Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Back Room Debate And Ballet Dancing

Good morning Gooners.

The build up to City’s visit tomorrow continues to pick up pace. And the pressure is as much on the Gunners as it is on the Citizens.

Newcastle’s victory over Swansea yesterday means the Magpies are now just two points behind us, having played a game more. Both Tottenham and Chelsea will be favorites to pick up three points from their fixtures today, making it a tight four-way battle for two Champions’ League places.

I think the City game has come at the right time for us. After a poor showing at QPR, a home game against the second placed team in the league is exactly what was required to get the players focused and motivated once again.

Arsene Wenger has spoken about why he feels Manchester United remain favorites. The Arsenal boss believes United’s ability to get goals in the last 15 minutes of games is the difference.

… they know how to deal with the money-time. That means the last 15 minutes in football when it is 0-0. You can’t make a mistake. They have that security at the back. They have won so many titles because they are not nervous.

It’s an honest assessment and one which cannot be argued with. The Reds have been there, done that. While Blackburn played extremely well for 80 minutes in their last game, you just always knew United would crank up the pressure at the end and get a result. It’s something that cannot be preached or taught, it’s accumulated experience of closing out championships year after year. Both Arsenal and Manchester City need to build this winning mentality in the coming seasons, if they are to end their respective title trophy droughts.

One former Arsenal player who knows all about winning titles is Sol Campbell, and he’s written a piece in the Guardian talking about the club and Arsene Wenger in particular.

I feel sure I speak for most ex-Arsenal players of recent years when I say my time at the club was fantastic. It was a period when I grew as a man and was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the finest footballers in the world. Being part of that environment continuously inspired me to maximise my potential.

That motivation, and the success that came from it, was down to the ethos of one man – Arsène Wenger.

Sol also credits Arsene with bringing about a culture of dedication and professionalism by his meticulous and untiring attention to detail. This is another aspect of Arsene’s philosophy that is all too often overlooked. Without doubt, no other Premier League manager works as hard and involves himself so deeply into the running of a football club as Arsene Wenger does.

However, Sol feels Wenger will not be afforded any more time at the club by the fans, unless a trophy is attained next year. And Campbell’s suggestion is that the Frenchman not only needs to freshen the team on the pitch, but also rejuvenate the back-room staff. He suggests that an ex-player of the calibre of Patrick Vieira or Dennis Bergkamp would be the ideal assistant to the manager and will bring a fresh approach to the game.

Sol then goes on to add:

Sadly, I cannot see this happening. Arsène is a single-minded leader who does not like to have anyone around who could threaten his authority, either by challenging his decisions or by being the person that will eventually take his job.

I agree with Yogi’s Warrior’s assertion in today’s ACLF post (arrived by mail as I was writing this!) that all managers by nature are single-minded. At the top level, a manager needs conviction in his own philosophy and has to keep himself immune from differing views at most times.

However, the possibility of a former player assuming a coaching role is certainly an interesting one. While there are no guarantees that great players make good coaches, there are also enough examples of players who have gone on to achieve even greater glory as managers.

In recent years, Arsene has brought back former players on short-term deals to the club. Jens Lehmann, Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell have all been recalled, not only for what they can do on the pitch but for what they bring to the dressing room. In a team lacking the winning mentality previously alluded to in this article, Arsene himself has been well aware of the impact these achievers can have on younger players.

Patrick Vieira or Dennis Bergkamp may not have the coaching credentials at the moment, but their love for the club is undisputed and they have both stated their desire to return to Arsenal one day. Whether that is enough to aid Arsene Wenger as Pat Rice’s replacement is open to debate, but it is surely worth considering.

On a lighter note, a few of Arsenal’s first team squad went ballet-stic in Citroen’s new car ad. Worth a watch here.

Back tomorrow with the Man City preview. Until then, keep calm.

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