I've been away for 3 months travelling so am back and have decided to start a fresh story with Arsenal!
Walking to the stadium in my new suit, it's sole purpose at the moment was to soak up my sweat. I was much more relaxed in the car. Plenty of my ex-professionals pals had told me it was more nerve-wracking than your first game. How do you prepare? tell them your philosophy, your tactics? but what is the use when you have a few interviews with every set of players used to different ways? what do the board prefer too?
"All dressed up with nowhere to go aint ya lad?" I looked at the old boy, probably had a season ticket every year since he could remember, probably waiting outside to moan at anyone affiliated with the club for letting the previous manager go, probably going to be in the same spot if/whenever I leave the stadium if I get the job.
I got a place to be, it's in that dugout the other side of these walls.
The next 2 hours were a blur, lots of people knew who I was and apart from the obvious I hadn't remembered any names.
Don't worry too much about the staffs names Louis, worry about the players names, and get me a list of names of ones you're interested in, you start tomorrow.
I couldn't believe it, at 29 years of age I was a football manager, a professional career cut short, one England cap to my name, I had been sour for a while, but one door shuts and another one opens.
Suppose you're gonna be our new gaffer then? The old boy had a few more of his retired mates, all had the Arsenal scarfs round their necks.
It seems that way my friend
I thought I saw you play for England once another said
I did yeah, but the ankle gave up on me
You don't win something this year we'll have given up on you too lad.
Encouraging I thought, but Arsenal football club deserves to be at the top once again
Not bad at all start to the season, we're sitting top after 6 games, most surprisingly Southampton are 3 points behind with a game in hand, with a better goal difference... and also Stoke sit 2nd... football is a funny old game as I have learnt. a couple of years ago I was set to sign for Arsenal, now I am managing them.
Man City loss hurt, and the media onslaught began... rightly so as we were off the pace, after a good pre-season I didn't expect that. We've come back very strong and apart from the Zenit match where I thought we could have nicked the draw we've put in some very good performances to beat good teams.
Stevan Jovetic- Injured and out for 2 months, had a couple of games and will now take the full season to settle in I'd imagine.
Cheick Tiote- A real enforcer, playing 4-5-1 he is anchoring and doing a very good job.
Nicolas N'koulou- The Frenchman is versatile and is able to play DM or CB, he's my 4th centre back and is available to cover in midfield if needed. Not a starter just yet.
Remy Cabella- With injuries to Wilshere, Rosicky, Arteta and Walcott all before the season started I needed flair, eventually Rosicky and Arteta will retire, Rosicky's replacement I see is Cabella and Arteta's is Ramsey. He's impressed in recent games.
Blaise Matuidi- LOAN At one point I had Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott all injured, all were long term. Matuidi will provide cover and depth we need if we're to compete this year on all fronts, the midfield is very strong.
Christian Tello- a release clause at 8.75m I couldn't really say no! with Gervinho and Arshavin going I really wanted Tello, a tricky winger with unbelievable potential.
Players who have left include:
I'm happy with things here at Arsenal and the old boys outside the stadium seem happy with me for now! Champions League we need to be near perfect now and it will be tough with Dortmund in the group as well. I'm confident in the team though. Podolski and Giroud have been scoring freely at the moment, if one doesn't score the other most likely will. Koscielny has been a rock at the back and in Sagna's absence Jenkinson is showing me why I didn't need to buy a right back in the Summer.
Some good signings there mate. Another anchor man to look at potentially if you want to sign one is Victor Wanyama. He's young and develops really well! A good start to the season as well bring home the trophies :p
Things are good. I thought going into the Manchester United match we would get something. Dortmund and Tottenham had been put to the sword and I couldn't see us losing, but a penalty and a set-piece in the first half it didn't stand us in good stead. Regardless of this we'll be top if we win our game in hand and going into the December period we've just got Wilshere, Rosicky, Tiote, Walcott and Giroud all back from injury. In between Arteta had been banned, and Ramsey is still injured. Koscielny has been ruled out for 3 months also. We've definitely overperformed considering the injuries we've had but hopefully the worst is behind us and we can remain injury free in the second half of the season.
Jovetic has returned too after his injury so I'm not expecting to see the best of him until after Christmas, but he's shown glimpses for sure.
The Premiership race looks like it's going to go down to the wire with 13 games to go. The games against Swansea and Liverpool we went 1 up then switched off. Newcastle we never turnt up. The draw against Chelsea we also went ahead and they pegged us back. It's frustrating but with N'koulou and Tiote being away at the African Nations cup and Koscielny being injured it's been hard for the defence having to play week in week out over a busy December and January. Sagna and Jenkinson have had to feature at Centre Back at times too.
One massive plus is the signing of FALCAO. The striker wanted out and the board, impressed with my showing come the turn of the year provided an extra 35m to spend. for an eventual 25m fee Falcao swapped the red and white of Atletico Madrid for the red and white of Arsenal. Another man swapping the red and white of his former club to ours is James Ward-Prowse. I have sent him out on loan but he is being added to my British midfield which is slowly being assembled.
Falcao has bagged 5 in 5 for us and his addition makes us that bit more dangerous. Podolski and Giroud are capable of scoring but week in week out it is not always there. Jovetic has not performed as I would have liked him to but it's hard to hold down a starting position in a team like this at the moment.
The final games of a great season, the most important job of my life and I made it through the first season. The board backed me In January and with their backing this Summer I'm hoping to build on it. Giroud ended up with 20 goals in all competitions which for his first season I am very happy with. He didn't get disheartened when Falcao came in and they both played key roles.
Jenkinson played a hell of a lot of games last season and hasn't made the improvements I had hoped, with Sagna forcing me into offering a new deal until 2015 I had no choice but to strengthen my right back slots with Corchia and Byram. Sagna will leave this year I just want money for him rather than leaving on a free, and Jenkinson is in the process of a move. Byram I hope can come on leaps and bounds, he will be given a chance.
Park, Rosicky, Bendtner, Denilson, Podolski (loan) have left along with reserves and youth team players too. Chamakh and Diaby will be sold too.
This is a new era I am looking to bring Arsenal in to. Wenger laid down the foundations now I have reaped the rewards by adding a bit of my philosophy; I'm sure it's going to continue for a while to come. One player I would have loved to have come in was Thiago but he opted to go to Chelsea. James Rodriguez, Leandro Damiao, Neymar are amongst the biggest players to be wanting moves away from their clubs so it will be interesting to see if they end up in the Premiership. I'd love to move for Isco or Lamela as a replacement to Cazorla eventually.
Early days I know, but things look bright. Falcao is scoring freely and Jovetic is adapting more now. He seems settled in a role behind the striker or as the striker himself. Wilshere is my main man behind the striker so I am working on a possible diamond formation so Falcao and Jovetic can both play, or a formation with two Attacking midfielders behind a central striker. Chamberlain is really coming into form too, scoring a magnificent hat-trick against Cluj. We have exactly the same group as last year I believe for the CL and have won one and lost one, the Dortmund match was end to end for 90 minutes. at 2-1 in the second half we should have scored at least 3 times in a ten minute period but their goalkeeper performed heroics. Eventually with us pressing we lost 3-1. Two competitive losses both ending 3-1 at the moment, apart from that a fantastic start and I know we will carry this form on for a long time to come. Hughes and Ward-Prowse have been sent out on loan too. I signed Alvaro Morata very late on in the window and he will spend this season on loan at Werder Bremen.
I looked up to see the group of old ultras outside the stadium again, beaming smiles on their faces, after a 4-1 drubbing of your North London rivals so they should be happy.
"We were good today you got this team playing beautiful stuff!"- another added
Cheers gents, I'm an Arsenal fan too I just want to take this club as far as possible. That Champions League final could have gone either way too.
Yeah yeah. They got lucky don't you worry.
yeah well you better win us that Champions League or we'll be turning on you Mr Ross!
I'll try my best for you lot!
I knew they would be happy after today's result, Spurs couldn't handle us. Still unbeaten in the league. The Champions League though looked bleak in our last match, trailing 2-0 to Zenit away from home, five minutes left and Giroud scores a brace to rescue us, if we had lost that I don't think qualification would have been in our hands, we would have had to rely on results of others, as it is now we have to beat Zenit at our place then I'm sure we can go through, I don't care too much about 1st or 2nd place because we have to beat the best to be the best and Barcelona and Real Madrid are the ones I want. Madrid having signed Neymar look pretty special at the moment.
Domestically I want the FA cup this year and I want the Premiership again, and there is no reason whatsoever that we shouldn't achieve that.