players to develop for the long road to recovery ahead.

Considering we may have been on the verge of appointing a man with no previous managerial experience which seemed like an uncalculated and in my opinion an irresponsible risk, there is some comfort in appointing a man who has plied his trade for 10 years and while his record isn’t without blemishes, Emery is a ‘known unknown’ rather than the ‘unknown unknown’ that Arteta would have brought. Gazidis spoke about a ‘bold appointment’ on the day Wenger announced his exit, these may have been words spoken in haste, Emery isn’t a bold appointment but I was never convinced that such a phrase was appropriate for the direction of the club going forward anyway. It seems in the end sensible heads have prevailed and I wonder whether the consultation with the senior players about Arteta’s appointment swung the board away from giving him the job.

Amusingly there are still those out there who are convinced that Allegri will still be appointed manager and the way this process has gone you couldn’t safely rule out anything until Emery is pictured in the customary pose inside the stadium waving an AFC scarf. That being said upon reflection, the AFC fan base will embrace the new man in charge, Emery will have plenty of credit in the bank based upon him not being Arsene Wenger as we step into the unknown so let’s give him a chance as we move into this new chapter in our great club’s history.
Pradeeep Kachhala


…I am reasonably happy on Unai Emery’s likely appointment as he’s both young and experienced, having coached all kinds of clubs, from (resource-based) lightweights like Almeria to troubled Valencia & Sevilla to wealthy PSG.

The positives:

* Experience. It was mentioned here that experience is not necessarily a virtue, which is true. In Emery’s case however, his experience is varied and ranged from working under limited resources at Valencia & Sevilla to working under tons of resources with PSG. At worst, he did decently.

* Age. He’s from a generation of managers that is open new ideas and would naturally be less rigid in tactics and ideology. He ( hopefully) has ~20 years of management in him (probably not all with Arsenal!) and there’s room for improvement.

* Achievements. The three Europa leagues is great, but no less impressive is keeping a Valencia side with financial troubles (documented on this site) and forced to sell their biggest assets like Mata, Villa, etc. in the CL places. The treble with PSG is also great (creating a cohesive unit out of egos like Neymar & Cavani while keeping strong Monaco, Marseille, & Lyon sides at bay is not as easy as people would have you believe).

The negatives:

* Language barrier. Get going on those English lessons immediately!

* CL disappointment: the manner of being knocked out by Barcelona last year. Also going out to a not-so-strong Madrid side.

* Character strength: I might be wrong, but he doesn’t seem to have the Diego Simeone nature of giving players a kick in the backside when needed (my God do most of our players need this!). It might be the media, but I couldn’t sense his presence in that power struggle between Neymar & Cavani. Again the monumental collapse against Barcelona might count against him ( welcome to the Arsenal!).
Mamoon S (He always reminds me of an archetypal Spanish matador ).


This must be Jose’s final season
I’ve not written in for a while, partly because busy at work but mainly because its been a pretty depressing few weeks to be a Man United fan, which may get worse on Saturday night. Hope not too rambly.

Every time United are let off the leash, (1st half v Liverpool, 2nd half v Man City), the hope inside you increases that Jose will let them free in the next big game, only to have said hopes dashed within five minutes of seeing how the team is set up.

Why exactly did Jones try and tackle Hazard? Just keep him pressured from a foot away, don’t get in De Gea’s way, and it is at least 50% that ‘Dave Will Save’, even from that distance.

I’ve been fortunate to be a manager for a long while now, and learnt, even before I became one, that one of the best ways to get the most from your team is to shield them, back them and any issues are dealt with one on one ‘at the back of the bike sheds’. So to listen to Jose criticise yet more of the players is really starting to grate. There are only two outcomes, either destroying the confidence of your team member amongst their peers (Rashford) or having some team members directly or implicitly work against you, as reputedly happened to Jose at Chelsea.

Cannot help feeling that next season will be Jose’s final Act, come what may. All the best plays are in three Acts after all. What will the summer bring? I certainly won’t bother reading all the gossip, but hope for at least one full-back, another central defender and a right-sided creative midfielder. Any more than three and surely it will be just another rebuilding season.

After Act III, I’m hoping for Julian Nagelsmann. Whilst United’s U21s were relegated there are some exciting reports coming from the more junior levels. Seems a win win situation. The prospect of exciting football for the fans, relatively minor transfer outlay for the owners, and likely patience and good will towards him if the juniors are as good as we hope they will be.
Ged (Can’t help but to really, really want Madrid to win) Biglin


Liverpool and their 40% chance
I have been having an excited little think about the final (because basically my brain has switched off to everything else) and I have the following thoughts:

I think this game might be won or lost on the wings. I think a lot of big games in the past have been about winning the midfield battle but Real will probably line up with Ronaldo and Bale which is quite a lot of wing talent. That said they also have the potential to lose it in this position because if Liverpool win the ball you can be sure that we’ll transition fast and spread to play wide to Mané and Salah. This, combined with Marcelo potentially getting caught upfield, could be our opportunity to strike.

Let’s hope this is the case anyway, because their midfield is undoubtedly better than ours. Modric will find gaps in our defence and Kroos has more talent than any of our midfielders. Casemiro is important to Madrid but I don’t know what his role will be here. We don’t have a number 10 to mark and I think our midfielders might not break the lines much either. In possession perhaps he’ll be expected to drop into CB and form a three when the full backs go forward. I feel like this could hurt us – The full backs pushing up will pin our wingers back, leaving Firmino isolated against three and even if we win the ball it’ll be hard to counter attack really well when they’ve got a low block of two world-class centre backs and Casemiro.

This all said, I fancy Henderson to have an impact on proceedings and maybe show a few people why he’s captain. He’s not Steven Gerrard and since he came to terms with this I think he’s become a lot better; you will see him constantly moving to receive the ball whilst we probe for space. I doubt he’ll advance much into the final third because I think that job will be left to Wijnaldum. He’ll also tackle and intercept the ball an awful lot, helping to ignite our press along with Firmino.

And in that man’s teeth doth my dreams reside. I don’t want him to go all bitey a la Suarez but I do think that Ramos, whilst incredibly talented, has these instinctive moments. If Firmino catches him off guard then Ramos might do something silly and concede a foul in a great position or maybe even get himself sent off. If something like this happened early on it could put us in a great position.

This will sound weird, and I’ve never thought about this before but I think kicking off would be good for us. With so much youth in our ranks you feel like a couple of touches might calm the nerves. I suspect the stadium will have slightly more Liverpool fans so that might also help them to feel more comfortable too.

Overall, I think it’s probably 40-60 in their favour. Most of their players are in their peak years, have won it before and are generally better. But Liverpool do make us dream…
Minty, LFC


The other side to depression
John Nicholson’s article was an interesting read for many reasons. Whilst he is right that there is an expectation that men shouldn’t show emotion or talk about these kinds of feelings, there is an other side of this issue that I feel he didn’t address, which I’m going to do my best to do so.

Personally, I’ve suffered from clinical depression for the last 15 years of my life. Like many others, I’ve grappled with the feeling that having this made me less of a man, less of a person. It wasn’t until the the start of this year that I started actually talking about my emotions with friends and family. Considering the regularity of people saying “You just need to talk!”, you’d think that people would have been supportive, right?

Unfortunately, no, that hasn’t been the case. It’s not just the sufferers of depression that hold a stigma about it. Other people do too. Most people simply do not want to hear it from us. They’ll physically recoil from us. They’ll push the number to the Samaritans to us and tell us to talk to them instead. Bear in mind, that’s not strangers doing this, it’s friends and family. It’s not just my own experience with this either, I’ve spoken to quite a few others who echo the same.

Speaking to a helpline, like with antidepressants, is a short term fix. It is a way to stop us when we’re at the very edge. What people need to realise is that we as a society simply need to do much, much more if we’re to beat depression.

If you saw someone drowning in a lake, you wouldn’t ask them to swim to shore so you could help. Then why is it that I constantly see people doing this when it comes to mental health?

If we as a society are to conquer depression and other mental illnesses, then we need to realise that the onus isn’t solely on the victims of it. We need to be more aware of the signs (contrary to popular belief, they do exist, even the most hard faced person has their tells). We need to be more proactive with care to those we love when we see them exhibiting the signs. We need to stop sitting back and expecting those of us suffering with it to not only have the strength to keep our heads above despair but to also gather the courage to approach others with this burden. It’s simply not possible for a lot of us.

Yes, we need to speak out about our feelings, no one will deny that. But we also need those close to us to listen and be by our side. We can’t win this alone.
John-Paul, Armagh (My sincerest apologies if this mail comes across as an attack on anyone, it’s intention is to highlight the less talked about side of this issue)

Presenting a PFM top ten

As we exit the Golden Age of PFMs, I present an all-time PFM Top 10.

10. Ron Atkinson: The original PFM, Big Ron, 90% permatan, rolled gold, sheepskin coat and cigars categorically proved that money didn’t necessarily buy success.

9. Barry Fry: The ultimate wheeler-dealer – Barry allegedly bought or sold about 300 players. His doctor famously noted that being a football manager probably kept his blood pressure down.

8. Tony Pulis: He has a Magic Cap and he keeps you up. It won’t be pretty.

7. Joe F#cking Kinnear: He bears a grudge too.

6. Sam Hamann: The architect of Wimbledon’s “crazy gang” Not technically a manager, as he was the owner. But Sam hired JFK, Dave Bassett, et al. Best of all, underperforming players were contractually obliged to eat sheep’s testicles (a Lebanese delicacy).

5. Malcolm Allison: Big Mal was probably the most flamboyant of the lot. Lit up the 70’s with scandal, more cigars and fedoras. Helped Man City spend a lot of money and under-perform and clearly enjoyed it immensely.

4. Mark Hughes: To misquote the famous mother in law joke about car crashes – “he’s never been relegated…but he’s seen a few”.

3. Kevin Keegan: Invented the no-defence defence long before Pep took the stage. Made up for a lack of tactics with extreme passion…which almost worked for the Geordies.

2. Sam Allardyce: There are few guarantees in life beyond life, death, and taxes. But Big Sam always delivers. Has a 100% record as England manager too, didn’t you know.

1. Harry Redknapp: The man, the legend, and the sum of all the above. ‘Arry famously doesn’t do tactics and discovered Gareth Bale. Could have made England great again. Alas, it was not to be.
Matthew (ITFC)

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