No matter the level, football is mad. Lunatic parents and punchy players – sometimes the same person – haunt the grassroots game while the professionals are no better. AFC Wimbledon didn’t print MK Dons name on the front of last night’s programme, determined not to recognise their opponents. No-one mentioned if the Dons were mentioned on the back page or whether there was a club profile inside. If there were, it defeats the object of not mentioning their name on the front cover.
Leicester meanwhile, survived last night’s second leg with Sevilla. There’s no other way to describe Kasper Schemichel’s fine saves, another missed penalty and a crossbar struck with an astonishing shot. If we’re going to give Arsène a kicking over something, I’d rather it was more substantial than not being as much of a lucky b*stard as Craig Shakespeare. I dunno, it might just be me but that ground seems a bit flimsy to me.
Arsenal’s planning for next season began in earnest with the announcement of more plans for the summer. Already in Australia for a couple of friendlies, the club will then face Chelsea and Bayern Munich in China. Ivan recovered from the laryngitis which has dogged him for several months – no, he isn’t dodging questions about the manager, he’s just been unwell – to offer the gem, “It will be very special for our Chinese fans to see a game of this stature”. Which translates as, “You get the chance to see us put in a couple of spineless performances, just like everyone else.”
We all know that a victory in either of the game will be hailed as a ‘new era’ just as beating Manchester City in the Community Shield three years ago is some kind of indicator of FA Cup semi-final glory.
Of course, we’ll win and that will be down to Arsène 2.0 with Boro Primorac being set up as the fall guy. To be honest he can’t be any worse than Lee Majors.
Arsène’s right hand man is set to become his Don Howe, rumoured to be moving to Konyaspor as head coach in the summer. There’s no doubt some will hail the shake-up – if the rumours are true – as a sign of Wenger’s progressive thinking, of his ability to reinvent himself as a ‘winning coach. Boro will be the problem; the bad lieutenant, if you like.
Just remember one thing. These stories are being carried in the Metro and Daily Star. Healthy cynicism. I mean, they only need the Heil to complete the unholy trinity. Talking of which…
Still, at least we’ll play Bayern next season with the club already (supposedly) preparing for life outside the Champions League. The money men are preparing the new salaries with some players facing a wage cut if (when) we finish fifth. Stan on the other hand see this as an opportunity. The opportunity to levy another management fee without causing the bottom line to suffer.
Of course, this is all trivial compared to the main event.
Something For The Weekend
Jack Wilshere, like Arsène, divides opinion. Many resent him for being the resident Englishman in the squad while tagged the poster boy for those who want the manager changed. His injuries are frequently used as a stick – a crutch – to beat him with, which is where the opinions of Dr Craig Roberts – yes, a medically qualified professional rather than a football professional – become interesting.
Roberts is Bournemouth’s head of medical services so knows first hand Jack Wilshere’s medical records and data. Speaking to the website Training Ground Guru, he matter of factly – and inadvertently, slaughtered Arsenal:
Jack has had a lot of overuse type injuries over the years. He’s had some traumatic ones as well, which every player can get, but he’s a player who is prone to break down if the load is too high
He went on:
For us, particularly given that he hadn’t played a lot leading up to joining us, we were very very strict in terms of the amount of training he would do in the week leading up to a game.
There is a lot of new interesting data coming out in terms of looking at acute verse chronic load and matching up how much you can do this week based on what you have been doing for the last four weeks.
In Pursuit Of Happiness
How they treated Wilshere is an object lesson,
We were very strict on what he could and couldn’t do. Jack didn’t like it, because he just wanted to get out and train and play.
But until we were able to build up the load that he could tolerate, we had to be very careful in terms of what we did.
Our manager was really good with that, especially initially. Jack would do half a session and then we’d pull him out; then build it up, build it up, build it up. We’ve got to a stage now where he is doing most of the sessions but we still are managing him in terms of how much he does.
It’s worth remembering at this point, the criticism levelled at Bournemouth for not using Jack correctly.
Talk of his contract was irrelevant until his fitness improved. That – touch wood – seems to be happening and I personally think he is a player we need for the long-term. We’ve seen Santi succumb for two successive years, an absence I think Jack could have covered. Put Wilshere in the deeper role and properly coached into that role, he could be a variation on the deep-lying playmaker.
The style we’re used to, quickly moving the ball, is better for his career than now, where he invites tackles and fouls. We shall see.