sport news Arsenal legend George Graham urges Mesut Ozil to do the ugly stuff

George Graham is two cappuccinos deep into the great Mesut Ozil debate and the concept of luxury players when he conjures a pearl of wisdom from legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels.

'He thought one of the most difficult things in the game was to get top quality players to work hard without the ball,' says Graham. 'Michels wanted outstanding players to work back and win the ball.'

Michels was the father of Total Football. He led Ajax to the European title, Holland to the World Cup final and, together with Johan Cruyff, created a footballing culture at Barcelona which is now at the heart of Pep Guardiola's work at Manchester City.

Arsenal legend George Graham feels Mesut Ozil must start to work harder for his team-mates

Arsenal legend George Graham feels Mesut Ozil must start to work harder for his team-mates

Graham's playing style saw him acquire the nicknames ‘Stroller’ and ‘Gorgeous George’

Graham's playing style saw him acquire the nicknames 'Stroller' and 'Gorgeous George'

'Guardiola has done that everywhere he's been,' says Graham. 'Maybe it's a gift of communication but the players have to want to do it for themselves. Maybe he can recognise that in a player.

'Mesut Ozil has to admit he's got to improve without the ball. On the ball he's a talent. When Arsenal are in possession he should be in the game as much as possible. When they are not in possession he can — can — become a liability.

'It would be brilliant if he had Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit in midfield because they'd win the ball and give it to him, but they're not and they've got this problem and the manager isn't trying to hide it. I like that the other players will see he's great on the ball but doesn't contribute when they're up against it.

'Sometimes you can carry a player but the higher up you go the more your forwards have to work.' 

Graham marvels at Pep Guardiola, whose methods stem from legendary coach Rinus Michels

Graham marvels at Pep Guardiola, whose methods stem from legendary coach Rinus Michels

Graham enjoyed his peak with the Gunners, with who he won silverware as a player and boss

Graham enjoyed his peak with the Gunners, with who he won silverware as a player and boss

Graham was an elegant and stylish attacking midfielder, prepared to let the ball do the work to such a degree he acquired the nicknames 'Stroller' and 'Gorgeous George' in a playing career that started at Aston Villa and peaked at Arsenal, where he won the Double in 1971.

'I couldn't play nowadays,' he says. 'You've got to be an athlete and I wasn't an athlete.

'Liam Brady and Glenn Hoddle were some of the finest midfielders. Great on the ball, great vision, but you wonder if they could play today the way they played, with the fitness levels. I hope so. Now it's all about pace. Just look at Manchester City. The game's moved on and that's good.'

Derby day arrives in north London and, at 74, Graham can admit he has always been Arsenal at heart despite a couple of years at Tottenham at the end of his managerial career.

Victory at Wembley will ease Unai Emery's team to within a point of Spurs, who thought they were in the title race a week ago before defeats at Burnley and Chelsea.

In a curious first season since the departure of Arsene Wenger — for whom Graham is fulsome in his praise — everything has changed and nothing has changed. Still exhilarating going forward and amateurish at the back. 

Mesut Ozil has split opinion at Arsenal, only showing his world class ability in short stints

Mesut Ozil has split opinion at Arsenal, only showing his world class ability in short stints

'They've got a lot of work to do,' says Graham after considering when Arsenal might win the Premier League again. 'It's been 15 years and that's

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