Disclaimer: Despite my complete respect and admiration of “the so few” who scrambled from their airfields at Biggin Hill, Hawkinge, Kenley, Manston, Hornchurch and so many other locations around England to defend the skies during the aerial Blitz from Hermann Görings vaunted Luftwaffe, this post won’t divulge into a history lesson – the title however, I assure you, is valid.
With Germany now currently being at the forefront of football talent in Europe alongside the likes of Spain, the Netherlands, France and Italy, it’s easy to look at the Bundesliga and tell yourself that these are players we’d love to have in our first-team as we look to build from season to season.
The sheer amount of talented German footballers that are gracing the pitches in the nation that’s home to the Rhineland and the Black Forrest, as well as in Spain and England is rather commendable. Coming off their World Cup triumph in Brazil, being touted as having arguably the best youth pipeline on the continent at current, and with the top clubs in the Premier League having the money to burn as they look to compete year on year, I am here to tell you that we are one club that should resist a German invasion as staunchly as possible…just as if it were 1940 all over again.
Let me be clear here for a moment – I love German players, ever since 1991 when my obsession with this sport began. My bias would love to see as many Germans at the Emirates as humanly possibly, but the realist in me knows that at current, it’s not in the best interest for the club moving forward.
Football at a club level is all about everything coming together on the pitch, from communication, to understanding, and work ethic. Most importantly, however, players that fit the system are often the difference between a title winning season and falling short. Bringing players in based off talent is not always a sure fire path to success – a player can be brilliant for one club, but flounder at another if he never finds his feet, and often times that can come down to the style of play of the club versus his own and how they clash.
For German players, who are accustomed to playing quick, incisive and dynamic football (unless you’re at Bayern under Pep Guardiola), possession/slow-build up is not something where they can flourish or adapt to quickly. It’s true that Die Mannschaft have switched gears in the last year or so under Joachim Löw and adopted a slower approach to their style of play, but much of that can be attributed to many of their players coming into camp from the Bavarian giants. As I was discussing with Geoff (@Hollefreund), unless we somehow started to take players off the books at Bayern, it’s unlikely that they’ll be an immediate success in North London.
Take Mesut Özil for example, a player who came to us as being widely regarded as the best no.10 in the world. Having established himself first at Werder Bremen and then with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, Özil shone for sides that were ruthless on the counter. Once coming to Arsenal, he failed to make the huge immediate impact that so many expected.
While the numbers show how important he is to us, he still faces the same criticisms leveled against him in his first season. While I do adore him, it’s interesting to consider how much better we would have been with an Özil who walked into the first-team and was as effective for us as he has been for others. For me, that has everything to do with taking a large amount of time adapting to a system he was not accustomed to whatsoever.
Another prime example, even more so than Özil, is Lukas Podolski. Capped 123 times for Germany (by no means a small feat) and bagging 48 goals in the process, Podolski is still to this day held in the highest regard by both Löw and his peers alike. For us, however, Podolski is likely to be seen as a failure, despite truly never being given a real chance to prove himself.
Poldi possessed a thunderbolt of a left foot, was intelligent in his movement off the ball and always looked to get into a position to have a go at goal…he even had a bit of decent pace about him as well. Touted as the best finisher at the club by Arsène Wenger himself, Podolski was more often than not rendered completely ineffective in the monotonous build up that our attack so often resorts to.
For a player who banged them in for fun for FC Cologne on two separate occasions and who possessed the ability to bang one in at the blink of an eye, he was certainly a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
Let’s also not forget the failure of Thomas Eisfeld to really make an impact at the club either, despite coming to us with much promise from Borussia Dortmund after seven years in their academy. Now Eisfeld is languishing in the Championship with Fulham, and has all but fallen completely off the radar.
So, why am I bringing this all up as the season is reaching it’s final act? Well, naturally it has to do with the summer spending we’re all hoping takes place to help us push on for the title next season.
While being linked to a myriad of players from around Europe, we’re being linked more and more to German players…not just this summer, but over the last handful as well. Marco Reus, Julian Draxler, Mario Götze, and Lars Bender are just some of the German players we have been linked to in recent summers. It’s worth noting however, that these players, despite having technical ability that easily meet the club standard, all play for clubs who predominately play counter-attacking football.
Bearing that in mind, it is entirely plausible that the following scenario would transpire: “Reus is overrated…he doesn’t track back, he gets lost in matches too frequently…what does he do? We are fools to have paid 50million pounds for him…never worth that money.” Despite everyone on the planet knowing just how good someone like Reus or Draxler are, the state of football today amongst the support is one where immediate repayment on money spend is required by the fans, else to them you are a failure.
When it’s all said and done, the notion that all footballers should be able to easily adapt to different styles and tasks when coming to a new club is completely nonsense – things like that take time, especially when you’ve been playing one particular way since you were the age of eight.
Despite my admiration for the German game and the brilliant footballers they are churning out in abundance, I do agree that it’s better to bring in players who already fit the system you’ve established and who can come straight into the first-team and be a positive addition, rather than a season long question mark.
As we have seen first hand all too many times, if you truly want a chance to challenge for the title, you need to every gear in the clock to be greased and working flawlessly, else you’ve got no chance at all. And when it’s all said and done, if we truly want to be a contender for the league from the off next season, we cannot afford major signings too much time to adapt before we see their very best…it could very well be the difference between our first league title since 2004, and another third place finish.
Andrew is our newest regular columnist here at ABW. You can find him on Twitter here (@AFCBvB1410). When not writing for us, Andrew also writes for Outside of the Boot and the Modern Gooner. He loves a good football debate; so don’t be afraid to chat with him on Twitter.