Seems to me during the BREXIT drama of the past week that many supporters of Arsenal Football Club have completely missed a most astonishing development in the life of the football club. Since the NLD there has been a charm offensive directed at the club by Jose Mourinho and the usual suspects in the media, including the clickbaiters in the Arsenalsphere, have been giving him plenty oxygen. In my essay below I may be accused of doing the same but hopefully readers will discern that my objective is completely different from those who are overtly and covertly singing the praises of Mourinho.
The final whistle had barely sounded when the Portuguese used his perch as a pundit in the Sky Sports post-match coverage to virtually tell the public he could have done a better job than Unai Emery in setting up the Arsenal team.
Speaking of the trio of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe, he said:
“I think they are very good players and normally they should be on the pitch all three together,”
Comparing the Liverpool three with Arsenal’s:
“What happens at Liverpool is [Roberto] Firmino drops back, drops in between the lines, and then he gives more space for [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane to attack these diagonals. I would see Aubameyang playing on that left side of Liverpool and scoring a lot of goals.
“At Arsenal, Lacazette doesn’t have that quality, but they have two options. One is to play, instead of like today with three midfield players almost in a straight line, to play how they played in the last 10 or 20 minutes with two [sitting midfielders] and one No.10 that can feed the three without bringing Lacazette in between the lines.
“Another situation that is very possible is to bring Pepe from the right and in many occasions bring him to the inside. …
“So if Pepe plays more on the inside, he can feed more that diagonal to Lacazette and do what Guendouzi did for the last goal [for Aubameyang], Pepe doing that from the right with his left foot finding Lacazette on the diagonal.”
As for the creative players that Emery seem to distrust:
“So they have lots of options. These three players are very good. They had on the bench [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, [Mesut] Ozil, [Dani] Ceballos who are players also who can give things. I think from the middle to the attacking areas they have a lot of solutions to develop.”
From the length of my quotes this was an extensive tactical analysis which according to one writer left the other pundits speechless.
“Following his comments, there was silence from the other pundits. They knew Mourinho had more knowledge of the game than they would ever have.”
From the tone of the above one can easily discern a fawning and obsequiousness towards Mourinho which has been the pattern since he arrived on English soil. While he may have brought trophies to Chelsea and Manchester United and his previous European clubs, his arrogance and loutishness has left a trail of broken, splintered football clubs who were eager to see his back after he wore out his welcome.
The issue here is not the content of Mourinho’s analysis. Many of us said virtually the same thing during and after the game. According to our most recent blogpost by Omair Javed:
“It was a game of passion and tactical blunders. It was supposed to be the day when we would have unleashed the attacking talents of our front 3 but as it turned out we were left asking more questions about Unai Emery’s selection, his idea of football that he wants us to play, his unending search for finding the balance in the team, confused substitutions and his bizarre reluctance to chase the winner when Spurs were begging to be hit.”
Mourinho was more precise and more detailed, something he is absolutely more qualified to do having spent his formative years as an assistant to England’s Sir Bobby Robson during the latter’s time in Portugal and Spain, first as a translator and then as a tactical scout of opposing teams and subsequently a manager and trophy winner big clubs.
Contrary to many in the Arsenal fanbase, who still cling desperately to the idea that Unai Emery is somehow the bold, fearless manager who will radically transform Arsenal, Mourinho, who is known for his emphasis on defense, is covertly criticizing Emery for timid tactics and non-use of his creative players.
Who can dispute that Arsenal has “very good” creative players (Ceballos and Ozil) and that “from the middle to the attacking areas they have a lot of solutions to develop”?
Leaving a vacuum for anti-football
After 15 months of Emery-ball, except for rare instances, the football has been dire. Instead of pointing out the ‘damn obvious’, some prefer to keep quiet, not realizing that their silence is simply enabling the enemies of the Arsenal Way to gradually occupy the vacuum. After years of Arsenal and Wenger refusing to adopt the anti-football tactics of Mourinho and his acolytes, there is a steady drip-drip of articles and tweets now suggesting the Portuguese may be the right coach for the club.
The Mirror headlined: Jose Mourinho explains how Arsenal midfielder Mateo Guendouzi can get even better:
“Sometimes when I watch matches I am a bit critical – in a good sense, on the coaching side of it – because sometimes I think Guendouzi plays too easy and too many square passes when he can look forward.
“His first control normally is immediately for a sideways pass. He played a good game today and this is a great example of what he can do, because he’s a kid with talent.
“But he needs that kind movement and Aubameyang made a fantastic run for him.”
Again, Mourinho called it as he saw it. (Just imagine if anyone at Uncensored criticized the newly christened golden-child of Arsenal social media for being a sideways passer.) Contrast J.M. with most of the current Arsenal big bloggers. Ten years ago they were ripping the “youth project” accusing any foreign player, not named Wilshere or Ramsey, as sideways passers. But now most of them are like the three monkeys; cannot see, hear or speak. How the wheel has turned to expose the real hypocrites, those who care not one-bit for being honest, balanced and factual in their critique of Arsenal Football Club. Meanwhile the Mirror is looking like a paragon of truth and not the serial purveyor of fake news and click bait when Wenger was in charge.
Similarly warm praise of Mourinho’s critique of Guendouzi is showered by O-Post who boast of nearly 50,000 Likes for their articled headlined: Why Mourinho’s Tempered Criticism Of Guendouzi Is Spot On
Not to be outdone in giving a positive spin to J.M. is Football. London, an Arsenal-oriented web publication who, dare I say, rely on very tabloid headlines to gain our attention. This time around they emphasize: How Arsenal can unlock the full firepower of front three under Jose Mourinho on Football Manager.
Heavy D for notoriety
It was inevitable therefore that the biggest and most unashamed click-baiters in the Arsenalsphere, i.e. that lot from AFTV, would sense the rising disquiet about Emery and grasp the opportunity to gain some notoriety. Defying all previous ad hominem criticisms of Mourinho and his association with some of Arsenal’s bitterest rivals (Chelsea and Man Utd), Heavy-D has gotten the ball rolling for J.M. to become AFC’s coach. The Express was quick to headline: AFTV regular wants Arsenal to replace Unai Emery with Jose Mourinho… after four matches.
“AFTV regular Heavy D wants Jose Mourinho to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal – just four matches into the new Premier League season.
“The Gunners have enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular, start to thecampaign by amassing seven points from their first four games.”
Obviously the Express has seen an opportunity to gain clicks at Heavy-D’s expense while at the same time suggesting that any criticism of Emery is a bit loony because he has had only four matches this season. They too conveniently missed the prior year of a “solid, if unspectacular” football.
If this pattern of unspectacular football continues it is a dead certainty that Heavy-D and his pals will gain traction in the fanbase. AFTV will seek out the most extreme loons among their followers to crank up the volume for Mourinho and against Emery.
Who will be the next big shoe to drop?
Who will be the next big shoe to drop? I suspect it may be one of the big-bloggers and podcasters, who, envious of the AFTV channel having a monopoly on the monetization any anti-Emery, pro-Mourinho sentiment, jumps on the bandwagon. It is pretty obvious that many Arsenal big bloggers-podcasters are no longer supporters and guardians of the Arsenal Way. They are increasingly focused on monetizing their various on-line projects. If pandering to a pro-Mourinho campaign will grow their Followers and Subscribers, thus increasing the balances in their Patreon account, then standing against J.M.’s notorious ego, arrogance and mechanical football philosophy will be the least of their concerns. Instead there will be plenty virtue signaling as was their #WeCareDoYou.
Mourinho’s ego will prevail
As for Mourinho, never forget he campaigned for the Inter-Milan job after being fired from Chelsea, campaigned for the Real Madrid job during his parting of ways with Inter and angled for the Man Utd job even when he was still at Madrid, the two-year spell at Chelsea was a mere detour. For such a vain, egotistic man nothing would please him more than to have the Arsenal management crawling and groveling for his services as week-by-week he gently sticks the knife in the back of Unai Emery for his failures. Meanwhile the English press will celebrate and venerate him for his ruthlessness and Machiavellian tactics. They would applaud as he metaphorically gouge the eyes of all those Arsenal fans who once ridiculed him, not the least for that “swerve” by Arsene Wenger when he tried to make himself the center of attention at that Community Shield final 4 years ago. This is a side-show, a melodrama that will play out from week-to-week. Stay tuned to this page!