I’m prompted to write this little off-the-cuff rant as a result of (this morning) catching up reading some of the stuff (for “stuff” read “criticism of the team”) I’ve read on other websites.
Usually I can ignore such criticism (even from Chelsea so-called “supporters” – who do nothing but criticise negatively and offer no constructive comment). Usually, it’s like water off a ducks back.
When you lose, particularly to a direct rival, as we did last weekend, you expect to read criticism from the press; from fans; from the grumpy; from the stupid; from the mischief-makers.
But today I’m in a bit of a bad mood because I missed AVB’s press conference, so I’m going to react to the argument that we are a poor side incapable of winning anything because we attack like we do.
Let’s face it, above all I want trophy wins. Sure, I’m happy to forego winning lots so long as we win fairly often: in other words I’m happy to forego winning cabinets full of trophies in a short space of time a la Mourinho if it means we win a few things once in a while AND play good, exciting, attacking football.
What I dont want is to end every season being classed as an Arsenal – mostly lovely one-touch attacking football, which makes for good dvd’s, but no trophies, which merely provides pointless football.
What we saw at Man U was a step on the way towards attacking football AND winning, I’m very happy to say. Yes, we were the better team – in my opinion, the better team over the whole of the game. But no, we were not perfect, we were not ruthless and we could not turn our dominance into goals. Neither could we shore up a defence that was often exposed, particularly after we went 2-0 down.
But at 2-0 we have to attack and we have to push people forward – and in doing that we raised a few questions about whether we have the players and the organisation to cope with that defensive vulnerability.
Put simply, in that game we certainly did not have the organisation, and as for the players, well, without the organisation in place it’s too difficult to tell whether the players are up to standard or not.
And there’s the main point – it really is far too soon to tell whether we have the players to be able to play fine attacking football. We create chances, we spurn chances, we leave ourselves open.
But – and this is the important point – we are a work in progress.
There is no doubt in my mind that we have the players to take the title this season. There is also no doubt that managers anywhere need time to bed in; similarly, new players need time, as do new systems and their accompanying on-field organisation.
Time is important: if we can improve and if we can gel quickly we have every chance of being up there with a chance of the title in May.
So, how quickly do we need to improve?
Balancing the positives and the negatives from that OT defeat, the positives came out on top. In fact there were more positives out of that defeat than came out of the win at Sunderland… which in turn provided more positives than the win against West Brom…. which in turn provided more than the creditable 0-0 against Stoke.
Sorry if I am being a bit on the pedantic side here, but there is a pattern emerging: we ARE improving. And not just by small amounts each game, the improvements are seen in significant areas. I believe that we are improving quickly and we will continue to improve, hopefully exponentially.
It will only be a matter of time before we see those improvements in the areas that even the mischief-makers, the grumpy and the press can appreciate.
I’m quite convinced that in another five games we will be playing football that is more assured in both attack and defence. And maybe then those who have little or nothing constructive to say can look elsewhere for the targets of their bile.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the emergence of a new style, because I for one am sure that there are some superb displays ahead.