Happy birthday, Gareth!!! Young Master Bale is 27 today so have a fine day.
Well, the rest of the world has gone mad, why shouldn’t I?
It’s that time of the pre-season when the stars return. Jack Wilshere’s back as well, with pictures of him sporting a new crew cut and seemingly thrilled at the prospect of being involved with proper training as well.
Arsène told the official site that players will be returning over the next few weeks,
I believe that [players] need four weeks’ holiday because they need to recover from [tournaments]
It takes you two or three weeks to regenerate… to recover completely, and they need to come back with hunger. That disappointment to lose a final, it takes some time to recover from that.
I believe the club benefits from [our players’] experiences at the top level, and the mental experiences as well that they have gone through with such a huge pressure. Of course in the longer term you benefit from that.
Mesut Özil, Ramsey and Alexis were all singled out by Wenger as having positive tournaments and to a lesser extent, Wilshere did. He came through unscathed which given the last few seasons has to be unexpected.
The concern is that the delayed holidays pose a selection problem for the opening games. Concerns are mounting that Wenger is once more being lax in the transfer market. With prices rising, his innate financial conservatism is proving problematic in recruiting a striker.
Granit Xhaka’s arrival addressed a midfield problem and there are strong reports in the Italian media that Arsenal are offering to treble Kostas Manolas current £25k per week salary. Rumours mean nothing of course and the biggest issue facing the club is not their own apparent inactivity but the signings other clubs are making.
United have already been busy and reports suggest Pogba will join next week. Forget the ludicrous sums of money involved in football at the moment and in particular over their fees, that isn’t the issue. It’s that Mourinho assessed the squads weaknesses and has addressed them. It’s unlikely he’s finished either, beginning the process of shifting those he doesn’t want out of the squad.
Ruthless and determined to challenge for the title next season.
Conte looks set to bring Kante to Stamford Bridge, as well as Napoli’s Koulibaly. Batshuayi signed during Euro 2016.
Guardiola is on Stones trail and has been busy, with Sane seemingly joining shortly.
A lot of ‘seemingly’ at the moment but those are the deals deemed most likely to happen.
The point is that clubs who we expect to challenge for the title next season are addressing the weaknesses in their squads early in the pre-season. They are bringing in new players to get them bedded into their squads and minimise the disruption.
Arsenal, quite simply, aren’t.
Yet again, we are lagging in the market, refusing to admit that the prices now surging through the roof. They have to be paid; £32m for Kante is more than you or I might consider his real value. The transfer market doesn’t and Arsène, as an economist, understands the theory.
I’ve said before that if he’s not finding value for money, come out and back the squad as it is. I’d admire the courage of his convictions, even if I disagree.
The genuine concern that I have is that he has been deceived by the improving league finishes. Five points ahead of City and United, 21 ahead of Chelsea; the reality is that simply signals that they needed to improve to catch and overtake us in next season’s title race.
The crucial gap was 10 points to Leicester City. Leicester are the Premier League champions. In the cold light of day, when all ‘romanticism’ is shoved to one side, that’s an appalling state of affairs. I know they enjoyed a freakishly good their season but we should have properly challenged for the title. And won it.
Frustration is mounting as a sense of Groundhog Day returns. We need to act decisively and bring players in. Perhaps there will be a surprise in coming days and a major deal will surface but I can’t see it happening.
Talk this morning that Riyad Mahrez is leaving Leicester and that Arsenal are interested. It smacks of the same opportunism that we displayed with Vardy. And, I have to say, whilst Mahrez is a talented player, do we need him? A salivating as the prospect of Mahrez, Özil and Alexis is, there are two issues.
Firstly, it’s a defensive nightmare and secondly, it’s still relying on Olivier Giroud to display a previously unseen consistency in front of goal.
The summer will turn out as it does, I’m afraid. And if Arsène presides over another failure in the transfer market, it will be the longest resignation letter written.
Finally, a reminder that this week’s Time of our Lives playlist is available on Dad’s Jukebox. 1967 is the year in question.