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Arsenal complete course in crisis management

Sunday 13th August 2017
Arsenal came back to defeat Leicester 4-3 in the opening game of the season, a sign that they have clearly been working hard at their cataclysm administration and have transformed into a resolute team with confidence.

The phrase crisis management is defined as:

“the process by which a business or other organization deals with a sudden emergency situation.”

Following Arsenal football club for so long, I've seen a fair few emergency situations, in the context of our seasons, nine-year trophy drought and our expectations as Arsenal fans. It used to be that when it rained over the Emirates it poured. We'd have days where everything would right and we could win a game 3-0 comfortably, yet when we were challenged the team would falter and chaos would ensue.

The finest example of this is this 2011/12 season, where there was an awful amount wrong with the club. Despite having the league top scorer in our ranks that season in Robin van Persie. I believe it was just three games in when the team took a trip to Old Trafford and lost 8-2. I, like many fans, was inconsolable for quite some time. This really set the tone for the rest of the season and highlighted problems which would daunt over the team for an extended period.

The game started well for Arsenal as we were awarded a penalty, it was saved however and the rest is history. The problem was that there was no reply – no intent to get a game by the scruff and say: “we're going to change our fortunes and get out of this rut”. No player had the leadership qualities or attitude to change an in-play game.
That season was also traumatic for a number of times where the club lost games which they held winning positions; such losses to QPR, Fulham and Swansea City were games that the Arsenal should have won but lost their heads when conceding one goal and totally lacking any character to get back into the game, thusly ending up losing it.

Another major constraint on the team at the time was the total absence of a reliable bench. Wenger even had to call on the services of Thierry Henry in the winter transfer window, who was on his holiday as the Major League Soccer season was on its annual break at the time. At one point he lined up with some of Arsenal's youth academy players.

It's with great happiness that I can now say, five years on the Arsenal seem to be over such challenges. The team are now a headstrong collective which seems relatively unphased by the site of an unfavourable score line. Taking you back to the FA Cup semi-final, Arsenal were down with just 20 minutes to play. The Arsenal of old would have concluded that Manchester City was too strong on the day and bowed out and probably invited Agüero in for another goal. This Arsenal though, Arsenal 2017 onwards, went on scored the leveller took the game into extra time and scored the winner.

The same theory can be applied that when Chelsea came back into the FA Cup final with Costa's goal to make it 1-1, they could have buckled under the wind under their adversary's sails. Yet now, the mentality isn't to dwell – it's to get on with it and go and win the game. It was seen against the same foe in the community shield, they kept in it – took the game to penalties and won it.

It's this exact Arsenal that we saw take to the pitch against Leicester. Now the fantasy score line of 4-3 can't be solely attributed to the North London Reds, as the Foxes pushed them to the wire but the chips were down at multiple points in this game – but this determined Arsenal pushed through the bleak times and found the win. This mentality was unforeseeable in the squad five years ago.

There is a large factor to consider here as well, that Arsenal now has real competition for their starting places. Back in the disaster season, there was little flux in the starting eleven. The only reason to change would be down to injury or suspensions. This saw Chamakh start an awful lot. Andre Santos too. Gervinho as well. Gosh, that was a horrible time.

Now though, the players know if they don't play well – even in training – their spot could be taken up. Our defensive roster is jam packed full of centre-backs, full-backs and wing-backs. One wrong move and you're out. It creates a competitive culture within the squad because they all want to play for the greater good of the club. Our forward options are also exceedingly fruitful, Lacazette, Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott and Alexis likes to be up there too. Perez is still with the club, too. Sorry mate, it just didn't work out. It allows us real options for rotation and different formations – which is something in the past we just didn't have the luxury of doing.

It's this mastering out crisis management situations and our extensive roster which will drive us forward as the club and prosper for more trophies, as well as returning to the Champions League competition.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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