Wenger Is Too Nice. Arsenal Need Simeone
Why do people always fall for it? You know, the promise of a new, improved, mentally and physically strong Arsenal who know how to be streetwise, to grind out games, to have a central striker who you KNOW will deliver on the biggest stage?
A Cup Team
It’s almost as if the football mad fans across the world have collective amnesia.
Arsenal are, on their day, the best footballing side in the country, but what does that actually mean?
Does it mean they are the easiest on the eye? I think it must do because if you factor in the fundamentals to win a title, they have been sadly lacking in the following for a decade now, which is why they are a cup team, rather than a league team.
1. Collective responsibility, When do you ever see an Adams type going around players, encouraging, cajoling, demanding?
2. A striker, who, like Kun Aguero, you KNOW will score in big games. With respect to Giroud, who was the flavour of the month early season, giving Gunners the “we told you he’s really good” line at every turn on Twitter, which is fine, and I agree. But great he’s not, and title winners are great, not very good.
3. A plan B? You know, like in games such as the Man United game yesterday when a few players go into their shell, the tiki taka isn’t working, how about a change or two to force the issue? Old fashioned basics like working the channels, give your back 4 a breather, make Giroud or Welbeck buy you some time and space? Every other title winner I can remember has that, so why should Arsenal be any different?
Told You So – Or Not
Of course, the Gunners can still win the title, and if they do, this column will be used as an over reaction piece, tweeted and retweeted by Gunners to tell me how wrong I was, how the Wenger philosophy won and that now the blueprint is set in the Premier League for pure football teams to go on an win titles.
Although that would be grossly misleading.
This club needs a new identity. For a long time in Europe, when talking to colleagues, former players and coaches, they all acknowledge the respect Wenger deserves, the size of a beautiful stadium and some great individual talent. Although, they never ever talk of Arsenal in the same way they do Liverpool, Man United, Madrid, Barca etc, which may surprise a few readers, but it’s only common sense.
Arsenal have never made a dent in Europe, and simply aren’t seen in the same way abroad that many Arsenal fans see their own club, so they MUST carve out an identity that demands respect here and abroad, rather than playing the numbers game of being the bridesmaid but rarely the bride.
Simeone The Answer
If you don’t believe me, look at Atletico Madrid, the Arsenal of Spanish football, the third team, behind the other two who’ve dominated home and abroad. In Diego Simeone, a man the club are desperate to keep, they have a manager who wants to buck the trend of Atletico as the “other” team who pop up once a decade to challenge, and turn them, by hard work, graft, character and results into a force that is now widely respected across Europe.
Remember, they don’t have the cash, the stadium revenue of “London” cache of Arsenal, yet they are doing exactly what Arsenal need to do, namely stop being the “nice” other team with no stars on their shirts but with a great domestic history, into a machine that is feared as well as respected.
Arsenal are too nice. Wenger is too nice, the players are too nice and many of the Emirates atmospheres are too nice.
If Arsenal are going to realise their ambition, get Simeone, change the tiki taka to a flexible football system that relies on results, not romance, and get nasty. Otherwise the culture of being the third team will continue for another generation.