Brady WHL 1978

Brady WHL 1978

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Heading for Wembley with an end of an era feeling: 3 Arsenal myths refuted

Myth one: that a cup win will propel a team and give then the winning feeling.  
You hear this nonsense everywhere from diehard Gooners to experienced journos. Historically this has applied to a team who have been on an upward trajectory for a few years and given them the belief to go on (City 2012, Arsenal 1987, United 1989 etc.)   I can see no evidence whatsoever that a team which has consistently unperformed for over 5 years will suddenly kick on with an FA cup win.

Myth two: That we lack mental strength
For me our problem isn’t actually mental strength. It is lack of mental nous. A collective intelligence as a team.  I have repeatedly said this since the 4-4- to Sp*rs which for me was a seminal game of the Wenger era and my second worst experience as an Arsenal fan (after 1978 Cup Final). It was quite clear that that group of players had not been trained in how to see out a game you are winning.

This is something you address on the training pitch. The irony is that despite being ‘good in possession’ when attacking we showed ourselves to be unable to ‘hold onto the ball’ in a non attacking situation. Likewise our losses up North to the likes of Stoke etc seem to stem from an inability to read a game and its phases and respond – when they come up and at you with the Braveheart onslaught you hold for a while, hold tight and take the wind out of their sails until the crowd calms down. 

How painful then to hear John Terry says that Chelsea had planned and practiced approaches they would take for all scenarios against PSG – exactly how they would play of it was 0-0. 1-1, 1- etc. Just what we don’t seem to do.

It reminds me of when George Graham’s practice games in 1993 when he asked the reserve team to ‘play like’ Parma’. The first time they did it the first XI lost. The second time they won.

Myth three: we will be able to judge better after the Cup final
Judge on the evidence of the past 8 years and not one game. I’m worried about this focus on one game, as it is distracting from a reasoned judgement over the longer period. Over the longer period my judgement is not only is there no evidence that Arsene (bless his puffa jacket) is willing or able to change things around, but there is very strong evidence that he is not.