Leicester City, Athletico Madrid, Iceland, Wales, Hungary, even Italy …. what do they all have in common?
Their collective determination has driven them to beat teams packed with world class talent – and not just on the odd occasion, but consistently.
What is it about this particular period in football history that has brought about a mini revolution that has seen honest endeavour triumph over cosseted complacence?
The current success of these teams is a breath of fresh air. They are what punk rock was to the over produced posturing music of the early seventies.
The fundamental difference is that teams with this ethos are greater than the sum of their parts and the teams they beat are less. They concentrate on the basics and perform them very well.
Moreover, in most cases the fact that they have a smaller pool of talent means that the team is settled and far fewer changes are made and that can only be good for the understanding between players. Hodgson’s 6 changes for the Slovakia game and Arsenal’s 6 changes in the Champion’s league last season were both failed experiments that should not have been risked.
So the conclusion at the moment from what we are seeing at club and international level is that the team is far more important than the individual talent it comprises.
Of course we want/need gifted players, but let’s look at Aaron Ramsey as a case in hand. He has been magnificent for Wales. He’s outshone the ‘world class Bale’. He’s been a more influential player for his country than his club.
Two reasons. He’s playing in a position that allows the best outlet for his talent, and he’s playing in a team where every other player shares his desire. A team with a manager who has engendered that team spirit and devised a clearly defined strategy and style of play that all the players buy into.
Can that ethos be engendered into the Arsenal team next season?
Arsene has often said that team spirit is good. I don’t think he’s lying, I just think he is referring to the fact that the players are great friends who are relaxed and happy in training. What I want to see is them being very unhappy when we don’t play to our potential. I want to see them perform acts of bravery and desire on the pitch that whip the Emirates crowd into a frenzy of support.
I want to see 11 players press as a team and to instinctively know when to drop back and defend as a unit. Second nature; first nature; everything about the team has to revolve around a single ethos, this is what we are seeing succeed ….. are you getting the message Arsene?