The latest musings of Spanish Fry
Belarussian midfielder Alexandr Hleb has revealed that he is doing special exercises with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to improve his shooting ability. The news will be a great relief to Arsenal fans all over the world who have been continuously frustrated with Hleb’s reluctance to shoot when given the opportunity. Whilst it has appeared that Hleb’s problems have been down to a lack of confidence in front of goal he has put it down to a tendency to be unselfish.
“Often I get into shooting positions and then hear a team-mate calling for me to pass, maybe I need to be a bit more egotistical at times. It is something I have been working on. In training, the manager often gets me doing special exercise in which I am forced to finish the attack with a shot on goal.”
Hleb’s comments do provide a reasonable – if not acceptable – explanation for his shooting phobia and he will need to work hard to overcome this obvious fault in his game. The biggest task for Wenger and Hleb will be to develop the midfielder’s instinct in front of goal – to ensure he is decisive in whatever action he chooses to take. Too often Hleb has dallied on the ball and negatively impacted on the speed with which Wenger wants his team to attack. What is surprising is just how much this habit is a contrast to the direct approach that he displayed whilst playing for his previous club Stuttgart in Germany (see video below for evidence).
What is important to note is that Arsene Wenger is a patient man – and it is obvious he still sees a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Hleb.
“Wenger is a great tactician, he sees absolutely everything. He knows how to find a key to every player – he is a coach sent by God. I still remember him saying: ‘Alexander, I do not just buy any player; I watched you for two years. Everyone finds it hard at first, especially if you come from another country. I am convinced everything will work out.”
The trouble will come if Hleb continues to disappoint in what will be his third season with Arsenal. Despite Hleb’s comments, it is obvious when contrasting his thrilling performances for Stuttgart and his indecisive style for Arsenal that his confidence has significantly decreased during his time at the club.
If Wenger can find a way to get Hleb’s confidence back then the Belarussian will have the ability to rip apart any defence in the Premiership. Make no mistake; there is still time for Hleb to be the next Robert Pires. But if he fails to deliver next season then that time may be up.
Read previous columns by Spanish Fry here