"I had a meeting with the boss the other week and he explained to me what’s required for this role. I think I’ve done that in the last couple of games and I feel good in myself."
Said Aaron Ramsey whilst being interviewed by Arsenal player. The Welshman was of course talking about his last two back to back performances in the deep midfield position. Starts for Ramsey have been hard to come by since Jack Wilshere returned to the first team but his last two games were not the beginning of what seems like good form.
Ramsey has had a habit of coming off the bench and making a positive impact, whether that be from his tireless running or his passing but he was having issues transforming that over a full 90 minutes.
I suppose coming on fresh against tired legs is one advantage and it hides some of the lack of match sharpness perhaps.
I used his quote at the top of the article because it gave us a little insight into what happens behind the scenes. I do try and use whatever information I can get my hands on to help paint the Arsenal training ground and dressing room picture and as you would expect, much of it is yet to be filled in.
It tells you that the manager pulls players to one side (assuming it was a one on one meeting) and shares his vision of what he wants in a particular role. I was half expecting Arsene to let Ramsey play the role the way he is comfortable. I would hazard a guess that the manager told Ramsey to take less touches of the ball, to keep the ball moving quickly and to fill in gaps from his defenders. I spoke about Ramsey having to adapt his game on the match report and I think it is just what the player needs for his development.
It is exactly that point that I want to address and it links in with what I was talking about in regards to Arsene's management style. (I just pictured Arsene doing the Gangnam style dance, how odd!)
Gooners have been fretting about Ramsey's appearances in wide positions this season and at the end of last season. I do believe that it is partly to do with getting a balance between controlling games and adding extra defensive cover but when you look back on Arsene's reign there have been a number of players played 'out of position' as younger players.
Arsene Wenger was heavily influenced by German football whilst growing up and the quick one touch attacking football, but he was also a huge admirer of the great Dutch teams of the past and the concept of total football. The likes of our very own Dennis Bergkamp had to learn his trade on the right wing and at right back during his youthful years at Ajax. The idea behind this is that players develop an understanding of various positions so when it comes to interchanging with team mates, it becomes second nature.
I remember a teenage Abou Diaby playing on the left wing in a 4-4-2 system. 'Arsene what on earth are you doing? Diaby is never a left winger' I cried. I guess it was me who didn't know what Arsene was doing and not the manager himself.
This is common theme ever since Arsene arrived in England back in 1996. Arsene is an unconventional manager and not the norm that we are used to here.
Arsene does things that leave us scratching our heads, that make some Gooners think that he has lost the plot when in fact we never knew the plot in the first place.
The question arises as to why the manager sticks by players for so long when other managers would discard them and I think I know why this is. As fans we look at team building through Harry Redknapp spectacles. Buy a player, play him in his position, if he does not succeed then replace with another option. Continue this until success is reached. Nothing wrong with that if successful and many managers have been successful with this common method.
Arsene Wenger prefers to develop young players, players who are yet to be moulded. Players who haven't left it too late to learn all the aspects of the game. He tries to find gifted youngsters who want to learn, or are willing to take things on board.
So when they are 23+ they all know themselves and their team mates and we see the type of football that we have seen over the years when his teams have been kept together.
Cesc Fabregas was another who was played on the right flank in his young Arsenal career to further develop his game. Jack Wilshere spent plenty of time on the right flank in the reserves, perhaps to encourage him to develop his right foot.
Thierry Henry pretty much reinvented the forward position in this country and that was because he had played both as a winger and a striker, so he could combine the two positions.
It is little wonder why so many former great players hail our manager as a big reason for their success. That is not because he makes them good cups of tea, his methods have helped players like Weah, Henry, Pires, Vieira, Cesc, Thuram, Anelka and countless others reach the very top of the game.
I now understand why he continues to say that the answer is not always the transfer market. He has other ideas when it comes to solving on pitch issues. This is not to say that I don't think we need additional quality because I strongly believe we do, I am just trying to understand his methods.
7am Kick off put it rather well in a recentish blog a few weeks back (can't find the link, may add later) just because Arsene's methods are different, it doesn't mean that he is tactically naive. It just means that his own tactics are his own methods.
Objectively speaking, I believe that Arsene's methods have their plus points and negatives. Negatively his teams take longer to build and the dangers are that you can find yourself in a catch-22 situation as we currently are. Developing a team but then lose parts of that team then having to start over again as we are currently doing now.
The positives are that once the team have grown together you have elements in that team that you just cannot buy in the transfer window and that is another level of understanding, The best example of that is Barcelona.
If you told me that Arsene could only sign 16 year olds from now on but the best players were guaranteed to stay at the club for another 15 years then I'd sign up for that. I know, I know. You wouldn't, right?
Like I've said countless times, the issue for Arsenal has not been buying players in a certain price range, it has been retention. For me, that is what the club should be looking to address, and it is why I am not very comfortable with our current socialist wage model.
Going back to Aaron Ramsey I am intrigued to know how he gets on in his new role. He has now played offensive midfield, left attack, right attack and now defensive midfield. Will his time on the flanks help him cover for full backs out of position previously having to track wingers to protect either Kieran Gibbs or Bacary Sagna. When he goes forward, Abou Diaby should know when to sit in because he has played that role for Arsenal including this season.
Well Mikel Arteta is still out for the game tomorrow so the more rounded Aaron Ramsey will get his chance against the likes of Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen so I look forward to seeing how he gets on with that.
In other news Arsene has told the press that Barcelona do not want to sell David Villa. It looks likely that Neymar will be Villa's replacement in the summer but from now until then, they will be a player short so they are unlikely to want to lose a player before one comes in. Ironically, if the shoe was on the other foot then Barcelona would be encouraging the player to agitate for the move, it is unlikely to see Arsene asking that of a target.
David Villa is just the type of striker I'd love at Arsenal albeit about three years too late. I spoke about the type of forward I would like at the club and described this in a blog earlier in January
"A player who can play with his back to goal, control the ball and bring others into play (Giroud), a player that can twist and turn and beat his man in tight areas (Gervinho) but with blistering pace and a deadly calm finish (Walcott)"
Villa ticks a few of those boxes I'd say. Not sure how he would manage as a lone forward in England physically but certainly technically. It doesn't really matter because I very much doubt that he will join us. Now would have been a good time but in the summer younger strikers would be available to us so it may well be a case of now or never. Maybe not, maybe Arsene has wanted Villa for sometime. Who knows.
We have been linked with Florian Thauvin of Bastia who turned 20 only a few days ago. Reports suggest that we have had our first bid rejected. According to Jamie Sanderson, Bastia want £6m for the player. I must say, he looks to have talent. Have a look for yourself.
With that, I bid you goodbye.