Monday, 23 May 2011

End of season blues...

There simply aren't enough Arsenal blogs out there so I've decided to start my own.  Will it be the best? No.  Will it be the worst?  Hope not.  Will it give me a forum for venting my spleen?  Yes and that's the point.

I wrote a letter to Mr Wenger in November last year and didn't send it.  If I had, and he'd read it, I'm sure we would be champions right now.  Sometimes even the greatest need a nudge in the right direction.

"Dear Mr Wenger,

Being an experienced football manager, I have learned a number of valuable lessons over the years that have helped my teams in their quest for footballing glory.  I have stuck to these principles rigidly and they have reaped rewards in the form of back to back Premiership titles, numerous FA and League Cup victories as well as two European Cup victories.

I have compiled the list below for your perusal and I hope that you find it both interesting and informative. 


If a player wants to leave - sell them

A player that has made up his mind to leave the club and earn his crust elsewhere will not be 100% committed to the team.  If player X wants to go play for his boyhood club then demand a decent transfer fee and replace him with someone who would kill to pull on the shirt.  Otherwise you're faced with begging them to stay, some half hearted affirmation of loyalty to the club and a season of mediocre performances before selling them anyway (for cheaper) in the end anyway.  Think of it like that ex-girlfriend that begged you to stay with her.  The outcome was the same but the quality of your performance during those last few months was poor.

If a player isn't at least 95% match fit do not play them

Doing so is only likely to see a reoccurrence of an injury and put them out for longer.  I know it sounds strange but the best way to treat an injury is to let the player rest and for the injury to heal rather than throwing them back in to a tasty away fixture.

During the transfer window, identify weaknesses in your team and fix them

If a player is not performing and is costing you points, identify a suitable replacement and bring them in.  If you have transfer funds available, use those funds to find the best quality player available for each position in the team.  Raising the quality on an annual basis will improve your chance of winning.  Crossing your fingers and hoping that player X who, up until this point, has done nothing but head the ball in to their own net and give away penalties is not an appropriate method of taking the team forward.

Do not build personal relationships with players. 

Personal relationships will undoubtedly cloud your judgement when it comes to picking a team and knowing when to replace players.  If a player does not perform, drop them.  If a player frequently demonstrates that they are not capable on the pitch during competitive games (note - doing well in training is not sufficient) then sell them.  If a particularly weak goalkeeper has a picture of you in a compromising position with a woman other than your wife, pay him off, don't put him in the first team when he demands it.

Youth is all well and good but you need experience

I have often been faced with a team of highly talented youngsters with the potential to go on and be world beaters, only to find them to lack consistency when it mattered.  Bringing in a mix of youth and experience is the only way to challenge for the title on an annual basis.  Whilst Alan Hansen may not be right all the time, the phrase "You can't win anything with kids" is, more often than not, absolutely correct. Nb By suggesting you recruit experience I am in no way advocating your signing of Mikael Silvestre.

Don't always blame the referee

Some decisions will go your way and some wont.  If you were playing a weak team in Europe and had to rely on a penalty to score your only goal of the game then the problems with the team run far deeper than the inability of the referee to see an infringement in the penalty area.

Perennially injured players have no place in the squad

Sometimes, despite talent by the bucket load, a player is about as likely to stay injury free as an American grenade is not take the hostage down with the terrorist.  A premiership football team should have no place for costly players on big wages that play 5% of games.  Get rid.

If you lose to Sp*rs at home after being 2-0 up at half time then the club is in crisis

There is no excuse for this.  Sort that bunch of overpaid prima donnas out right now or drop the lot of them and play the reserves. We are The Arsenal and being humiliated by that lot at home when we had the chance to go (and stay!) top of the Premiership is unacceptable.


Whilst my experience is limited to the Championship/Football Manager software arena, I do think these tactics and principles are sound and apply to the real footballing world as well as the non-virtual environment.  Having been an avid follower of Arsenal FC for many years, it seems that some of these points have been ignored in recent times and I feel it necessary to raise these with you directly, one football manager to another, to hopefully assist with turning the fortunes of the club I love around in the near future.

Do let me know if you would like to discuss further.

Kind regards

AFC Metaller"

The thought of going through another summer of transfer rumours and expectation, only for the starting eleven on the first game of next season to include Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky and Almunia fill me with dread, but I am positive about the future.  It's time for change at the Emirates and if this season proves to be the catalyst of that change, and a return to the footballing heights of the past, then I'll be a happy man.

Oooh to be a... GOONER!