I am what I drink and I’m a bitter man. Or at least that’s what Claudio Bravo wants everyone to believe about Alexis Sanchez. Sadio Mane’s studs resurrected Bravo’s Manchester City career but he’s making sure he gets a pundit role when he hangs up his boots; his gloves were hung up long ago.
Anyway, the Chilean claims his compadre is bitter over the deadline day disaster when his whole world collapsed. No, the dogs weren’t ill; his move to Manchester City. You know, the one which was not going to happen all summer unless the board decided it would, according to Arsène.
It didn’t and all his woes were forgotten as Atom and Humber bounded up, wagged their tails and slavered all over him. Alexis was happy again. And then he returned to training. And Alexis knew how a significant percentage of the world feels about going to work; it’s a bind and you’d rather be somewhere else. In the sunshine for a start.
But he didn’t. He’s here and I can’t wait until next summer when the excuses are trotted out that we’ve got no money to spend because we didn’t sell him. And no-one will renew their contracts because they don’t know what Arsène is doing with his. Because that proved decisive in Alexis, Mesut and Alex’s case, didn’t it?
The only one who signed unhesitatingly is Olivier Giroud and he would have left in the summer for Everton had his wife not put down her foot – probably a stiletto into his forehead for emphasis – about not wanting to live on Merseyside. Then again he’s merely following the manager’s lead and showing ‘loyalty’ when other clubs come courting.
That will make another chapter in the book, I’m sure.
There’s A Club…
Speaking to the media at the weekend, Arsène broached the subject of the move to Manchester United mentioned in Martin Edwards book. He stayed because he preferred Arsenal’s values to those at Old Trafford. It’s hardly surprising; the United board displayed the ruthlessness missing from Highbury in getting rid of Moyes and Van Gaal. The latter must look at Wenger and wonder why the Arsenal board haven’t sacked him after winning the FA Cup.
When Wenger renewed for two years, the problem of seeking his replacement went away for two years. If we’re to avoid the complete shambles of the last season again, his future has to be resolved next summer at the latest. The logic goes that players won’t sign for us if they know Wenger is leaving. Well, we don’t have a stellar track record of signings with him here; we always go into the season at least one good player short of a title challenge.
But that’s an issue for another time. This week sees the European campaign begin and the insufferables take it upon themselves to prove how far behind the elite leagues the Premier League has really fallen. Far be it for me to wish ill on their campaigns but I expect Tottenham to drop into the Europa League before Christmas. Liverpool may be the other ones to join them.
The fringe players are the ones who will benefit most from this week. The likes of Walcott, Chambers, Mertesacker and Holding are likely to take their place in the starting line-up with a smattering of youth. A “Premier League team”, Arsène said he’d field. He left out the bit about “if we were in the middle of an injury crisis”.
…If You’d Like To Go…
Can any of them change the manager’s mind about the starting XI? It’s a tough job. The only player who has fallen foul of the manager so far is Rob Holding. With Saturday’s result, there is probably a tendency to look at Ox’s departure as the reason we’ve improved; anything other than look too closely at themselves.
For someone like Theo Walcott, it’s the chance to impress upon the club that talks about his contract need to be concluded by next summer. It’s the first time the cards haven’t all been stacked in Team Walcott’s favour and right now I’d say he’s unlikely to ‘sign da ting’. Another hole in the bucket.
I’m beginning to think that Stan or Ivan has found the leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to fund all these purchases.