The Idea of a Cure-All

As sports fans I feel we’re in perpetual search for that last piece of the puzzle (or for some teams, those five last pieces). “We would have won the title if we hadn’t had injuries to key players.” “We have a great squad but the manager doesn’t know how to use them.” “If only we had a 1 in 2 striker.”

Everything is simple for us. It’s a lot easier to criticize than to be the one held responsible for making decisions. Sometimes we’re right. Every Arsenal fan has been screaming for a stopper DM, a Makélélé, (whether Schneiderlin, Carvalho, or Khedira) ever since we lost Gilberto Silva. With the emergence of Coquelin as the best defender in the EPL in 2015 and 16 wins out of 19 since his introduction, we were right. Most Chelsea fans wanted Mourinho back and he brings them a title (enough said about that).

The easy part is we’re rarely obviously wrong. Look at Giroud, often criticized as not “world class” but is one of the best strikers in the EPL in 2015. He was written off long ago as Chamakh pt 2 and people still say he’s not up to Arsenal’s standard. The Falcao lovers have stopped being so vocal (because he’s had a terrible season at United and hardly gets any minutes)  but they still claim we should have been more aggressive in the transfer market. They always have ideas. “Why didn’t we get Bony or Lacazette or Griezmann? Why didn’t we spend an extra £10 mil on Suarez?”

How Giroud compares per 90 against top 5’s main striker

How Giroud compares per 90 against top 5’s main striker

People clamored for Klopp to take over at Arsenal instead of Wenger signing a new three year deal. They were embarrassed by Dortmund’s relegation zone first half of the season. Now that he has announced that he’ll be leaving Dortmund in the summer and he’s restored some prestige by getting Dortmund off the bottom to tenth place, talk associating him with the Arsenal job is just as loud as ever. “Arsenal would win the title if only they would get Klopp and a new keeper, and maybe a new striker, and an upgrade on Coquelin, and  Reus, then we’d win the Treble.”

It’s never that simple. But we’ll never be proven wrong because those conditions will never be met.

Being mindful of stability, City fans should beware Klopp. He is known for playing a very different style of football than City currently do. That plus the age of the current squad should lead to a very turbulent year (honestly, no matter who gets that job, next year is going to be rough). I’m not arguing that they should keep Pellegrini, he’s obviously lost the dressing room, but going to a very different style of manager isn’t in their immediate interest.

If it’s not the players, then it’s the tactics and the formation. Everybody loved the idea of playing a back three at the start of the season and I’ve read more than one article calling for England to play it. United tried it and failed. We win the league in Football Manager & FIFA and think we’re tactical geniuses on the level of Pep Guardiola.

It’s never that easy. Sometimes great players don’t fit into a team, a tactical system, or a league. Players and Managers have rough patches. Klopp is still a great manager. You don’t win the Bundesliga twice and show up in a Champions League Final by being lucky. Players so rarely have great seasons and then just fall of the face of the earth (except for Torres, he became a legend in his ability to throw away easy goals).

Fellaini – Asshole

Fellaini – Asshole

Players also have good patches. Ashley Young and Fellaini are currently tricking us into believing that they’re actually good footballers (if terrible human beings.) Chamakh wasn’t half bad when he first arrived at Arsenal. Mignolet was pretty good at Sunderland, which is how he earned the move, but how that team played is very different to how Liverpool play.

To be honest, I hate the short-termism of fans and some clubs decisions (this seems to happen more often when the owner acts like a fan and forces their opinion on the experts). What’s the point of having a new manager every season (I’m looking at you, Chelsea)? It takes time to develop a squad, to make the right purchases, to train the players to the point that they have an unspoken connection on the field. Why take Falcao on loan (paying ridiculous wages, in a new league, new teammates, and injury prone) when you have RVP, Rooney, Welbeck, Chicharito, James Wilson? Everyone knew United need a new defense and a couple of central midfielders but they spent a ton of money on Di Maria instead (who does a lot of what Mata does).

This all relates to the problem of stability. I’m not arguing that we should all have our own Arsene Wenger but United would never have had the success they did if they had not had abundant patience with Fergie. His first 5 years were not that great. Spurs (and to a lesser extent Liverpool) consistently shoot themselves in the foot by changing managers to ones with very different styles.

New manager → Players don’t perform while adapting to new system and underperform→ Sell best player → New players → Rough spell → Sack manager → Repeat

Stability, with changes over time, was how Wenger and Fergie were successful. Wenger stopped winning things when his squad completely changed post-Invincibles/Champions League Final and only won the FA Cup once his squad didn’t lose anyone major. We as fans should also be looking for stability in our opinions instead of pining for the flavor of the week (this weeks, by the way, is Jurgen Klopp).