There are various ways of telling how much control and power a manager has at a club, but it’s often telling when you look at their team selection.
A weak manager will often be forced to play a big money signing even if it’s not best for the team, which often comes from behind the scenes as someone is desperate to justify a major outlay in the transfer market.
The Evening Standard reported that Arsenal paid a club record fee of £72m when they signed Nicolas Pepe last summer, so you would think that Arsenal chiefs would want him on the pitch to try and show the fee was worth it.
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Mikel Arteta actually went with a free transfer in Willian from the start today and the Brazilian was outstanding, while it also looks like he’s only going to play Pepe if he ups his performance levels:
Mikel Arteta warns Nicolas Pepe and the other subs that they will need to up their game after Willian's outstanding debut today pic.twitter.com/2rsWb79Jdp
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) September 12, 2020
One of the most impressive things about Arteta is his willingness to do whatever it takes to give the team the best chance of winning – that’s his only priority and he doesn’t pander to internal politics to get certain players on the pitch.
It clearly sounds like Willian will be the first choice going forward, so Pepe and co will need to do something special to regain their place in the starting XI.