To see you, to see you, Nice! Although wearing the ‘old man’ trainers didn’t do Arsène favours in the photos circulating of his promenade with Ivan. We’re getting M’bappe! Lemar! Seri! Sidibe! Anybody!
The convenience with which Arsenal have suddenly become ‘transfer ready’ is no surprise. Wenger’s contract renewal released the handbrake in that sense and unleashed a ‘media friendly’ version of the usual tight-lipped and security-conscious club.
Tough talk filtered out of the club in the days after the contract wrangles ended. Arsène, it was let be known, was under orders from Stan to spend, spend, spend! Otherwise, to paraphrase Hollywood, his arse was grass and Enos was a lawnmower.
This time of year usually brings cynicism to the fore. Too many false dawns in the past decade mean ‘wait and see’ is the order of the day.
Oh, did I mention we’re chasing Alexandre Lacazette again? Or for the first time. Last summer Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon chairman/president/owner/negotiator/teaboy, declared that the striker’s name wasn’t mentioned in any conversations he had with Arsène at Euro2016.
Anyway, now Atletico Madrid are out of the equation, it seems Arsenal’s free run at the player is ploughing ahead although Aulas is by all accounts, a prickly character with a fragile ego which belies his tough talking image.
Whatever. New players arrive when they arrive. I don’t care if Manchester City are spending the GDP of small nation on their squad. Every purchase they make includes a ‘City Tax’ which uplifts the price by at least 20% on what other clubs would pay for the same players.
And to some extent, Arsène is right when he says we can’t compete with their cash. It’s disingenuous though; we rarely go for the same players.
Fail to Prepare…
All of which makes it sound a lot like the footballing equivalent of “Are we there yet?”
And I suppose it is to some extent. The fixtures are released a week tomorrow, signalling thoughts turning to pre-season training which starts early in July. Time, as always, is at a premium.
After the farce of the past two pre-seasons, Arsenal must be ready come August. Not tired, unprepared or any other state which begs the question, “what the hell have you been doing all summer?”; just ready.
And they can be. Sead Kolasinac, announced as an addition to the squad this morning, proves we can move when we want to. OK, so there was no protracted negotiations over a fee which made things easier but nonetheless, we identified an area to improve and did so.
The trouble is Arsène thinks we’re two or three players short; the reality is that it is more than that. While keeping the squad together is important, there is a strong indication that the collective needs a jolt. It’s more than an indication; it’s the results post-Watford through to Middlesbrough.
Breaking the repetitive cycle of collapses, be they in October or Winter, is vital to success. However, the slowness of the manager’s response and the failure of the players to snap out of their malaise, shows it was the wrong combination of individuals. Nothing’s going to happen about the former but a shake-up of the latter is desperately needed.
We have a large section of fringe players who are too comfortable on the bench when they shouldn’t be. Yes, Walcott, I’m looking specifically at you since your photos were plastered over the press this morning.
And there’s nothing wrong with Theo being on holiday. I just feel he should be more annoyed at being reduced to a bit-part player. The form he shows leading into every contract negotiation, is what we should be seeing now.
Out of the England squad, out of the Arsenal side; for someone who was so highly-rated, his career is fading badly. He is a player who should be seeking a move elsewhere but such is the greed surrounding modern football, few actually ask for a move; they all want their bonuses.
Sitting on the bench is too easy for the modern footballer. It seems soul-destroying for those who were automatic first choice players for so long but apparently not. Maybe that Arsenal’s problem: too many are in the comfort zone. Shaking them out of it seems such an obvious answer but not at all easy to implement.
Cheick Tiote’s death yesterday was as shocking as it was surprising. It seems we hear about these sad incidents with a greater frequency in modern football than we ever did when I was growing up. Maybe the globalisation of the news and media means we do hear more of these sad events; I don’t know.
I’ve thought long and hard, but can’t recall such an incident arising in the 70s and 80s. There obviously were but it seems with less frequency. I remember Asa Hartford’s move to Leeds fell through due to a previously undetected heart condition but that’s it.
Looking at the list and the causes of death, it looks as if football must do more to monitor players. The game is more physically demanding nowadays but that brings more responsibility on the club’s to ensure players well-being.
FIFA and national associations must ensure these changes are implemented, giving lower league clubs funding to help in this area.
For Cheick Tiote, it is too late. My condolences to his family on their loss.