It’s probably been the best four days of the season. The bar, I admit, has been set low for an underwhelming 2017-18, but Tottenham’s defeat to Juventus set us up nicely – along with Wojo’s antics of pouring a salt mountain on their gaping wounds – before an excellent win in Milan.
And it was; you can’t argue with that. We had a couple of moments where things might have gone pear-shaped in the early stages. We weathered the storm and imposed ourselves on the match; a good European away performance. You can’t ask for anything more in that 90 minutes.
Thursday night football means Sunday lunchtime kick-off. Troy Deeney brings his cojones to the Emirates and they are due a good kicking; we owe them that.
Despite this, the clouds remain over the club. The manager’s future is intrinsically linked by some to the next 90 minutes, even though that’s not the case. Our issues are the same as a relegation-threatened club who need to save their status; our problems run much deeper than that.
If you believe some, it is the next 90 minutes even though we all know he isn’t going to resign during the season nor be sacked. The reaction to Milan leads me to believe that the next club crest will not see a return to a heraldic design but a pair of crossed flip-flops.
The media this morning are giving Arsène a break. Instead, it’s Jack Wilshere’s contract situation which is vexing the denizens of the back pages. Arsenal, according to reports, offered Jack a £20k per week pay cut and want performance-related bonuses instead. This is the same Arsenal which rewarded the manager with a £2m pay rise while handing out big contracts to three new players.
Little wonder Wilshere feels like he’s funding others pay and rejected the deal. In his words, he is “no closer” to signing a new contract putting the ball firmly back in Arsenal’s court. I have no issue with the club putting bonuses into contracts, it the norm anywhere in the world. However, it seems we’re not doing it for everyone.
Ramsey and Welbeck have played similar numbers of Premier League games to Wilshere in the past couple of seasons yet there’s no talk of reducing their basic pay. It’s not about treating Jack differently, just the same.
Will the club cave in when the crunch comes? Only if we have the transfer budget to replace him.
Nor is the manager fighting his corner. Wenger stepped away from talks, readying the “His departure is nothing to do with me” defence. It’s with Fahmy and Sannelhi – “We made him a good offer but he turned it down” – in a game of footballing pass-the-parcel.
The question is whether there’s a regular place in the line-up for Wilshere and Ramsey. Both their contract situations are reduced to that binary equation yet we saw in Milan that it works. One game does not a season make and they need to perform consistently, but put a defensively sound midfielder into the mix and there’s a winning combination on paper.
I Really Love Your Tiger Feet
We need more than three players this summer and a seemingly diminishing transfer budget. Some fancy financial footwork is needed to ensure compliance with whatever regulations others see fit to flout. At least we’ve got the moral high ground, eh?
Where we can improve and make better use of our money is in a cohesive recruitment policy. New backroom staff surely means an end to the mantra of “we can win the league even though we’re three players short”? We shall see.