“Confidence is shot to pieces”

Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal’s ‘confidence is shot’ and he is ‘struggling’ after Germany’s World Cup triumph

It was a dramatic headline in the Independent and it sent shock waves through the brains of a lot of fans.  Well, some at least.

But then, slowly, it became clear that this story was not all it seemed to be.  As we dug around and looked at exactly what Per said, it really didn’t quite seem to make sense.

Now let me say, in case you don’t get to Arsenal games, that Per has a very special place in Arsenal’s current situation.  Not just because he gives his all in games, not just because he is a world cup winner, but because of his interaction with the crowd.  He stays on the pitch after the game.  He walks to the north bank and waves at those of us who stay to wave back.   He really does care.

So Per Mertesacker saying that he is “struggling for form in the aftermath of Brazil, is typical Per.  Honest.  Self-deprecating even.   But saying that the teams “confidence is shot”… wow.  That is taking it a bit far.  It must be bad.

Thus we read with interest.  The headline, as printed above, used the inverted commas, the speech marks.  This was a real, actual quote, using his own words.

He was speaking after the last minute triumph over Anderlecht.   And what exactly did he say?    Well the Independent quoted that headline and added that Per also said, the team’s, “passing game is off”.

But what we were looking for was the actual quote, the actual words, the sentence that included the “confidence is shot” quote.

“Everyone knows that it was a difficult start for us and our confidence is not that much how we wanted it. The character is good, the mentality is good but football-wise, we lack a few things.

“Our passing game is not as efficient as last year. We are not at our best. We have to admit that, be honest with ourselves and train harder.”

OK that’s fair enough.  Honest, to the point.  Welcome.

He went on, “For me, it is difficult at the moment because that was really a long season last year and to come back from that World Cup and get the motivation

“With those games, the belief and the mentality is there but the motivation will come back. We didn’t even have time to celebrate properly, that was the first thing. But you realise month after month what happened. Maybe in five or 10 years you can really realise what was going on there. We came back to Berlin, got on the stage, waved our hands, showed the World Cup and then everyone disappeared to their families to get some holidays, some rest, calm.

“That was really difficult, to get into a proper holiday. The restart is more in your head than anything else. That was really a problem. But I am happy not to have picked up an injury yet and I am confident that I have already been through the dangerous period. I am really happy that I am fit and ready for the proper fight during the winter period.

“It is harder mentally because I  started literally when the season started. I have never experienced that. It is at least two or three weeks before the season started, usually, but we had already won a cup, the Community Shield, and I wasn’t there at that time, I was still on holiday. That was something really strange for us to think about.”

And the “confidence is shot” quote?  Not a sign of it.

But ok, maybe the editor cut it.  Let’s go searching elsewhere.   The Guardian is never a paper to let a good quote slip, or a chance to knock the Arsenal, go by.  What did they say?

“Per Mertesacker has offered a candid and damning assessment of Arsenal’s shortcomings this season, saying that the intricate passing game is misfiring, there are issues at the back and the collective confidence is low.”

OK that is similar ground but not quite at the frenetic “confidence is shot” level.   There is also the usual Guardian chatter about “sneaking” a win.  Notice it is our fault if we concede in the last minute, but “sneaking a win” if we do it to the opposition.  Hey ho, that’s how it goes.

And injuries were no longer on the agenda.  Now “the most worrying being the poor quality of their passing.”   OK I thought it was the confidence, but I can re-work that.

And then we are into the passing game comments, reassuringly similar to those in the Indy.

On confidence he said, “Everyone knows that it is a difficult start to the season for us, and confidence is not that much how we want it. But the character is good and the mentality is good.”

Mert also had a good word for Podolski.  “He showed with his clinical finish. You can wake him up any second in the day and he will score with his left foot. I would say he’s the best finisher I’ve played with. You can see that every day in training. Even with the side of his foot, he has power. We play a lot of football around the box but when it comes to finishing and shooting, we lack that. So he gives us another quality.”

Positive stuff, but of course that didn’t make the headline.  But to be fair to the Guardian, they did publish it.  Indeed they published some positive stuff, “It is 100 days after the World Cup so I think it is time to raise the game, raise the mentality. It was good for me to retire so I can completely focus on Arsenal and not switch off and on every two or three weeks. Slowly, it is going to start. The season is going to start.”

And what of the paper at the heart of the battle for the heart and mind of the PGMOL – the Telegraph.

They started with force: “Per Mertesacker has a delivered a blunt appraisal of Arsenal’s struggles this season, admitting that the squad lacks confidence and must work harder in training to have more variation in their playing style.”

After that it is a combination of the quotes in the other papers.  But the Telegraph, never one to let a chance to hit someone go by adds,

“It adds up a to fairly damning critique of a season.”  Maybe.

But “confidence is shot”?   Well it appeared in a headline with the inverted commas, suggesting it was said.   But it seems it wasn’t.  It was made up by a journalist.

The quote gave the impression of an Arsenal meltdown, a theme taken up with vigour by the AAA, but it was all make believe.  One dozy journalist playing a little game and the story spreads among the headless chickens.

It was ever thus.  Candid, damning, blunt?  Not from what I read.  Honest and straightforward.   Trouble is, I doubt that after this sort of editorial he’ll be so open again.

The index and the anniversaries.

35 Replies to ““Confidence is shot to pieces””

  1. I thought it was illegal to deliberately, even accidently misquote somebody in public.

    If that is try why don’t Arsenal/per do something about it ?

  2. Telegraph and The Independent always try to stir up little experiments of creating misplaced headlines, fantasy quotes, and using expressions such “Rant” “Outburst” “Lost It” so on, for the AAA to click and brain wash them further.

    I think they may even have small group of their laziest “journalists” to write whatever they want on Arsenal, just so they can get clicks and spread mis-information.

  3. I published these figures earlier on another thread but they seem to have some relevance to this article.

    From our 5 draws and one defeat:

    Home to: Man City, Spurs and Hull.

    Away to: Everton, Leicester and Chelsea.

    Arsenal Others

    Shots: 103 47

    Shots on Target: 32 22

    Possession: 61% 39%

    Not the statistics of a team lacking confidence or ability I would suggest.

    Lacking a little accuracy and luck maybe, but confidence?

  4. Maybe next, they will haul Tony Woodcock out to tell the world we are in a relegation dogfight?

  5. Mandy Dodd

    Blimey. there’s a blast from the past.

    I was there at Villa park when he got FIVE, all in the first half I think but I’m not certain.

  6. @jambug
    October 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Please allow me to add one word to your last sentence – in my humble opinion should be complete as follows:

    “…Lacking a little accuracy [and FAIRPLAY], luck maybe, but confidence?…”

  7. Nothing about our team indicates LACK of confidence!!! NOTHING!!!

    They are a UNITED bunch who work for each other…am I the only one who sees this?

  8. apo Armani

    I agree, I don’t think they lack confidence.

    But I do think on occasion they think…”What the fuck, here we go again” and lose heart and perhaps focus.

    Either, it be from yet another shite decision or bad luck.

    But more often than not they find a way to salvage at least something.

    At the end of the day they are not blind and see what we see. It must affect them. No?

  9. I thought what Per Mertesacker was trying to do was reflect honestly on some of the things Arsenal is facing – like the injuries which he mentioned but which of course didn’t get any headlines since the journalists don’t want to tell the public that there might be objective reasons why Arsenal is not quite at its free flowing best.

    But nobody is allowed to frankly and honestly discuss anything without a bunch of unprincipled journalists trying to make sensationalised, and in the case of Arsenal, Arsenal bashing, copy out of it.

    I have cut out Per’s comments for my scrap book and removed anything written by a journalist since they manage to insert some negative form of words into everything they write. Similarly with Arsene’s comments after our glorious victory over Anderlecht.

    It is interesting that all the three papers Tony quotes followed the same line as usual. The Telegraph followed it up with a full page article about why Arsene should go upstairs and become a director. I didn’t read it but I noted there were no quotations at all in it so it was all just journalistic verbiage.

  10. @jambug
    October 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    I will stay with your comment:
    ”What the fuck, here we go again” and recall WAY BACK in the days when I was that super age; with casts amounts of testosterone pumping through me…those few words I quote from you would have been enough to not lose focus but to intensify focus in my detriment…and thats what our opposition play on (we have quoted several of them and their managers here on UA).

    I am with you on that our lads have evolved in their stubbornness and the no matter what attitude to get SOMETHING out of the game by FIGHTING to the end…I commend these young boys for this – I would have been sent off for half of what they put up with!

  11. As Mandy Dodd wrote; I can add that these youngsters fight not only in a fair gam of football, but against dirty tactics given by opposition managers, but questionable Ref decisions (continuously) as well as The Media on a day to day basis. It takes great self belief and character to cover all of this RUBISH and FOCUS on what has been instructed to you by your manager (Wenger) at this inexperienced age (19-22).

  12. apo Armani

    I am the same. Alas I too would of spent half my life suspended, which leads me to another point.

    We constantly get criticised for not ‘getting stuck in’, but the second we do we are in trouble.

    Considering what a bunch of softies we are it’s funny how we get a booking every 4.4 fouls.

    A booking every 4.4 fouls. That is just ridiculous.

    Just imagine the cards we would get if we did actually start to ‘get stuck in’ as they put it !

  13. @jambug
    October 24, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    And I am sure the great guide (Wenger) has drummed this into our guys!!!

    You go in half as hard as the opposition you could be off in the first half!!! Otherwise we have more then enough in our squad to kick out – but the consequences for some peculiar reason are heavier on us then the $$$ sides against us. What choice do these youngsters have; play to win FAIRLY or be sent off UNFAIRLY?

  14. apo Amani

    Imagine if we had the likes of Shawcross playing for us !!

    He’d be permanently suspended.

  15. Jamburg

    Shawcross (if in an Arsenal shirt) would have (by now) been in prison for pre-medidatated bodily harm charges!

  16. Hell you would have to be pretty confident to have these BUTCHERS “in your face” week in week out!! Don’t you think?

  17. I have posted this in an earlier article…but it sticks well here too:

    Neville: “We knew how to beat Arsenal. We knew how to ruffle them and rile them. We got into Reyes, as well as [Thierry] Henry and [Robert] Pires. We knew if we got into their flair players, the players who made them tick, we could go on to win the game with the quality that we had.”

    Reyes: “In all my sporting life, I have never received so many kicks as I did in Manchester. It was the hardest match I have played.”

  18. apo Armani

    Many wise words you speak but alas as much as I could ‘chew the cud’ with you a little longer I have to depart. LEWIS calls, as does Mrs J.

  19. I am proud of the lads.
    Even though they are not firing at the moment, they are fighting, and that is what we want. We do not want to see them resigning, even though the odds are so stacked against them.

    How long can they put up with this without something breaking? It is time to show a little more love to the team, if that is possible, but you know what i mean, they need to hear, see our support double to 200%, it will help them to overcome this.

    Soon, the team will start to have back the players we missed so long, Walcott for one. The defence is a little porous atm, but that is to be expected until the new ones bed in.

    As long as there are sites like this and fans at the stadium who show this, the players will know and be stronger too.

    Anyway, i’m rambling and will stop now, else i’ll probably be off on a tangent.

  20. On the back of reading Pat’s post I too will now be starting a scrap book and suggest all true UA Ultra’s do the same we could even have a competition at the end of the season to see who has the best one ? with a prize not sure what ?

  21. It’s clear there’s an anti Arsenal bias in the media that to say otherwise is just plain denial. Every Arsenal headline I’ve seen in the mainstream media for the last two or three months is negative. Even when I was following the BBC feed on Wednesday, Liverpool were getting mauled while we were not but looking at the comments one could be excused to think it was us losing 3 nil to Anderlecht at the Emirates with Liverpool holding Madrid at the bernabeu. We’ve always known they don’t like us, but it seems worse this year. Is it because we “nicked” the best player to join the PL this season, Alexis, from their darlings Liverpool?

    This team isn’t lacking any confidence at all, at least not from what I’ve seen. What I know is they’ve been unfairly treated on many many occasions this season, to the point I would not be surprised if one of them did something drastic (like the Alexis punch on Ivanobitch) by taking the law into their own hands. It’s been that bad that such action would completely make sense.

  22. @AL
    October 25, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Thats right!!

    And wouldn’t this absurdly but still very obvious Bias Media JUST LOVE for this to happen:

    “…to the point I would not be surprised if one of them did something drastic…”

    I can read the headlines now!!!

    ‘The Gunners have their own Vampire’ could be one that springs to mind.

    Its as if we are being railroaded into such a station.

  23. Jambug – so was I. Although not for the entire 90 minutes – for reasons I won’t go into here!

  24. Er… took a while for that comment to come through. At Villa Park for Woodcock’s 5 I was referring to!

  25. If only there was Arsenal coverage from someone other than UK broadcasters and they did commentary in English.

    Then we get to see unedited – as in time wasting is shown – footage and have decent commentary. I cannot trust not one single media outlet whose primary language is English to tell the truth about football and Arsenal. Such bs.

  26. Jambug & Apo – you guys are so right about the way we have to be disciplined in our approach to the game because of PGMOL ‘wrongful arrest’. It is time our CEO made some noise in the overseas press. If it has an effect on the gambling everything will stop.

    Looking forward to the truth catching up with the corrupt. It has to sometime soon.

  27. As regards vampires, I would prefer ‘Gunners begin to test opponents for testicular cancer!’.

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