Tag Archives: attitude

Guendouzi – Stick or Twist?

Arsenal’s squad in terms of youthful talent pushing through is in rude health.

Some of the starlets in our ranks are among the brightest we have seen at the club for some time. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe represent a hopeful future for Arsenal that we can thrive when these kids really start to bloom.

Matteo Guendouzi could be mentioned among these names. The young Frenchman is very highly rated at the club and beyond, but it seems that he is missing one vital ingredient in order to rise above the average and really strike it at the top.

That is humility.

Guendouzi, as I write, is currently training alone after his spat with Neil Maupay of Brighton. His comments toward the Gulls striker revolved around money and how Brighton’s number nine would never be able to earn what Matteo is currently on at Arsenal.

It indicates two things. One, that Guendouzi is prioritising the wrong thing and two? He really needs to put the effort he uses to annoy opponents into his football.

Since then, we have seen stories, or ‘leaks’ circulating around Guendouzi’s attitude at former clubs and of an apparent bust-up with Sokratis at our Dubai training camp earlier this year.

Now we may or may not ever know the truth about his run-in with our Greek defender, but his behaviour at his former club Lorient is a very good gauge of who the boy is behind the player as it is verified information.

His former manager at Lorient, Bernard Casoni, spoke to the media this week and had this to say:

Guendouzi’s problem is not physical and is not technical. It’s his attitude, it’s not good for the team or the coach. My relationship with him was not very good.”

“I chose him for a cup match against Nice but he was booked very early. The referee told me at half-time to warn Guendouzi: one more fault and off we go, but in the second half nothing changed. I had no choice but to master it. When I did, he refused to shake my hand.”

Most tellingly, Casoni finished with this, “He took his job seriously, his training was no problem and his character is to always want to win.

“Sometimes when he talks it’s good. But sometimes he speaks badly. He talks too much.

“His talent is not in question, this is not the problem. He can be a top player and I think he can still be successful abroad. It is up to him to change his attitude.”

Guendouzi featured heavily under Unai Emery, playing 33 times in our PL campaign alone. This season though, has been a stop-start campaign for Matteo, and early under Arteta, Guendouzi found squeezing his way into the team a tough ask.

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The balance of Xhaka and Ceballos has no doubt not helped Guendouzi’s quest for minutes, but it seems that Arteta is not keen on the Frenchman staying at the club. Perhaps one bad apple does spoil the bunch? Just imagine being in that situation – training with a bunch of teammates daily, but one of them is difficult? It would sour the ambience at the training ground to a degree.

But it is undeniable that Guendouzi is talented. He would have no shortage of interested parties should he decide that the going is better on other shores.

How do we avoid another Gnabry situation?

Now there are many facets that aren’t similar – Gnabry’s attitude wasn’t abrasive and he couldn’t get enough gametime from the start. But we have let plenty of young players go, only for them to immediately show us what we are missing.

There is a definite chance of this happening with Guendouzi.

The problem is that if he does stay at Arsenal, how does Arteta get him to tow the line like his other players? Currently, putting him out to train alone is not exactly fertilising positivity. So if Matteo flouts the rules again, how should Arteta react?

Alternatively, if he did it again, would that indicate that Guendouzi is simply a renegade who isn’t interested in harmony and mutual respect?

It’s clear that Guendouzi isn’t the finished article – his positioning smacks of inexperience and he far too often fails to track his man, but we have all seen that he could be a huge player for us.

Or for another club. At this moment in time, it looks likely that our crop of promising youth players will shoulder the responsibility of Arsenal’s immediate future without the help of the crazy-haired Guendouzi.

 

 

 

Daniel Crowley – Nothing Worse Than Wasted Talent

The comparisons between current prodigy Daniel Crowley and previous Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere have been plentiful. Both players have pulled up trees at youth level for Arsenal, and both play in a similar style; looking to pierce defences with passing and carrying the ball through midfield.

Crowley was pinched from Aston Villa, much to the Midland club’s dismay. So much so that they appealed about Arsenal’s payment of compensation for the youngster. They had trained him up through the Under-16’s all the way through to the Under-18’s team, despite Crowley being 12 and 15 years old respectively. They had unearthed a gem, and Arsenal had seen gold and snatched him.

Precious is exactly what Crowley’s level of talent is. A year after joining Arsenal, Crowley signed professional terms with the club at 17 years old, and was soon exhibiting his unbelievable prowess for first the Under-18’s and then the Under-21’s. So much so that he was included in Arsenal’s pre-season squad for Singapore at the start of 2015.

It was clear that Crowley had progressed as much as he could with the youth sides. He was ready for a stiffer test, one that would see if he could implement that burgeoning talent in the hustle and bustle of the professional ranks. Crowley was sent on loan for an initial six months to Barnsley in League One.

In his first month for the side, he scored his first goal for the club against Premier League outfit Everton, and the young lad was taking to his challenge like a duck to water. So it was somewhat surprising to see Crowley despatched back to London Colney two months earlier than planned. The then Oakwell manager Lee Johnson even went as far as to say ‘he’s the best 18yr old kid I’ve ever seen.’ 

So what happened at Oakwell? Why was this kid that was seemingly destined for greatness, sent packing from his loan club earlier than planned? The answer comes from the coaches at Barnsley themselves, who felt that even though Crowley had made 13 appearances in all for the Yorkshire side, he had struggled to break through and was wasting his time at the club.

A slight contradiction coming from the then League One club. They declare that Crowley is the best of his age that they had ever seen, and yet they decline to enjoy his services for the time that was agreed? Arsenal to a degree also stepped in as Daniel had not made as big of an impact as previously hoped, but something seemed amiss. Why, if Crowley was so highly rated by Barnsley, did they use him so sparingly and allow him to be recalled?

Daniel saw out the season playing a prominent part for the Gunners youth side as he had done prior to his loan spell, and just before this season started, Oxford United were declared as Crowley’s next destination. This time, the loan would cover the whole season and again, he would be cutting his teeth in League One.

This would really be the acid test. Crowley’s talent really should shine through at this level if he was given sufficient playing time. At 19, the time for him to step up was upon him. No more would youth be able to shoulder the blame, especially with players the same age making waves in the tope European leagues. 

Again, Crowley started his loan spell well, scoring his first goal for the club in his first month. However, his loan spell was again cut short – this time six months early – as Oxford United terminated his loan deal and sent him back to London Colney. He had made just eleven appearances for the club, with only five starts, and had scored three goals. 

What was at the root of yet another failure to spread his wings at professional level? Well, this time the blame lay firmly at the feet of Crowley himself, as opposed to a shroud of mystery. 

Crowley had returned to his parent club for talks before the loan deal had been terminated, and at the source of these crisis talks was a game against League One bottom side Shrewsbury Town –  a game that Crowley had featured in. 

Oxford United lost the game, and United coach Michael Appleton had dropped a number of his team for the following game. The manager felt that some of his team hadn’t performed and as is the way of professional football, they must train hard and prove themselves worthy of another game.

Crowley from that moment never made another matchday squad. 

Appleton had previously commented on the progress and use of Daniel Crowley, stating “I’m certainly not going to lose sleep if Arsenal have got an issue with Oxford United going forward. What we are, and always will be, is very professional. Nothing and nobody will ever get in the way of what we’re trying to do from a team culture and ethos point of view.”

You don’t have to be a genius to read what Appleton is trying to say in a diplomatic manner. Crowley had seemingly rocked the boat a little regarding being dropped, and Appleton was having none of it.

So, the state of play right now is we have a talented kid who cannot make the leap from a big fish in a little pond into the big lake. Crowley may yet get another opportunity to impress on loan in the second half of the season – but who would take the risk?

This is where the comparison between he and Wilshire ends. Jack went on loan and came back a man, and straight into the Arsenal matchday squad. His desire to succeed was what fired him, and even though his injury woes has seen him flit in and out of the side, Jack’s professionalism ( to a degree, if he cuts out the cigarettes ) has seen him valued by Arsene Wenger and now Eddie Howe at Bournemouth.

Crowley could also take a leaf out of Alex Iwobi’s book. The young Nigerian has risen through the ranks, and he now sits where Crowley should be, if it weren’t for the lack of perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle – attitude.

Without this, Crowley will eventually slide down the ladder from what is still a priveliged position – and a golden opportunity. 

You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the grit and mental strength to ally with it, then you are destined for failure. Cristiano Ronaldo is blessed with skill, but he is where he is because he is merciless on the training pitch, practising for hours after official training hours have finished.

To climb to the top, you must have both skill and tenacity. It seems Daniel Crowley should be searching for the latter, otherwise his dreams could dissipate as quickly as his loan spells.