I stopped what I was doing and listened. I waited and found I hadn’t misheard. The talking heads wittered on about what a great evening’s football we were witnessing and took us to Lisbon. Benfica’s match received the injection of adrenalin to the chest and livened up. They faced’Seska Moscow’. No they weren’t; CSKA Moscow, my friends, is a Ronseal club name. Each letter has it’s own sound: ‘C’. ‘S’. ‘K’. ‘A’. ‘Seska’? Where the hell did that pronunciation come from?
Nicely fatted, UEFA plucked the golden goose and found it was a turkey. Qarabag enjoyed the prospect of being in the Champions League, I’m sure; reality is proving harsher. Likewise Celtic; PSG found the Scottish champions – and let’s not forget unbeaten in 54 domestic matches – equally weak opposition.
This tweet sums up the situation neatly:
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) September 12, 2017
Not often I’d agree with Waddle but on this occasion, I’ll make an exception.
This morning sees more rumours and claims about Mesut Özil’s contract situation. He’s flown through the summer unscathed and while the scalding of Alexis continues without pausing for breath, the German gets a free pass. I said last season that if I could one of the two, it would be the Chilean and nothing so far has made me change my mind.
Employing professional PR to look after social media and his image is paying dividends. The fans treatment of the pair could hardly be more contrasting yet the situation is the same. Will that change when people realise they’ve been ‘played’?
While in Australia, Özil declared talks would take place when everyone was back in London. According to Sportbild, talks between the two parties ended in February of this year and they claim the midfielder has already informed Arsenal he will be leaving.
The story pins the blame firmly on Arsenal. Wenger, it’s claimed, was talking to PSG at the time and the club lacked direction to continue. Since then, the suggestions of salary offers of £250-300k are pure fantasy on the part of the media.
Get Up and Walk Away
Keeping it quiet serves two purposes. Firstly, the club fell into a dishevelled mess of their own making. Dick Law’s decision to return to the USA for family reasons puts considerable pressure on Ivan Gazidis, who seems to be extending himself too far by taking over some of Law’s duties.
The club doesn’t need the aggravation that will surely follow when the news becomes ‘official’ that the pair are leaving next summer. It damages the credibility of a CEO who claimed we could compete with the likes of Bayern by moving to the Emirates.
Wenger suffers as well; if players join because of him, these departures are down to his failure to build a squad which challenges for the title.
The second purpose is for Team Mesut. His image remains untarnished until the departure by which time we’ll probably be distracted by the falling out of the top four on a seemingly permanent basis. The manager will take the flak for that and departing players will glide out of the door.
It is what it is and the two transfer windows of 2018 will tell us how much of a cock-up we’ve made by allowing the contract situations to drift. More importantly, whether or not we have a plan.
Preachin’ From My Chair
Add into this, we’re back into the last year of Wenger’s contract again and that situation has to be resolved before the summer transfer window opens. Another season of ‘will he / won’t he’ will create more havoc and damage.
Thank god there’s a lot of football between now and then. 1FC Köln on Thursday, Chelsea on Sunday. There’s not much of a gap between the two, according to Arsène which is an odd stance to take. It’s no different from Wednesday to Saturday, a normal flow of fixtures. At this stage of the season, fatigue ought not to be an issue although I understand that those who travelled long distances last week may need some rest.
With the trip to Chelsea ahead, I’d expect four or five changes to the starting line-up. Ospina, who appeared incredibly short compared to Cech and Macey in the official team photos yesterday, and probably Rob Holding in for the suspended Laurent Koscielny, are the two enforced alterations. I expect Theo, Giroud and Reiss-Nelson to be the others, although Ashley Maitland-Niles could be used at right back. I don’t think so although by tomorrow morning’s post, I’ll have changed my mind, I’m sure.
Finally, over at Dad’s Jukebox the previously thought of as anonymous year of 2006 proved momentous. Head over to this morning’s post to find out why.