It’s easy to overreact to what happens in preseason, especially to defeats, and especially to heavy defeats in what otherwise would be rivalry games. While results never actually matter — the “fake games”, as José Mourinho once called them — sometimes they do portend bad seasons (Mourinho’s 2015 preseason comes to mind, also in the USA).
It’s also easy to under-react in a way. At the end of the day, the “Florida Cup” is not a thing, even if it exists in a physical form. Winning is always preferable to losing, but these are still just friendlies that are most useful as fitness exercises with maybe some tactical tinkering.
What is concerning however is the general lack of commitment, concentration, and effort that we have witnessed during large portions of the three matches over the past fortnight in the USA — in particular the last two this week in Charlotte and, last night, in Orlando.
Sure, it’s just preseason. We’re talking about practice here! But Thomas Tuchel certainly wants to see more from his team, especially as he places serious emphasis on preseason.
“We were simply not good enough. We were absolutely not competitive. The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, for this match was not the same, it was far higher for Arsenal than us.”
“[We] need to be more lively and aggressive. The level of commitment, the level of physical input, was simply not enough. The adaption of position, the joy of helping each other, the joy of working hard together was what was missing.
“It’s not a moment to destroy my group because they are a very nice and hard-working group, this will not change. But for today, this is the honest analysis of the game. It’s not worth talking around this. It was like this today.”
“I don’t know if I ever lost a match in pre-season 4-0. I can’t remember not winning two matches in a row in pre-season. I’m a huge fan of a strong pre-season in everything: atmosphere, feeling, performance, belief.”
We can blame various factors for these performances, from the tactical to the physical to the mental, from the stifling heat to the uncertain futures of many in the squad. These two weeks in the US certainly have been exhausting, and not just because of the intense training sessions.
“I saw today a team in Arsenal who are mentally committed to an idea of playing, a level of exhaustion, a level of physical commitment that we could not match. Also, a level of mental commitment that we lacked because we have a lot of players who are thinking about leaving and looking at their options.”
[The] analysis of the season does not change because of this game. Unfortunately, it proved my point and the last week proves my point [when] I look at the last season and at the parts of the game where we struggled and how we struggled.
“We got sanctioned and players left us, we know that some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is. We had an urgent appeal for quality players and a huge amount of quality players. We’ve got two quality players – that is no doubt – but we are not competitive like this and unfortunately, we could see it today.”
“[We have] the same players, so why should anything change? We will see hopefully development but at the moment, we have the same issues because we have the same players.”
“[We] could feel the energy level drop after Las Vegas and after the Charlotte game because of the amount of travelling, very humidity, and very hot temperature. It made it tough because it’s now been two weeks on the road.
“It’s also a point but it’s a little point or explanation why we did not look fresh. I did not expect it today. I thought we lowered a little bit the intensity in training the last days, but not in a way where we could expect fresh legs. So that was not the biggest surprise, just the difference between tired and playing like this.”
We have two weeks left until the actual start of the season. Excuses will get us nowhere fast, certainly nowhere fast in the right direction.
Hopefully this is just a massive wake-up call, rather than a sign of things to come.
“I am superstitious but not in a way that I say bad pre-season has to mean a bad season. That makes no sense to me. I am in it, a part of it, and need to find solutions.
“We fly home now and we have one-and-a-half days only, on Tuesday we need to present solutions, we need to present actions. Me and the coaching staff, together with the team, need to step up and find a way through this because it hurts at the moment.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
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