Sunday at last. So what time’s kick-off? Oh…
How far from grace we have fallen; Monday night football, to be followed next season by Thursday Night Football. Arsène’s ability to dig himself out of a hole looked like it was to receive a healthy boost with twenty minutes to go yesterday, and then Liverpool scored twice. As you were, gentlemen.
He still found time to find humour in the situation. Theo Walcott, captaining the Arsenal on Wednesday, could captain England, according to the Frenchman. That’s right; a player who wasn’t in the last squad could captain his country, says the man who didn’t know who his captain was last Sunday. It brought a smile to my face this morning, I must admit.
Almost as funny as Ronaldinho claiming Barcelona took it easy on us in 2006. Was that before or after they had lost control of their bowels when Sol Campbell scored, and Henry missed chances galore. Oh, Thierry…
Wenger’s future takes centre stage but isn’t the only interesting thing in this morning’s papers. Steve Stammers got the club’s memo about a major shake-up in this morning’s Mirror or People, who knows who these guys write for half the time. Well, other than PR pieces for Arsenal. It’s rubbish, of course, unless there’s another Monchi, who is working in Spain and not the one joining Roma in Italy…
Meanwhile, Alan Smith spoke about Wenger leaving to reinvigorate himself and the players he’s leaving behind. Or would be leaving behind. He mentioned the PSG job which is possible given Wenger’s friendship with the owners, but the French job won’t be coming up for at least a year.
Si Me Voy Va A Haber Peligro
Smith, unlike other pundits, grasped the situation as many see it,
“This is definitely a crossroads. They could turn left or right or stand at the crossroads by allowing the manager to stay.
“Arsene has spoken about reinventing himself but I am pessimistic about his ability to do that after so many years because there is no-one at the club to challenge him now.
“Arsene doesn’t want to be challenged. He doesn’t want any dissenting voices. So the board know they’ve got a big decision to make because of the reaction of the fans.
“Other fans look at Arsenal supporters and laugh. They think ‘what have you lot got to worry about? You have won the FA Cup twice recently, you’re in the top four, what’s the matter with you?’
“But when you are an Arsenal fan, that isn’t good enough, especially when you are paying through the nose for season tickets and you look at the other top teams.”
That he isn’t one of ‘Wenger’s men’ gives him a distance from the club that other, more recent players, those who feel the owe the manager loyalty, don’t have.
There’s no shock value to Smith’s words beyond the fact that someone in the press has taken the time to understand the situation. It’s not sensationalist in the way, say, Merse will speak although his is just how he feels. An outstanding player on his day, very hit and miss as a pundit.
Si Me Quedo Sera El Doble
The scaremongering about how we could drop away like Liverpool is nothing new. Football’s previous cyclical history may be changing. While no one team will dominate English football as before, there will be a small cabal who will do so.
Breaking into that group with a self-sufficient model will be hard enough but with the current lack of leadership on and off the pitch, Arsenal are putting themselves on the back foot, while firing a pistol into it at the same time, by not addressing the fundamental problems at the club. Or being hampered by Arsène from doing so.
Arsène isn’t the only topic of conversation this morning. Mesut Özil’s got a new book to promote, already published in his native Germany and soon to arrive in English, possibly just in time to accompany his departure from Arsenal.
It’s a bit more of an interesting story than some of the books we see published, and he addresses the impact of the racism he faced as a youngster in an interview with the Heil. Oh, the irony…
Özil offers his view on what’s happening at the club now, tellingly stating,
“I think the club know they need to strengthen. But what’s most important is the manager’s opinion. He and the club will make the decision.”
Arsène is the power but there’s a clear separation in his mind between the club and manager. It fits into the recent perception of a schism between the board and Wenger. He won’t be the only one to see it that way, brought in from outside from one of the biggest clubs in the world. Sanchez may hold similar views; it would be interesting to find out.
Yo Me Enfrio O Lo Soplo
The German thinks there is an issue in the squad, mentally,
“Sometimes things don’t work as well in games as they have in previous games. If you lose, or you give a goal away or don’t make an assist, you can’t think about it too much, can’t dwell on it.
“We need to realise as a team that if things don’t go for us, if we lose, we need to not dwell on it and focus on the next game. Sometimes you have the feeling when we lose, some players may lose self-confidence.”
It’s interesting that Özil thinks there is too much introspection. This raises questions about the whole set-up of the club and how they use sport psychologists because it’s not a new problem. Wenger previously admitted that he takes days to recover from defeat. When you’re playing twice a week, time is a luxury you don’t have.
The interview is well worth a read, as will (hopefully) the book which is unusual in the modern footballer.