Monday, April 22, 2024

Tierney tried his best to learn Zinchenko role, loving life at Real Sociedad

Kieran Tierney says he loves life at Real Sociedad and appreciates the opportunity to operate as a more conventional left-back.

The Scotland international fell down the pecking order in his position after Arsenal recruited Oleksandr Zinchenko in the summer of 2022 and while the Ukraine international’s fitness struggles afforded Tierney opportunities to play last season, he never looked comfortable operating in the inverted role preferred by Mikel Arteta.

On loan in San Sebastian – the ‘Scotland of Spain’ as it’s known – the 26-year-old is enjoying a new lease of life.

On his decision to move to the Anoeta Stadium, Tierney told The Guardian: “We talked about the style of play. That was the main part for me because at Arsenal it was slightly different. I wanted to know how they see their left-backs. And when they told me, I was delighted.

“One of the big things about Arsenal is their left-back is one of the most central players; Zinchenko is one of their biggest creators, more like a No 6. When that first got introduced, it was alien to me. I had never played as centre‑mid, even as a kid. I was always high and wide, what you would call the more normal left-back position I’d kind of known all my life.

“I was trying to learn that at Arsenal. You see how well it works and it’s hard to question: I tried my best, learned, tried to do it in training and games.

“Maybe I can be very comfortable in that position one day. I got to practise with one of the best in the world, Zinchenko. It’s so natural to him, he makes it look so easy. But for me it’s probably more natural now, going up and down the wings.”

It remains unclear what Tierney’s future holds. While life in the Basque Country is treating him well, the Scotland international remains under contract at the Emirates until 2026 and the club will, at some point, want to recoup a decent fee if he’s not in Arteta’s plans.

“Arsenal are amazing,” added Tierney. “They’ve helped me the last four years. Even this season, letting me come here and try this, experience it.

“They had [Jakub] Kiwior’s injury and it would have been easy to say: ‘No, we’re going to stop it.’ But they were open, honest and said: ‘On you go for a year.’ I’m very grateful. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m loving it, I’ve adapted well.

“I’m older now so it was 10 times easier than leaving home for London. There’s still time to go, so I hope I can play well and return the faith everyone here has shown in me.”

Real Sociedad travel to Paris Saint-Germain tonight in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie. It’s a mouthwatering occasion even if Tierney will miss out due to a second hamstring injury of the campaign.


Click here to read Sid Lowe’s full interview, it’s well worth it. 

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Good lad! Still remember how influential he was when he came in. The team has just changed into a different style of play and there’s no reason for anyone (club or player) to feel sorry about it.

Hope he stays injury-free so he can have a good run out.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

There is the system but another thing too. Laca gave an interview and said that it was understood that all the players who were not brought in by Arteta had to leave. Laca wasn’t unhappy about that. He said: “This is football”. Please do not tell me about El Neny, he is Arteta’s ear in the dressing room.


While I think there is a lot of hyperbole here, I don’t fault Arteta on any of that. He came in at a time the squad was filled with too many self-emphatuated egos that were focussed on themselves rather than the collective. Ozil, Auba, Pepe, Luiz, Miki in particular (i’d almost put Laca, Ceballos, AMN in here too) and then we had absolute trash particularly in defense like Mustafi, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac. At the time I would have put Xhaka in that latter group too, but the difference with Xhaka was his effort and leadership were never in question internally,… Read more »


Arteta, just like his mentor Guardiola, is the opposite of coaches like Ancelotti or Zidane. Arteta/Guardiola have a specific system and style they want to play, in and out of posession. If you don’t fit the role that this system require, you’re gonna get replaced (or played out of position, if you’re that good). Zidane/Ancelotti will create the system and style that best fit the players they have, their strengths, and the oponents they’re playing Personally I don’t care as long as we’re winning. Also, with the exception of Tierney, all the players who were let go by Arteta were… Read more »

It Is What It Is


Man Manny

He wasn’t “let go by Arteta;” he opted to leave. Left for Arteta, Granit would still be strutting his stuff at the Emirates, and we would top of the league – about 6 to 9 points better off than we are at the moment.


Real Madrid managers can afford to create the team around stars, they’ve always had the pick of the crop. That’s why they keep winning the CL in-between moments of transition from one “system” to another.


Keeping Xhaka at all costs? Saka, Martinelli, Partey, Saliba? Fuck it. We were in midfield mediocrity and Arteta got us competing at the very top. I’d even give him the benefit of doubt if that false theory were true. Now we have people who want him gone if we finish second and that says a lot about him and indirectly it would more about people like Laca( I like him) if it’s true he said that. Thank God we are now in conversations for major trophies and if anyone who was here before Arteta couldn’t get us there then so… Read more »

I Like Eboue-boue

I’d be interested to read that Laca interview – do you have a link, NdMIT? Regardless of whether he said it or not, this (the notion that players not brought in by MA had to leave) clearly isn’t the case in reality. Saka, Martinelli, Gabriel and Saliba were all at the club pre-Arteta and they’re still first-team regulars now. ESR, Eddie, Reiss and Mo are still in the squad, plus Xhaka stayed until he decided to leave. Arteta had a list of non-negotiables, and a high bar for their abilities. Players were judged on a case-by-case basis and if they… Read more »


Kind of dissapointed that he refers to The Arsenal as they, which indicates a sort of detachment. Still a really good solid professional.

Emi Rates

Since he isn’t part of Arsenal, at least not for the time being, I think it’s perfectly reasonable of him to refer to his former team as “they”.

Tankard Gooner

Sigh.. Miss the lad and his Tesco bag. But this is probably an indication that he doesn’t want to conform to the inverted wingback position. We’ve got Timber who’s probably better suited for that coming back soon.
Can only wish Kieran the best at Sociedad and wherever the future takes him. A little bit sad it probably won’t be at the Emirates.


I wouldn’t go as far as saying he didn’t want to conform. I’m sure he really wanted to but like I will never be able to dunk a basketball, he didn’t have that game in his locker. He’s more suited to the Robertson role at liverpool

Tankard Gooner

Agreed. Slightly poor choice of words from my side there. 🙂

El Mintero

So you actually think Zinchenko is able to play that role? He’s fkn awful as a defender! LB is such a mess for us. Always.

Tankard Gooner

I don’t feel comfortable with Zinny at LB at all. He seems as bad at the defending part of it as Trent at Liverpool.. But he does help a lot to push the opponent mid out of shape, break their lines. They all come with their own pros and cons. What matters is Arteta feels Zinny brings more to the table than he leaves out. And that’s good enough for me.

Giuseppe Hovno

absolutely gutted by the last paragraph… was getting excited to watch him play tonight!

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

He could deal with Mbappe, no problem.

Jesus of Sao Paulo

No he wouldn’t unless he played RB. Because Mbappe plays on the left.

Skinny Ricki

Kieran Tierney was a great signing, a ray of light in (relatively) dark times. His humble character, commitment and relentless, driving performances, made me hope he would be around for many years, becoming a worthy successor to great Arsenal leftbacks, Kenny Sansom, Nigel ‘Nutty’ Winterburn et al. But I suppose, as with Aaron Ramsdale, whose hugely promising Arsenal career will likely be over at the end of the season, this team is evolving fast. Time waits for no man – and it’s no reflection on just how good Ramsdale and Tierney are (or how well they have played for us)… Read more »


Hector and Tierney are good players in a system that plays to their strength, but honestly, I don’t think either is world class talent – they simply don’t have the technical capacity to handle the transformation that Arteta brought to this team. Zinchenko, despite being the scapegoat target here this season, has totally transformed this team in terms of style of play, character and leadership. He is a world class talent. We’re SO lucky to have him. Hopefully timber can challenge him moving forward!

El Mintero

What a load of bollocks! Zinchenko is a fkn liability that can’t string more than 2 games together before getting injured again. We should have sold him in January.

Spanish Gooner

I know we like to see anything outside of the Premier League as a “step down” but going off the BBC Football article today about how La Real are focused on youth in all but exceptional cases it says a lot about how highly rated he is that they would spend money giving him game time instead of an academy product. If he’s had a crack at learning the language (probably Spanish rather than Basque) he could really make a good move out of this.


Clubs like Real are why football is still special. Even though I’m so focused on Arsenal it’s a joy learning about the projects at smaller clubs. The Reals, Atalantas, Bayers, etc. Without the resources of massive clubs they have no choice but to try and coalesce around a philosophy and style and culture. Football is best when the teams reflect their people and culture. Combine that with exciting football ideas, academy players, and the odd big team castoff getting a new chapter in their career, it’s so compelling and must be protected at all costs, aka the super league simply… Read more »


Love this.

It also ties into why I can’t really relate to the recent obsession from online fans with “standards” and “win a trophy now or you’re out”.

I guess I grew up in a different time (70s/80s), perhaps more naive.

Then again, how many years did it take an experienced Fergie to win a PL with the richest club in England?


Yes the impatience now is a major downer. I think it’s all the same syndrome. Agnelli and anyone with SL interests aren’t wrong that younger people consume football differently. I think they overstate it though to make their case. These smaller teams still pack their stands with families and young people. Even with the fracturing of football media, the permanence of regional clubs, rivalries, local fan bases is still the foundation that holds it all together, that gives it meaning. Let’s not allow the suits to control the narrative. Yes, I’m sure millions of under 20’s only know football from… Read more »


Well said.
Online consumption and social media tend to create more of a herd mentality and I think it creates greater anxiety/impatience for success because we’re living in a sped-up digital world.
I guess these are larger existential questions but I want to be fair to the younger crowd because they didn’t start the fire.
We were more free to enjoy the football supporting experience without all the noise and pressure. I also had plenty of other interests to fill up my time whereas now even I am craving content almost all the time.
We’re all guilty!


Oops I forgot to blame Chelsea/Abramovic. My bad!


Very good point, we need to be careful not to start pointing fingers at young people. They didn’t choose to be bombarded with all the bullshit, they’ve had to grow up with it. And you’re right, we’re all guilty. Sometimes convenience and comfort trumps principles for everyone. And can’t blame Chelsea enough. First the oligarch now someone more like Ignatius Reilly except with billions of dollars.


Great to hear he’s adapted well there, why wouldn’t you honestly, nice beaches, good people, great food and a similarly weird local language (fine Basque isn’t quite as weird as Scottish English but i digress).

I think he meant the Timber injury not Kiwior? Either way wishing him luck and a good run of health to finish the season 🙏 🙌


they actually prefer it if you call Scottish English “Scenglish”

Spanish Gooner

Basque is probably the weirdest language in all of Europe! Almost every European language is part of the indo-european language tree meaning they all descended from the same language, spoken in the Ukraine in 3000 BC, which developed into languages as varied as English in the west and Russian and even Hindi in the East. The Basque people (along with the Fins and Hungarians) never got with the programme and kept their non-Indo-European language, meaning it would technically be easier to move to Delhi and pick up the local language than San Sebastian. Appreciate this is nothing to do with… Read more »


I did know all of that (seriously), was just taking the piss out of Scottish accents 😏

Spanish Gooner

Fully support you in taking the piss out of scottish accents haha


*should’ve said out of Scottish people, the accents didn’t deserve that

A Different George

Well, close. Finnish and Estonian and, more distantly, Hungarian are related and part of a larger language family. Basque is almost certainly unrelated to any other existing language.


I’ve heard that Basque is closely related to Glaswegian Scottish.


That’s fascinating! Thanks for the history lesson 🙂


Oh, tell me about it! (I’m Hungarian) 🙂


Happy that he is happy and hope that a good permanent move works out for him. Enjoyed what he meant to us, tesco bags and all, but his future lies elsewhere.


Favorite Tierney moment:
That peach of a goal in the snow!


One of my favourite moments was when he shouted “get up you cheating cunt ” to some defender in the opposition box rolling around trying to get the game stopped.

El Mintero

Sounds like he’s pushing for either a permanent move to sociedad or to villa and reunite with Emery. Either way can’t see him back at Arsenal again.


Wearer of short sleeve shirts tucked into shorts I loved Kieran as a hard as f**k full back ! Good luck to the lad & I think he deserves a break from all those injuries he’s picking up ? Compression tights & turtle neck polos with fleecy gloves ? Naaaah ! Good luck KT I’d love to have you back with your ” I want to win” attitude short sleeves and all !!!

Determination Cultured

Would be good to have flamini in the lb position now. He can invert into a DM and allow rice to push up.

Determination Cultured

Tierney would really enjoy himself in the current leverkusen squad.


True. Unfortunately, Xabi Alonso — the orchestrator of their current playing style — is going to leave soon. And they also have Grimaldo in that position who is absolutely flying.

El Mintero

Doesn’t Alonso also play a version of pep tiki taka?


Love KT, great player and a cracking character. Sadly the one thing he has in common with Zinchenko as a left back is that both of them struggle with injuries and simply being available to play. Have to hope that the serious injury Timber suffered is a one-off as he looked to have the best qualities of both KT and Zinnie in the brief sighting we had.


When we paid £25 mil to Celtic a record amount for a Scottish player my Celtic friends was saying you got him on the cheap, it didn’t go down to well when i said we were buying a good player from a championship level at best, he was good at his defensive duties but his offensive work which may be great in SPL bombing up the wing then smashing a crossball head down hoping someone would get on the end of it which they’d usually did when Celtic were playing the likes of Alloa or St Mirran but in the… Read more »

Dr. Gooner

Your commitment to a lack of punctuation is impressive.


Hahaha…. thanks !

Dr. Gooner

He’s actually a brilliant offensive player in the right team. He can cross off that left foot with quality from any angle. He’s got that one trick, and it’s useful. Plenty of players have made great careers off of being solid defenders and the ability to cross accurately at high volume. He would be wonderful for a run and gun Liverpool as an alternate to the very similar and also Scottish Robertson, or Newcastle to take the creative burden off Trippier, or at Villa where Digne is basically the creative outlet against low blocks, or at West Ham where they… Read more »

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