There’s no way of dressing up the gravity of Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City this week.
I felt that match was an opportunity for Arsenal to plant a seed of doubt in the heads of Manchester City’s players and make a big psychological gain. But they were unable to do that. Those were three fatal points to concede and I will be surprised if they can recover and win the title race.
I really hope that I’m wrong because during my time in football, Arsenal have been the benchmark of how a football club ought to be run. We need a competitive title race and the beauty of this sport of ours lie in its endless capacity to surprise us.
But what we are witnessing here is a young team, who are not serial winners, playing against a deeply-established team who are. That’s why the significance of gaining a psychological advantage was so much more important to Arsenal than City.
City knew the importance of Wednesday’s game, too, but defeat would not have been fatal to them, because have been here before in the past five years. They know, deep down, what needs to be done to win this league.
There’s no way of dressing up the gravity of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City this week
What we are witnessing here is a young team, who are not serial winners, playing against a deeply-established team who are
The Liverpool dressing room I first walked into, in the winter of 1978, was full of serial winners, which meant there was never a panic, even when we hadn’t won the league on a couple of occasions during my six years there. It was a dressing room where people had been down that road before. They knew what was coming. What to expect. That the roof didn’t cave in if you lost a particular game. We just kept believing in what the staff were telling us.
Of course, we would lose games and drop points when we felt we should not have. Ronnie Moran, Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley didn’t sugar-coat it. Their expression for us at moments like that was: ‘You’re a bunch of f***g big heads.’ That was the worst possible insult they could throw at us, because they were telling us we were not on it, on that particular day.
When Arsenal lost at Everton a few weeks ago, Mikel Arteta went for a very different approach by declaring: ‘I love my players even more.’ This is how the world has changed. We’re living in a time where people are perhaps more precious and we’re concerned about raising a voice to them and telling them off. I accept that.
But those Liverpool teams I played in were run on a very different philosophy – of making us feel that we could always give more. I believe it still stands the test of time, even though it’s the exact opposite to what you see now, with every manager cuddling his players.
You won 3-0 and it should have been 4-0. That was the attitude. We were convinced that Ronnie was only ever happy when he was unhappy. ‘Bugsy,’ we used to call him. ‘For f***’s sake Bugsy, can’t you just give us a break?’ we’d say, after he’d criticized us after winning a game. He would just look at us and shake his head.
It was an extremely hard school. An incredible way of just keeping you on your toes. You always left a stadium on a Saturday thinking ‘f** me, I’ve not done very well today.’ But they also ingrained in us the message that ‘it doesn’t matter who’s in that dressing room across the corridor, if you match them for effort, you’ll win.’ That was our default position.
Arsenal have looked a very nervy bunch for a whole month now – and in part that stems from Mikel Arteta and his antics on the touchline. The wild celebrations. The falling out with rival managers. The conduct towards officials. All of this will have had an impact on his players, both live and when they’ve seen it played back.
Arsenal have looked a very nervy bunch for a whole month now – and in part that stems from Mikel Arteta and his antics on the touchline
Arteta’s antics will have had an impact on his players, both live and when they’ve seen it played back
Arteta has gone overboard because this is all new to him. As a player, he bordered on being son-in-law material – you wouldn’t be unhappy if you walked through the door with your daughter – and I can never remember him aggressively going after anyone. Yet he’s now turning up on a match-day with an angry head on. I don’t believe this is helping the cause.
For a team of serial winners like ours, a setback like Wednesday’s would have made little difference. People writing you off was like a speck of dandruff. But for a team who’ve not been serial winners, I imagine it could play havoc.
There’s very little different that Arteta can do now as he asks his players to bounce right back at Aston Villa on Saturday. If you’re sitting top of the league for the first half of the season, why would you suddenly start doing things differently in training saying different things to them, or asking them to do things differently on match-day? All he can say is: ‘Go and win every game, between now and the end of the season. Then we shut up all the doubting Thomases.’
The reaction has to come from the players. We’ve been hearing all season that Arsenal have a really strong dressing room, full of winners and big personalities. Well, we’re about to find out if that’s true. It’s like coming off a horse and being kicked as you do so: you have to stand straight up and get right back on. It’s time for the big men in that dressing room to stand up. I really do hope Arteta can find some who are capable of that.
We’ve been hearing all season that Arsenal have a really strong dressing room, full of winners and big personalities. Well, we’re about to find out if that’s true.
Why Keegan really is a Special K
Congratulations to Kevin Keegan, whose birthday it was this week. A little reminder here, to those who didn’t know, that he was the superstar of the game in the mid-1970s, and twice European Player of the Year. And he’s as genuine now as he always was.
Our paths cross occasionally, because of a mutual friend who is in Portugal, and I have to say Kevin is one of life’s good guys.
A year or so ago, I had a charity lunch up in Edinburgh and was let down by a figure from football who said he’d appear. I phoned Kevin on the Friday, at less than 48 hours’ notice, and without any hesitation he said: ‘give me a minute’ before calling back almost immediately to say he would step in.
He talked about his life in football for an hour or so in that wonderful way of his. He never fails to remind me of how I once went in late on him for Liverpool against Southampton! But I have great respect for him. Football would be a better place if he was involved in some capacity today.
Football would be a better place if Kevin Keegan was involved in some capacity today
Why not give Harry a go at Leeds?
Whatever end of the table a team is at, their appointment of managers and coaches never fails to surprise me, and sometimes amaze me.
You are looking at Leeds and others down there, considering candidates who’ve not been involved in our game and who will need time to understand its demands.
And by the time they get it – if, indeed, they do get it – it could already be too late. So why not a Harry Redknapp or a Sam Allardyce, even as a short-term fix? You need someone who knows the territory, so there are no surprises. I come back to it: there are no new ways of playing our game.
Ding-Ding, Round Two with Mr Jordan!
I had some good debates with Simon Jordan at talkSPORT before I left the station and now he’s joined me as a fellow columnist here. Perhaps I will have to consider my position again!
Source of data and images: dailymail
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There’s no way of dressing up the gravity of Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City this week. I felt that match was an opportunity for Arsenal to plant a seed of doubt in the heads of Manchester City’s players and make a big psychological gain. But they were unable to do that. Those were three fatal …
The post GRAEME SOUNESS: Arteta has gone overboard with his angry head on… it’s NOT helping Arsenal’s cause first appeared on Elrisala. Sports – Elrisala