Good morning from London. As you can see, I have a hotel room with gorgeous ‘city view’.
I got in yesterday afternoon, my first bit of travel since the pandemic and I have to say it was a bit weird but all very familiar. There have been horror stories about the security queues at Dublin airport and it was put down to a lack of staff. That may be the case, but I remain convinced it’s the people who get the top of the line and say ‘You want me to take my belt off?’ and ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T BRING THIS GALLON JUG OF WATER THROUGH?’ that remain the real problem.
I just tried to make some coffee with one of those coffee pod machines in my hotel room, but failed to notice that the water tank was empty. The coffee pod machine tried its best, did all the squeezy stuff on the coffee pod, but now sits beeping, a red light flashing forlornly even after I restart it. It’s like a heart monitor in an intensive care unit.
I have turned it off at the mains.
Time of death: 07.45am.
Cause of death: Unobservant Irishman.
I haven’t had a lot of time to look at what’s going on, but some bits from Mikel Arteta’s press conference are worth commenting on. Like all of us, I’m sure, the manager is hoping for a final day miracle, a favour from Norwich:
So we are back in Europe. We don’t know where, it will be decided. Hopefully, it will be Champions League. I believe that we’re going to do what we have to do. We are going to be cheering for Norwich to do what they can do, for sure, and after that, we want to take the club to the next level.
We all know and understand the difference between the Champions League and Europa League from a financial and prestige perspective, but I don’t think it changes much about what we need to do this summer. It definitely has some impact on our ability to do it, but this club getting to next level will require continued improvement and development of what we have, augmented by smart, quality recruitment.
Arteta is pretty clear on this too:
In order to do that we have a very clear plan again, how we want to do it and execute it, and there are no secrets. We need resources and we need to increase the quality and the depth of the squad.
And as for what resources are available:
We are going to have certain resources, not unlimited resources, some resources. And with our resources we have to play and do what we have to do in the best possible way. We don’t know what the rest are going to have in terms of resources, which I’m assuming is going to be challenging because now it’s not a top three or top four league. Now it is a top eight or 10 teams that are involved. That’s why we have to find a way to do again what we did last summer.
It’s worth remembering that while our very obvious transfer strategy last summer (to everyone except Gary Neville) was to buy young players who could come in, address some of the needs we had, and develop further over time together. It’s also worth remembering that our total outlay was around £150m, more than every other team.
If we can do that again next summer in terms of spending, it sounds pretty decent, but this time around we’re going to be shopping for strikers, the most sought after commodity in the game and often the most expensive. We don’t just need one forward either, so two signings of the calibre we absolutely need could take a big bite out of £150m.
This is where we need to see some improvement in the other aspect of the transfer market, and that’s the players we sell and the deals we do. Clearly the focus will be on incoming deals because those are the ones that will decide whether or not we can make further progress and reach that next level Arteta is talking about, but adding to the pot through sales is important.
I think most people were, if initially a little dubious about one or two deals, encouraged by the business we did last summer, and it gives me confidence about what we’re going to do this time around. However, when you look at some of the fees for players going the other way (Mavropanos and Guendouzi look very meagre), there’s definitely room for improvement there.
On top of that, Arteta has to address a key issue in this team – it’s inability to consistently deal with going behind games. He was asked about it yesterday, and said:
It can be a lot of factors. It’s how we deal with moments when we lose that control and we are able to reset and take the game in the direction we want. And finding different ways to do that. It’s down to that. It’s not about the leadership of the team, it’s about the understanding of certain situations in the game. Not to continue to put the game into that mood. We are always working on it.
Which sort of makes sense, but I just think fundamentally we don’t have enough goal threat in the team to make the opposition worry sufficiently, and that, coupled with some kind of psychological block that we need to get over is at the heart of it. Anyway, there’s lots for him to work on this summer on and off the training ground pitch and plenty for the club to do too. We have some free weeks and months ahead to talk about that/drive ourselves mad.
Bring it on.
Finally for this morning, I’m looking forward to seeing those of you heading to the live event in Union Chapel this evening. We’re going to have a good Arsenal chat with James and the Arsenal Vision crew, some audience Q&A, there are some really excellent spot prizes to give away, and hopefully it’ll be a good night out for everyone.
Doors open 6.30, show starts 7.30 with an interval, and will probably finish up around 9.30-9.45. We’ll endeavour to be around for those who want to say hi etc afterwards too.
It will be streamed live for Patreon members over at patreon.com/arseblog – and there’s still time to sign up if you like. We’ll have an Everton preview podcast on there for you a bit later on today too.
Right, for now, take it easy.
Coffee pod machine update: I fixed it. I have coffee.
IT LIVES! BEHOLD MY AWESOME POWERRRRRRR …. er … the coffee is minging. I think I’ll wander out to get a decent cup somewhere.