It’s time for the excuses to stop and some of our fans need to finally accept that Arteta’s poor management has been part of the problem so far this campaign.
I sat there for the duration of our first leg encounter with Villarreal believing that we have the players to beat them but sadly, at no stage did it look like we had the manager to do so.
Having no fans inside stadiums has been frequently used as a excuse for some of our poor results this season but supporters not being in attendance has no impact on poor team selections, substitutions and in game management.
Another one we often hear, is Mikel’s lack of managerial experience, yet if fans who have had no involvement in professional football can see the basic errors he’s making, why can’t someone who has been professionally involved in the sport for two decades. And what use are Arteta’s coaching staff if they don’t offer him any worthwhile guidance. It was predictable that Ceballos would be sent off, most fans said he should be substituted before he was, yet the one man who matters, ignored the warning signs.
Had his false nine experiment paid off, our manager would have been seen as a genius but unfortunately, it didn’t. Taking a gamble in our biggest game of the season to date, is always likely to be greeted with anger and frustration when it doesn’t work but what disappointed me the most, wasn’t that Arteta tried something new, it was his lack of nous to quickly recognise his plan wasn’t working and change it.
Managers can influence games and ironically, it was our former manager Unai Emery who played a significant role in us remaining in the tie ahead of the second leg. By replacing Alcacer with Coquelin, Unai helped relieve some of the pressure we were inviting on to ourselves because of our tactical set up.
Rather than Arteta conjuring up any inspiration from the sidelines, we were largely helped by the injury to Foyth, who had been causing us problems and bizarrely, Ceballos’ red card too. The team seemed to improve collectively following Dani’s dismissal and his lack of pace, where he often looks like he’s walking through treacle, wasn’t missed.
We are told that Mikel’s plan is obvious to anyone who understands football. The man must be a genius because he disguises it so well that very few can actually see it. Many want to believe in the idyllic scenario about Arteta being Pep MK2 but unfortunately, the reality is not so appealing.
Despite my current lack of faith in Mikel, in truth I’m struggling to see any evidence that he’s a good manager lately and consider his leadership to have been disappointing nearly all season, I still believe we can advance to the final. However, I won’t be putting any money on it for obvious reasons.
Our away goal could and should prove to be crucial because I’m of the opinion that our tactics and poor defending made Villarreal look a better team than they actually are, particularly during the first half. If Arteta gets his team selection and tactics right, then I certainly believe we are capable of beating them by a sufficient margin to progress.
If we somehow win the Europa League, it’s true that Champions League qualification will mean that Mikel has done what was asked of him this campaign. You could say that by winning a trophy, he would have exceeded expectations. Whatever happens though, I think it’s fair to say that we will need to see a massive improvement in his management if he’s to remain in charge next season.
Put simply, we won’t get away with delivering the performances we’ve been getting away with in the Europa League, when we face a better standard of opposition in Europe’s premier competition. Neither will Arteta have such an easy ride when supporters, hopefully, return to stadiums for games.
Some fans appear happy to give Mikel a free pass this season, I’m not one of them. Every supporter judges the players based on their performances so why shouldn’t the manager be judged on his? He will rightly be praised if he’s successful so by the same token, it’s fair to criticise him when he’s not.
The ones who say it’s not the managers fault and that the players aren’t good enough, will be the the same ones who will laud Mikel as a genius if we win the Europa League. You can’t have it both ways and the manager is either an influence or he’s not. I’d say we’ve been let down by both at times during this campaign.
Some Arsenal fans have a strange mentality about success though. I saw a poll on social media recently where many voted that they’d rather not win the Europa League and finish below that lot from down the road if it meant Kroenke sold the club, than win it, finish above the enemy and for him to remain our owner. Not wanting success because they want us to be successful, go figure.
As an Arsenal fan, unless us winning a game has a direct impact that would result in our aforementioned rivals winning a trophy, not that they can remember what one is, I will always want us to win every game we play. I also want to feel like we are winning games because of Arteta and not in spite of him….
Passionate Gooner born in 1984. I often get called negative but personally, I prefer the term honest and honesty is something that I pride myself on. I joined the Gunners Town team after penning several ‘Dear Arsene Wenger’ letters on my Facebook profile, several years ago, and sharing them in Arsenal supporter groups. These were met with praise and the encouragement to start writing my own blog, from fellow Arsenal supporters, who felt my words summed up their own feelings perfectly. So here I am…..