That’s what Pep Guardiola said earlier this week about staying at the same club for 20 years.
There is increasing speculation that Arsene’s departure is becoming more a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ with each passing match, particularly after he spoke of leaving a legacy at the recent AGM.
Yet in the same week, one of Wenger’s rumoured potential replacements demonstrated exactly why he should not be the man to manage Arsenal. And it’s the same reason he gave for not wanting to remain at a club for the long term.
It would be boring.
Boring, boring Guardiola
There is no doubting that Bayern are a very good footballing side. Their team sheet is dominated by excellent technical footballers who work harder than many with half their talent, and who cut apart the very best teams Europe had to offer just a few short seasons ago.
In that era, they played an aggressive and attacking brand of football which saw them transition from defence to lethal striking in but a moment. Teams didn’t know whether to press or sit deep, but they were cut to pieces either way.
And then Guardiola arrived.
Pep is clearly a very good coach. His teams are disciplined, organised and understand exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Their ability to retain possession is unrivalled, even by a Barcelona team renowned for such play, and they have a better all round game than the great Barca sides which won pretty much every trophy going.
But at Bayern, there is something missing. A missing piece of the puzzle.
And that makes Bayern – and Guardiola – boring.
A Messi-shaped puzzle piece
Two seasons ago, in Guardiola’s first campaign, we were on top of them until Ozil missed that fateful penalty and Szczesny’s got sent off. But most tellingly, even after the red card, they largely huffed and the puffed and generally failed to blow the Arsenal house down. In the end, they didn’t put the game to bed until the 88th minute.
They take no risks to try to break down an opposition defence, and on Tuesday night it was not uncommon to see the German players in a ‘V’ shape with Neuer at the tip and no one occupying the centre forward position. That made it very easy to retain possession as there was always an overload of players on the flanks while Arsenal were required to keep a central presence.
That’s where Pep needed a Messi, to float into those gaps, scare the very souls of the Arsenal defenders, and even if he didn’t create the main moment itself, his presence would be sufficient to allow others to flourish, in a similar way to Walcott’s oft underrated impact on a game.
Without a Messi, it made Bayern very easy to defend against. It is no coincidence that many schoolboy level coaches encourage their players to channel attackers towards the wings where they cannot be as dangerous, yet Bayern’s players voluntarily took up those positions, neutering themselves.
We often bemoan our players not making sufficient runs off the ball, but Bayern struggled to get players into that deserted central space on very many occasions at all. One of their most dangerous chances came when they did manage to play a one-two into the box relatively early on to get Thiago one on one with the keeper and Cech made a solid save, but it was the only real chance of note which they created with their largely negative brand of football.
The change in Bayern’s style has to rest firmly at the door of Guardiola, and it’s why he simply cannot be the next Arsenal manager.
We deserve better
We may or may not play the best football in England, but it cannot be disputed that we are there or thereabouts. As the money has returned, we have been able to restock the squad with the type of player that was briefly beyond our reach, and we now boast a team packed with pace, power and guile.
We have not have quite the same ability to maintain possession as Bayern Munich, but we more than make up for it because of the positive way we approach the game.
Taking risks in defence is suicidal, and something we have had to work hard to cut out of our game. Taking risks in attack is how you win tight games of football. Bayern had a ridiculous 70% possession, but the vast majority of their final third passes were sideways or backwards.
The Emirates faithful are all too familiar with sterile passing in front of defences, and let us tell you: it doesn’t work. As the excellent 7amkickoff noted, arsenal’s passes to chance creation ratio in the final third was 3.84 compared to a miserly 9.23 for Bayern, and we created twice as many ‘big’ chances.
Without risk there is no reward
I’ve written before about how we often look like we haven’t had many chances when you watch a highlights pack, because we typically try for an extra pass which will make a goal a high probability rather than taking on a lower percentage shot or turning back to retain possession. That’s where our ability to generate ‘big’ chances rather than low percentage opportunities kicks in.
The chance of sliding Walcott through on goal every few attempts is worth the passes that get cut out, and the possibility of Alexis dribbling into the box and hammering a shot into the top corner is worth the risk that he gets tackled along the way a couple of other times. It may be frustrating when that extra ball isn’t right, but it’s a tactic that breeds consistency of success.
Football is a game of 90 minutes and you only need one attacking risk to come off to win the game. As it was, Arsenal scored two and should have had a third barring Neuer’s heroics, while Bayern’s boring pass-pass-pass approach saw them fail to record a shot that truly stretched Petr Cech. Something to think about Pep?
So please, don’t come here calling our manager boring, when your own team defines the very term. You cannot hold a candle to Arsene.
The day Guardiola takes over at Arsenal would be a dark day indeed.