You may have heard about type A personalities.
Those who are lucky enough to be endowed with one are oft characterised as “more competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient and/or aggressive.” Sound like anyone you know?
I have one of these personalities, both my parents also have one (I had no chance!) and, of course, Alexis Sanchez has one.
Guess what? We don’t like losing. Moreover, we’re not very good at hiding that we don’t like losing. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and if things go wrong, it can ruin our mood for minutes, hours or even days. This can also make people not like you very much.
Monopoly in my family is a recipe for disaster. We once had a game called ‘The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game’ which we had to ban. Heck, even a simple game of pairs can become too much for us. And in much the same way, Alexis isn’t the player you want to hang around with after a defeat.
And if you believe him, neither is Arsene Wenger.
You see, that’s the thing about not liking losing. It makes you work harder to win. And we could do with a few more players who don’t just hate losing, but hate it so much that it ruins their week.
Letting frustration boil over
Stephen wrote a fascinating column yesterday on whether at some stage we may be better off letting Alexis (and Ozil and Wenger) leave in order to rebuild.
It makes sense in US sport where success is very cyclic and it’s much harder to build the periods of dominance that Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG have enjoyed in their respective leagues.
However, the problem with applying this approach to the Premier League is that the landscape is completely different. Other teams aren’t going back to the drawing board, letting the creme de la creme leave. Therefore, if you do so, you instantly drop back.
Even then, that might be an option in a less competitive league, but in English football the cost is just too high. Manchester United are only just getting any semblance of form back after three years in the wilderness.
We’re a great club, a huge club, but even the most ardent Arsenal fan knows that deep down United have just that little bit more pulling power because of recent history.
He who controls the present controls the future
The club and the history are important, of course, but talent also attracts other talent. And in the absence of a salary cap, there’s nothing to stop the biggest clubs in European football collecting all the best players, slowly but surely. Why would you play with Austin when you can play with Aguero?
Players want to win trophies, despite the current indications from the mercenaries selling out to Chinese superclubs. And the best way to win trophies is to work with other top talents.
That means that Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and – yes – Arsene Wenger remain important. And that’s almost as much for the future as the here and now, because the players that are attracted to work with our big names now are the ones who will sustain the club long after they are gone, whether for pastures new or the metaphorical glue factory.
So Alexis Sanchez is critical for our hopes of winning in the present, and also our future successes. So am I worried that he’s frustrated? Of course.
Do I think that him showing his frustration after the Bournemouth game – a game that showcased the very worst and the very best of this Arsenal team, most definitely in that order – is a sign that he wants to leave, however? Of course not.
On the netball court, I throw my toys out of the pram at individual decisions and actions, let alone an overall result. But it makes me want to train harder, and come back more successful next time. It doesn’t make me want to throw in the towel.
Leading the horse to water
On the spectrum of type A personalities, Alexis is off the charts. If he can get others to even half his level of frustration, success will undoubtedly follow. And lest we forget, it’s not as if he hasn’t had *any* success since joining.
Alexis still has his own flaws and foibles, most notably a desire to do everything by himself. He’s definitely improved in that respect, but I’d suggest there’s still a little more work to do. For example, an offlay to the well-placed Ramsey at 1-0 down on Tuesday night, instead of an ambitious and wayward long range shot, and the game could have taken a very different course.
As an attacking player, it’s easy to point the finger of blame at the defence, and they’re far from blameless. However bad the defensive brainfarts from Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka were, they also come under extreme scrutiny because their position means those types of situations often lead to goals. Meanwhile, poor decisions at the other end fly under the radar.
All the “behind the scenes” stories from the Invincibles reference the high standards the players held themselves – and their teammates – against. Our current crop of players are undoubtedly talented. But what we really need now is a collective raising of the bar by which we self-measure.
One player already demonstrates that attitude, for better or worse, in spades. We need him to lead the way and keep demanding more of his teammates.
So Alexis, here’s to your ambition, your frustration, and your general Type A personality. Here’s to you showing your frustration on the pitch.
And here’s to you using that frustration as fire for the rest of the season.
And if you ruffle a few feathers at London Colney while you’re dragging the rest of the squad up with you? I’m ok with that, I get it.
Us Type As aren’t about being liked, you see, we’re about being winners. And there’s no way on earth we can afford to let winners walk out the door.
After all, we’ve seen how that turns out already.
Welcome to 2005 deja vu.