Money begets money is the corruption of biblical verse and Arsenal, starved of the oxygen of cash, are swimming in the stuff to the extent that Stan has been forced to bring his water wings out of retirement. Images of what purports to be the new kit on sale in what is alleged to be an official Puma store in the Far East are circulating it is very similar to the top Thierry Henry wore in a snap earlier in the year, harking back to The Invincibles style top on first glance. It acts as some validation that the time of wine and roses, financially speaking, is imminent yet it is a double-edged sword – or is it more its Damaclesean cousin – as there can be no excuse for any failure to invest properly in the squad. As the de facto owner of the club, he will be only too happy for the coffers to be replenished as well as receiving a reported net €10m for a player that the club has now sold twice to the same buyer. No wonder the likes of Madrid and Barcelona regularly include buy-back clauses in deals; it is money for old rope.
Carlos Vela made the right noises about Arsenal but there is no doubt he thrived in Spain, particularly in San Sebastián. Good luck to the player but I wonder if those hyping Joel Campbell need to take a step back and consider the similarities between the two players and their situations. Despite being awarded a Work Permit last summer, Campbell was loaned once again. The assumption is that he has continued to develop in Greece and now Costa Rica at the World Cup.
He’s played well, as have his countrymen generally, but an awful lot of people are proclaiming this as a sign of his readiness for the Premier League in the same way that Vela’s performances in the League Cup were merely a pre-cursor to greater things. It didn’t happen but instead of being taken as a warning of what can happen, it’s treated as an inconvenience. I hope Campbell does well at Arsenal, he seems a talented enough player but is he the answer? Is he going to be the Second Coming or should we be thinking of him as a nice too have, someone to nurture through rather that setting him on a pedestal?
Talking of the Costa Ricans, their performances in the group games has led to eulogies bring directed toward them to the extent that the eventual winners will be less well received. It’s over the top, of course, and were they an English club side, they would be known as “plucky little Costa Rica” for their efforts. The reactions to England’s exit has been the opposite end of the spectrum but no less hysterical. Such has been the deluge of material, it cannot be long before a new literary genre emerges; who I wonder, will pen the seminal piece?
Perspective in the introspection is also missing. Let’s not forget that one of two higher ranking nations, perceived as better sides, is in trouble; one of Italy or Uruguay is going home this week as well. Have England performed so badly against expectations? Barney Ronay’s article is one of the few where sanity has prevailed. Unsurprisingly, it is The Heil with its vituperative yappy dog in chief, Neil Ashton, that is throwing enough mud in the hope it will stick. It has become so pathetic that ‘Appy ‘Arry claims England players ducked out of international duty. No names, no pack drill, of course yet has anybody stopped to criticise Redknapp for agreeing to those requests? His unsuitability for the a England job is emphasised every time he opens his mouth.
The problems within the English game are nothing new and it is entirely unsurprising that there is no coherence in anysolution. If we cannot even agree on the question, what hope is there of finding the answer?
The World Cup continued apace with Belgium continuing their winning start to the tournament with Thomas Vermalen’s chances of moving to Manchester United taking a knock. Well, his leg did and God alone knows what’s going on. It must have been like The Keystone Cops in the Belgian dressing room because Vermaelen now has a knee injury. I’m guessing that he was on a stretcher carried by Laurel and Hardy who promptly dropped him having slipped on the marble floor. On the pitch, he wasn’t overly missed, beating Russia to progress to the next round. Who joins them is open to debate; Algeria battered South Korea and need to avoid defeat against Russians in the final game to achieve that aim.
The other game was a belter, Portugal got off to a flyer with an unbelievable finish from Nani. It was incredible that he actually scored rather producing the usual pigs ear of a miss for which he is more noted. What should have been the prelude to victory was nothing of the sort as they were overwhelmed by playing three teams at once, a fact that the USA! USA! USA! were eager to exploit and did so successfully, forcing Portugal onto the back foot and creating the more dangerous opportunities. Jones drew them level with a marvellous shot before Dempsey bundled home. All well and good, Portugal heading for the airport to catch the same flight as England but, and this what England genuinely lack, the mercurial player to make a difference. It won’t be often that Varela sees his name that close yo a word but it isn’t that often he gets on the end of a Ronaldo cross. Two-all and it means goal difference is going to come into play unless USA!USA!USA! can conjure an improbable victory over Germany. It is set for the most fascinating of the final group matches.