One life, one game, one team, one invincibles

One life, one game, one team, one Invincibles (So far)

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Clive P 2012 Thoughts

At this time of year you cannot help but both reflect and look forward. I'm going to do highlights & lowlights review and then my 2013 hopes for Arsenal.

2012 Highlights
1 Spurs at Home (Feb) 5-2
Easy one yes easy in hindsight but I urge you now to dig deep in your memory banks and remember how we all felt before the game. It felt like you were going to your own funeral. Spurs were flying. Well balanced. Adebeyor primed, Bale seemingly getting taller, faster, stronger by the week. We had little form or confidence.
Two down very quickly. Bale diving to get a penalty but then Sagna scores and something was stirred in this club top to bottom. Players like Rosicky, Yossi and Theo Walcott let go of the handbrake. The stands just exploded defiantly. We just refused to lose.
It was a moment that for me reminded us why we support this club. Inconsistent yes, maddeningly frustrating - yes.

But when we get it right it’s as good as anything out there.

2. Liverpool Away - Return of Diaby
When we go through  the dark moments of which there are many in this over reactionary  world we live in - its games like this that  remind me we have a team developing, a good team that when it has the right balance is sensational.

That happened v Liverpool. Team had two young fullbacks in Jenkinson and Gibbs - they were progressive and forced the play with Podolski and Cazorla prominent. But we had a MOM performance from Abou Diaby.

A player who is a personal favourite I admit – A player whose profile any Wenger team needs IMO. Diaby represents the nearly factor of Arsenal - so nearly a world class player in fact in my opinion he is our best player but no use being brilliant if you play 5 games a season.  I have spoken to players in the club and they all say he is  the ’one’ – Has Wenger gambled too much on him. Many say yes. More are coming round to what he offers.
A rare sighting of Abou Diaby
He offers such presence and completely changes how the opposition plays against us.
He repeated the trick v City away where again we dominated the champions in all facets. Wenger gambled on him and it’s not been rewarded through no fault of the player may I add but we need that profile of player in our midfield if we are to challenge the very top table of European Football. You could argue that since he limped off v CFC we have all doubted our ability to win a trophy. It shows that type of player is vital to the Wenger Method.

It's no surprise to me that while we search for that ingredient - that mentality that culture. Maybe we just need Vieira or a Diaby
3. Reading v Arsenal - (7-5)
I chose this game for many reasons - At the time I was concerned about depth of squad.
The bench to me felt weak and I was questioning the direction of the squad building. I still do. It’s the most important thing in a club - the players. Look at City - They win the league but add the wrong players. Rodwell, Sinclair and Garcia at a cost of £40m.
Fergie adds RVP at a cost of £24m – let’s see how we go shall we.
Arsenal too has wasted money with bad choices but every now and again you see the genius of Wenger. A few players old and new really used this game as a launch pad.
Giroud - Came on and after previously been fragile in confidence he exploded on to the pitch and really showed for the first time the authority needed to lead the line at Arsenal.

Walcott - Spurned, angry a player in my opinion who is not naturally assertive enough to be consistent. Happy on the fringes happy supporting bigger players - all of a sudden an angry man not prepared to be treated like the kid on the graduate scheme in the office.
Since that day I think a new Theo was born.
You might not even know his name is Thomas
Eisfeld - Came on late but what an entrance. Mobility poise pace sharp decision making and just a player to dream of. When Wenger bought him people laughed in Germany. We all knew of Reus and Gotze but no one looked at Eisfeld and no one thought a top ten club in Europe would take an injury prone skinny kid from the Dortmund U21 side.
Wenger did and was prepared to wait. Prepared to coach and build.
Arsene I do criticize you - But you are a genius at times.

2012 Lowlights
1. AC Milan (4-0)

Arsenal will always lose games. Each one hurts far too much for a man of my maturity and age.
Why does it get worse? I should know a lot better. For me it's not the losing but 'HOW' we lose. The damage caused by a pitiful approach to a huge game. It's as though we approach games like this in a small club way.

It’s these games I'm sure that made RVP think - Can I trust my career with this club.
I'm convinced he did not want to go; he wanted Arsenal to wake up to their potential. Approached it in the wrong way yes but as much as I love Henry should we be dependent on a 35 year old forward for such moments and if we are to believe the rumours pay him more than RVP for the privilege of his presence.

Must stop it's too upsetting.

2. MUFC Away (2-1)
Ok not 8-2 but for me worse. Again our approach to the game and the 'How' we lose prevalent in my thoughts. So meek so accepting.
Our old Captain almost embarrassed to look us in the eye. Smiling, smirking back slapping - like that kid that has moved to a better house and he knew it.
This is our Arsenal - we don't do lack of stature very well. We are a club built on values, class, approach, competing not always succeeding but you can always see your team and recognize why it's your team.

I was more proud when we lost 8-2. We fought that day. The fans fought by singing non-stop in the second half. No singing this time. We realized we had really dropped our standards. It’s no longer a big game for them - this has to change. I find it quite shameful to be honest.
Talking of shame....
3. Bradford -Embarrassed
Just had this feeling of shame and embarrassment - We looked so inept. As a fan you always live irrationally and after Reading I just felt maybe for once our name was on this Cup.
It felt like more than a defeat. I kept thinking how far can we fall? Dramatic maybe but we all watched CFC win the CL and thought how lucky they were in so many respects. They were just about to play in the World Club Championship and we are going out full strength v Bradford of League 2.
You always look for that rock bottom.

Arsenal will always give you highs and lows and recently those have been more acute or is it me - is the twitter world we navigate searching for like-minded views and opinions then make us lurch in our reactions to both high and low points - I have convinced myself though this is the bottom and now we look forward.

Hope for 2013
* Bring back Our Arsenal People

I am one of those that feel we have lost our Arsenal a little but feel it's coming back. Ok I'm not one of the 'bring our Arsenal' back brigade but I do think we do not maximize our people resources.
What separates us - Arsene has created an era of progression and success. His greatest legacy is playing the 'Arsenal Way' Say that anywhere in the world and people know what that means.
That is an identity, dare I say it that is a brand to build on.
I hear that when Wenger took over we had 80 full time employees but now we have 500. But I look at the stature of men Arsene has given us - Bergkamp, Keown, Dixon, Vieira, Seaman - Is there no role for such Arsenal men?
Not being funny: but are you telling me Gerry Peyton know more about goalkeeping than Dave Seaman?
Not being funny: but if we had Vieira as a club ambassador it may just attract some players?

I look at Ajax - a club that has moved grounds, plays in a league where funds are not high so the onus on coaching and producing your own dictates how you survive. Their recent model of bring back coaches to develop a depth of identity in the club I really like. De Boar, Bergkamp, Kluivert all there helping - creating that link of generations.
Martin and the mighty Dennis
That’s continuity. Fergie does it. Any trip to MUFC academy and it’s littered with old players drilling home the MUFC culture.
I have been to Colney and there are some great staff who love Arsenal but we need to think about these players who want to help and ensure great Arsenal men like Bob Wilson are not left to talk about Arsenal from a distance on TalkSport.
I have watched training and understand the sense of ‘family’ that is so strong behind closed doors. I have seen the reverence at which Wenger is held. The culture of elite sport is everywhere. Attention to detail on hygiene, game preparation the lot. Imagine if we added more Arsenal people of note to this environment and extended it.

MUFC have Brian Robson, Bobby Charlton and many more. Real people ensuring fans recognize their club. I am massively concerned that there is one person at Arsenal - Genius yes but just one person - Arsene Wenger.
I want more Arsenal people around the club that help clarify our strategy. Provide a more recent Arsenal face to the written and radio press. Control our message – drive our culture - Help offer transparency from the top and supporting the great man.

They are out there desperate to help - You could take out Chamakh's wages and pay for them all such is the disparity between support staff and players wages.
Clarity of goals a clear strategy - the ability to know when to renew your people. Any top organization in any industry recognizes their number one asset is there people and how you invest in them is key to sustained performance.
A new English based Arsenal is appearing. A new core - Interesting times ahead.

Clive P.