Is Aubameyang and High Performance Possible?
What does a high performing workplace look like in the world of football, and what does a low performing one lack?
High performance can be quite a misleading term, certainly until it is quantified into productivity/efficiency. In football it certainly can be disguised by an average player plugging away, ergo a lung busting 90 minute Milner marathon. It also may be encapsulated via impact off the bench, with a certain rabona obsessed Argentinian having a very productive NLD in terms of talking points! Or even purple patches, where the love of the fans, form of a player, and right combination of sock tape and hopping on one leg combine (Dwight McNeil and his wondergoals).
But what does it look like in terms of team play? Certainly stats paint some picture, with the emergence of xG in recent seasons (coincidentally 1st placed Man City with 64 goals for from 30 games played, and a xGF of 2.10. Contrast that to Liverpool sitting in 6th with 48 goals for from 29 games and a marginally smaller xGF of 2.07) indicating a teams ability to take chances or certainly produce quality chances.
There is of course the old faithful of kms travelled per game, which on the surface has never really delivered useful data, but sure does help reinforce stereotypes about hard working players, versus lazy chancers, with good old James Ward Prowse grinding out a league leading 396 km in 2020, and currently having his most prolific season. Hence the age-old expression, work harder, not smarter. Or something along those lines.
Victoria Concordia Crescit, Victory Through Harmony.
Now in the world of work, it’s quite common that businesses have external and internal branding, so that they engage both their customers and employees, sometimes these are one and the same, to ensure that you fully love what you do, I’m looking at you loyal Apple fans, stop trying to sell me iPhones down the pub.
So what does ‘The Arsenal Way,’ mean? Does it even exist? Is it the dust that settled after Wenger’s departure, or is it the famous back five? In recent years it seems to have been a consolation prize for underperforming, but doing so via shexhy football (to be read as big Ruud).
The Arteta Way
New management is always a tumultuous time. Ethos is introduced, practices reviewed, heads roll, and typically things progress. But this all requires buy-in from both above and below the managers rank, team revolts and confidence votes have derailed many a gaffer.
You feel that this isn’t an issue for Arteta, having previously convinced Saka, ESR, and Auba to new contracts, the manager seems to have the players backing. This is essential and was in no doubt boosted in January with the departure of marginalised players.
The early season form, and mid-season revival is indicative to this. From the outside there have certainly been frustrating patches, and Arsenal are certainly guilty of underperforming, but for a team that will not receive massive investment, it’s important to create a platform to progress with. This has to come from the senior leadership.
Sunday was a joyous outing, one that certainly lifts the spirits and can be another launching pad for this stuttering season. Yet it could have been overshadowed by the glinting shade thrown from a chrome wrapped Ferrari.
Auba benched. If there was ever a match to make a statement, then the NLD is it. Depending on the future performances of Auba, it could be interesting to see how his performance issues impact his career. He is without a doubt a well loved member of the squad, but normal management would dictate a removal from his leadership position, due to questionable characteristics.
For all his faults Xhaka has always owned his mistakes, and faced the consequences, he is a dependable/professional member of the squad, which is why he so frequently starts. If he remains and stays in the first 11, a Captain/Vice of Granit/Tierney would be a passion overload.
Arteta mentioned in an interview given to Arsenal.com “We had to create the right culture for our club, and it has to be an environment that first of all everybody has to respect each other.” Going someway to explain the public statement dropping Auba before Sunday’s match. This coupled with a watchful eye is one of the underlying factors in the team’s rotational strength, you could argue that in every position there is a competition for places (Mo vs Partey seems a little stacked in one’s favour).
HR time now, let us compare the business perspective of performance, and see if we can’t put a little spin on it.
Hiring and Onboarding- Willian shaped pegs, for Özil sized holes, Willian has turned his form around, but this is most likely due to the fact he’s not being asked to play as a number 10. ESR and Ødegaard have changed the team’s attacking fortunes. To date the only transfer howler would be our Icelandic keeper, who has mysteriously disappeared, maybe due to a recognition of the signing blunder.
This summer should be an interesting moment to fully understand the squad direction and Arteta masterplan.
Define Goals and Direction– Presumably Champions League football is a 1-2 year goal, and this is surely the key metric that Mikel will be measured on. In terms of squad direction, the players are more tactically astute, but maybe below the required level to execute the plan, thus resulting in regular major errors.
Employee Feedback– Reportedly the team fully back the choice to drop Auba on the weekend, alluding to the success of the non-negotiables and accountability. Furthermore, this completely establishes the manager’s authority in the changing room.
Rewards and Recognition– Contracts have been extended, short-term success has also been delivered in the form of an FA cup. Players have been given the chance to make an impact on the team through high levels of rotation.
Training and Development– Lowest levels of injury in the league, high levels of tactical astuteness, but why take my words for it, when we have those of Schalke star Shkodran Mustafi:
“From day one, everyone believed in what he was trying to put on the pitch, how he wanted his team to play. He analyses the team so well that when we go to the training pitch, he knows exactly what he wants to do, what we have to train to then be prepared for the weekend.
“I have to say, I have never had such detailed training sessions. We are working in great detail about everything. Of course, we try to do our football first but then we analyse the next opponent and see where we can defeat the opponents with our strength.”
Employee Retention – This will be an interesting one. With the squad as heavy as it is, players still need to be shipped out. The target as always is retaining your key players, and profiting from the chaff (where possible). Come June would you still like to see Auba in the Arsenal setup, or could the money be better reinvested? Elite skills, aging player, questionable attitude, any familiarity?
Return on Investment
For a business under the UK umbrella of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, success is surely driven by profit. The key way to spin pennies is to generate success through performance and TV revenue steam, that coupled with making players look like seductive overachievers.
It means been astute in your management style and focusing on how that impacts the business. A foundation appears to have been shuffled into place over the previous 14 months, and will only improve, as long as the drivers of performance are obeyed.