We are so bloody boring and predictable to watch. We look so unsure of a style of play and shorn of any confidence. We’ve become this way because the manager is as such.
Consider where we are with the team, and it’s obvious, but the starting XI vs Sunderland consisted of a Ramsey/Elnenny double pivot, both of whom were not around to play in those positions at the start of the season. The CoqZorla combination was first choice and now Coquelin, who the manager deemed essential to the reason we didn’t buy anyone in that position over the summer. He then bought in Elneny in January and professed not to play him even in Coquelin’s absence followed by now where Coquelin is not first choice. Adaptable you might say but it goes on. There is no way that there was a plan to have Iwobi playing an essential role over the likes of Walcott and Campbell at this crunch time of the season. Then when it comes to making the decisions on substations, they happen at the 70 minute mark like clockwork no matter the circumstances. It shows a willingness not to change, a stubbornness, a groundhog-dayishness. And when it comes to those times the trust is given to a player like Walcott over Campbell who has performed above and beyond the likes of Walcott every single time he’s played. It shows a lack of power over the dressing room. I know managing a squad must be a like spinning plates but when you have games to win, the whole squad and the best parts of it need to be utilised. He’s afraid to do that and someone who is afraid to do what’s right will soon lose trust of the one group that has always had faith in him, the players. There’s been a clip floating around where we can hear an audibly exasperated Mesut Ozil saying “For F*#% sake” at yet another failed Bellerin cross. It’s slowly beginning to filter down to the players but there’s still time to correct it simply because we know there won’t be any managerial change until the season after next. Here’s how…
There are players that will leave and players that should be moved on: Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, Ospina & Walcott. The other fringe members need to be kept on I think as there is scope for improvement and potential to be realised with the likes of The Ox & Ramsey. Now in addition to what we already have with the above that will be moved on, we needed a top CB, CM and CF. So what needs to happen is massive. We need to not only go out and buy the likes of, for example, Hummels, Xhaka & Aubemeyang in addition to replacing the squad players that will leave. Can anyone really see Arsene Wenger going out and getting 6/7/8 players in? I don’t think so at all as much as I hate to say it. I honestly feel that it will come down to one or two signings with one of them being marquee and quite a lot of ‘internal solution finding’. Don’t be surprised to see a ‘chance’ for Sanogo, Gnabry, The Jeff alongside Iwobi as the players to replace the likes of Rosicky, Arteta etc. I would love to see him go out, buy a pool of world class talent and work with that. Go out with a bang so to speak and leave a genuinely talented squad behind, not one that is rotting and fast running out of ideas. We’ve been using plasters to patch us up for too long, when it’s clear that we need surgery. Part of me thinks would it be any different with a new manager and the same vanilla filled board room? I think it might actually be possible. Look at the way Klopp has galvanised a very split Liverpool fan base. Once he puts his own stamp on the squad, they’ll be a force no doubt. A lot to think about especially in the last 3 games as 3rd place is an absolute must. We needed to be 4 points ahead of City before playing them and now we could find ourselves only 2 points or even level with them. I’m pretty certain an away trip to Southampton between Champions League semi finals is a stretch too far but who knows this season? I’m pretty much done contemplating and stipulating stuff. It’s far too depressing.
But one thing that has now become a stark reality is that we will finish behind Sp*rs. A fair few of their fans have said they’re not quite sure what to make of this season and a fair few who believe, title or not, that this team is on the brink of greatness. Now I can fully appreciate both arguments here, but will the likes of Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd & Liverpool all be as bad as they were next season? I doubt it. And when you look at the points taken by Sp*rs vs the above (13) you can see it might not be as plain sailing as it’s been this season. Granted they have been good this season, however I just can’t see all the others being as bad next season meaning there may be a bit more of a shake up in the standings. Having said all that it looks as though St. Totteringhams day won’t be celebrated this year but frankly speaking we have bigger problems than that. Leicester look like they’ve gone and almost done it.
Onto happier things then. Leicester City won. Again. Convincingly. Without Vardy. The hopes and dreams of Sp*rs fans the world over were dashed with Ashley Williams playing as if he had flip flops on. I have to say I was also a little worried about their fixture vs Swansea, but I then remembered I used their game vs us as the barometer for that feeling. Not a good thing to do as we all know how our season has gone. Thankfully they stepped up and beat Swansea resoundingly. It means that technically they need 5 points from 3 games but I think they need one more win. Sp*rs will thrash West Brom but I’m not sure they’ll get more than a draw vs Chelsea meaning they can get a maximum of 10 points from their remaining games. That leaves Leicester needing one more win. I think they’ll get a point vs Utd as Sp*rs get a point vs Chelsea and then go on to beat Everton to win the title at the King Power. But then again I predicted us to win the league so what do I know!? I just want them to win it and can’t begrudge them simply because of Ranieri. He’s so damn likeable. Even in his interview a day before the game he’s just so refreshingly nice to listen to. So affable. So honest. And in no way trying to play mind games. Compare that to any other manager that’s been in his situation or chasing his team and there is a palpable tension or angst in managers’ voices. Pochettino looked tense and worried in his interview, and you can understand why, but Ranieri just looked so relaxed and friendly. I guess it’s a little easier when the expectation is small but still. Good on him and good on Leicester. Almost there…
On the PFA Player & Young Player of the year the winners were Riyad Mahrez and Deli Alli. They cost £400,000 & £5m respectively. The bargains are out there if we look hard enough, but the risks are the ire of a fan base hating on any ‘potential’ anymore. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Anywho…both awards well deserved in my book, both players have been outstanding this season.
Oh and on this season, as far as I’m concerned, it can get in the bin.
Have a great week.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.