It says much about recent events that I’d quite forgotten Alexis is in the United team.
Another season, another meaningless match. United are assured of second, we’re pretty much assured of finishing sixth. It could be seventh, but I doubt it. It won’t be fifth and in any case, beyond a couple of hundred thousand pounds in prize money and direct entry to the Europa League group stage, it’s no great shakes.
The team is going to use the squad to its’ fullest extent. Ramsey, Özil and Wilshere didn’t travel nor the Chuckle Brothers; we’ve got a chance of a clean sheet or at least, not a self-inflicted one. Who am I kidding; it’s in our DNA.
No-one blames Arsène for thinking of Thursday; we all are. If he could postpone the match and play it another time he would. Putting out a second-ish string is a sensible move and unfortunately likely to be a winning one.
It’s a big responsibility on the younger players. Are they being thrown under the bus? Not in my view; we have a forlorn hope in Madrid. Maybe not forlorn, certainly outside hope of winning.
For Willock, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, and Mavropanos seem the likeliest of the youngsters to start although the latter will probably be on the bench. Chambers and Holding will be left with the task of controlling Lukaku, which will be a tall order and something of a learning process. Can they control the Belgian? Physically, he looks stronger than the pair so they must read the game better, anticipate. That tells us more about their potential than most. If they can read the game, control their impetuosity, then they may succeed.
It’s a tall order but needs must. And in this situation, we would all do the same.
Which is all about the immediate future. Coming soon after him is a new man, which seems unlikely to be Luis Enrique, to the relief of some, it seems. The former Barcelona boss wants a £200m ‘war chest’ to put things right at the club, tantamount to a public facepalm to the Arsenal as you will ever see.
It’s the same with every managerial appointment; the loudest and most talked-about candidate is rarely the new man. Not at Arsenal, at least. George Graham wasn’t talked about beforehand; I don’t think Rioch was either, and Arsène was so left-field that nobody remembered he existed over in Japan.
Enrique’s demands may be designed to save face, for him to walk away instead of being cast in the role of a chequebook manager.
That’s the supposition anyway. Is he even interested or is it a ploy to flush out another club on his part? Our M.O. is more in line with Porto, Benfica, Monaco and the like, or it’s going to need to be. We can’t generate the transfer funds from commercial revenues so we need to sharpen up on the academy production line, finding young players or scouting them at lower league clubs with a view to selling them at a profit.
Are You Gonna Go My Way?
With the way Arsenal work – and not necessarily the Arsenal Way – are we likely to know the name of the successor before the final game of the season?
I don’t think so. Mourinho jumped at the chance of dampening United’s joy at winning the FA Cup, ruining Van Gaal’s final act of celebration, by announcing he was their new boss. I can’t see us taking on anyone so obviously egotistical. Personally, I’d be surprised if we’re told who it is before the club and supporters given Arsène his final send-off against Burnley next weekend.
Which brings us, in a vaguely circuitous way, back to today’s game.
I don’t have great expectations and while I may be going through the motions as far the remainder of this season’s Premier League is concerned, I expect more from the players. Supporters and their damned expectations. Pffft.
It’s an opportunity for the players to put themselves into the thoughts of the new manager who I am sure will be watching somewhere in the world.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.