The hindsight managers: he should have….

By Walter Broeckx

After our loss at Swansea I have seen a few comments blaming Wenger for not having interfered enough by letting Chambers play on right back after it was clear that he had a difficult match against Montero.

The reasoning was: we had Bellerin on the bench so he should have brought Bellerin on, put Chambers in the middle and take Monreal off.

It was an option. And of course after the match we can say: he should have done it.

But let us look at it from another angle or a few other angles.

I am not a professional manager but I am a follower of football over the years. And one thing I have learned over the years is that a manager almost never replaces a defender unless he really has to do it. The back 4 who starts usually finishes the match and only if one of them gets injured they are substituted.

Of course we can find matches where this wasn’t the case. Managers have taken off defenders without them being injured. But if 100 defenders are taken off I think in 98% of the cases it will have been because of an injury.

The reason is of course that managers usually like to make changes in the attack or in midfield. Because that is usually where the match can be more influenced. In fact the Swansea match was a good example of this. Swansea making substitutions in the attack changed their match.

Another angle is that if he would have done as proposed by some it would have lead to a few changes. And again no manager really wants to throw more than half of his back 4 in new positions during the match. Because when Chambers played in central defence it was usually Per who shifted to the left hand side of the defence. So that would mean 3 of the 4 defenders taking new positions. If a player is injured and it has to happen then it will happen of course. But not really something a manager likes to do.

And if he would have done this he would have taken off one of our more experienced defenders in the person of Monreal and would have made a defence with a 19 year right back – a 19 year centre back playing on the right side – a 30 year old centre back playing on the left side and a 26 year old left back.

So that would have as a result that on the right hand side of defence where the problem obviously was you would have two less experienced players. Would that have been a wise thing to do when the score was 0-0? Or would that have been a wise thing to do when the score was 0-1 in favour of Arsenal?

Now imagine if Wenger would have done the asked and we would have lost? It takes no big imagination to know what would happen then. We all know that Wenger would be crucified and called a fool. How could he possibly dare to take of an experienced player and bring on a kid who only played one PL before for Arsenal.

And then imagine what it could have meant for Bellerin himself. Coming on at 0-0 or at 0-1 and then losing. We all know what the moaning part of our fan base would do. They would go on all the blogs and ask for the head of Bellerin on the same plate as the head of Wenger.
Bellerin would be crucified, haunted and for a young player with not even a handful of games for Arsenal it could mean the end.

We have seen it before how players who had been the victim of that part of the fans suddenly turned better when leaving Arsenal. In fact you only have to watch at the keeper in the Swansea goal to have an example. Flapihandski they called him ignoring the fact that referees allowed him to be pushed, shoved and kicked when trying to go for the ball. Or when referees broke the laws of the game to allow what looked silly goals against Arsenal. But Fabianski was vilified by the moaners because that way they could take a turn on Wenger. Because after all : it was Wenger who put him in the goal or who had bought him.

And then we can also argue why would Wenger take off Monreal who for most of the 90 minutes had a good match against Wilfried as long as he was on the field. Yes I know that Monreal is not a born central defender but I think he doesn’t do that bad. I have reviewed the match and apart from their second goal he most of the time was beating his man. So why should he have been taken off?

And just replacing Chambers with Bellerin might also have been an option. But then again how can any of you be 100% certain that this would have been an improvement? Even I who have been writing enthusiastic articles on Bellerin for a few years now would not even dare to say that Bellerin would have been better in that position than Chambers in this match.

Because I know that the strength of Bellerin is in his attacking game. And I can see that he still is a bit naïve at times and still has the habit of running out of position too easily. That is the reason why I think Debuchy will stay in the RB position for a few seasons while Bellerin will learn that part of the game more and more and then will take over. And the reason why I think that Chambers will be used in another position by then.

Of course you could always argue that we had to buy more right backs. But when you look at the career of Debuchy there was no reason to imagine him being injured for such a long time. He had a few injuries but most of them were rather short term injuries. But then of course being allowed by referees to being kicked left; right and in the centre maybe never happened to him before he came to Arsenal. But that is something we forget as we can’t blame Wenger for that.

Talking with hindsight we can see that Wenger made the wrong choices. But nobody of those hindsight managers can tell me that the options we had and the changes proposed would have made a difference. It was a match between two teams who kept each other in balance. And I think that the lack of discipline of the midfielders and attackers cost us more than Chambers or Monreal did. And no change in the back 4 would have changed that lack of defensive discipline.

45 Replies to “The hindsight managers: he should have….”

  1. Chambers had real problems, but he is only 19 and lacks the experience to adjust; he has shown this in previous games, and it is a pity that the option is another inexperienced player until the injury list shortens.

    My view is that it was poor team defending which allowed Chambers to be exposed by Swansea’s tactic of isolating him in a 1 v 1 situation so often.

    The Ox should have accepted the responsibility of a double team; another option would have been to bring out a CH or CMF…………….not a particularly good idea.

    Team intelligence, which is normally such a strong point, seemed to be lacking hence the defeat!!!!

  2. A very thorough and convincing analysis, Walter. Having fully explained the situation as regards the defence, you rightly emphasize that the problems in defending were the responsibility of the whole team.

    Fundamentally it is the injuries that are costing us and those are the responsibility of the PGMOL, not our players or our manager.

    However, as Per Mertesacker said on, the players and the coaching team will have analysed what happened and looked at what can be done to prevent it (as far as possible) from happening again.

    Knowing he cannot rely on fair refereeing, Arsene Wenger is obviously emphasizing to his players that they must rely on their own strength and their own responsibility. There has been a good collective spirit in the team so far this season and we must hope this continues and gets them out of this blip. There is no doubt that we have a team of very talented players, even with the huge gaps through injury.

  3. What’s wrong with putting Bellerin at RB, keeping Monreal as CB and moving Chambers to DM when we need to hold onto a lead?

  4. See where you are coming from Walter. Personally, think rather than remove chambers, wenger should have been instructing the MFs and forwards to give him more protection……but have never been sure how much players actually hear from the bench. Think this is where we missed Arteta so much, he is an experienced player, has played different positions under different managers and systems, and is far and away our best…..some would say only in game manager. This is perhaps why wenger rates him so highly, and is so wary of replacing him with perhaps a more athletic specimen, but one of probably far less intelligence.
    I have long thought that Arteta, followed by Kos then giroud are our most vital players…..and guess what, we have been without them for virtually all this season. And does it show.

  5. 1979 Five minutes to go Arsenal 2 manure 0. a defender was changed to allow the sub to get a winners medal. He almost didn’t. I am writing this from memory so I could be wrong that it was a defender that was called off.

    If my memory is right then it is more evidence that is is dangerous to change your back line.

  6. Will,
    what is wrong wiht it, is that this is hindsight management unless of course you have said this when the line up was public and you posted a comment at that moment. If you said this before the match great insight and compliments.

  7. David Price came off and Steve Walford came on. Long time ago but Im sure Price had the No10 shirt, and he wasnt ever a defender.
    Whats interesting though is though how teams psychologically crumble from a dominant position.Thats soemthing we could do with working on.

    Luckily Chippy pushed things up front as he was knackered( they all were, remember Sammy Nelsons face after the bloody 2nd manure goal)and Brady and the team knew that they were gonig to lose in extra time.
    That ball to Rix always looks likes it isnt going to get there.The next minute its Alan Wunderland.
    Sorry about that walking off dahn memory lane.

  8. I am a season ticket holder and have supported wenger throughout though I am struggling to continue to defend him. At one nil with 15 mins to go we are exposed when Ramsey once more loses the ball 15 yards from the Swansea penalty box, flamini and Gibbs are alongside him. We are left with bfg and monreal being pulled apart by two Swansea forwards and their sub running into space, if the captain does not organise and tell the whole back four to stay together and flamini the dmf and Ramsey the box to box to hold in front of back four then wenger needs to be off the bench and screaming to players, that’s not hindsight, that’s just really poor management .

  9. Walter, I have said it in many guises for years going back to TV5. He should have been deployed in a DM role against soome of the tougher opposition.

  10. Playing Nacho as a CB is the real problem, as is the lack of any midfield presence.

    But that was what AW should have sorted back in the summer and he didnt.

    Maybe bringing Jenkinson back from his loan, playing him at RB and Chambers at CB could help improve the back line.

  11. its nothing about hindsight here. it should be been an routine sub, ie HB in the right back and Chambers given a breather from the torment. you are speaking hypothetically of what might have happened to HB’s confidence? what about chambers confidence. has any1 thought of that? tormented for 90 mins! everytime Montrose got the ball, he just went past chambers like he did not exist. their winning goals comes from that same side. how does chambers feel? did he get any support from his winger? NO! from the midfield? NO! could he rely on BFG for cover? NO. he was left there fighting for his life….literally!
    we say that Ox, should have supported him, but the Ox was the only one providing thrust for our attack. that leaves our midfield, but they were so engrossed in the attack, they left poor chambers exposed. did any1 of you see Montrose defend? the tactic was simple, Chambers was our weak link, and they targeted him. their midfield tried their best to neutralise Ox, but never did they let Montrose defend. they knew that the goal would come from that side. ok, then what did we do to counter this? we all know that AW likes to attack but I am sorry, to have a situation like this, specially with Bould around is just stupidity. what’s Bould’s role in getting the team to play compact? or is he there to make up numbers?

  12. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Football is a game of competitive skill. Arsenal have no divine right to be the best in every position on the field. The newly signed Chambers was bested by the experienced Montero. No doubt about that.
    In the return game we could see Walcott give the Swansea defence a terrible afternoon, with Chambers rock steady in defence.
    What goes around comes around.

  13. Ah Nicky, you sound like someone with an interest in Arsenal as opposed the passion that a lot of us feel. Sometimes like when we repeat the same mistakes again I wish I could remain as objective as you. I guess I bleed red and white and you like red and white.

  14. Without being rude the Ox should and could have done better.Equally Wenger should have been bold with him.

  15. @Fred,
    I first bled red and white in the middle 1930’s and I still do today (my 91st birthday). 😉

  16. I think the main point of criticism should be aimed at the players. Chambers was getting roasted for pace and not one player seemed to take any responsibility for helping him out. A substitution was not needed in my view, what was needed is some organisation on the pitch to ensure that montero was running into a covering defender when he was kicking the ball past chambers and using pace.

  17. Happy birthday Nicky!Did you ever see Ted Drake play? What was it like in the 30/40s 50s? My Grandfather was a regular in those days and had some funny stories.
    Youve seen some incredible changes in your life so far, fashions and massive historical changes, the 1920s must seem a long was away.
    Keep on keeping on, the Gunners need you!Always great to see you posting on UA.
    Happy birthday, hope youre having a good one.

  18. Happy birthday Nicky!

    I think we’ve met on some of the threads about food at Untold. Do you ever read The Register? They are currently running a story about Scotch Eggs. They are not a football blog, more like the news a nerd or geek like myself would read.

  19. Happy birthday Nicky. 91 and still following the club the way it should be followed, respect. Modern fans will never be able to reflect on how the game has changed. I am 51 and the difference between now and the 70’sand 80’s is mad. Let alone the ‘1930’s….

    You must tellis some stories.

  20. ni9cky….are you really 91 today????? What a treasure trove of memories and live experiences you must have about the Arsenal! Please write an article or two if you are up to it, telling us how it was back then……

  21. I wish now I’d never mentioned my birthday… would save me being quite moved at the generous good wishes which have come from my Untold friends.
    I first followed Arsenal in the glory years of the mid 1930’s. I had a lucky War. And a happy marriage which still continues.
    Consequently, I find it a bit difficult to complain too much when Arsenal clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.
    Will reply to the odd question tomorrow.

  22. Without knowing you or much about you Nicky……a ripe old age, a happy marriage, a lucky war ( without knowing the detail , would guess that is in relative terms) , living a life in Guernsey, and to top it all off, being a Gooner for so long… least in some of these issues, the Universe seems to be smiling on you! No wonder you have more perspective than some over all things Arsenal

  23. I sometimes wonder what a wonderful place Untold Arsenal is.
    How many blogs have a person passing by every day (almost every day I think) who is 91 and who shows so much wisdom.

    And I always feel happy when I see a comment from you on Untold. Long may you stay in this world and long may you continue visiting Untold and spreading your wisdom!

    I feel honoured to have you on this website. But that feelings goes for many of you to be honest.

  24. @Kenneth Widmerpool,
    Many schoolboy footballers, pre-war, had Ted Drake as their idol and I saw him play many times during my stay in England during WW2.
    In one match, Arsenal had a corner from the right.
    Ted and the opposition goalie stood side by side alongside the far goal post upright. As the corner was taken, Ted stuck his left arm out and grasped the post in front of the goalie, denying him any chance of advancing to meet the corner kick.
    It was my introduction to professional gamesmanship. 😉

  25. @Gord,
    I enjoy the catering reports if only to lighten the more serious comments on the football, some of which imply that the game is more important than life and death…….which it isn’t. 😉

  26. @Walter,
    Your kind words touched me no end. Especially in the midst of all the work you do for Untold, some refereeing and most important of all, caring for Madame. I hope you will be able to give me and others, some good news on that front.

  27. Thanks Nicky great TD story, you were lucky to see him. Did you see the Arsenal at WHL though during that period? Did you see Cliff Bastin play too, what was he like? Who else stood out in those days?Did the goalkeepers still wear roll neck jumpers?

  28. @Mandy Dodd,
    My first bit of luck was to be born in Shangri La.
    Then followed……
    1. Got away to England in time to avoid 5 years of German Occupation.
    2. Lived in Oldham and then Leeds before they bombed.
    3. Lived in London after the Blitz.
    4. Joined the Army in 1943 and within 10 months was serving in a Commando Brigade in Burma. Wounded but only a flesh wound.
    5. Demobbed in 1946 and returned to Shangri La.
    Mandy, I think you will agree that I’ve had more than my fair share of luck! 😉

  29. Kenneth W.,
    In my day, the first thing a goalie did on the field was to throw his cap and gloves in the back of the net. Neither were used except in rain and the cap was an ordinary man’s one.
    The players I was most proud of was Swindin, Male and Hapgood; Crayston, Joy and Copping; Kirchen, LeslieJones, Drake, Bryn Jones and Armstrong.
    Not that they all played together

  30. Nice one Nicky. You did well to get out of Guernsey in time, have visited a few of the museums there, occupation did not sound a lot of fun for most.
    You did well to get out of Burma….relatively unscathed as well, especially as part of a Commando unit!
    Not sure I believe in luck, but from what you,are saying on here, at times looks like you had someone looking after you! Or maybe you behaved in a past life!

  31. Thanks for writing back Nicky.Male, Crayston and Kirchen I dont know but the others I remember from reading about the Arsenal history. I also recall in a programme from the 79/80 season a picture will lots of the players from the pre 50s they were stil present at the club during that time, and many times at Highbury if you went in the stands a lot of older blokes would start talking about the old days.My Grandafther also often spoke of the players you mentioned too.I wished I had talked to him more, he would have been a year older than you.Suprised you didnt put the Boy Bastin on the list, but we all have our own favourites!
    The players in the 30s and 40s always look as hard as nails. The goalkeepers must have been tough with no gloves, freezing cold and the footballs were heavy soaking up the water with the lacing on the size.Tough guys, in tough times.

  32. off topic. Löw is on Poldi case again today in the KE saying he doesnt have the quality at the moment for the DM,but Poldi already said this week he wants to stay at AFC and show them what he can do, and Löw has said get thee gone from Arsenal, so it looks like all sorts of daft public games.
    Oh the excitement of the interlull.

  33. @Mandy Dodd,
    I’m a great believer in guardian angels.
    I gave up driving last year after 3 or 4 near accidents, (combined accelerator and brake stuff) which someone or something told me to give up or else…

  34. Belated Birthday wishes , Nicky ! Just came on here to catch up on my UA reading .
    If I’d known it earlier , would have found and posted something funny enough to tickle you and get your dentures airborne !
    May still do it ! CHEERS !

  35. @Brickfields Gunners,
    Many thanks for your good wishes.
    Teeth are still my own (perhaps only until Wednesday’s visit to my dentist).
    I enjoy your funnies but ensure never to have a mouthful of food when reading them. 😉

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