Times weren’t always this good. Feelings toward this club and its players weren’t as harmonious and unanimous as they are in current standing. Winning makes everything feel better in sport. It solves all sorts of issues and it papers over just about every problem imaginable.
Conversely, losing exacerbates it all and tends to not only bring things to the surface but make mountains out of molehills… and bigger mountains out of that actual mountains. Or something…
Yesterday, Chelsea fired Graham Potter after just seven months in the job. It comes shortly after the club stated their backing and unequivocal support and patience for Potter, as it often does in this sport.
It’s the second manager Boehly has fired this season. Not even Roman Abramovich fired two managers in a single Premier League season. A continuation of Boehly’s “anything Roman did, I’ll do bigger and more recklessly” behavior (hmm doesn’t quite roll off the tongue).
I have sympathy for Potter. I think he was put in a situation that leads to failure and now is scapegoated because it’s easier to move on from a single manager than owners or a full team of players. I have believed this whole season that Chelsea were attempting to do some of the hardest things a team can do, all at once, ramped up x10000 with blunderbuss spending, and offering no moment for patience.
It’s hard to install a new manager midseason, especially when they are as different in tactical objective as Tuchel versus Potter. It’s hard to get players to learn a new system. It’s hard to build a new team. It’s hard to bed in new players, try fifteen at once. It’s hard to meet expectations, harder to meet those that come with £600m in spending. It’s hard enough to just navigate the onslaught of a Premier League season with domestic cups and Champions League with it. To attempt to do all of these things at once, seemingly impossible.
But Boehly gets his glory. He looks like the hero that has spent hundreds of millions — I contend aimlessly — and now he’s the man that fired the unacceptable manager. Fearless. Cutthroat. A man with standards… or so they’ll say.
And this close to the end of the season, a season that’s such a nothing, it will be easy for Boehly and Chelsea fans to wash their hands of this deed and convince themselves it was right when the next manager has more success. But that next manager will have things that Potter was never given:
- More funding to glue together that initial shitstorm of spending
- A summer to instill actual tactical plans without distractions
- Complete focus from players that now have sights trained on them
I feel nothing but sympathy for a Potter. He’s a manager whose needs for creating success were never really granted and his life was made incredibly difficult by, what appears to be, an absolutely reckless owner that’s yet to figure out the differences between baseball and football ownership.
But that’s enough about Chelsea, I can only hope it continues to set them adrift as they move toward their next costly mistake.
However, the situation creates reflection.
This year, the list of Premier League managers sacked reads like a horribly depressing party, guest list:
- Scott Parker
- Thomas Tuchel
- Bruno Lage
- Steven Gerrard
- Ralph Hasenhuttl
- Frank Lampard
- Jesse Marsch
- Nathan Jones
- Patrick Vieira
- Antonio Conte
- Brendan Rodgers (right, he was also fired yesterday)
- Graham Potter
Within that list, how many managers had their names put forth by crusty Gooners claiming they could do a better job at Arenal and were better managers than Mikel Arteta? I count at least 5.
Instead, Arsenal’s patience has paid off, and I believe those that stood by the club, saw the clear intentions of plan, struggled through the tough months, deserve their ability to crow.
Despite the belief that nothing has been achieved until they achieve silverware — a trite stance on par with the “I can’t be accept reality because I have faux, untenable, contextless standards” — Arsenal have achieved immense progress under Arteta’s tutelage:
- 23 wins in 29 matches (1st)
- 72 points after 29 games (1st)
- 2.48 points per match (1st)
- 70 goals for (2nd)
- 27 goals against (3rd)
- +43 GD (2nd)
- 57.5 xG (2nd)
- 27.8 xGA (3rd)
- +29.7 xGD (2nd)
Incredible goal contribution dispersion:
- Martinelli: 13 goals, 3 assists
- Saka: 12 goals, 10 assists
- Ødegaard: 10 goals, 7 assists
- Jesus: 7 goals, 5 assists
- Xhaka: 5 goals, 5 assists
- Trossard: 1 goal, 7 assists
- Nketiah: 4 goals, 1 assist
- Nelson: 3 goals, 2 assists
- White: 2 goals, 3 assists
- Gabriel: 3 goals
- Partey: 3 goals
- Saliba: 2 goals, 1 assist
- Zincehnko: 1 goal, 2 assists
- Vieira: 1 goal, 2 assists
- Tomiyasu: 1 assist
- Tierney: 1 assist
- Smith Rowe: 1 assist
17 different contributors and only Ramsdale has not tallied a goal or assist from Arsenal’s “regular XI”.
Last season, after 29 matches, Arsenal were sitting in 4th with 51 points, only 43 goals, 31 against, and a +12 GD.
The year before that: 9th place, 42 points, 40 goals, 32 against, and a +8 GD.
The rewards of club patience, slow build, slow installment of culture and practices has netted this team not only a chance at winning a league already — years ahead of schedule — but given them a team built on stars that have yet to reach their prime. A team that should be competing at this level for the next decade, with a manager that is still learning his trade, yet prospected to be one of the world’s best.
I have begun to lose count of the number of teams that have used Arsenal or Arteta’s name to describe their intent of building a project, nor kept count of the number of teams faltering from those statements at early hurdles and sacking managers or making sweeping changes.
Patience is a virtue. Not every club has the convictions to wade through the tough times knowing that their compassion has them point north. Blocking out those around them that aren’t in the daily discussions but casting aspersions from afar — and close — to stick with it and… I’m not going to say it… I’m not… I am… TRUST THEIR PROCESS.
Life is good in Arsenal camp and as nervous as I am about this fairytale season having it’s fairytale ending, I am completely convinced Arsenal will be in this position a few more times in the coming years. I am overjoyed that this club has put themselves in a position where the objection is maintaining, supplementing, and growing from a position of dominance and success.
Quote Arsenal’s project all you want, Chelsea and Tottenham. If you are going to stumble at the first hurdle, you’ll never build to what Arsenal have. So instead, Chelsea fans will scream and shout that they don’t want a project. That they want Big Boehly to go out and buy instant success. Well, the league is getting tougher. A lot tougher. Their first £600 million hasn’t gotten them far. I guess we will see what the next billion can do.
Enjoy the week, Gooners, massive one at the end of it.
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