Dust settles for the 2022-23 season, but there’s still plenty to talk about. The traditional end-of-season player ratings will be posted here tomorrow, and now there will be an analysis of everything from what happened on the pitch to what players post on their Instagram.
“Is Kieran Tierney’s wave a mere acknowledgment or is it tinged with a bit of goodbye? Aren’t all waves at least partly an acknowledgment of some kind of departure?”
I liked Edu’s interview with ESPN Brazil which was about going up one more level and I think we can all understand what we’re looking for there. Not only a very good team, but a very good composition. He’s got a lot of work to do this summer, but I can guarantee he’s going to enjoy it more than any other off-season since he’s been here.
Building is difficult, complicated, time-consuming. Solving problems isn’t always easy, especially when some of them are largely your work. The reality of football is that there will always be challenging situations. Whether it’s a player who’s a pain in the ass, an agent who’s even worse (in and out), another club sticking its nose in your business when it’s not wanted, the whims of the market itself, there are countless problems that need to be dealt with.
That said, once you’ve made progress and laid the groundwork for the future, it should be easier to determine what’s needed. Edu says:
Now it’s time to understand where we can strengthen the units so that the team can improve and move to another level of performance. And I think there’s one more level, we have one more level.
We believe we have room for improvement in terms of performance. Now let’s make a good transfer window, understand the need to get the right player, the qualities, the mentality of the athlete we want to raise the level of our team again.
On the one hand, I think it’s harder to progress after you’ve improved like we did. The margins are tighter when you’re trying to get more than 84 points, 26 wins and 88 goals (only 6 less than Man City, who have an actual goal machine up front). The obvious thing is that we are losing less and I am sure that will be the focus of attention.
But on the other hand, I think it’s a lot easier to identify players who can help you get there. The talent pool is shrinking so you don’t have to search the market like you would. Is it easier to get such players? That’s another story. The competition for the best players is ubiquitous, but you don’t scratch your head wondering if this or that guy might make a deal.
The aspect of this summer that really interests me is the internal solutions we might have in mind. I think everyone expects us to be busy in the market, but to get this roster as deep as we want, we’re going to have to improve on what we already have. There are question marks over some obvious candidates. Last week I wrote about Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira, both had disappointing seasons for different reasons, but whose profiles are such that they have to be considered candidates.
Will the board be wiped clean at the end of this campaign so they can come back and do better? If not them, then who? It’s something Mikel Arteta has admitted and talked about more than once, so I’m curious to see how it plays out. When you watch the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Ben White, Big Gabby and others develop under Arteta, some of his work here doesn’t always get the attention, so let’s see what happens.
The last thing I will mention is the mentality. This is something the manager was referring to, instilling a culture where every game at this football club is a game to be won. Easier to say done, of course, but that’s the mindset. Edu says:
In the past, we celebrated fourth place, third. Today we are frustrated with the latter.
Each season brings a different level of expectations. I expected Arsenal to be better this season, but not to the point where we will be at the top of the table most of the time. Next time, those expectations – based on what we’ve done and how we’ve done it – will be higher again. That means less freedom when things go wrong, but that’s what Arteta wants. He set such challenges for himself and his players, because in order to bring the trophies and successes he talks about, it just has to be like that.
As I said, everything is yet to come. There is plenty of time, no doubt there will be worse days, but as usual we will manage.
For now, I leave you with the brand new Arsecast Extra, recorded with James last night. Happy listening.