To quote Roger Daltrey further … “the simple things you see are all complicated” … or are they?
One of the ‘tactical Wengerisms’ that has always puzzled me is the timing and on occasion, the choice of substitutes.
The timing of subs is invariably around the 70-75 minute mark, and the players who are introduced often don’t seem to have time to get into the game. Sometimes players are replaced to conserve their strength for future games and sometimes, (particularly last season) it is in an attempt to win a game or hold on to a lead.
Mourinho would sometimes make substitutions at half time if things weren’t working – was he worried about undermining the confidence of his players or just focusing on getting the right result?
Defensive substitutions worry me and send out the wrong message to the opposition. Our style of play relies on the other side always being wary of our ability to score rapidly on the counter-attack. Swapping a striker for a midfielder is one thing, but bringing on a defender and asking him to play in midfield doesn’t work for Arsenal. We should concentrate on ball retention when we want to preserve a lead – just review the 4:4 against S**s this season for a classic example of giving the ball away unnecessarily.
I think AW is conservative in the timing of his subs. He has often said that he doesn’t want to undermine the confidence of his players and he may consider an early substitution as just that.
After the controversial subbing of Eboue he said: “He is a sensitive boy who wants to do well and cares about the club. He was tired because he didn’t play for a month and on top of that it is difficult when you have the crowd on your back.”
No doubt most readers will recall occasions when they were perplexed by our substitutions, like the times when Theo was taken off but looked our most dangerous player – was he getting tired or being preserved – who knows? Should Arshavin have been brought on at half time in the FA cup semi? – Yes its ‘Championship Manager’ stuff, but debate is healthy.
Arsene’s way is Arsene’s way! He’s not going to change, we all know that. He places huge importance on ‘team spirit’, ‘mental strength’ and ‘belief’, and when things are going well, those qualities prevail. When things are not going so well, should the emphasis be redirected to a more ‘results orientated’ view of team selection?
I only ask the question … I don’t know the answer… I am really looking forward to next season with Arsene at the helm and hope his ‘human’ approach to man management proves to be as successful as the last time he ‘re-built the team’.