Mikel Arteta has orchestrated a fabulous revival of Arsenal with the help of Edu Gaspar, replenishing a stuttering squad and turning them into a team of young stars who pushed Manchester City all the way for the Premier League title.
They did slip up in the end, but that doesn’t tell the full story of a seriously impressive revival over the last few years.
Since arriving from City to take on his first managerial role in 2019, Arteta has cleared the decks of overpaid has-beens and crafted a youthful squad built on a number of core principles, capable of playing sublime football.
How did he do it? He bought the squad a chocolate labrador and did lots of silly drawings about passion and desire on whiteboards. Really.
Alright, sure, there’s more to it than that. Obviously. But it was rather funny to get a glimpse of the… unorthodox… teaching methods that the Spaniard has implemented to try and light a fire under his young squad.
Did we mention the speakers on the training ground to simulate a matchday atmosphere? No? Yeah, he did that too. Nice to see he’s spending the transfer budget wisely.
The overarching point here is that Arteta has orchestrated a cultural reset at Arsenal using personality, a trait he and sporting director Edu seem to value to no end.
That’s all well and good – crafting a squad full of primadonnas and inflated egos will get you nowhere in football these days – however, we can’t help but think they take things too far, way too often.
To the point where nobody is taking them seriously anymore and for good reason.
Following the release of Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries on the Gunners, Arteta and Edu’s unique methods to get through to players became public knowledge and the conclusion drawn online was that – honestly – they’re a bit odd.
Watching the series unfold felt like a strange, sporty, semi-serious version of The Office. And that is not what an environment should feel like at an elite sporting establishment pushing for success.
After bottling the Premier League despite topping the table for most of the season, you’d have thought they’d have a rethink and shake things up somewhat heading into the 2023-24 season.
New signings have come into the door, though, and the old principles have remained. Old principles we feel inclined to call ‘Brentisms’ and for good reason.
Edu, upon giving new signing Jurrien Timber a tour of the club’s facilities, committed one of the most blatant, textbook Brentisms we’ll ever see. And we’re still not sure whether to laugh or cry hysterically.
Can't get enough of this exchange between Edu and Jurrien Timber.
The trophy in the dark, Edu's look back to the camera, Timber's helpless pause and search for help. Textbook Brent.pic.twitter.com/nfAdLMb9hj
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) August 2, 2023
Where do we even start here? It’s cinema. Pure, unrelenting cinema. Sod your Oppenheimer, sod your Barbie, Arsenal are back with another artistic masterpiece – and perhaps the most cringe-inducing 18 seconds of your year.
Edu brings Timber over to the silhouette of the Premier League trophy cut into the wall, before explaining that the reason it’s currently black is because it’ll be lit up when the Gunners next win the Premier League.
Except he awkwardly explains that while he’s stumbling over his words, almost as if he needs an excuse to justify the questionable decor that is admittedly rather IKEA in its design.
The stumbling over the words is the beginning of the end.
As he continues to ramble and make a point that is so painfully High-Performance Podcast it’s untrue, he looks back towards the camera which – at the perfect time – zooms in dramatically on himself and the trophy silhouette.
Honestly, perfection. Absolutely textbook David Brent.
What really ties together the moment is the painful eye contact Edu maintains while pointing towards the wall, rambling on like that one annoying bloke on a night out who has you in a corner and is keen to tell you all about the time he was recruited by Ferrari to jump their racecars over a quarry in the Middle East.
After the money shot that was the dramatic zoom following Edu’s hilarious Brent-like explanation, there’s a moment of silence as Timber absorbs the passion and mentality gifted to him by the club. Or in other words, the Dutchman is baffled beyond belief and desperately wants the ground to swallow him up.
You can actually see him very briefly lock eyes with someone behind the camera, an awkward smile trying its hardest to evolve into laughter.
The kind of laughter one can only muster up at the most inappropriate of times, like when the teacher has already gone ballistic at the class three times in school and is a moment away from complete meltdown.
“I like it, I like that” He eventually manages to muster up. We don’t speak Dutch, but we reckon that translates to: “Someone please call my agent and see if they can reverse the move ASAP.”
There’s been a catalogue of horrific yet hilarious Brentisms since Arteta put his stamp on Arsenal, the whiteboard being tough to top, but we reckon Edu might just have managed it with this one here. If this was cut into an episode of The Office, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
By Mitchell Wilks