2009-10 Season Review: Coaches, Medical, And Legal Support Staff

We’ve discussed the players, tactics and the related glamorous stuff in this review series. This article is dedicated to the people who are pretty much behind the scenes but perform an important task. Their contribution might not be visible at all times and it would be really tough to directly connect their work with results or glory but there can be no doubt that we need the very best people in these roles.

I’ve already talked about the need for more focused defensive training. I don’t know who takes care of our defensive training right now but given the number of “silly mistakes” we make there is good reason to ask for an improvement.

Interestingly, it’s not limited to the first team alone. I was watching the U-18 Academy League play-off final against Nottingham Forest and even the juniors struggled to cover the wide channels and that left our keeper exposed time and again. At times I’ve seen the juniors struggle against a straight ball over the top, on other occasions they are caught out while playing a high line, and so on.

I’m not trying to criticize kids who are learning the game but the point is that there is a pattern to our problems, it’s been there for a couple of years now, and it’s visible at all levels.

I can’t believe Arsene is not aware of these issues but I can’t see any steps being taken to address this either. The way I see it, hiring a good defence coach is not a big gamble. If it helps us well and good, otherwise we don’t really lose much. It’s not that such a guy would charge millions and it’s definitely easier to find proven coaches than to find proven players!

In the same vein, we could use a set-piece specialist. I’d love to know the stats because we are likely to be the team that wins the most number of set-pieces (corners, throw-ins, free kicks) in the opposition half and the final third. We are a threat when we have the full team available, especially RvP, but the fringe players can certainly improve their value to the club if they work on some specific drills.

Pat Rice has been associated with Arsenal for over 40 successful years and Boro Primorac has also been around for a long while. I’m not trying to belittle their work but just as we need a bigger squad in the modern game, we could also use a bigger coaching team. I think the new coach can perform another critical task of monitoring the players from the touch line and provide some defensive guidance, inspiration and if necessary a wake-up call! The youngsters can certainly benefit from it and neither Arsene nor Pat Rice has the personality for such a task.

Apart from the football related staff we also need to review our medical and legal team.

We need to be innovative and work towards some form of preventive maintenance of our assets, the players. This means we need to monitor people even when they don’t have any complaints. I’m sure we do this to some extent but it’s obvious that we need to do more. It’s logical that we’d need a larger, perhaps better or more specialized medical team.

We also need to be more proactive. For instance, we’ve been blaming the Dutch FA for incorrect diagnosis of Van Persie’s injury but in my book he is our player and we should have had a guy flying out to check on him immediately. If the full extent of his injury had been diagnosed earlier we might have saved a couple of weeks and the Dutchman might have been fit for Barcelona. Do I need to mention how valuable that could have been?

I don’t know the technical complications of dealing with national federations but I doubt if anyone will refuse permission for a doctor/medical person to visit and injured player.

Injuries are down to bad luck and we can’t change that but we must change and improve whatever is in our own hands. That way we can mitigate the negative influence of luck to an extent. Who knows how much that will help, but at least we can be confident we did what we could.

The same RvP incident also showed that we need a better legal team or at least a team that has complete grip on the situation. We didn’t have insurance for Van Persie when he was playing in a friendly and for some strange reason and crazy rules of FIFA even the Dutch FA were not obliged to carry insurance for him. I’m not completely sure what happened there but I think we had to pay the wages of an injured player from our pocket and that makes a mockery of the whole idea of taking out insurance for players.

If we paid his salary for 5 months, which should ideally have come from insurance, then we probably lost over a million pounds. This money could have come in handy for new signings or enhanced contracts.

Our legal team should also look at the media and the rumour mongering a little more seriously. I know this is a complex issue and even United struggled with it when Real went after Ronaldo but we must offer at least a semblance of a challenge. And if we are convinced there is no legal recourse then we need a rogue team capable of responding in kind. Like Van Persie said,

If you want to play football, we can play football. If you want to play hard, we can play hard.

It’s applicable to the business side of the club as well, why should we be soft off the pitch and accept the underhand tactics of some cheap, classless clubs? I appreciate the principles of the club and don’t suggest that we violate them. But we have stand up to violence on the pitch and fight back in a rightful manner, the same applies to the business side of things. If nothing else it can provide a big boost to the morale of the squad and the fans when they realize that the club isn’t impotent.

I realize this particular article is rather vague and the issues I’m talking about are not important in the eyes of many. Still, in my mind, there is no doubt that an improvement behind the scenes can lead to a big improvement on the pitch. It might not be easy to quantify it or measure it but that really isn’t an excuse. I hope Gazidis looks into this with some seriousness.


7 Responses to 2009-10 Season Review: Coaches, Medical, And Legal Support Staff

  1. craszy_gunner says:

    good point made there desi gunner not like the usual rubbish you sometimes put out…

    I am definitely with you about the defensive coach sometimes I some times watch the team and go what the f*** does AW teach these guys anyways?..

    Your point about RVP insurance and injury was spot on too when Theo was injured on national duty we got compensated not sure what happened with RVP….

    RVP was wrong we can sometimes play play football…but can not play hard football and till we can mix the two …read my lips…WE WILL NEVER WIN THE PREMIERSHIP!!

  2. munala says:

    when madrid wanted 2 buy kaka, a medical team went out 2 brazil, when cr9 got injured on int. duty the same happened.
    Arsene needs 2 toughen up, very many teams r improving n we need 2 watch out.

  3. Ajinkya says:

    Desi, I am sorry for this is not a place for what I am saying but anyways how do you find this-
    Mannone
    Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy

    Eboue Song

    Persie Fabregas Arshavin

    Chamakh
    1.Mannone because what happens to Almunia and Fabianski I don’t know. Chamakh because he is surely in.
    2.Campbell will certainly be replaced by a better centre back.
    3.Sagna can sit back and defend while Eboue goes forward.
    4.On the left Clichy can go forward.
    Now the alternatives- It is risky for us to play two forwards because of our ‘injury curse’. So Persie on the bench, Rosicky in his place. Or Walcott (2nd preference). Persie to be rotated with Chamakh.
    Nasri can replace Arshavin.
    Against ‘weaker teams’ ,Nasri or even Rosicky can take Fabregas’ place. That makes room for Walcott. To all this we add Bendtner as back up forward, Diaby,Eastmond who can fill in for a DM. Gibbs alternate left back.
    And I have not mentioned Ramsey, Denilson, Eduardo (who should leave, on loan at least).
    The only problem remains is that of a right back.
    So if we buy two centre backs and decide to keep Sivestre ,I would rather play him as a back up right back, if at all.

    • desigunner says:

      To be frank,

      I can’t see Mannone as no 1 or even as no 2. He should be going out on loan or stay as no 3.

      Eboue cannot play central midfield or DM, doesn’t have consistency or quality for that role.

      Van Persie is best used as a central striker with Chamakh on the right, although they can rotate during games and one of them could be rested. Chamakh might not start from day 1.

      Djourou can play right back or DM if need arises. He’s certainly a decent back up option but we need to check his fitness.

      I’ll discuss more about this after the world cup as we will know the transfer dealings and the fitness issues better.

  4. Hong_gunner says:

    Modern day football is a close knit unit.. Everything has its effects. That’s why some chelsea players are presenting gifts in tv to their backroom staff. I’ve said often, wenger has been holding onto Gary Lewis’ nephew in the medical staff for too long. Backroom is where we need a change. Nobody is bigger than the club, not even Wenger. But the guy is a legend. He needs to solve the puzzle this summer, not only shopping wise, but also fixing the small details that are not very big, but can hurt a team big time. Such is the margin between sucess and failure?
    @ Ajinkya – Eduardo, a 27 year on loan? Either give him a year, or let him go. I dont know if most of your writing is in metaphors, but thats plain championship manager to me.

  5. Robespierre says:

    Well Desi,thorough serious pieces but I hope you have another installment in store for the most important aspect it seems now without a doubt: the overall policy and strategy of team building, investment, recruitment, in a a word the failed ‘ajax’ policy of this Wenger regime. Not the lack of trophies I am talking about here, but the obvious inability to keep the best youth once they become the very best, as well as possibly the best players of the team when they realize that this experiment goes nowhere, nowhere fast enough for them to still enjoy it while they are at the peak of their game (i.e Arshavin who may be too old to move, but think vPersie or Nasri down the line). On the day that the Fab rumors reach a peak( true rumors no doubt even if they don’t materialize immediately) one has seriously to ask if Arsenal has become a feeder club of very good players, a West Ham united or Everton or Cardiff… Terrible perspective but that’s where its going.

    • desigunner says:

      I was thinking about a piece on Fabregas next because having 70% links on newsnow dedicated to one rumor has become quite a pain. It’s also an important topic for us and he is by far the most important player in this squad.

      I don’t think the policy has failed because such a policy just cannot be judged in five years. Moreover, we have to see how the current u-18’s and juniors like Wilshere and Lansbury do before we comment on the policy.

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