Running to the start line
I’ve never seen Arsenal fans so unified in agreement.
A decent number were thrilled before Arteta’s first conference.
A larger number were cautiously optimistic, unsure or upset.
After Mikel Arteta’s first press conference, it seemed that everyone and I mean everyone was ‘beyond excited.’
That was the phrase I kept hearing.
I was beyond excited beforehand and then whatever adjective is two levels higher, afterwards.
I’d go as far to say that it was and has been the most excited I’ve ever been with a coaching appointment.
I was too oblivious to Terry Neill, was confused over George Graham and Arsene Wenger’s arrival, underwhelmed by Bruce Ricoh and happy for Unai Emery showing up but disappointed that we didn’t get Arteta first time around.
A few days ago I was thinking about what is likely to happen when the ‘Arteta era’ begins.
The emotion that I feel I am trying to balance. I am trying to balance it because I want to protect myself from overhyping and I wanted others to consider this…..
I believe that we will see obvious improvement starting on Thursday.
Match the ‘manager bounce’ with the defensive improvement of Goodison and chuck in quicker and more progressive passing based on the improved body shape from the training videos. You may want to cautiously add in ‘overloading and switching’ and whatever else happened today at Colney.
Here is the thing though.
I’m not sure that we need to be excited to the point that we forget that Mikel Arteta firstly has to get us to the start line.
Arsenal have been so, so poor the last 2 months that Arteta’s choice to work on what are really very fundamental (but needed) aspects of football may well see us past Bournemouth, but the start line is just neutral.
Chelsea and others are steps ahead of neutral. They don’t have issues with body shape. They’ve moved on to ‘consistent tempo,’ ‘offensive combinations’ and ‘third and fourth man runs.’
I say all this as I feel a strange need to protect Mikel Arteta from the expectation that his speaking talent has produced.
If Bournemouth goes well but Chelsea and Utd are a struggle, let’s be fair to Arteta and not dumb down our excitement as I think our ‘beyond excited’ state is truly based on a long term view of how we think he will do over his tenure.
We are all still high so I wanted to finish on a high….
The other way this could go in the short term is very well. Why is that?
It’s what happens when a coach finds a common denominator.
Teach a team how to scan and receive side on, and all of a sudden a big long list of improvements show up.
2) Forward passes rather than the ‘up and straight back’ passing that has become the most pointless trend in modern football, as teams move defenders don’t play behind the pressure.
3) Ability to move the ball quicker.
5) Quicker transitions.
6) More goal scoring chances as teams have less time to set up.
7)…. and because of all this, a greater chance of goals!
I’ve just seen this before and this is equally a very likely possibility.
Want your team to enjoy playing again?…..teach them to communicate and you’d see how it can be the ‘common denominator.’ You’d be surprised what that does.
Want your team to keep possession?…. focus on their first touch and where it goes.
I’m still beyond ‘beyond excited!’
I still don’t know what the adjective is to describe this.
I just wanted to be fair to Arteta in the hope that anybody reading this will share it, so others will understand that he is really running us to the start line.
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.