Squad Evolution Not Revolution Is Required
A question of what have been surrounds Arsenal this morning. Following Sunday’s capitulation at Stoke, Arsène is once more under scrutiny, criticised around the blogosphere for indecision, inaction and being in situ.
It is exacerbated to an extent by Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘revelation’ that he was offered the Arsenal job back in 1986. The approach by the Board back then was widely known but his assertion that they wanted an answer straight away, rather than waiting until the World Cup campaign, highlights that impatience is not the sole preserve of the Football Association when it comes to appointing managers.
This snippet accentuates the incompetent way that the Board of the day handled managers then. The vacancy only arose because Don Howe caught wind of Terry Venables being approached to take over at the end of the season. Understandably, Howe was unhappy with the situation and resigned.
He was the architect of his own downfall though. A decent footballing side had descended into the mire of long ball football that pervaded the English game at the time. If you did not witness a game of football in England during the early 1980s, count your blessings.
Charles Hughes and another whose name escapes me but heavily influenced Graham Taylor, theorised about the minimum number of passes required to score. As they ran the National coaching courses, Howe and his assistant, John Cartwright, became misguidedly influenced by them. Nobody seemed to question that the dominant Liverpool and Everton teams of that era did not subscribe to this theory.
As it happened, Arsenal’s next choice was George Graham who did not do too badly until he hit the slippery slope. Similarly to Howe in fact, he descended into a mire of long ball football. Next time there’s an aimless punt downfield for Arshavin to battle in the air for…
Would Ferguson have been able to build consistency into the Arsenal psyche? Certainly his teams have the knack of being able to retain titles, something which has eluded Arsenal since the 1930s.
And it is hard to fathom why consistency is so elusive.Well, in fact it isn’t that difficult at all for the same warning signs are there now. Squad evolution. Or rather the lack of it.
Bertie Mee’s double side broke up too soon. George Graham evolved 1989 into 1991 seamlessly but after that? No strength was added and a title never looked like being won again during his tenure. A good cup side emerged in its stead.
As for Arsène, his teams have threatened and challenged until now. When the title slipped three seasons ago, it seemed that some judicious activity in the transfer market might make that step. It did not happen, this season seemed to suggest that the two backward steps had been taken and a giant leap forward had been made to win the Premier League title.
It did not happen. The squad does not need the wholesale surgery that is being suggested nor will that happen. The squad will evolve and some will move on. It is the nature of the beast. Crucially, there needs to be as much emphasis on changing the mentality. For whatever reason, Arsène’s recent signings have not brought the toughness that was required in February / March when the cup competitions fell by the wayside.
In terms of talent and ability, this squad is title winning. Mentally it is not. That will be Arsène’s toughest job this summer.
Posted on May 11, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 298 Comments.