Good morning all. Nice win for the Arsenal this weekend. Watford (it was Watford, right?) proved to be a bit tougher than expected and gave Arsenal heartburn in the second half before Cech closed the game out with a string of great saves.
After the game Arsenal announced,via dribs and drabs and through the manager, that they are signing two players, Mustafi and Perez. Regular readers know that I have been negative about Arsenal signing anyone all summer. If you need to vent on me about it, go ahead. It was a call, I got it wrong. So what?
Last summer I was certain, 100% certain, that after Cech Arsene was done with his business. That was an easy call because Wenger was trying to tell us that he was done in the market. Even though most people didn’t believe me and right up to the closing day they were still begging Wenger to sign a forward, any forward.
This summer my call was much different: it was clear Wenger wanted to sign a Vardy-like forward and a center back but this summer I made the call that we wouldn’t be able to get the job done because of various problems in the market. Still, even at the lowest ebb I wasn’t 100% sure that Arsenal couldn’t get the job done. I think I reached my nadir at 10% and, naturally, it was at that point that Arsenal started announcing (via the press) that they were signing two players.
I had logical reasons, and emotional ones, for why I thought Arsenal weren’t signing players. They mostly came down to availability and money but I was also sure that Arsenal wouldn’t sign anyone because of quotes like this one:
“It’s strange that when you want to buy a player, the other teams don’t want to sell player. Something is changing compared to last season. Not just for [us], but all the teams. Teams of a ‘medium-level’ now prefer to keep their players and not sell. That’s good news for the English league because it makes it even tougher, but not good news for the clubs who want to buy players.
“Something is changing. Not only for English teams or Spanish teams, but teams all over the world. Many clubs who are financially strong prefer to keep their players, to fight to stay in the league. To fight. We didn’t ‘refuse to spend money’ on the right targets. The situation is that those targets are not available to buy or spend the money on.
“I’d prefer to spend a lot of money on the right, great player, not a medium player. That’s a different situation. It’s important to be clear on that. So this market is very crazy and, now, we are seeing that it’s very difficult to reach our targets.
“But you have to understand that, in England now, every team has money. So you have to solve the problem with hard work. Sometimes you could solve the problem with money. Now you have to solve the problem with work. But that’s fine. I have no problem. Work is the bread and butter.”
That’s Antonio Conte, manager of the bus stop in Fulham. Manager of the team who were famously portrayed as “parking a T-38 on our lawn and firing fifty-pound notes at us” when they were caught tapping up Ashley Cole. Manager of the club who at one time offered to buy Theirry Henry for £100m. I thought “If Chelsea can’t buy players then what hope does Arsene have, with his famously cheap methods?”
I also thought that Wenger had a hard time attracting players.
But I was wrong and I love being wrong. I love being wrong because I learned several valuable lessons, lessons I have learned before but which I forgot and needed reminding.
It’s common in this blog-twitter-faceboog world for people to jump to an opinion. As far as I can tell, that is all Twitter is: people jumping to an opinion. Everyone seems to want to be the first to have an opinion about something, no matter how malformed, and they want to get it out there on public record as soon as possible. They want to get their opinion out there because this opinion jumping gives people a sense of moral superiority as in “I’ve been saying that for weeks (months, years, hours, and even minutes*) now, dude.”
I’m guilty of this, of course. And this is why at times my blog can veer wildly from one place to the next. I think that my opinions are founded in facts (and they usually are) but the problem is that I form the opinions before I have all of the facts. I’m not alone in this, I think almost everyone on twitter — all of us amateurs — and most writers on their blogs are guilty of doing this.
This leaves me with a question about myself as a writer. Is it important to have an opinion, no matter how malformed, just to be the first to that opinion? Or is it more important to have an opinion that is well thought through?
I think the latter.
So, I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to write every day but instead of publishing, I’m going to hold off. I’m going to publish when I feel like I have the idea more polished. For example, here’s an idea I would have written about today: Arsene Wenger seems extra harsh on center backs. I have some data to back that up, he’s dropped Per** and Chambers in the last two years and I bet you can name countless others. Wenger seems to burn through center backs faster than any other position on the pitch. Tim Stillman wrote a piece*** that explains how the problem is tactical but I think there might be something else here, or maybe not. Maybe all I can do is provide some facts about Wenger and center backs.
But the point is that I need to be a little more calm in the race to publish. I want to be anyway. Maybe I’ll fail at that. I don’t know, but I have to try.
One thing I’d like to keep is the community that we have built here. It’s a community based on dialog and I admit that I love your comments and learn a lot from the thoughtful responses you all (mostly) post. In order to keep that going, I might just post “news” here every day. Just links and rejiggers of articles — no (little) opinion. That will give you something to comment on without me getting too heavily into the opinion jumping.
Does that sound fair?
*People will @ me if I tweet something they tweeted a minute before me.
**You probably don’t believe me that he’s dropped Per but go look at his games at the turn of the year. He was on the bench a lot. He was dropped, people.
** Stillman was first! Except I wrote a piece years ago (during the high line chicanery) about how I wouldn’t want to be a center back in Arsene’s system because they get exposed so often and so ruthlessly. But honestly, I’m trying not to care who was “first”, even though I did just “first” him.