Arsenal fell to a 4-1 Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday.
All the talk pre-match was centred around whether Mikel Arteta would blend youth in with his more regular senior Arsenal cast members, in the end opting for mostly the latter.
Mustafi is out of contract at the end of the season. Try as Arsenal might, it would require some questionable decision-making from an opposing club and some smooth negotiating from the Gunners’ side to succeed in making him depart before then.
He’ll collect his wage, play the occasional game and leave. What else will he do in that time? Make errors. Mistakes that everyone knows he’s capable of; mistakes he’s never learned from; mistakes he will never learn from.
William Saliba has been deemed not at the standard required to play for the senior side yet, a decision that clearly hinges on inside knowledge of the coaching staff. As supporters, we want to see him play, and if there is something we don’t know that internally is making a case for his omission, then you hold your hands up.
Yet, when you see a goalkeeper such as Runarsson clearly way off being ready – or able – for this level, then why is Saliba not allowed to develop and learn from his own mistakes?
Allowing Runarsson to play and have a torrid night, while the departing Mustafi can keep Saliba out of the team and make basic errors representative of his overall ability, is the sign of poor man-management.
Show signs that you’re working towards the long-term vision. If you do so and those entrusted with leading that renaissance are culpable on occasion, so be it. They’ll learn, and the club will see first-hand where they are in their development.
Allowing Mustafi to make errors teaches us nothing we aren’t already painfully aware of. All it does is lean towards further short-termism and put the man selecting these players closer to the executioner’s chair.
Runarsson is free to make those errors, yet Saliba isn’t in favour of someone en route to the exit door. Find logic in that.