Is it wrong that the words “How has obnoxious Lehmann…” at the start of the headline left me wondering what Jens had done? Fleetingly, I remembered this was a goalkeeper who relieved himself behind the goal in a first-team match. A man who couldn’t believe Manuel Almunia was the competition and kept him out of the side.
Am I the only one who is severely disappointed that it was another story on the Banana Republic cheating team?
That’s it; all said and done. Not quite all said, but the international break is over unless there are any stragglers this evening. There aren’t; I just checked. See how thorough the preparation for this piece is?
What did we learn whilst the players were away with their countries? Hosts Russia are on course for a group stage exit. They were outplayed, out-thought and out-fought by Brazil and Germany, both of whom barely got out of second gear to win comfortably.
England might reach the last eight. It genuinely depends on how badly Dave plays in goal for Colombia. He might play well, in which case England are in trouble. But then again, he might not. For what it’s worth, Southgate has the Three Lions clearing their throat, readying a roar. After years of underperforming at major tournaments, we might do well. Relatively speaking, that is.
Spain and France both put decent cases forward for being ‘dark horses’ while Argentina laid claim to the knacker’s yard last night. I know Messi wasn’t playing, but even his, ahem, defensive abilities wouldn’t have stopped the six goals the Spanish scored. Maybe it would have ended up 6 – 4 instead of 6 – 1.
All in all, there were plenty of signs it might be a good tournament on the pitch as a counterpoint to the expected carnage off it.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short, You’re a Tremendous Slouch.
Elsewhere, UEFA tinkered with the Champions League and Europa League.
Seat manufacturers successfully lobbied for more business and now there will be 12 substitutes on the bench. It won’t be long before there are five permitted substitutions per game. Remember when Eriksson felt the opprobrium of the masses for changing an England team at half-time? Coming soon to a Champions League match near you…
The welcome change is the ending of the cup-tied rule which is a sensible amendment to the rules. Not if you’re an Arsenal fan. It all came too late for this season and was immediately seized upon as a conspiracy against the club. This was UEFA and everything which is holy in football showing the determination needed to shaft Arsenal.
They needn’t work too hard. The gaffer will shoot us in the foot soon enough.
Talking of which, his tone changed in one the beIN Sports interviews:
Wenger “We sit down at the end of every season & see where we go from there. I have a 2-year contract & will always try to (reach) the end of it. But I always have the honesty to sit down with BoD & to see where we go from there. If I see no progress, we can terminate it.”#afc pic.twitter.com/U6mJe1EKEi
— Gilles (@GrimandiTweets) March 27, 2018
Is he playing to the audience in stepping back from the ‘never broke a contract’ routine? The only progress can be winning the Europa League but is that outweighed by dropping another place in the Premier League? I don’t know; winning a trophy counts more than the league placing unless you’re top of the table, doesn’t it? Empty seats don’t lie about the style of play though, do they?
That said, Ivan whose ghast is never flabbered, will be left dumbstruck after Wenger claims it was he who put together the new backroom team…
You’ll Get Nothing, and Like It!
At which point we turn our backs on international football and embrace the club game. The next time it interrupts the season will be for the World Cup finals. By then, Arsenal will have won the Europa League, won’t we? Got to be something to look forward to this season. Surely we’re not reduced to a club for whom speculation is more important than the next three points?
It hasn’t got that bad yet. Has it?