Gunner Thoughts

Edu: Out of the shadows and into the foray

Just when you thought 2020 was done throwing curveballs, Edu comes from deep, late in the match to drop an absolute whirlwind of an interview.

Just when you thought 2020 was done throwing curveballs, Edu comes from deep, late in the match to drop an absolute whirlwind of an interview.

Understandably, all eyes are Arteta these day, which makes it interesting that Edu has stepped out of the shadows for an interview. We don’t hear from Arsenal’s Technical Director a lot… or ever, really.

Yet, yesterday, interviews emerged from a range of outlets filled with Edu quotes that one imagines were meant as a source of reassurance and encouragement for Arteta, mixed with an intent to soothe supporters with a “transparent explanation of the state of the club”, but to be frank it wasn’t.

What followed was a mishmash of truth, and quotes that absolutely double down on the fan’s frustrations at the club’s persistence with specific players. Edu made a range of statements from understandable to wrong, to worrisome, to downright oblivious.

As Arteta faces a lot of heart from fans looking for the source of the club’s inadequacy, people have been left wondering ‘where the buck stops’. The squad? Arteta? Edu? Vinai? KSE?

The manager and players are by far the most visible and seemingly have the most effect on how things feel on a daily basis. After all, they are actively involved on the matchdays that are going very, very wrong at the moment. But as supporters start aim many of their sights higher at those who put the team here, you can’t help but feel this interview confirms that Edu, at the very least, is a future problem — if he’s not one already.

First, Edu assures people that Arteta has the club’s full backing, which tells you that Mikel isn’t necessarily going anywhere soon. Sorry for those who are #ArtetaOut, and irate it hasn’t happened like yesterday. That’s not to say it isn’t potentially close though. Votes of confidence often come when things are approaching their worst, and depending on this week’s results, things could be very bad, very fast.

However, the reasoning Edu gives is actually something I, myself, firmly believe is the correct approach.

“I think the club needs stability right now,” says Edu. “We have faced so many changes. It is not about Edu, Mikel, it is about stability. Now is the time to try and be a stable club in the old sense – externally and internally, we need that.

“Since we arrived here we have been changing, changing, changing, now is time to be stable and together at the same time.”

It’s a message that actually rings true for me, and I hope many Arsenal fans are seeking that as well. Things have been completely volatile and tumultuous over the last 12 months. As we reach the 1 year mark of Arteta’s tenure, the last year has been… hectic to say the least.

Arsenal have removed a vast amount of their foundation. They removed Emery, Raul, almost their entire scouting department, multiple board members — even if their role is mostly ceremonial — they have presumably shifted recruitment methodologies, promoted Vinai, given Edu more responsibility, and given Arteta vastly more responsibility. It begs the question, can they even afford to remove Arteta?

With a foundation built on stilts — business men, a Technical Director who has much to prove, and new manager who has an immense amount to prove on the field, much less adding in off-field responsibilities — is it a good idea to remove Mikel and essentially leave the club’s direction in the unchecked, unbalanced hands of Edu? If you sacked Arteta tomorrow, and it took the club 1 month to find as coach like last time, where does that leave Arsenal? In the middle of a January window, with an interim coach, in who knows what place in the Premier League, with Edu making the team’s purchases, unguided by whoever may walk through the doors as the next manager. Grim.

Which brings us back to stability. The club can, and should, want to be stable with their whole heart, but if the people offering ‘stability’ aren’t the right people, it will always feel wobbly. And the way that Arsenal Football Club has gone about creating stability has been incredibly poor. So keep Arteta for now, I’m not sure we can afford to kick him out at the moment, but start building the club back up above him. A Director of Football that comes from football would be a wonderful place to start. Because Arsenal do need stability, it’s just more apparent now than ever before that Edu is probably not the man to install it.

From here, the interview really went down hill and the remarks he makes border on criminal. Im talking 5 foul throws in 12 matches, level of criminal.

“It’s normal and easy to be driven by the results. But for me, the main point is when I see something in which I can see the future, see where we go, the way we’re building things, I’m sure we’re going to be fine in the future.”

Well, Edu, what business are you in? You are in a RESULTS DRIVEN BUSINESS. How many times have you heard that statement this year? Results driven business. I get it, my overall measurement of Arteta this year was not just about results. If there were clear signs of progress with some degree of results, I believe many would consider it an acceptable year. There have not been those results, hence the questions, but lets point this at Edu as ask about his results?

Arsenal struggled to offload the players that they needed to this summer which has left us with a bloated squad and limited funds. We captured one of our major targets in the summer transfer window, while the team is quite evidently in a shambolic state, including holes up and down the lineup. I love our youth prospects, I believe some of them will be very great, but when you are turning to four, five, or six of them 12 matches in and saying, ‘please save our season’ you’re a side that is in immense trouble.

The obliviousness of Edu’s view? That is the part that suggests Arsenal are in trouble if he is Technical Director, and in charge of guiding Arsenal’s next steps.

  • “If you see our squad, to be fair, we have a strong squad. A fit Thomas, if Willian starts to perform like he always performs. If Laca, Auba. If you see our squad, we are strong, but they depend on us.”
  • “Listen, everybody knows Willian. If people say that he’s not a good footballer then maybe they don’t know football because he has always performed at the top, top level. Then he moved. For me, Willian is a question of time to be performing how we know he can. What do you expect? Do you expect it straight away? Boom! Willian can be the best one? But he needs a little bit of time, it’s strange as well to say that but you need time to know the players who you are going to play with.”

    “Sometime you receive the ball in positions, sometimes in other positions, Mikel wants to play forwards, the other one wants to play to the side, there’s a little bit of adaptation. Players need time to understand how to train, how to work with the”

These are just two of the most shocking quotes. They are the quotes that caused me to use the word ‘oblivious’ earlier, and to suggest that this interview will have doubled down on many fans’ anger at the situation.

We have a good squad? We are in 15th. Some of that falls heavy on Mikel, but the fashion in which we have failed to pick up points also suggests we do not actually have a good squad.

Willian is a good footballer? Yes, in his career Willian has been a good footballer, but he is playing horrendously, he is on a horrendous contract, and the tactic of ‘play him till he gets hot’ is costing us week in and week out. This is not a basketball, three-point shot. This is not ‘shoot until you get hot’. This should be take a seat for a bit and reset in a major way, or, better yet, cut ties with him completely, Arsenal, before years two and three of his contract when he somehow offers even less and you are saddled with his fee!

But who would be in charge of getting that done? Edu. And when he reassures the fanbase with this quote, you really start to sweat.

“People might start to ask: what are you going to do in the winter window? Of course we will try to do something but, listen, we have the responsibility to change it. Don’t wait for someone outside to come inside & be a magician because that’s not going to happen”

“If you can sign 20 players, which we’re not going to do, that’s not going to work anyway. So the main thing for me is that we, as a club, have to understand our problem.”

A magician. We are not waiting for a magician. We are looking at YOU to make something happen. Yes, people should realize that Arsenal are not one player away from solving their issues. There isn’t a silver bullet, unless Edu can pull off Messi. In which case, this whole blog is wrong, Edu you god. But he cant. That would be unreasonable to expect.

What he can do is get one, maybe two players, and begin to clean out player sales that need to happen. We can look to mend poorly managed player relationships like Saliba, or the ones denied by player and agent, and we can create a better foundation for the club than just Vinai, Edu, and Arteta doing everything. Put it in the hands of experienced football leadership who can offset the lack of experience in Edu and Arteta. If we aren’t supposed to just judge on match results, then we should be judging on the results of the clubs’ actions, and those results are non-existent or poor.

The quotes go on and on. They will undoubtedly be splashed across the internet and most morning blogs, but it seems clear that Edu will not come out great from this. However, it must be said, the interview was done with confidence, which tells us that regardless of where we stand, it is likely Mikel is staying, Edu is staying, KSE are staying, Willian and veterans will keep playing, and we should adjust our January expectations.

It’s just about everything that most fans didn’t want to hear, but it has reaffirmed my belief that while solving the current season’s issues may lie with Arteta, solving the future issues is in Edu’s court and it doesn’t look promising after this.

Soak it in, let me know your thoughts on it all through social media, and we will look ahead to Southampton on Wednesday. Huge game once against for Arsenal. Arteta openly stated he prefers to play within 72 hours after a loss, so let’s see how they bounce back.

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