Saturday and the return of Arsenal is just a week away and frankly that can’t come soon enough. This morning’s playlist is A Pleasant Enough Distraction and can be found in the right sidebar on Dad’s Jukebox or here.
England’s routine win last night saw Danny Welbeck take his goal tally to six for his country this season, just two behind his Arsenal total. He’s being widely praised in the media as Man of the Match which seemed fair from what I saw of the game and reports this morning.
Still, this morning’s papers have solved one problem with Kane now a frontrunner for the vacant role in One Direction.
Welbeck’s performance has come at some cost with the forward ruled out of next week’s international in Italy. I honestly can’t say I’m heartbroken about him missing that game so long as he is fit for next weekend. You sense he probably will be. Roy Hodgson seems to be taking a pragmatically cautious view with all his players at this stage of the season. If that is genuinely the case, it’s a rare outbreak of common sense from an England manager.
That Welbeck was replaced by Theo Walcott underlines the change of fortunes that an injury can bring. Eighteen months ago it was inconceivable that the roles would be reversed but it shows how fickle the footballing fates can be. That situation underlines the competition for wide places that Walcott finds himself in. It is something new and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s continued improvement as a player, there’s no guarantee that Theo is going to find himself an automatic choice for club or country.
The England team though underlined the improvements that the FA need to make with players in this country. It was a startling average line-up for the most part and certainly not a squad which seems destined to end half-a-century without a trophy on the international stage. Arsène noted that Greg Dyke’s plans were not the panacea for the game.
That was after he poo-pooed Theo Walcott’s tweets about his contract situation, observing that Arsenal were starting the process which was stopped having started already. Good grief, if the manager doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s little wonder that the player is even more clueless. There’s an interesting interview with Winston Bogarde which sheds light on Walcott’s motivation for his social media interaction. Bogarde still suffers – or perceives that he does – from his reputation gained at Stamford Bridge. Football’s insularity resurfaces.
Wenger believes that improving the quality of the players is vital as opposed to Dyke’s plans for homegrown players which he thinks promote mediocrity. The problem for Arsène and the Premier League is that whilst they are concerned about the technical abilities of players coming through, they are more focussed on the here and now. Southampton are rumoured to have asked if the FA can force through Dyke’s plans and it’s apparent that opportunity exists albeit as the ‘nuclear option’.
But think about that for a moment. Southampton, a club whose youth products are in at least three of the top six with others coveted by the same, are concerned about the homegrown rule. They could benefit if their success continues but the model Dyke espouses means they, more than most, stand to ultimately lose as they become richer through selling players who want Champions League football, something The Saints can’t offer. Yet. If ever.
The only solution for the English game is to improve native talent and that takes decades; there is no quick fix. Arsenal know that, look at the issues they had at creating a production line of talent from the Academy. Andries Jonker and his staff have a short-term poisoned chalice if the criteria Dyke wants to implement are accepted. Perhaps it’s fortunate at the moment that the FA Chairman’s protectionism is reined in by European law.
Having experience of the game around Europe and beyond, Wenger identified the flaws in taking the homegrown rules too far. France and Yugoslavia were held as examples where it went wrong. And yet Wenger also underlined the Premier League’s contradictory stance in all this,
If we want to sell the Premier League for a huge amount of money then we need to say: ‘buy this, this is the best in the world.’ You cannot go against the quality and what is at the heart of our job which is competition.
The broadcasters won’t pay megabucks for mediocre fare. Actually, they do already but have yet to catch up with that truth.
The here and now versus the future. English football has been struggling for that balance for decades and still cannot find the answer.