Last season I was called negative and having an agenda for saying I would bite off anyone’s hand if they wanted to give us 20 million for Joe Willock.
The same was said for my prediction that our summer net spend would be between 50-80 million.
What that agenda was would never be fully explained.
It’s reported that we have accepted just over 20 million from Newcastle for Willock which means with less than a week till our campaign kicks off our net spend will be approx. 60 million.
I am not writing that to say I told you so, simply reminding some gooners that being positive for the sake of it doesn’t change our reality.
Arsenal are not immune from criticism just because they are called Arsenal and in the case of Willock just because he’s promoted from our academy doesn’t mean he should be immune from appraisal.
The question isn’t “is he or could he be a good player?” It should be “Is he good enough to take us back to the 4?”
That is the level we should be aiming for.
Heck, that’s the level so many of our fan base used to moan about.
Would Joe Willock get into any of the current top 4 midfield? If the answer is no, then only sentiment is making you sad about him being sold.
It’s fantastic when ‘one of your own’ succeeds but that doesn’t mean you keep him if a manager doesn’t rate the talent.
On loan at the North East the midfielder scored in 6 consecutive games, equaling Alan Shearer’s record.
In many ways the short term deal suited everyone. It contributed in the Toon Army avoiding relegation, the player got game time and Arsenal saw value on an asset increase .
Not quite what the 21 year old wanted. He could not have done more to prove Arteta wrong, but clearly the Spaniard had already made up his mind up.
Whatever your opinion on our manager he’s the third Gunners coach who, having worked with the player daily in training, has judged him not good enough to have a consistent run in the team. .
While many base Willock’s future on his final 6 games for the Toon, it would be wrong to ignore that Arsenal gave him 78 appearances in the first team. How many were great?
Since his debut in 2017 Arsenal have been in decline with one of our worst midfields in history. If ever there was a chance to break into our midfield it was in the last 3 years where we have struggled for creativity.
12 months ago, Arsenal were paying Ozil to sit at home so it’s not like there hasn’t been a position open to him.
Working for an owner who will save money every chance he gets, if there was a chance our youth set up had produced the answer to our problems we would be starting him.
Think of a Fabregas, Wilshire, a Ramsey, etc. Arsenal are famous for giving youth a chance .
The difference is it didn’t take those three over 78 appearances to have a great game.
I often compared Willock and Reiss Nelson as two fans who have won the prize of playing for the team they support.
They play like they are grateful to be there rather than believing they belong on this stage.
My memories of both in the red and white shirt is them playing with fear, taking the easy option due to being scared of making a mistake.
Their talents are not in question.
You don’t join a club at the age of 4 and make it all the way to the first team without having quality. The next step and what can’t be coached is personality.
Do you have the mentality to demand the ball?
Do you take on your man?
Do you fight till the last second?
A Saka and Smith Rowe showed that mentality. Joe Willock hasn’t.
That is what decides who plays for a midtable side or who competes for honours.
Playing at the level we want to be, you have to cope with the pressure of being expected to win every week, and if you don’t, living with backlash from fans who will dissect every last detail .
That’s why finding the net for Newcastle doesn’t mean it would be the same in North London.
Newcastle are not expected to play entertaining football yet alone win games.
Lose at Arsenal, it’s talked about on 24 hour news channels and online.
It’s forgotten that Steve Bruce wasn’t starting Willock. Most goals came from the bench.
That’s because in 2021 you need your CM to do more than time the odd run into the area.
Can they pick a pass?
Can they read a game?
Do they have game management?
Can I see Willock in a big game doing something to win us there points? No! Which means 20 million is a fair price.
It’s funny that the same Gooners who want Willock to get more chances accused the likes of Walcott and the Ox of stagnating due to being too comfortable.
Arsenal are finally being ruthless.
Willock would be mostly on the bench therefore 20 million would be decent business, especially if it raises funds for a creative midfielder.
But I do wish him all the best…
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