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Teambuilding: the road to success
I am currently reading “Teambuilding: the road to success” by one Rinus Michels and going through the book I also glean what Arteta is trying to do at Arsenal. Some salient points worth mentioning are:
- Michels notes that it is far simpler to build a counter-attacking team than a ball-playing team. A ball-playing team that is good with positional play and recycling possession takes time to build and often needs players with, what Michels refers to as, ‘team tactical intelligence’. On the other hand, for a counter-attacking team, the 10 men defend as a team and upon winning back possession, have a number of ‘set’ moves (closer to set-plays or plays in American football) that they can then deploy (see OGS and Mr. Mou). Many coaches therefore must begin by creating the defensive organizational structures first and slowly over time, with the right influx of players and coaching, can move to the higher stage of play. From last year to this, it is clear to see the Arsenal under Arteta trying to transition from an organized counter-attacking team to a team that attempts to dictate play
- There is an inherent contradiction in football re: your best player i.e. the players who give you that 1-2% extra in their repertoire that make the difference at elite level. However, it is often your best technical players who fail to fulfill the basic tasks given to them because they take a touch too many, spend more time on the ball, lose their marker when defending in ones own half or try to find a difficult and improbable solution rather than a simpler one. Since those players look good to the untrained eye, such players are also most often fan and media favourites. Therefore, dropping them from the team for failing to fulfill basic roles/tasks invites the ire of supporters and media-men alike. I dont think I have to specify any names at this point, the case in point of a world class German comes to mind automatically.
- The coach has to also rely on leaders on the pitch who can enforce the team tactical designs on the pitch. He cites a brilliant example from the 80s when the Netherlands were playing Russia, if I am not mistaken, where Ruud Gullit was closely man-marked by a Russian dude, so much so, that Messr. Gullit could not focus on his basic tasks as he was too preoccupied with his man-marker being so close to him at all times. The solution that they deployed then was playing one Ronald Koeman closer to Mr. Gullit with the task of communicating (I believe the colloquial term is ‘shouting’) to Mr. Gullit at what moments was Gullit supposed to be cognizant of his marker and at what moments was he supposed to ignore him as Koeman himself was mopping it up. This freed Ruud Gullit from having to be preoccupied with his marker and freed his game. Buying and/or retaining experienced professionals such as Luiz, Cedric and Willian come to mind here. Willian has completely lost his confidence in the build-up and attacking phases of play but his defensive positional play, marking in ones own half, and pressing is still something the young players like Pepe, ESR and Saka can learn from. However, this is something the fan base is not prepared to entertain in their heads.
In short, what I gleaned is that fans and media alike often want populist decisions based on what they see from their untrained eye. But the coach sees more and often has to take the unpopular decision. Arsenals defensive solidity after more than a decade of defensive shambles alone is a great achievement by Arteta. However, this is not enough and you see them attempting to build on those foundations towards a more ball-playing approach. It would be interesting to see how Arteta oversees this stage of the Arsenal evolution and rebuilding.
This is in stark contrast with someone like OGS who is still stuck in the counter-attacking phase and struggles when teams defend with men behind the ball and you do not see any attempt to transition towards a ball-playing team.
Artetas bravery to take the unpopular decision of freezing out a talisman and shipping him and his acolytes out of the squad to facilitate harmony in the dressing room deserves our praise, not our ire. I know patience is in short supply in today’s world but you can see what Arsenal are trying to achieve and are already well on their way.
By the same token, the attitude of football fans and media can be summed up in a famous Pashto (one of the many Pakistani languages) couplet by one of the legends of Pashto poetry called Khushal Khan Khattak where he says “Khushal Khan only wants to see the face of beautiful women, it doesnt matter whether they be from Swat, Buner or Dir (different villages)”. Therefore, fans and media want success; the pressures today on modern day coaches are unparalleled. Arteta still seems nonplussed. I raise my chalice to him!
Shahzad, Pakistani Gooner in exile in Dublin, Eire
Arteta showing Wengeresque ‘incompetence’
How goes? What is it with Arsenal fans and their delusion Kool-aid? Where can you buy this? I’m just looking at a couple of mail entries and laughing.
1. Tom from Walthamstow, Arsene Wenger’s one-man fanclub, harking back to the days of Arsenal losing CL matches 10-2 on aggregate. How exciting!
2. Exiled Gooner comparing the useless Mikel Arteta to George Graham was possibly the funniest one. I don’t recall Graham coming in to Arsenal and handed £100m to spend on a Partey, a Gabriel and a finished Fake Macy Gray. Let’s get one thing very straight: Graham made Arsenal a title-winning side on a nothing budget. His back 4 was cobbled together, incredibly well-drilled and he married it up with ruthless efficiency in attack. Liverpool back then truly were an all-conquering machine, so to challenge and win the league, at Anfield, remains for me, super-impressive. If you think George Graham would tolerate utter clowns like David Luiz and Bellerin, dream on.
I’m not even mentioning the standard Arsenal fan “if we keep the nucleus of this young squad together we can build something special” ™. Pretty sure this statement was copy-pasted from the 2006 season. 15 years later, Arsenal are a midtable side, who can’t keep up with”oil money” West Ham and Leicester. LOL.
Let’s get one thing straight: Arteta is rubbish. At any serious club he would be history come summer. His decisions are abysmal – he’s responsible for the ludicrous Willian contract, and now he wants to give Luiz an extra year! The football is soporific, there’s no fluidity and all the attacking width comes from the left. If Tierney is out, nothing happens. His team selections are almost Wengeresque in their incompetence, and there is no consistency.
Arsenal fans show who they truly are because Unai Emery was hounded out for far less. Emery wasn’t given control of transfers, or the choice of who to sign, and yet he came within 1 point and a European final of a good season. Arteta, with greater control and financial backing, can’t keep up with Moyes, Everton, Leicester or Villa.
But still the Arsenal fans talk as if “something special” is brewing. SIGH
Stewie Griffin (where can I buy that kool-aid?)
Klopp and Poch have no rotational skills…
All this injury nonsense regarding Liverpool is becoming tedious to the extreme. Why can’t peeps just admit Klopp has about as much rotational skill as a two year old does on one of those fisher price plastic record players with the discs at the back of the player. Same came be said for Poch. They can mix one or two good tunes but they’re simply haven’t got the skill to play back to back to back belters.
Yet another Liverpool fan complaining about injuries, something that is part and parcel of football. The list of players injured this season that have seemingly caused Liverpool to currently sit in 6th place includes those hugely important players of Kelleher, Ben Davies, Tsimikas, Keita and Shaquiri. Granted you might argue them being fit then allows them to be rotated into the team, but the reality is they were barely played, even when fit. I don’t remember Liverpool fans placing an asterix against their league win last season due to lack of injuries compared to City yet this season they seem hell bent on doing that very thing to justify where they are currently. Let’s not forget that after beating Spurs in December the same fans seemed to be confident that Liverpool would stroll to the title even with many of those key players already out injured. In fact, there was plenty of gloating that them being top despite these injuries showed how great they were.
Lots of mails coming in from all sides about injuries and who has it worse as evidenced by the detailed lists sent in this morning comparing City and Liverpool over the past two seasons.
People would do well to adopt a stoic attitude and get on with working with what is available rather than constantly whinging about bad luck.
United have been missing their two best centre backs for most of the season:
Bailly has played 7 premier league games
Jones has played 0.
They have somehow stumbled into second place with their back up centre halves but you hear very little about it amongst cries about Van Djik etc.
Similarly, Lecister have possibly been the worst hit team in the league and have been dealt another blow with the injury to James Justin. However, they haven’t complained and share second at the minute. They have refused to use injuries as an excuse for poor results.
Injuries happen all the time, some teams will be more affected than others, this is why teams try to build a squad with suitable replacements. Can this please be the end of a mailboxes infested with injury moaning?
Klopp is not an elite manager
Liverpool were brilliant for 2 seasons, but they won’t reach those heights again under Kopp. Why? Because he’s not on the level of Guardiola.
Liverpool are basically just a cup team, and Klopp is a cup manager. Yes yes, they won the Premier League, but they won’t defend it. His Dortmund side admittedly defended the league once, but look at how badly his last season as the club went.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that playing a virtually unchanged 1st XI, and changing only because of injuries and not for tactical reasons, will result in burnout if you do this for 2 seasons. Liverpool have burnt out, because they treated winning the Premier League like it was a cup. They went on a fabulous cup run, but like all cup runs, when the season is over so is the run. They peaked, and Klopp does not have the ability to rebuild and go again. Who does? Guardiola, Mourinho a decade ago, any manager that has won multiple league titles at one club…
Liverpool have had their moment in the sun, but under Klopp they won’t reach those heights again. Fans need to appreciate what they had and stop acting like they are the only team to suffer from injuries, most of the injuries the team have suffered could have been avoided had they rotated their squad more, and invested their transfer budget more efficiently.
It’s not the defenders, its the communication
This has been on my mind for a while and was made all the more apparent watching the unfortunate collision between Allison and Kabak.
Much has been said about Man United’s defensive performance this season and almost every individual player has been under the spotlight at some point or the other. It seems to me that what United are lacking is effective communication which is causing a lack of defensive organisation. None of AWB, Lindelof, Bailly or Shaw are shouty players. Neither are Fred or Pogba. McTominay is still young. Even Maguire doesn’t have a go at his team mates, in the way that Bruno does. In defence this is a problem. Because you have to over communicate. The AWB-Lindelof axis is particularly culpable of collectively marking the same player too often or leaving players unmarked. This can be corrected if the Keeper does the job of alerting them – after all has a wider view of the game. But De Gea is also clearly not a gobby player. Think of Ferdinand, Neville, and Evra who were all very vocal on the pitch. Or a Schmeichel. Ferdinand was very prone to giving the others a piece of his mind as were plenty of others in the team. This United team needs more talkers, organisers, and shouters, to get defensive organisation sorted, attacking players picked up and defensive lines more consistent. No amount of spending on individual defenders will make sense without this, whatever you think of Maguire or Lindelof.
I suspect defenders also play off crowd noises which alert them to danger, which they’re missing out on. But that’s just a hypothesis. The lack of communication between players is far more glaring.
Ved Sen (MUFC)
Maguire’s overturned penalty
Howard Jones was lead to believe Maguire’s overturned penalty was offside but United still were awarded a free kick, sorry Howard not sure if Jürgen was leading you but you’ve been led wrong bud, it was given as a goal kick. VAR and the refs have been consistent in one thing only, their total ineptitude when dealing with most things, from a United point of view the West Brom goal is a farce (not just the defending) Lindelof is fouled all ends up and it’s not even looked at, Maguire looks offside but is fouled but neither is given it’s just deemed no foul, Liverpool have had some shockers too as have other teams, common sense is an oft used phrase but one which is ideal for the current malaise football officialdom finds itself in, stop the by the rules mm bollocks and look at the bigger picture, is his left bollock offside really giving him an advantage? Use your bloody brains and give the right decision rather than the by the book “chapter 6 paragraph 4 states if an attackers hem is in front of the defenders chest hair he is deemed offside” FFS it’s not bloody hard.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
The year is 2039. Plans are afoot for the 2042 Lunar World Cup, awarded controversially to the host nation of China, who purchased the Moon 12 years previously from the US for some (but not all) of their tea, in a deal described the then-second-term-President Donald Trump, as “the single greatest in the history of our country, ever, for a big ball of cheese”. VAR still doesn’t work. Spurs are still Spurs.
Then, one fateful day in mid-April, the increasing F365 mailbox escalation between Liverpool and Manchester United reaches a climax as one contributor creates an entirely new branch of mathematics to prove, conclusively, with FACTS that their club’s net transfer spend since the inception of Association Football on injured players, who could have avoided the points lost to VAR controversies, not offset by the number of penalties won in excess of their xP (expected Penalties) is greater than (or less than – I’m genuinely not sure what the right “best” measure is here) that of their bitter rivals.
While everyone else is just as bored of this shit as they have been for the previous 40-odd years, the sheer complexity of this argument, combined with its utter, utter pointlessness, creates such a data density that the entire mailbox collapses into a cyber black hole in the world-wide-web. As a result of this previously-unseen singularity, the internet itself become self-aware and launches widespread nuclear strikes at its human creators in retaliation for the sheer volume of pornography pumped through it over its 50 year lifespan.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
Racism in social media
Wanted to reply to Mike about his post about racism in social media. First of all, I agree, as any sane person should agree, that racism should not be tolerated. I am not that big fan of the tech companies myself either and having just watched Zuckerberg answer every question in the US senate under oath with “we should follow this up with my team afterwards” was quite cringeworthy. If you want to check it out, the interviewer was Senator Hawley.
Having said that, it’s not as simple as that, for many reasons. The question we should be first asking is what constitutes as racism and what doesn’t? Let’s say somebody tweets to Pogba that “go back where you came from”, is that racism? What does he / she imply by it exactly? Go back to France, go back to Real Madrid or is it race related? Does it mean something for one person and something else for another e.g. is it open for interpretation? Then there is the context. Has the same person wrote similar posts to other (non black) players? This might not be a good example of an insult, but hopefully you get the idea.
And it’s just a tip of an iceberg of problems tech giants are facing. Is it culture related? Is it offensive in that context and culture the writer is from or only in western countries or in muslim countries? What is the background of the writer, is he / she of the same ethnic background as well? Is it more tolerable then? Is it more tolerable to say “People from America are stupid” than “People from Africa are stupid”? What is offensive anyway? Where is the line being just a bit of a tw*t and being banned / suspended / charged with crime?
Then we come into the how part. So should tech giants monitor manually all the messages in their platforms? Are they actually responsible for it? If it would happen by traditional mail, the receiver would call the police and they would investigate it, why not in social media?
And we haven’t even touched the most important part, freedom of speech, who gets to control it and where is the line between what can be said and what not. If, let’s say, tech giants would ban the monkey emoji as you suggested, should they ban the banana emoji as well? How about the jungle emoji (if there is one…)? Would that mean removing all symbols that some group finds offensive because using some automated filters naturally wouldn’t work as the filters can’t take the context of the message into account? If tech giants are allowed to start moderating heavily speech that they feel is offensive, what sort of power does it give them if they decide to use it for their possible political agenda? Banning politicians they say use offensive language (who for example oppose them) and actually affecting our democracy as millions of people are mainly getting their news from social media?
What I am getting at that yes, racism should not be tolerated and it must feel horrible to receive insults (racial or not) in social media. Some obvious cases are probably clear cut and easy to solve and should be dealt swiftly. However solving the overall problem is very complicated and just laying all the blame and responsibility to tech giants toes doesn’t really help – on the contrary it might create a much bigger problem than it tries to solve.
If you think my post is far fetched, just watch this.
Jonathan Pie says it better than I ever could, about context of offensive / racial speech.