Really interesting interview with Santi Cazorla on Football Focus last weekend
“We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus.
“To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”
“We needed to have made that leap to try and battle it out for the title. There were seasons where you felt like we were in with a shout but then through various circumstances it wasn’t to be,” he said.
“But I think it’s all about having that self-belief, that right mentality. To say ‘We believe in this team, we know we have a great squad and we can go toe to toe with the big English clubs.’
“I believe that they will do that and for sure they will keep on improving in the future. They are going to have a great season, they have a great team and I wish them all the best.”
Santi Cazorla opens up on “lack of belief” at ArsenalSanti Cazorla opens up on “lack of belief” at Arsenal
What he highlights is that Arsenal lacked the belief that they could compete with the best in England. Both during the 90 minutes and over the course of the season.
What this highlights is that Arsene Wenger became defeatist in the latter years. That he started to feel he could not build a team that could compete, and he projected this negative mindset onto the players.
It was poor man management.
Arsenal not being able to compete with Manchester City, Chelsea or Manchester United was a valid opinion. We had a lot less to spend both in the transfer market and on players wages then these teams. But from a managerial point of view, Wenger should have been protecting his thoughts from the players.
He should have been telling the players they are brilliant, that they can become champions. Not trying to soften the blow of a defeat by pointing out that we can not expect to compete with Man City / Chelsea / Man U as we can not spend as much as them (transfers & wages).
Imagine being told by your boss “we will never be as good as our competitor because we do not have similar financial clout”. It creates a defeatist attitude leaving staff to accept second best as an achievement A good manager shields his staff and coaches them to compete – regardless of industry.
This is not just about football, but about management in general.
Managing people is no different in football to a sales office, a hedge fund or any other industry. A managers job is to motivate and coach to improvement. No matter the industry. Projecting your negative opinion into staff will not motivate them but lead them accepting the excuses.
If players “lacked belief”, then it was Wenger’s job to motivate the players, to install that belief. If Wenger was not motivating his staff, installing belief, then it is poor management.