The first tranche of late arrivals pitched up at training, wondering who the new signing was. Turned out it was Jack Wilshere, who many of the first team squad believed to be in some sort of stasis, cryogenically preserved until a cure could be found for his injury-riven body.
Photos of the young bucks larking and laughing on the fields of Colney adorn the club website, including Calum Chambers grinning at the winning a race with Rob Holding. It’s the first of two he’ll win this summer; the next is the race to the exit door and Chambers is way ahead on that one, if the back pages are to be believed.
The curious thing is that when you see the photo, Rob Holding’s hairline stays with you. The last time we had a centre back that folically challenged, he appeared on The Big Match and donned a Max Wall wig. Terry Mancini, a name to strike fear into any Arsenal fan who remembered him, was to all intents and purposes, an unlucky footballer.
Terry’s tactic was to grin and wink at opponents, leaving them bumfuzzled as to how Frank McLintock’s dad looked so young and managed to get into the Arsenal first team. Mancini hasn’t changed much since his playing days; a bit greyer but essentially, he’s held the look he had from his mid-20s.
I’d like to believe Mancini’s wiki page is true, especially regarding his international career, which sums up his legacy:
He left QPR in 1974, just as they launched their title challenge – yes, honestly, QPR were almost champions – and then joined Arsenal when we were still rubbish, leaving just before we became a good cup side.
The Pink Panther
He won five Republic of Ireland caps. Or Eire as the English press always referred to them as. In those days, the FAI were so desperate for players that your Irish roots were confirmed by owning a t-shirt which proclaimed, “My mum and dad went to Dublin and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”.
Was it Tony Cascarino who admitted that the closest his family ever came to Ireland was a pint of Guinness? Those were the days when the suits trawled family trees to find players. Those were the days when Irish players, like the Scots and to a lesser extent the Welsh, were respected in the English game, instead of being looked upon pitifully.
It’s a killer line that he learned he was eligible for the Republic’s international side from his Irish father. That’s Terry’s genuine legacy; forty years down the line and you can’t help but smile.
We’re laughing these days, at the transfer rumours anyway. Thomas Lemar might be leaving Monaco for £45m or perhaps its £50m? He may not be leaving at all; the media are hedging their bets on the young man’s future. Jack Wilshere meanwhile is so desperate to find a new club that he’s even considering West Ham United; this despite the fact that so far, the Hammers have shown no interest in him.
Come on you fading light blues into dark blue at the bottom
And if divining footballers futures from their use in promotional materials really is a thing, then Mesut Özil and Hector Bellerin are both staying. This in spite of the abominable away kit foisted upon us by Puma. You’ll see it first hand at the Emirates shindig this weekend, certainly against Benfica and probably Sevilla. It’s so bad that I’m even beginning to think that the third shirt and home kit are passable.
The certainty is that the colours will sell by the bucketload in the fashion markets. As a football kit, it is shockingly bad but the aesthetics in a sporting environment are secondary; this is about Puma making a bucketload of cash through sales. However, we’ll have to perform in these kits and play well; you’ve got to in these conditions.
It could be worse though, it genuinely could be:
On that note, I’ll leave you with a new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox, where revisiting the past is the theme of the day.