Manchester United vs Arsenal: A tactical, positional and psychological analysis
Written by Hunter on August 30, 2011 19:45
After witnessing the worst showing by an Arsenal side in my lifetime I was a bit perplexed as to what exactly I should choose to write about for this match. On the pitch, the team didn’t seem that they could be bothered to put in a real shift which makes it extremely difficult to isolate one single area. That got me thinking about the club as a whole, and that is where we will start today.
Let’s look closely at the mentality of the players, the manager and the board. The mental state of each tells us more about the upcoming season than the technical ability of any single player, or of the tactical ability of the manager. Of course from the outside this can be a bit difficult but there are many clues we can use to give us the information we are looking for.
In the boardroom we have become a bit of a shadowy mystery since “Silent Stan” has taken over. When David Dein was helping run the management side of things I always felt I knew that he was in it to win. It felt that he would do anything to make the club better and he showed it time and again with his help in the transfer market and by ultimately being the one who brought us Arsene himself.
Since Dein has been gone there is no one on the board who puts off that aura. It seems from the outside that it’s more about bringing in a profit and nothing else. Because Kroenke has never come out and made a statement of his intentions, we don’t get an exact picture of what he thinks the future of the club should look like. What we do have however, are statements from ex and current board members (David Dein being one of them) that gives us a sense that it’s not as much about winning as the supporters might hope it would be.
Interestingly, this weekend, former board member Lady Bracewell-Smith tweeted “Not good for #Arsenal and only 3 days left before the transfer window close.” And previously she stated that there was a power struggle in the boardroom and she was caught in the crossfire. With no direction from the top it seems the club are like a ship with no rudder.
But, not only do we have no direction, we have no cutting edge in anything we do. Seeing this sort of indecisiveness come from the top only makes the players edgy and the fans angry. At this point I don’t think we can say our board is strong enough to help us compete at the top level and it shows in almost everything we do as a club. When you won’t even bother to fight for a transfer target who can help the club, it’s a sign to the players and to the supporters that when the going gets tough, the club will fold up and go elsewhere instead of fight to become better.
No manager in recent history has divided opinion quite like Arsene Wenger. At the moment we have a number of supporters who say we need to start over with a new manager. On the other hand we have another group who say we need to keep the faith and allow him time to rebuild the squad into a title challenging side again. Arsene himself said this weekend after the match that, “The defeat at Manchester United was under special circumstances given the amount of players we had out. But we have played just three games.
I think you should give me more time to say I have completely done it wrong.” I wholeheartedly disagree. Based on what we have seen over the last 15 games I would say indeed he has got it wrong but I don’t necessarily think it’s time for him to go if he can make wholesale changes immediately.
It appears from the outside that he has moved the goalposts a bit from the aspirations of winning the title to claiming that “top four is success” which is something that I for one cannot agree with. If you want to get the best out of a person in any line of work you need to help them strive to be the best they can possibly be. As a young man I was always told that second best is not good enough and that I should always strive to reach the very top of whatever I chose to do.
Obviously I had to understand that things don’t always go the way I may like, but that we can always strive to be the absolute best. When our manager decided that we could be successful without being a winning side, we again lost more of our competitive edge. How will you teach a young player that you need to always give your all to be on top if you are then saying that 4th place is a big success?
You have immediately removed any ability you have to motivate a player to be anything bigger and better because they know as a manager you are not striving to be number one. If the manager can turn this mentality around we may once again be a success on the pitch. Until then, I can’t see how he will motivate this young side on to bigger and better things or even into the top 4 of the premiership. This single thing is where I think his future rests.
Well, where to start? With a manager who doesn’t demand success and a board who seems to lack direction, is it any wonder the product on the pitch suffers? In the off season Arsenal lost 2 of the best players not only in the premier league but in all of Europe and as yet has failed to replace them. In the 3 games the side have played this season the team has been littered with players who have very little or no experience and the side has indeed suffered.
It’s not only down to ability that the results have been below par, but also because of the poor mentality running throughout the side. The young players have not had to work to earn the right to play in the side and therefore take for granted the fact that they should ever have to work hard to achieve success.
If we are expecting a 19 year old championship player to come in and do a job on the pitch it would be of great benefit for us to ensure that the player knows what is expected of him and that he will not be handed a spot without earning it. Unfortunately, that is not where we currently stand. The players have been handed a spot in the side without ever having earned it and therefore have no concept of working hard to win and become the best. Why should they?
They have just been handed a spot in one of the top footballing sides in Europe and they hardly had to do anything to achieve this. To compound this they see a manger who will stick with a player no matter who poorly he may be playing season after season so there is no motivation to improve.
The lack of competition in the side has made our young players think they have a right to a spot in the side without actually earning it and also to results on the pitch. When was the last time we heard the manager state that in order for a player to get a chance he had to earn it? Instead we hear him saying he will not buy others because this will stop the young players from developing. This might come as a shock to some but if you are good enough you will make a spot for yourself no matter who is brought in.
The players need to be treated much more like men and much less like children. All of this has contributed the lack of fight we have seen in the start to the season and this is another place where it is not only make or break for the manager but also for the players.
Recently the manager claimed, “I believe that the real destiny of this team is now. It demands the strength of character that champions have. I believe we are perfectly good enough.” Is a young player to think that because it is his “destiny” to win the league that he no longer needs to work hard to achieve results? From the top of the management team to the last player assigned a first team spot, the entire psychology of the club needs a major reshuffle.
Arsenal need to move back to the old Arsenal way where winning was a way of life and anything else is simply not good enough. Until then I fear we will see the same results over and over. If this is the case, we must then consider the future of our manager and every player in the squad.