Patience is a virtue, supposedly.
If so, it is not a virtue that has been much in evidence among the Arsenal faithful this season.
A significant proportion of the fan base has lost faith in Mikel Arteta as the man to lead us back to the heady heights of Champions League qualification and contending for the Premier League title.
And that’s a bit strange, because many of these were the same fans who were falling over themselves to talk (and write) about needing to “have patience” and “give it some time” when Arteta was first appointed.
Everyone recognised we were in a bit of a hole after experiencing humiliation in the Europa League final under Unai Emery and a subsequent collapse in form in the first half of the following season, so when Arteta became the youngest head coach in the EPL people seemed to take a philosophical approach to what was expected of him.
I saw many columns and comments along the lines of “we must accept there will be ups and downs along the way; it won’t all come right overnight; he’s a young manager who’ll have to learn on the job so let’s cut him some slack.”
There was not much cutting-of-slack as we tumbled tamely out of the Europa League semis and stumbled to an eighth place finish in the EPL, failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Perhaps Arteta is a victim of his own success.
By unexpectedly winning the FA Cup in his first half season in charge at Arsenal he may have convinced us that he really was the messiah and that good things would inevitably follow.
In fact what followed – in the first half of the season that has just finished – was very NOT good. At times it was as palatable as a bowl of vomit with a dandruff garnish.
It was obvious that Arteta was making mistakes (persisting with the abysmal Willian; tinkering with formations; failing to tackle a culture of inattentiveness and mistake-making). There was genuine cause to doubt whether he was the man for the job.
I suspect that patience first began to run out during that terrible losing run up to Christmas, in which we played 10, lost 7, drew 2 and won only 1 – taking 5 points from a possible 30. There was talk of relegation in the air and it did not seem particularly fanciful.
There were rumours Arteta was facing the boot and plenty of fans seemed happy (or at least unbothered) by the prospect.
But shouldn’t that have been exactly the time to remember what we had said when Arteta was appointed? How we assured ourselves at the start of his reign that there would be downs as well as ups?
Fortunately there was a genuine up side to come immediately after Christmas. From Boxing Day onwards we became more consistent, harder to beat and created more chances. Our form in the final 22 games of the season put us third in the EPL behind Manchester City and Manchester United across that period.
And yes, I know that it’s the league table across 38 games that counts, not across 22 games; but recency is important too.
If our form in the first half of the season had put us third and we then tailed off to eighth in the second half of the season, there would be serious grounds for concern because our trajectory would have been negative. This is what happened during the Unai Emery period: we started well under the Spaniard and got steadily worse.
But under Arteta the trajectory is positive. The recent form has been good. Not perfect by any means and certainly not attractive enough at times. But again, how many of us said when Arteta arrived “his first job is to shore up the defence and make us hard to score against.”? (Do you remember those games under Emery when even low ranking teams were clocking up 20-plus attempts on goal against us?).
Arteta has achieved that task – in fact you could say he has overachieved when you consider that, even including that terrible pre-Christmas run, our defence let in fewer goals over the season than any teams apart from Man City and Chelsea.
He also clearly identified some of the off-field problems at the club, leading to the ousting of Mustafi, Ozil, Sokratis, Kolasinac and Guendouzi. By all accounts London Colney has been a much happier and more united place since January.
To this writer’s mind, Arteta is doing exactly what we thought he would do when we hired him: have ups and downs; make mistakes; correct mistakes; but gradually put us on an upward path.
It may not feel like that given that we face the rarity of a season without European football, but we are progressing and Arteta deserves our continued patience.
You could reasonably suggest I am being too kind to him and that it was perfectly legitimate for people’s patience to run out at Christmas. There is no hard and fast rule for how long a “grace period” for a new manager should last, but I believe we – and Arteta – are still in it.
Mind you, next season – without the distraction of European games – if we are not mounting a serious challenge to be in the top four by Christmas then even my patience will finally be reaching the end of the road.
Lampard was sacked when he was above Arteta in the league.Chelsea managers are under pressure from day one there is no give the manager time.And that is why Chelsea are successful.Arteta has had it too easy. The decisions to sell Martinez to loan out Saliba to give Luiz and Ceballos year extentions,to buy Willian and to freeze Martinelli out were all wrong
He has this season to sort things out. Make a mess of it and he will be on his way. With the distraction of Europe out of the way he has no excuses.
He needs to be more positive, particularly at home. No sitting back against teams that refuse to cross the half way line.
Top 4 will be hard, but there are glimmers of light: Liverpool seem to have peaked, although VVD is set to return; Solskjaer can only play counter attack; Tuchel will be at the mercy of the Chelsea players; Rogers bottles the league.
I have renewed my season ticket so I really hope to be able to be back in the ground next season.
Yours “armchair specialist”
That’s a fair point but you have to include into the mix the fact that Chelsea are happy to spend, spend and spend some more to get success, whereas our billionaire owner refuses to put his hand in his pocket.
Arsenal need to spend money and please let arsenal sack artete cos have not seen a coach like artete 38 match he did not have first Eleven in a team that is very bad of him and while is he benching martinelli and using willian,willian that we know was then in Chelsea and we have Cedric is trying for us as left back while is he using xhaka please let sack him see Chelsea now 2 champion leg we are still trying to fight for top 4 every season
I am happy to back Arteta-Edu until X-Mas. If we are in all domestic Cups and in the top 4 by then, then finish the season with them. If we are out of the Cups and nowhere close to Top 4, then let us just sack them. I am adding Edu to the mix because he is part of the “rebuild business”.
Being out of Europe, Arteta is of course under pressure to deliver Top 4 and a very good run in Cups.
He says that he will be backed in the transfer market by the owners so let us see how the team shapes up during the summer…and how the team plays until X-Mas…It is the deadline for Arteta-Edu to deliver. I think they are aware of it.
For the record –
I wanted Arsene to resign on his own terms and not be pushed out by fan revolt. I am still disgusted by what happened. So whilst Manure have Ferguson reguraly returning to watch games, Arsene stays away which is a great shame.
I wanted Rafa to replace him but we got Unai. I thought that was a good choice but he just seemed to not be able to manage the team so was pleased when he left.
I wanted Rafa to replace Unai but we got Arteta which I was completely against. But winning 2 trophies and his form since Dec has earned my respect. He will become a very good coach but most likely at another club in about 10yrs when he has more experience etc. But he has my patience and I will see where we are come year end before passing judgement. In the meantime he has my full support.
Nonetheless, I probably wouldnt want me him on my Futsal team at the moment alongside Xhaka and Ozil. Just not a good fit in the team.
Don u sold me as u mentioned selling emi, stupidEST move he ever made
Pete with no games last year did dey charge for the season ticket
Hi VP – I hope you are taking Pepe in your futsal team
This tickled me!!
Thoroughly agree with you analysis and patience. I said at the start Mikel would need 3/4 transfer windows to get rid of dead wood from both end of Wenger era and Emery’s time( including it would seem those working “against the Club’s interests) and bed in the youth. He can have next season for me provided there is progression, evidence of future possible success. I would expect top four by end of season ( unless we are banned from all Europe), in which case hardly matters.
Whatever happens dont want ever to be a Chelski or Totteringham or Watford or Everton or….We are The Arsenal and are better than that!
I think the new season is going to present challenges and opportunities to Arteta in maximising the potential of the squad he assembles
If Arteta can instill and maintain the necessary discipline within the squad with a couple of quality signings I think(nearly) all of the players have the necessary qualities to to match any of the teams in the division
Back line have all had increasingly encouraging positive performances (actually being comfortable with playing out from defender with the added bonus of the surprise long ball into the channel or behind the opponent
Midfield is going to be interesting with quality personnel already in the squad and with the addition of quality from internal or external sources hope springs eternal
Forwards Once again new for old youth over experience will be a blend to nurture. Importantly a capacity for hard work allied to skills to upset and outsmart is going to be an important part of any forwards arsenal
All in all whilst disappointed by our lack of achievement I believe that was to do with inconsistencies of the players new and old and will be a distant memory from match day 1
The Club didn’t charge for last season, but they did hold on to £200, which gave entry to the ballot games (no luck for me). I did get to the Vienna game in December, but that was first come first served.
For this season add on £600, so £800 in total for one of the cheapest seats in the stadium. The price has reduced over past seasons, but that reflects less games (just 2 cup vouchers over 7 in previous seasons). So 21 games.
We’ll see what happens…
Very good Post indeed, Rocky.
It would be fair to give anyone a chance when they take on a new job.
But then there’s football.
Some wealthy clubs are quick to sack failing managers, and that is ruthless and often affective — but as you pointed out, those clubs have either already spent big money on top players, and will spend big again with a new manager on the grounds because they had everything to lose with the aforesaid failing manager — but the top of the table will a new top manager,
Fairness? Not on your nellie.
Was 800 the usual price for a season tickets
Fair and reasonable assessment Rocky.
However, if Conte goes to spuds, my patience will have grown even shorter.
If AFC are a mess by x-mas, Mikel should be at the tail end of the crew heading to the exits with their belongings in tow.
Why is that conte might not even do good at spurs and he reminds me of mouriinho a lot a coach who has to spend money to get success which doesn’t always work especially at spurs
ways RC benz starting over Giroud
Fred, £811 for the cheapest season tickets as far as I know and for 21 games as mentioned above.
An excellent blog.
If spuds sell kane to $h*tTy, they will have a lot of dough to buy new shiny toys.
But doubt dey will spend it as day rarely do, last I heard dey doing a swap with Jesus so
What the last good players spurs as bought probably son
Well done Saka – gets his first goal for England.
Yea congrats saka
Kane like he don’t want to give saka the ball
Well said Rocky and agree with most of it. Here is my take on Arteta,Arsenal and our future development:
1) We have some of the best youth talent in the EPL who have yet to start regularly for AFC,
2) Arteta knows this and will begin using them next season (actually expect to see them alot in our pre-season,
3) He knows what we need to bolster our team and has a great eye for the good buy. Don’t be surprised to see some amazing deals occur over the summer,
4) He will try and keep Odegaard and Ryan, both of whom have shown real promise,
5) Expect to see Saka alot, Tierney and Partey and Xhaka together, more of El-Neny, Leno and if Willock returns, more of him as well,
6) Pepe is hot and starting to heat up even more. Willian is on his way out but Lacazette and Aubemayang will remain and have better service from the aforementioned youth.
Arteta has learnt from the best of the best and has an attiutude that is patient, tolerant, forward-looking, with excellent judgement and even better support from the Board. I am optimistic and realistic for 2021-2022!
All those revolting Arsenal “supporters” saying, if Conte goes to Totteringham, Spurs will be best team in North London for next 20 years, should get a lifetime ban from anything to do with the Home of Football and the most famous Club in the World. A curse on their house!
Agree with much of your thoughts.
The appointment of Knapper in charge of managing loan moves in 2019 is bearing fruit. Apart from Smith -Rowe, much praise for Ballard, McGuinness and Medley in recent .months from their loan Clubs. The future’s bright.
What do AAers think of Arsenal giving permission for Gabriel and Martinelli to play in Olympics for Brazil thus potentially missing start of season? Another potential opening for Saliba, our new VVD ( or Varane, if you are RC)!!