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Arsene's Regrets

"You wonder why, with the same players, our game could crumble so much. The staff and I wondered whether we had made mistakes, if the training was being done badly" Arsene confesses in an article published in the French journal L`Equipe. "The barometer is confidence and when that seizes up...now we are unbeaten for 18 Premier League matches and that leaves with me with a lot of regrets." he almost explained.

But confidence is a commodity that is lost quickly and recovered only slowly so what actions might he regret not taking that would have had a positive impact? With the benefit of hindsight it is now clear that the atmosphere in the dressing room wasn`t the best in order to create the individual and collective confidence we needed. Part of that has to be the decision to continue with Gallas as captain. For all his qualities of ability and experience Gallas, who to me had seemed a natural and obvious choice, in hindsight clearly doesn`t have the personal skills needed to get everyone to rally around him as a focal point of the team. Though he doesn`t say so maybe Wenger, who should have had less need of hindsight, regrets not changing the captain earlier. Then again had he made the decision in the summer would that have avoided the internal disruption that the circumstances surrounding his later removal gave rise to or just raised a different set of problems?

Wenger identifies the game against Manchester City in which we were soundly beaten 3-0 as being the low point. "The most worrying match was our 3-0 defeat at Manchester City in November. That was one loss too many. We hit the bottom" he says. That game took place in the eye of the Gallas storm as he was omitted from the team. The decision to leave him out may not have been Wenger`s but the defence we put out that day was tantamount to cutting our nose off to spite our face. However it may well have been impossible to play him in the atmosphere of the time. Taking the captaincy decision in the summer wouldn`t have avoided the disruption altogether it would simply have brought it forward to a time when it may have been a little harder to accept than it ultimately became. The decision, when it came, seemed to lance the boil though.

The issue of confidence isn`t only a matter of who leads the team. Most would have some appreciation of the 'new manager syndrome` where a new face can be enough on its own to galvanise a team. That has been some of the thinking behind the lack of summer transfer activity at the club with the idea that a new player would have helped invigorate the team. The discontent at our failure to sign a 'big'enough player in the summer was palpable. The anger expressed by some supporters on many blogs was at times surprisingly intense. The fact that we had signed Nasri and Silvestre wasn`t enough. Many supporters had needed a 'name` in order to have confidence in their team.

If it is a need to be satisfied amongst supporters does the same need exist among the players to in order to have confidence in their squad development? It isn`t Wenger`s style to sign a player for those reasons but others teams do - for what other reason would Milan have signed Ronaldinho for example? Wenger will have regretted not being able to sign Alonso though, given the circumstances at Liverpool, he probably realises it had become mission impossible too. Just as the 'new manager` syndrome quickly wears off Wenger would always try to look further than the short term boost of signing a player for appearances sake but there is no doubt that the January signing of Arshavin gave a boost to supporters and team alike. It was too long coming but few would consider the signing a cosmetic one. It does satisfy a genuine tactical need.

There was a need to rebuild midfield though not so much in the defensive sense that many would have thought at the time. The real shortfall was in the creative side which wasn`t remedied until the arrival of Arshavin. Wenger might well regret not addressing that problem earlier but his greater regret would have been in putting too much store in the medical advice on Rosicky`s prospects of recovery.

Having regrets isn`t the same as making mistakes and though he has inevitably made them, as we all do, it isn`t quite clear from the interview just what he believes the mistakes are and what, if anything, he could have done about them. He does tell us that "I did make a mistake in perhaps underestimating the harmful effects of last season, especially the loss of the title. I asked myself a lot of questions during the close season about the influence losing the title in the last two months might cause."

That suggests a collective loss of confidence and an increase in self-doubt among the players was the problem he failed to address. There isn`t an automatic solution to those sorts of problems and gooners will differ as what the solutions should be but as yet Arsene hasn`t really told us what he thinks he could or should have done.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday April 13 2009

Time: 11:36AM

Your Comments

The mistakes were leaving the midfield as is, when the need for an out and out defensive midfielder should have been pretty obvious and having correctly identified the need for a centre defender in the Sol Campbell mould, he went and brought in Silvestre. The upside is the revelation that the fund is their if he'd wanted to spend and his readiness to self critique his own actions and or inaction is nice to see.
deledudu
The mistakes were leaving the midfield as is, when the need for an out and out defensive midfielder should have been pretty obvious and having correctly identified the need for a centre defender in the Sol Campbell mould, he went and brought in Silvestre. The upside is the revelation that the fund is their if he'd wanted to spend and his readiness to self critique his own actions and or inaction is nice to see.
deledudu
I think one of the reasons Arsene hasn't offered what he could and should have might be because it might involve talking about certain positions or incidents, and in turn, inadvertantly naming names. That wouldn't be constructive at any point in a season, never mind at a time when we have crucial games coming thick and fast. I think the interview was very interesting and about as candid as we'll probably ever see from the secretive Frenchman.
Rocky7
I think one of the reasons Arsene hasn't offered what he could and should have might be because it might involve talking about certain positions or incidents, and in turn, inadvertantly naming names. That wouldn't be constructive at any point in a season, never mind at a time when we have crucial games coming thick and fast. I think the interview was very interesting and about as candid as we'll probably ever see from the secretive Frenchman.
Rocky7
No Arsene isn't the type to spill the beans which leaves us plenty of scope to do that for him. I think Arsene's memoirs would probably be the most fascinating football book of all time but I doubt that he'll ever write it !
Amos.
No Arsene isn't the type to spill the beans which leaves us plenty of scope to do that for him. I think Arsene's memoirs would probably be the most fascinating football book of all time but I doubt that he'll ever write it !
Amos.
Arsene has too much class to go beyond discussing his mistakes in philosophical terms or intangibles, or naming names. To say 'I'm sorry I missed out on Alonso' would not sent a vote of confidence to Denilson, Song, or Diaby or anybody else vying for the privilege of playing beside Cesc. Buying 'galacticos' will never be his style, but paying big money on an established superstar to drastically improve a known weakness is not a bad thing- Ribery would have been nice. I understand and admire his unwillingness to splash silly money just to appease noisy supporters, but the other side of that coin is that without supporters there would be no team. True supporters will stick by the team through thick and thin, but he now has to balance that with appeasing those who fill the club seats and private boxes.
elbondo
Arsene has too much class to go beyond discussing his mistakes in philosophical terms or intangibles, or naming names. To say 'I'm sorry I missed out on Alonso' would not sent a vote of confidence to Denilson, Song, or Diaby or anybody else vying for the privilege of playing beside Cesc. Buying 'galacticos' will never be his style, but paying big money on an established superstar to drastically improve a known weakness is not a bad thing- Ribery would have been nice. I understand and admire his unwillingness to splash silly money just to appease noisy supporters, but the other side of that coin is that without supporters there would be no team. True supporters will stick by the team through thick and thin, but he now has to balance that with appeasing those who fill the club seats and private boxes.
elbondo
El, who is the true fan? I believe every fan wants success for his team, we'll not always be reasonable in our expectations, but fans we remain. I don't buy into the rabidity of sites like le-grove as it lacks balance, but I also don't accept that only Arsene knows. Both set of tendencies are extremes lamentably well represented in our club. But eh, thats why we love it!
deledudu
El, who is the true fan? I believe every fan wants success for his team, we'll not always be reasonable in our expectations, but fans we remain. I don't buy into the rabidity of sites like le-grove as it lacks balance, but I also don't accept that only Arsene knows. Both set of tendencies are extremes lamentably well represented in our club. But eh, thats why we love it!
deledudu
Excellent article Amos. I started off the season optimistic and defended Arsene's desicion not to bring in a lot of experienced players. I did lose faith during the middle of the season especially after the Man City game and questioned his judgement. I am disappointed we didn't challenge for the title but maybe that was not realistic with our financial limitaions compared to the other big 4 clubs. AW was right about the progression of young players, the likes of Denilson, Song, Theo and Gibbs have all improved significantly as players. Our long term future looks a lot brighter as a result. I think we are very lucky to have such a patient manager with a long term vision rather than one who looking for short term glory.
jubair
Excellent article Amos. I started off the season optimistic and defended Arsene's desicion not to bring in a lot of experienced players. I did lose faith during the middle of the season especially after the Man City game and questioned his judgement. I am disappointed we didn't challenge for the title but maybe that was not realistic with our financial limitaions compared to the other big 4 clubs. AW was right about the progression of young players, the likes of Denilson, Song, Theo and Gibbs have all improved significantly as players. Our long term future looks a lot brighter as a result. I think we are very lucky to have such a patient manager with a long term vision rather than one who looking for short term glory.
jubair
deledudu, I agree mate.
Tom14
deledudu, I agree mate.
Tom14
Nicely written, Amos. AW's latest comments at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-this-could-be-my-proudest-season should shed more lights on his inner thoughts
Temasek
Nicely written, Amos. AW's latest comments at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-this-could-be-my-proudest-season should shed more lights on his inner thoughts
Temasek
dededudu, while I don't agree I can understand your point. I don't know your take on Denilson, but for me, he (and of late Song) had done an admirable job on the CM role. Maybe not in the same "stature" as Vieira or as "easily noticeable on the pitch" as Flamini, but I'd say he has been effective for us in that role. This is only possible becos he was given the opportunity to learn and grow. This is unlikely the case if some so called "established" CM was signed.
Temasek
dededudu, while I don't agree I can understand your point. I don't know your take on Denilson, but for me, he (and of late Song) had done an admirable job on the CM role. Maybe not in the same "stature" as Vieira or as "easily noticeable on the pitch" as Flamini, but I'd say he has been effective for us in that role. This is only possible becos he was given the opportunity to learn and grow. This is unlikely the case if some so called "established" CM was signed.
Temasek
http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-this-could-be-my-proudest-season
GoonerLou
http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-this-could-be-my-proudest-season
GoonerLou
There has to be some kind of balance. If everytime we sell an established player we grow a youngster into the team the length of any success we might have will be dependent on the loyalty of the players which as Hleb and Flamini showed is a risky strategy. IMO if Wenger manages to keep this team together for 3/4 years he will win another title but can anyone see Adebayor staying that long? Cesc will leave for spain at some stage Even Toure handed in a transfer request this year. If those players were to leave we would be right back to square 1 in the development and experience balance of the team.
iceman10
There has to be some kind of balance. If everytime we sell an established player we grow a youngster into the team the length of any success we might have will be dependent on the loyalty of the players which as Hleb and Flamini showed is a risky strategy. IMO if Wenger manages to keep this team together for 3/4 years he will win another title but can anyone see Adebayor staying that long? Cesc will leave for spain at some stage Even Toure handed in a transfer request this year. If those players were to leave we would be right back to square 1 in the development and experience balance of the team.
iceman10
Denilson is the 5th best midfielder according to Actim. Barry, Ronaldo, Gerrard and Lampard are tho only midfielders above him.
Tom14
Denilson is the 5th best midfielder according to Actim. Barry, Ronaldo, Gerrard and Lampard are tho only midfielders above him.
Tom14
Iceman, you got it down to a T mate. Whats to stop the greedy pups from departing once they've used Arsenal to make their names? We, the fans are the only constant. We're mostly here for live, the players on the other hand are mostly doing their jobs, there's little or no emotions involved, Wenger is a romantic, and heck, we love him for it, but footballers are not the brightest of men, they are so fickle its unbelievable, Hleb suddenly found London too noisy and forced a move to provincial Barcelona, Flamini remembered his youthful support for the Rossonerri and also left, which one of our current crop will be agitating for a move away this summer? I love my manager's consistent insistence on doing things the right way, but it would be more helpful if he considers the mercurial nature of the modern footballer's loyalty.
deledudu
Iceman, you got it down to a T mate. Whats to stop the greedy pups from departing once they've used Arsenal to make their names? We, the fans are the only constant. We're mostly here for live, the players on the other hand are mostly doing their jobs, there's little or no emotions involved, Wenger is a romantic, and heck, we love him for it, but footballers are not the brightest of men, they are so fickle its unbelievable, Hleb suddenly found London too noisy and forced a move to provincial Barcelona, Flamini remembered his youthful support for the Rossonerri and also left, which one of our current crop will be agitating for a move away this summer? I love my manager's consistent insistence on doing things the right way, but it would be more helpful if he considers the mercurial nature of the modern footballer's loyalty.
deledudu
What has Wenger to gain by worrying about which players are staying or going? Players are transient - many of them anyway. Under present contract law he has only limited control over it. Even so he has for the most part been reasonably successful in keeping those he really wanted to stay - until they have fulfilled their usefulness. The best that he can do is to make sure, as far as possible, that he has someone to step up or in.
Amos.
What has Wenger to gain by worrying about which players are staying or going? Players are transient - many of them anyway. Under present contract law he has only limited control over it. Even so he has for the most part been reasonably successful in keeping those he really wanted to stay - until they have fulfilled their usefulness. The best that he can do is to make sure, as far as possible, that he has someone to step up or in.
Amos.
Its not the players leaving I worry about so much as you say most players are transient. It the time it takes for the players replacing him to grow and adapt. Obviously this to can happen with more established players (See Chelsea, Sheva or United Veron) but on the flipside Arshavin has come in an adapted almost immediately. I guess its more to do with personality.
iceman10
Its not the players leaving I worry about so much as you say most players are transient. It the time it takes for the players replacing him to grow and adapt. Obviously this to can happen with more established players (See Chelsea, Sheva or United Veron) but on the flipside Arshavin has come in an adapted almost immediately. I guess its more to do with personality.
iceman10
The extremes to which the youth policy has been taken was driven by the stadium finance. I think we have passed that phase - for the most part anyway. The average age of the current first team will not get any younger. I am sure that we'll see a more balanced approach in future between developing players and player retention and recruitment. Youth will always figure in any Wenger blueprint but not to quite the same extent - it isn't as necessary as it once was.
Amos.
The extremes to which the youth policy has been taken was driven by the stadium finance. I think we have passed that phase - for the most part anyway. The average age of the current first team will not get any younger. I am sure that we'll see a more balanced approach in future between developing players and player retention and recruitment. Youth will always figure in any Wenger blueprint but not to quite the same extent - it isn't as necessary as it once was.
Amos.
If you want confirmation of how thick, fickle, stupid and easily given to influence footballers are, look at the PFA Player of the Year list. It reads like it was voted for by a bunch of six year olds in the school playground. Morons.
Little Dutch
If you want confirmation of how thick, fickle, stupid and easily given to influence footballers are, look at the PFA Player of the Year list. It reads like it was voted for by a bunch of six year olds in the school playground. Morons.
Little Dutch
Don't think AW will be talking about regrets when we win the CL ,FA Cup and pip the Chavs for 3rd place.
radarman
Don't think AW will be talking about regrets when we win the CL ,FA Cup and pip the Chavs for 3rd place.
radarman
LD - Fickle is the gooners cheering Adepaymemore's (near as well) every touch after coming back from injury when the toad screwed us good and proper in the summer! Fans are as fickle as players and the media almost, not all but a lot.
LondonGooner
LD - Fickle is the gooners cheering Adepaymemore's (near as well) every touch after coming back from injury when the toad screwed us good and proper in the summer! Fans are as fickle as players and the media almost, not all but a lot.
LondonGooner
 

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