You have to laugh. Strikers always get the glory and the creative midfielder feted. In the playground, most wanted to be Cruyff, Muller, Keegan, George, Radford and so on. Nobody claimed the role of Norman Hunter, Frank McLintock or whoever.
Defending was a dirty word but it was at least mentioned. The defensive midfielder, the destroyer – the Storeys of this world; much admired on Saturdays, was only mimicked by the thug who, although useless at football, wanted to fit.
Ruud Krol or Johnny Rep, depending on my mood, since you’re wondering.
The same principles probably hold true today. That’s if health & safety regulations let children play football in the playground. If our youngest was anything to go by, the accident book was full of scrapes.
Playing football in the playground, he fell and got a nail through his hand at school after building works hadn’t been cleaned up properly. Duly called to take him to hospital to have it removed, I observed that while the school’s catholic ethos should not be ignored, crucifixion as a punishment was too harsh; could they use detention instead. Choose your audiences carefully, that’s all I can say.
Anyway, there is a point to all this. Sead Kolasinac’s transfer confirmed yesterday, brought forth a slew of YouTube reels, most of which were obsessed with showing a marauding left-footed attacker.
He’s a left back! Defending is his primary function in the team! Was it too much to ask for a few well-timed tackles, clearing headers and the odd ploughing through an opponent?
Why is there an obsession with showing attacking football all the time? I know Arsène treats defending as an optional extra at times but I’d like to see a defender, you know, defending in these show reels.
Anyway, I found one that showed a few tackles and it looks like Sead takes no prisoners. Fair play.
The flip side of our failings at home and abroad is the constant transfer talk. We’ve seen that with Alexis already and now, Hector Bellerin.
Barcelona replaced Luis Enrique with Ernesto Valverde and he wasted no time in stepping up the talk. Bellerin’s family already returned to Spain, so surely the dutiful son will follow.
Bellerin previously stated his new five-year contract underlined his determination to stay at the club. He was, the chirpy Cockney Catalan said, happy here. Missing out on the Champions League, as well as being on the receiving end of supporter abuse at Crystal Palace might have changed his mind.
Footballers are very precious about the former even though Arsenal are not going to win the Champions League under Wenger. And they know we are slipping further behind the élite. The same élite we were supposedly going to compete with when we moved to the Emirates.
The same élite which is signing Kylian Mbappe. We’re talking to Lyon about Alexandre Lacazette apparently. Arsène and Ivan were visiting Jean-Michel Aulas’ ‘luxury villa’ at Cap Ferrat to do a deal on the striker. It’s presumably not the same Alexandre Lacazette who hinted he was willing for Atletico Madrid to serve their transfer ban and then move to them
Talking of French strikers on the move – and no, there aren’t new roadblocks from the farmers around Calais – Olivier Giroud is going to tell Arsenal to ‘do one’ if he’s not given more playing time.
Giroud is no stranger to the club being linked with strikers. He famously claimed Suarez wasn’t a threat to his place in the side if he joined. The Uruguayan and he would form a good partnership, he felt. Gonzalo Higuain was a different story; Giroud admitted the Argentine would usurp him.
He probably didn’t expect to lose out to Danny Welbeck or Alexis but that’s life. His future isn’t on the Arsenal bench, that’s for certain.
“I will discuss with the coach but he is relying on me.
“It is true that I have had limited playing time but it was for a certain amount of time, it is true there were things against me. I will not settle for another year with such little playing time.
“I have will have to think carefully to consider it with my relatives and my advisers. It will be a decision that will be maturely thought about to have more more playing time.”
Signing Alexandre Lacazette will see him head to the exit door PDQ. Newcastle, rumoured to be interested at £22m, signed Tammy Abrahams on loan from Chelsea so a return to Ligue Un is likelier.
Whether Arsène agrees is another matter. The arrival of Lacazette may just be to cover Alexis’ goals when he leaves. One thing is for certain, we can’t go into next season with just Welbeck and Giroud; neither scores enough goals for us to get back to the point of being title challengers. It’s not a new problem though; just another one on the list that we’re slow to address.