That cartoon is from 1983; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…
Just when you thought it was all over…up pop Spain, prolonging the agony of the season with a meaningless two-goal victory as part of the warm-ups for the Confederations Cup. Yes, Fifa who make great claims to care for player health and well-being, who demand clubs play fewer matches, have a tournament in a Summer which would otherwise be clear of all football. They claim it is a dry run for the World Cup but that is typically revisionist; the first three were in Saudi Arabia and it is only since 2001 that any geographical link has been established. Only in football.
The tournament will presumably mean the absence of Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal from the Asian Tour due to start next month. Yes, that’s right, in thirty-two days time, there will be meaningless club matches to dissect and devour, such will be the insatiable desire for the numbing transfer window to end. It puts the club’s efforts to get signings completed into some perspective. Arsène observed that the tour is a good chance for the players to experience new cultures, people and life generally. The obvious caveat is that it will be structured, organised and sanitised beyond any recognition, limiting the expansion of young minds.
Tours such as this, beyond bringing on match sharpness, serve the benefit of allowing players to get to know others better. There cannot be a better way of integrating into a squad than spending three weeks in close proximity to your teammates and the club know the pitfalls, pratfalls and benefits of immersing players into their new environment better than any of us. It is why you have to wonder at Arsène’s previous philosophy of waiting until the last-minute for signings. Bargains are not always there to be had and it is easy to present deals as panic buying even if they have been worked on for several weeks, à la two years ago after the unspeakable events at Old Trafford.
Whatever the situation, a transfer puts the manager between the devil or the deep blue sea. For every Vieira, there is a Stepanovs; for a Henry, a Chamakh. Signings are the gambling side of a manager’s nature. Oh, they can research, scout, talk and watch all they want but they are taking a punt on a player, safe in the knowledge that they will be judged in hindsight using facts that were not available to them at the time, knowing that everyone is a critic.
Who would want to be a football manager?
Elsewhere, the Summer of the Long Shorts continues with Vito Mannone linked with Parma and Genoa. Abou Diaby, God bless ‘im, has been linked with running again. Speaking to the French media, the Arsenal midfielder noted that he expects that deal to sealed in coming weeks although he was taking his time, to make sure that the move is right for him. I would wish him a speedy recovery but I don’t want to tempt fate; any recovery would be welcomed. And as it is the close season, can we not be buoyed with a new optimism for the coming campaign, that he might play a pivotal role. It is after all, the least he deserves, surely?