Apropos of yesterday's discussion about leadership in the Arsenal squad, I found this story to be revealing:

Rio Ferdinand will always remember his first day at Manchester United and the childlike excitement of pulling on the strip. "I was thinking to myself: 'These are Man United socks, this is how they feel. This is how the shirt feels, these are their shorts.'" Then he went out for his first training session and, bang, Roy Keane was screaming in his face.

Ferdinand had made the mistake of taking the safe option, playing a nice, easy pass to his nearest team-mate. He remembers Keane "went mental and barked: 'Pass the fucking ball forward.' I looked at him, his face all contorted, and he goes: 'It's fucking easy going sideways, pass it forward.'"


  1. Partly Sunny12:00 PM

    I guess that nobody told that to Carrick.

  2. Wow, that's really interesting. Since I've started really watching the Prem. consistently over the past 4-5 years, I've always had a sense of directness about Man. U. as opposed to Arsenal. Not directness in terms of just hoofing the long ball, but of really aggressively pushing the ball forward and always choosing passes that advance the ball, often quite far up the pitch. Also, of them being pretty good at it, percentage-wise, even though those sorts of passes are riskier. From this example, it looks like that's a result of an internal culture that is relentlessly practiced and imparted to new players by the existing squad, not just the coaches.

    Of course, to have that kind of culture, you need leadership and continuity, both at the management and squad level. Arsenal obviously has it at the management level, but at the player level, maybe not entirely. Of course, even if both teams are able to impart and execute their approach equally well, then there's the question of which approach is actually best suited to the Prem., and as much as I like watching Arsenal do their thing, I'm afraid it's probably Man. U.'s. Arsenal could do with a bit more of that directness and a bit less probing possession.

  3. @JDunn - all the more reason that Wilshere/Nasri are keys to the future. Everything about the play and on-field posture of both is more direct than Cesc (or Rosicky or Denilson). For all of his other failings, the one thing that I do like about Diaby is that he is always trying to push things forward. In his case, I just don't think he's good enough at it to be effective at the level where Arsenal want to play.

    The more I think about it, the more I think Wilshere not only IS but CAN BE the answer even at a young age. Rooney brought much of the same thing to United at a similarly young age as Keane was fading from the frame as the inspirational leader. That fire is why none of us can see United lining up Berbs/Chicharito despite the fact that they are the most prolific and efficient scorers in the league this season.

  4. Birty4:36 PM

    And that's why there will never be anyone as good as Roy Keane for a long time