Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

Just what is the best result for Arsenal come Saturday?

I ask not about Leiceser. I’m pretty sure we’re hoping for a confident victory to make it seven in a row undefeated in the Prem and nine overall, including those two League Cup victories. Yes, there are growing signs of progress, even of optimism, but I’m here to suggest that the fixture with the most potential impact on our campaign doesn’t even involve us at all. Nope, it’s all about Tottenham vs. Manchester United. And I’m not referring points or position. While dropped points for one or both would help us in the short term, the real impact is further-reaching. The real question we need an answer to is this: what result will keep Solskjær and Santo at the ol’ wheel? After all, for their rivals, i.e. us, each manager is the gift that keeps on giving, and we just don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg…yet (I know how we all love mixed metaphors).

The rumours swirling around the potential sacking of each manager have been gathering speed for several weeks now, given just how dire each man’s squad has performed  thus far. It would seem then that we should hope for a dour draw, the better to draw out each man’s misery, letting them dangle helplessly in the wind like so many sneakers knotted together and tossed over phone lines or dingleberries clinging, oh so stubbornly and doggedly, to an unwiped and unwashed taint. But I digress.

As tempting as it would be to see the two sides play a tentative, defensive draw that rivals the thrill of watching paint dry or grass grow, this just doesn’t play to our interests even if it opens the door for us to climb past both. Yes, it would see each side drop two points and postpone what is probably inevitable. However, we at Arsenal have to get more comfortable with playing the long game (whom am I kidding? We’ve been playing the long game for the better part of the last 15 years). With that in mind, much as it may chafe arses and twist knickers, we simply have to act like we’re Mancs this weekend. 

Hear me out.

Put simply, a Man U win certainly restores faith in Solskjær without necessarily undermining Nuno’s position. Tottenham are a small club that has sacked two managers in a row and can ill-afford to sack a third, literally as well as figuratively. To sack three in a row after a ludicrous summer of botched flirtations with other managers would signal to any and all that this l’il “club” are coming apart at the seams. Who would agree to harness their careers to such a sinking ship? No one of note. They’re still on the hook for having sacked Pochettino and Mourinho, and that’s probably cost them upwards of £30m, enough to buy a decent keeper or defender. That’s no small thing for a club to swallow while it’s also financing a new stadium. The core of the squad—Lloris, Kane, Son, Moura—is aging, and in need of serious rebuild. Tottenham are poorly positioned to get through the rest of this season and those to come. Let’s hope that Man U win.

If, however, Tottenham find a win and Solskjær is sacked, Manchester United has the financial resources and global reputation to attract the likes of an Antonio Conte, who would then demand (and get) a huge outlay on players in January. Who knows? They might actually bring in an on-pitch leader orgasp—a functional midfield. It may sound daft to think of splashing cash in January after spending 3.2 Guardiola windows the preceding summer to bring in Ronaldo, Sancho, Varane, and Heaton (ahem), but that’s the way rational minds think. Silly you. This is Manchester United, a club that can simply print out and spend money however it pleases. A manager of Conte’s stature and pedigree would get the players he’d want and start churning the expected results. It would be enough to see Man U climb into the top four (by which I mean fourth). That’s something we can ill-afford.


I’m not calling for a battering here. That would change the calculus or the 4-d checkers that I’m trying to play here. Maybe a 1-2 to Man U, maybe with a dodgy pen late on (not that Man U ever get any of those) or a VAR denial of a Tottenham equaliser to spare Nuno his blushes would do the trick.

So, for once in my life, let me get what I want. Lord knows it would be the first time.

Man U 2:1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

It was bound to be an odd occasion. On one hand, it’s  Arsène’s last trip to Old Trafford, led by José Mourinho, with Alexis Sánchez to face—all the ingredients for a fierce clash. On the other hand, the outcome means almost nothing for our season. Our Prem position is all but set at sixth, and we have far-bigger fish to fry with a Europa League final hanging just barely within reach. Arsène showed where his priorities lie with an XI full of youth, including a debut for Konstantinos Mavropanos. In the early going, it looked like it would be Man U’s day as Pogba scored in the 16th minute after Bellerín deflected Alexis’s header off the post. However, Mkhitaryan found an equaliser just after halftime, and there it stood until the 88th minute when Fellaini headed off the post off of Rashford and in. A winner? No, Rashford was clearly offside. Minutes later, Fellaini did score the winner. Feh. Let’s rate the lads…

Mou, Man U, and Malignant Narcissism (oh, and Mkhitaryan, too).

José, José, José. Poor little Mou-Mou. No matter how much those sugar-daddies spend, it’s never quite enough, is it? How can one be expected to contend for silverware after only having spent—what was it? Oh, yes—£148 million to improve a squad that was already worth more than the GDP of 42 actual countries.This is part of a disturbing trend on Mourinho’s part, but this is not yet another post on the oiligarchies that have infected football or of the financial steroids that certain clubs are on. Instead, we’re here to look at something much more personal than that. We’re here to peer into Mourinho’s soul. Bring your antibacterial, kids; this could get messy.

Now, we all know about and are probably tired of the comparisons between Mourinho and Wenger, with Mourinho cast as  the cynical, win-at-all-costs mercenary and Wenger as the pure paladin, devoted to his principles to the end. That’s not what we’re on about today. We’re investigating Mourinho the man (such as it is). What makes him tick? Why is he so driven yet so cautious? The armchair diagnosis? Malignant narcisssism, which consists of the following symptoms:

poor self-identity, inability to appreciate others, entitlement, lack of authenticity, need for control, intolerance of the views or opinions of others, emotional detachment, grandiosity, lack of awareness or concern regarding the impact of their behavior, minimal emotional reciprocity, and a desperate need for the approval and positive attention of others.

Sound like anyone we know? Long story short, Mr. Mourinho exhibits most if not all of these symptoms, and, as a result, all of us should pause for a moment to perform the requisite rites of sympathy. After all, who among us is guilty of pouring too much of his or her emotional satisfactions into the on-pitch performances of a group of perfect strangers, most of whom we will never meet, much less get to know on any meaningful level?

Then again, José has all the time and money in the world invested in getting to know those players on a meaningful level. Instead of managing that time and money, sadly, it seems that he all too often resorts to petty mind-games based on the symptoms of malignant narcissism. Those who fail to genuflect are made an example of: Torres. Casillas. Mata. Schürrle. Should we add to this list Henrikh Mkhitaryan, he of the £37.8m transfer in July 2016? Of him, Mourinho had this to say:

I was not happy with his last performances. I’m not speaking about one or two, I’m speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goal scoring and assists, high pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No.10, were decreasing step by step. That was enough because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.

Fair enough. If a player is not producing, well, what choice does a manage have but to drop him? Then again, to so publicly denounce Mkhitaryan suggests that Mourinho suffers from a certain psychological shortcoming, one that can only be sated by inflicting suffering on others. If he’s dissatisfied with Mkhitaryan, it’s only a matter of time before Mourinho turns the passive-aggressive screws on other ne’er-do-wells…

Jokes apart, he works amazingly well for the team and I will never, never blame a player like him for the easy chance that he missed.

That would be Mourinho laughing off Lukaku, he of the £76.2m transfer fee, for his choice of shoes. Harmless, right? Who could possibly read subtexts into a phrase like “the easy chance that he missed”? Look at it from Mourinho’s point of view. Sometimes, there’s such a thing as having “too many attackers” when you’re facing such sides as Brighton & Hove. How can a manager be expected to properly park a bus when he’s got Mata, Ibrahimovic, Lukaku, Martial, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, and Fellaini, among others, all of them defying orders by daring to create chances or—gasp!—score goals?

Get the smelling salts and the fainting couch, Minerva; I do declare that I’ve got the vapors!

It seems abundantly clear that we have on our hands a man—and, yes, I do use that term generously—who is deeply in need of some kind of therapeutic intervention. On one hand, he will be satisfied with nothing less than total victory. On the other, he will only tolerate the total, complete, and utter avoidance of anything that might expose him to failure.

He needs help. It is by now obvious that no amount of silverware, no matter how crassly rented or bought, will bring this man satiety. He is a remorseless, amoral facsimile of a man. Does this mean that Arsenal should let the baby have his bottle? Quite the contrary. One way to vaccinate against this vile disorder is with a strong, stern dose of tough love. It is only through suffering that the patient will eventually come to realise the error of his ways.

In other words, for Man U to suffer defeat on Saturday would be deeply therapeutic, even cathartic, to the patient. It is therefore a moral obligation, then, that Arsenal win. We owe Mou nothing less.

Do we want Man U to win the Europa League?

Europa League. Thursday nights. Matches in Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and other hinterlands. We’re consigned to it for the 2017-18 campaign, but what do we make of it? There are some who say we should just throw in the towel, treat it like an extended League Cup, and play a weakened side just to get it over with. Who are we at Arsenal to go grubbing around for some second-rate, tin-cup silverware? Then again, maybe there’s some silver-lining to be found if we are in fact willing to dig deep enough to find it…

For one, we can finally end our ignominious streak of crashing out of the last 16. No longer will we suffer the humiliations of a 10-2 embarrassment across two legs, or of getting obliterated in the first leg only to muster an inspirational comeback that falls just short on away-goals. Take that, Bayern and Barça and whoever else can be bothered. There’s more than one way to skin a cat…or, in this case, to get skinned. We also can set aside the perennial frustration of waiting to win a Champions League qualifier before signing anyone. Mr. Kolašinac, I’m looking at you. Mr. Griezmann, I’m eyeing you up as well. Just sayin’.

Speaking of streaks, we can get a few monkeys off our backs. Here they are:

  • This is the first season since 1994-95 that we didn’t finish above Tottenham. 
  • This is the first season since 1995-96 that we finished outside the top-four.
  • 2017-18 will be the first time since 1997-98 that we won’t compete in the Champions League.
All good things come to an end, don’t they? They do…right? That’s what I keep telling myself.
Looking further afield, we can sit back and enjoy Man U’s misadventures in the Europa League. To be fair, we owe a significant part of our win over them to Mourinho’s focus on winning some kind of silverware, no matter what it is. That’s what leads us back to our original question, and it’s a dilly of a pickle: do we hope that Ajax win it, highlighting in the process the shite-sandwich that has been Man U’s season, or do we hope that Man U win it, burnishing the much-maligned competition we find ourselves thrust into?
In the first case, it would be delectable indeed to see Mourinho finish the season with silverware for the first time since 2013 even as he has dedicated himself to winning this competition through obsessively defensive tactics. 15 draws? 15? That’s after having spent £157m on transfer-fees, not to mention the weekly wages to Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Bailly, and Ibrahimovic. Despite all of that spending, Man U could only eke out an appearance in the Europa League final by scoring just seven goals in their last six matches. Cynical football never knew a higher prices. Yes, indeed, the schadenfreude would run deep and wide if Mourinho should somehow fail. And, yes, we would be right to revel in it.

Then again, there’s something to consider in Man U perhaps winning the Europa League. After all, if one of England’s most-massive clubs is willing to invest such ungodly sums in players’ transfer-fees and weekly-wages, not to mention the demands of a manager such as Mourinho, maybe the Europa League’s reputation would rise just a little bit, maybe even enough for us to take it more-seriously. After all, it’s one thing for the likes of Tottenham to dedicate themselves to winning the Europa League (and failing). It’s quite another if the likes of Man U or Chelsea want to do so.

I’m not quite sure where our best interests lie, to be honest. The short-term, spiteful satisfaction of seeing Mourinho fail is hard to resist. However, the longer-term benefits of winning silverware and qualifying for the Champions League is well-worth considering. Could we bully our ways to the top of the Europa League? How much would such a campaign sap our strength in the Prem?

It’s these and other questions we’ll have time to ponder come summer. Before you go, please do weigh in with your thoughts in the comments-section below. Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

Can Arsenal count on Everton to roll over?

There’s a toxic mix of ingredients swirling around the final match-day of the season, as all twenty clubs square off. Most of the vital positions are locked in—Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Hull are relegated; Chelsea have won the Prem, and Tottenham and Man City round out the top three positions. Still hanging in the balance then is that fourth position, currently occupied by Liverpool. They’ll host the aforementioned and relegated Middlesbrough and need a win to secure that top-four finish. Arsenal, meanwhile, harbor dreams of overtaking those Scousers. Can we rely on Everton to do us a favor?

On its surface, it seems unlikely. Ronald Koeman has faced Arsene Wenger 12 times before and has managed five wins over Arsenal while Arsène has recorded just two victories against his counterpart. Whether it’s been at Everton, Southampton, AZ Alkmaar, PSV, or Ajax, the Dutchman has had Arsène’s number. What this means against the backdrop of the Merseyside derby is anyone’s guess. Koeman has not been shy in his criticisms of Arsène in the past, but does this trump the Toffees’ motivations? While they can’t control what happens at Anfield on Sunday, they have to have at least one eye on the fact that an Arsenal win would heap misery on their Merseyside rivals.

Liverpool simply have to win. A draw, which strands them on 74 points, won’t do. The question at their end is, “will Boro lie down?” Recent results should give pause: a 2-2 draw at home against Man City and a 1-2 loss to Southampton suggest that Boro still have some fight in them. Whether that’s enough for us at Arsenal to hang our hats on is another question.

For us to make any result at Anfield matter, of course, depends on us taking care of business against Everton. While it might be nice to assume that they’ll roll over for us in order to knee-cap their Merseyside rivals, we now know that we have to go into this one with a ruthless, merciless mindset. Everton have nothing to lose; we still have something to gain. To take an early lead would heap pressure on Liverpool; they’d know that they can’t merely play for the draw, and this might just open them up a bit to conceding a sloppy goal. At that point, all bets are off. It’s anyone’s guess as to who finishes fourth.

Liverpool and Arsenal kick off at the same time on Sunday. It’s therefore up to Arsenal to bring their A-game against Everton early and often in order to pin Liverpool against the wall. We’ve shown in recent weeks that we can match wits with if not outplay almost anyone during the run-in. I daresay that the pressure is all on Liverpool. They’ve had the advantage of focusing exclusively on the Prem for quite some time: no Continental commitments to distract them, no FA Cup-ties after crashing out thanks to Championship-side Wolverhampton, no League Cup after crashing out thanks to Southampton…all in all, it’s looking a bit desperate for Jürgen’s minions.

Enter the Arsenal.