Just a few days ago, he was being lauded as a folk hero for enjoying his son’s choice of Arsenal’s academy over Chelsea’s. This morning, it’s the tears of a clown. Emmanuel Eboue lays his life bare with tales of despair in the back pages.
I recall reading an interview with him some time ago that he was struggling with mental health issues while serving a FIFA-imposed ban after a contractual dispute with his former agent. Rumours surfaced – strongly refuted – in October that he was diagnosed HIV-positive when a blood test returned abnormal values while undergoing a medical with a Cypriot club.
Little wonder he has fallen on hard times with the ill-fortune suffered. If you can’t do anything yourself, you hope they have friends to whom they can turn.
Remember kids, being a human being isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life.
Yesterday’s matches brought us to the halfway point of the Premier League season. We’re 21 points behind the leaders, but everyone is trailing in their wake so it’s a little pointless in using that as a benchmark. That we’re only 8 points behind second is more of a guide of where we stand at the moment. Five off third, a point off fourth.
I keep reading that we can’t compete for anything because of the money spent by the wealthiest clubs. Guardiola pinned down as a chequebook manager, is disproving that it is all down to money. Manchester City finished 15 points behind Chelsea last season, now they sit 16 ahead.
He’s spent money, net of around £140m this summer, which helps no end. There’s a “City Tax” on every fee they pay, probably inflating prices by around 20% but that’s the price they pay. Money isn’t the issue in this instance.
Listen, Lads, I’ve Got A Plan
Guardiola and City addressed the weaknesses in their squad; there was a plan for their business last summer in complete contrast to Arsenal where there was the usual fumble in the dark. It’s staggering that we thought our weaknesses would be solved by a new striker and left back.
Even if Alexis’ decision to leave only arrived post-Bayern as is being claimed, we needed more than a replacement for him as well. Where was the centre back? The goalkeeper? The defensive midfielder? I’m used to us going into a season one player short but this time, it was at least three and then add in two for the players in contractual disputes with the club. The best two so maybe we need to add one more into the mix because we won’t replace both Alexis and Mesut Özil like-for-like.
Half an XI at best we are short and I think that shows. None of the teams above us – City aside – are outstanding; we could quite easily overhaul them with ambition and a plan. That we’re lacking the latter, to me manifests in the switch to a back four once again.
Arsène surely hasn’t forgotten why he moved to a back three? If he had, the Liverpool game served as a genuine reminder why. An injury forced his hand against United, but since then? Four successive clean sheets with different combinations of players probably convinced him the problems were solved or if not, patched up.
Liverpool exposed the same frailties as ruthlessly as United. In the absence of a defensive midfielder, we go into the second half of the season with fourth as our ambition. Unless we take points from Chelsea, finishing higher will prove almost impossible.
But it depends on us having a plan. Is Arsène the man to have a plan or are we making this up on the hoof? I know what I think the answer is and you can probably guess it with no difficulty.
In the next six months, he has to decide his future. He doesn’t have to, but the clusterf*ck most of last season descended into dictates he does. However, the question is whether the board will impose that timetable on him? The good news is that next summer’s transfer planning is not in his hands. Deals will be struck by others, scouting is no longer under Wenger’s control.
Unrealistic expectations may be piled on the shoulders of new football men, but at least something is being done. Tangible results are nine months away; can they deliver?
Until then, we’ll stumble through the second half of the season in the same way we did the first.