Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Manager stuff

Morning all.

With Arsenal now a fairly stable club, goings-on elsewhere throughout this summer might well become a staple of the blog. It’s not that I necessarily want to write about … I dunno … Chelsea parting ways with yet another manager, it’s just stuff like that could well be the big story of the day.

*Checks news*

Well, whaddya know?! Mauricio Pochettino is gone, by ‘mutual consent’. Chelsea changing managers is just one of those things you can bank on. Like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Like Maroon5 making a terrible song. Like John Terry being a massive bell-end.

They had ended the season pretty well, that huge collection of players they bought at random was beginning to look semi-functional at times, and they finished 6th – ensuring European football for next season. But obviously things behind the scenes weren’t great, and some reporting suggested that a divide over Pochettino’s reluctance to hire a set-piece coach was part of the reason he got let go. Despite the fact they hired one from Brentford, the club who supply 98% of all the set-piece coaches currently working in the game. They have a lab where they grow them, I think.

It was quite an interesting season for managers, in that fewer than normal seemed to be sacked during the campaign. Sheffield United brought back Chris ‘Sandwich’ Wilder to replace Paul Heckingbottom in December, the same month that Nottingham Forest canned Steve Cooper to bring in Nuno Espirito Santo. Beyond that though, it was pretty calm. Whether this shows a more nuanced approach from club owners, or if it’s because sacking a manager is very expensive in the PSR era, I’m not sure. I suspect the latter though.

Pochettino’s departure comes not long after Roberto de Zerbi was let go by Brighton, and I have to say, with those two men on the market, I’d be a bit worried if I were Erik ten Hag. There’s a cup final this weekend and I suspect we could easily see the end of his tenure if it goes the way I think it’s likely to. Even without a cup final hammering, he presided over the worst season at Man Utd in years, his football is atrocious, his recruitment has been abysmal (£90m on Antony, hahahahaha!), his communication is terrible, and that outfit he wore when we beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford was worthy of the sack on its own. He is football Colin Robinson.

It’s also quite instructive to think about de Zerbi and how quickly things changed for him. It was barely over a year ago when Ken Early of Second Captains wrote a piece for the Irish Times which was headlined: “Brighton under Roberto De Zerbi are changing English football.

In it he analysed the way Brighton played under the Italian, and highlighted things he was doing with his set-up that other teams found it difficult to contend with. They finished 6th last season, a hugely successful end result, just a handful of points behind Liverpool, and de Zerbi was the flavour of the month in terms of coaching/management. Here we are a year later, and he’s gone.

It’s not to say he’s been found out, but opposition managers and analysts came to terms with what he did – and I think our performance at home against them was one which demonstrated exactly how to exploit their system. Not to mention this is a season where Brighton have had a lot of injuries, as well as the challenge of competing domestically and in Europe, and that has made it much more difficult. He also felt like someone who would be fine to get along with when the going was good, but you wondered how things might shift if it was more of a struggle.

It just shows how things can change very quickly in football. It’s part of the challenge faced by Mikel Arteta, and every other manager in the game, a reality they are fundamentally aware of. From our perspective, I don’t think it’s something Arteta ever lets go of. His mantra after the final whistle on Sunday about not being satisfied isn’t just a cry of defiance after we came so close, but a reminder that this attitude is foundational to how he operates. It’s self-motivation, in a way, but that message doesn’t come just from the manager. It’s something that now runs through the culture of the club itself.

Let’s see it play out this summer, in the work we do in the transfer market, and hopefully as other clubs scratch around looking for a new man to take charge, our stability will enable us to get a jump on bringing some new players in.

Right, I’m gonna leave it there for this morning. Have a good one folks.

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