Arsene Wenger has agreed to step down as Arsenal manager we can reveal. His last act was signing Mesut Ozil and has only good things to say about this current crop of players, many of whom he has nurtured. This group can achieve special things but I no longer can give 100% to them. I will be taking time out and who knows, I may take another job in the future.
It must be hard for Mr. Wenger to leave a club so dear to his heart. But what was more astonishing was his choice of replacement...
Louis Ross, the 'Professor's Student'. Relatively unknown, just like his teacher Louis Ross is a young English manager who happened to be gaining his coaching badges at the same time his good friend Andre Vilas-Boas was... The two were not to know they would be managerial enemies and It looks like Ross may be looking for a few pointers off his old pal come August... I'm not convinced about his appointment; he's got huge shoes to fil.
15 points out of a possible 24 in the league see's Arsenal in 5th place. 7 points off top spot. Manchester United have a new manager in Moyes but he has the Premier League experience, Ross does not. Although Ross' first European outing has started brightly, topping his group after a notable 5-1 win over oil-rich PSG. I'd like to add PSG played with 10 men for an hour or more but the way Arsenal showed no mercy suggests that they could be a real force if they can just add consistency.
Club legends like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira have called for the club to bring back the glory days, suggesting they are not won over by Ross, but with big clubs going out of the Capital One Cup and Arsenal facing Ipswich in the next round they could potentially go all the way. At this moment they do not look threatening in any other competition. This could be a quick spell for Ross.
The next column see's us with Ross, just before his side enters the December rush. Topics such as his rise to become a manager, his philosophy for Arsenal, his time so far, and what really happened with Mourinho this year will be covered!
15 games in and Ross' critics have been silenced, for now. The man that believes he can surpass all records set by those before him at Arsenal joined me for a review of the season so far...
What's your view on the season so far Louis?
It's been okay, I mean ideally I'd like to be closer to Manchester United. But we've got a long way to go and I think we can catch them.
And your players / signings ?
(Javi Garcia, Will Hughes, Luis Muriel, Juan Jesus).
The boys have been great. It's not easy losing a great manager, only for him to be replaced by a nobody. I've been working in the youth teams here for a while and have had a really good relationship with Arsene, maybe you in the media are skeptical about my chances but I know that I can take this club far. If the players trust in me, and themselves then we can be untouchable. The tactics I have deployed took a while for the boys to familiarize themselves with as I feel we don't have to play with wingers if we don't need to...
Confidence for a young man, Not another Mourinho are you? and whilst I mention him, what happened after the Capital One Cup match?
Not at all, I will not run my mouth like he does, but when asked if I think I can do the job then my answer will be how I feel. Mourinho after that match refused my company after the match, for a man who has been in the game as long as he has he needs to learn how to lose. No-one likes it but you don't throw your toys out the pram every time... Maybe because it was a weakened side I fielded and we still won.
What's your relationship like with the players? Some say that Ozil was furious to learn that the man who signed him left...
We're a close bunch here, the media's criticism drew us closer and it helps that this lot want to succeed so bad. I've had their co-operation from day 1 and that will be key in the coming months when it gets tough, we need to be united. Ozil did indeed want to work with Wenger, and it was a bit of a shock for me and him to be together, a world class talent like him needs space on the pitch to thrive and although the team is not built around him I had a chat to him and the other midfielders and we have worked on getting the best out of eachother.
What about your goals here at Arsenal?
To win everything possible... I'm here for the long haul and as a fan as well I want to see this team succeed. If the day comes where I cannot motivate them to succeed then I will step down.
For the full interview click here.
I think I got this young man wrong, he is talented and very level-headed. The players seem to be responding well to his vibrant approach and the good times may be coming back to Arsenal Football Club.
I haven't given up on the league title yet and after the FA cup win over United I think psychologically that gives us a big boost.
The board have been more than co-operative by giving me more funds this January. Seeing as Sagna wants to stay until he is 34 on a big wage I decided to sign Carvajal from Madrid and was mighty close to re-signing Carlos Vela for his buy back clause... Unfortunately we didn't have the funds. He's been in great form and I am not convinced with Giroud or Podolski. Walcott has repaid my faith when I put him up front though.
United remain unbeaten under Moyes this year, doing it in the big games is something they've done which we haven't done consistently. Losing 3 matches in the League to United, Liverpool and Chelsea. Man City we've done well against but they've had a poor season in comparison to the money they have spent... Pellegrini has been replaced by none other than my old mentor and close friend, Arsene Wenger...
Ever since the 5-1 at Newcastle the boys have had spring in their step, a confidence when stepping onto the pitch. I played with 'wingers' that day, and carried on using that system. Using Ramsey, Garcia, Flamini and Arteta as my Centre Midfielders, one being deep lying playmaker and the other my ball-winner / box to box midfielder. Cazorla Wilshere and Ozil occupy both flanks and my Trequartista spot behind Luis Muriel but Walcott and the Ox can easily slot in, especially as Cazorla has been in and out of form. The circumstances in matches sometimes demand the pace of the two latter.
The two lads Wilshere and Chamberlain single handedly won me the final of the Capital One Cup against Everton. After going 1-0 down we rallied back to win 4-1. Ox grabbing two and Wilshere with one, he had come in for criticism before this game and responded by captaining us to the trophy. Not the one most people want but a trophy nonetheless.
United are still going strong and with 8games to go we are still 9 points behind. They had Man City and Spurs to play, who incidentally we beat 3-2 and 1-0. Whilst my relationship with Wenger remains very positive, my relationship with Vilas-Boas has turned sour. His side beat us in the FA Cup but the we dealt with them in the league. Hopefully he see's sense and we can reconcile our differences.
We are on the verge of Champions League 1/4 finals here after beating Shakhtar in the first leg. Here's to hoping we can go all the way...
8 possible games remaining, 6 league, and 2 legs of the Champions League against Dortmund. The games I had hoped Man Utd. to drop points in proved to be just hope, they won 2-1 and 1-0 vs. City and Spurs. Moyes has got them disciplined and nothing seems to have changed from the Fergie era. They have just dropped points at home to Fulham, a 1-1 draw meaning the gap is 7pts with 6 games to go...We have overcame Liverpool 2-0 and confidence is high. A young, exciting team that can reach dizzy heights.
Wenger called me the other day... "Louis, you must believe in what your players can do. Give them belief and confidence as when you stop believing is the time when you have given up..."
That is all that was said. On the eve of a season defining game, Dortmund await us and we have to give ourselves hope of making the semi-finals with a good first leg result. Lose over two legs and I cannot see us salvaging anything out of that Premier League Campaign. Don't get me wrong, 2nd is great...
but it is also 1st loser.
United have only slipped up once in my recollection and that was the season Arsenal clawed back a big gap... This may be that time again.
They were sitting pretty, and after wins against City and Spurs I was convinced that was it, until two successive defeats. Liverpool and West Brom, much to everyone's surprise United appear to be choking and they have left us with the opportunity to close the gap to a point with 3 games left if we win against Swansea away.
Champions League Dreeam
After a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, it came down to us having to penetrate the Yellow Wall at Dortmund, The Signal Igunda Park.
Walcott starting as the main man up top in Muriel's absence and the Ox replacing an out of form Cazorla.
"GO ON THEO!" he is through one on one... Wiedenfeller tips it away but Walcott keeps it in. *just cross it* I'm thinking, then he starts to dribble, 2 defenders in his way before he can think about shooting from a tight angle. Bang. 1-0. Steve Bould jumping all over the place, our pocket of red in the stadium singing and stomping about. We can do this I thought.
Those thoughts lasted 4 minutes. Marco Reus being invited into our box by my defence, no-one stepping to him. When they did it was too late. If Walcott was doing well up top, then Chamberlain has done just as well from the right, after Reus scored I told the boys to sit and break on the counter until I could get them in at half time. Well, we did that. But not only did we do it, we scored from it, Chamberlain skipping past their left back, one on one with Wiedenfeller, Hummels closing his shooting angle off...
but not in time. 2-1. Advantage Arsenal.
Half time was a massive blur, I remember telling the boys to stay focused, this tie was not over, we were not going to get through this 45 minutes without a couple of scares. There were more than a couple of scares, but more than a couple more chances. None falling for either side, which meant a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
Louis Ross' Arsenal, League Cup winners, potential Champions League and Premier League winners, you couldn't write this stuff ay?
so it comes down to this, the last day of the league... Norwich halted Arsenal from going top the other week so it means a tense last day for both teams. Arsenal must win and hope Manchester United slip up. Ross' boys have shown the form of champions in recent weeks whilst Moyes' men have had a few hiccups.
Arsenal vs. Hull
Manchester United vs. Norwich Boy's it's all down to this one game, we've been better the last few weeks than Mancheser United and Norwich stopped us so can do a job on them too! You deserve this! you deserve to be winners. The time has gone where Arsenal wait for things to happen we have to make them happen now! Capital One Cup in the bag, we can add the one you all want today, the Premiership shows that we're the best in England !!1
0-0 at United here... but Arsenal are up within 5 minutes!! Luis Muriel!! he's ending the season very strong!! with Lewandowski signing a pre-contract maybe he feels threatened!
HT... Boys it's now! we sit top at the moment, after 45 minutes it could all change and it's not in our hands. Give it your all and what's meant to be will be. Either way I'm proud of you.
69 minutes gone and Arsenal have doubled their lead!! Great scenes here as Juan Jesus heads home! The league's young player of the year has been in fantastic form this year.
In the midst of the madness United have gone a goal down!! Leroy Fer punishing them!! they have to get two in twenty minutes now....
Champions! Arsenal are CHAMPIONS
13 days after the Premier League Title win Arsenal were dismantled in the final of the Champions League by Manchester United. 4-1 the result. Ross set his side out to attack and dominate, but to be picked off by swift counters. The 'no fear' approach doesn't always work.
Exclusive Interview: Louis Ross
Louis, you had your doubters this year, how does it feel to win two trophies and prove them wrong ?
It feels great, I don't do it to spite people or to prove people wrong I do it because I love the club and I want to do well myself.
There's been verbal arguments between yourself and Mourinho, Moyes and Vilas-Boas, is the air clear now?
I don't have contact with Mourinho, but Vilas Boas and Moyes I would consider us civil, words will be said in football, and our words will be twisted by the media. It is a passionate sport and a pressurized environment. Sometimes you wish you could take things back.
Best players this season?
It's hard not to say them all. Ozil was influential. WIlshere and Juan Jesus were the two best young players in the league. Muriel and Walcott got 35+ goals combined. Flamini and Javi Garcia did the dirty work and Ramsey puts in magnificent shifts. Chambo had a great season and was unfortunate to get injured, meaning he'll miss the World Cup.
What was your best and worst result in your eyes this year?
Newcastle 5-1 changed our season I think. That was pleasing because we played so well, same with Everton in the final of the capital one cup. We destroyed them. But winning on the last day of the season is a feeling i'll never forget!! Worst has to be the Champions League Final, United had a bad end to the season and I thought we could capatalise on that and dominate... In the end that didn't happen. They played smart and exploited us.
Too much success in your first season could have been bad though? Players getting too confident, fans and the board expecting too much?
Of course. But you wouldn't pass up a Champions League winners medal would you? The boys wanted it so bad. But it makes us hungrier. The fans and board must understand we give our all and we still need time. We'll become even better.
We are only into October and Louis Ross and his Arsenal side are sitting top of the league. After an abysmal pre-season in which they won twice, drew three times and lost twice. conceding at will and not being able to gel with a few new signings and with Ross changing the system to play with wide players. By the time the Community Shield came around Ross' boys were starting to gel and you could see the understanding of the previous season coming back. But the man behind the double winners has revealed to Sky Sports News what his plans are for the future of this team.
With a smile on his face, which has aged slightly more than it should have after that long grueling season. I've got big plans for this club, no-one really saw or commented on the work behind the scenes last in getting staff in for my youth teams. Marcel [Desaiily] and Pablo [Riela] have come into the u21 set up and are specializing in working with the defence and attack, making sure our younger players are well prepared and competent when they make the step up. Terry Burton is doing very well as head coach too.
The Under 18's are coached by Claudio Borghi, along with Marcel and Pablo, these three were my key targets to bring in. Borghi specializes in the attacking, technical and mental aspects in the u18 set-up. My vision for this club is that the high standard of facilities and top coaches I have here are going to transform my English academy players into future first team and national team players.
So you're trying to create an Ajax of the 70's ? a sort of Barcelona team? I suppose, footballing wise I want us to pass teams to death, to kill them before we step on the pitch. Like the Invincibles in 03/04; teams knew they were beat.
Wenger has been sacked as Manchester City manager now. How much of an influence was he to you ?
Well in my time in the youth set-ups I saw that the other coaches didn't do enough for the young players. Wenger would never neglect them though. He would give them chances and get them to train with the first team squad. This is my goal, to give my young players chances. Now that the League Cup is not an option I will have to find another way.
Here is a look at a few of Arsenal's next generation of youngsters. This is not to mention Will Hughes, Ravel Morrison, Serge Gnabry, Joel Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Ideally, the board want to create a starting 11 that consists of players that have graduated through Arsenal's academy. This is the Vision and now, fittingly I have re-named Arsenal's academy's THE VISION.
I have no problem with youngsters like Zelalem, Gnabry and co. making their way into the first team. Like now we have our British Core of players including:
Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Chamberlain, Hughes, Morrison and Clyne.
There will be more to come.