The other day I read this article about Wilshere that had a few quotes. A couple of lines stood out.
You never get ahead of yourself, you just can’t. Take the boss, for example. He won’t say too much but he’s never completely pleased.
Even if you’ve had a good game he’ll always say, ‘You could have done this better’.
I’ve always believed that people who achieve greatness can only do so if they are constantly challenging themselves and those around them to do better. If one has real talent it’s not difficult to stand out from the pack of average humans (no disrespect to anyone, I consider myself pretty average). Moving from good to great is a much harder step.
If we take football for instance, most genuinely good players make it to the top leagues and the best clubs. The relatively ordinary ones play in lower divisions while many don’t even make the professional grade. But only those who really buckle down and challenge themselves to improve constantly can move from the genuinely good to the truly exceptional level.
Part of this process is acknowledging the areas of improvement and working on them. Unless mistakes are identified and acknowledged there can be no hope for betterment. This is where the above comment is so pertinent. When we add the fact that Wilshere is not the first Arsenal player to mention this, it shows that Arsene is rarely satisfied and is looking for more even from his best players and even on days when they’ve had a good game.
The reason I’m discussing this issue is that there is one criticism of Wenger and the players that really irks me. One of the great myths built by some bloggers and quite commonly seen on the internet is that the Arsenal players are a pampered lot and don’t care enough or get away without putting their heart and soul into games/training.
While I can see the observations behind these opinions – at times Arsenal players look disinterested, or lazy, or passionless – it’s really difficult to take them seriously. The main reason behind this is that judging based on appearances, and that too from a distance, without having any idea of the details involved is rather harsh. A player might be playing with an injury, there might be a tactical change that he could be struggling with, or the opposition might actually be playing really well. There can be so many reasons for a lacklustre performance that we cannot even imagine simply because we don’t know the crucial details.
More baffling is the persistent demand for using the so called hairdryer treatment. There are three inherent assumptions in this that are flawed. Firstly, it assumes that the players are not playing well deliberately or that they’re not trying hard enough. The second assumption is that just by shouting at the players the manager can change this. Finally, there is an assumption that all players will respond positively to a telling off irrespective of their personalities!
Can you really imagine any organization in the world, in any field, performing at the highest level if the leader/man in charge has to constantly yell at his co-workers/employees?
The way I see it, getting the best out of players from different nationalities and cultures, varying talent and experience levels, with diverse expectations and life goals, and unique personalities is a herculean task and should never be trivialized.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Arsene is perfect in the way he deals with the players. I’d not say that for any manager because there is always some room for improvement even if one wins all the trophies. So when the team is not performing at a level it should be there is definite room for improvement. But what we can see from Wilshere’s comment and those of others before him is that the manager is constantly looking to do better and wants more from his players. Without knowing actual details of what goes on in training and the dressing rooms, can fans really ask for more?
Unfortunately, too many fans can’t see beyond the ‘no trophies for five years’ curtain and in that blinkered approach any criticism seems valid and justifiable, but isn’t the view a lot different for those who can take distance and attempt to analyze individual issues objectively?