International week seems to have been kind to the squad for once with no new injury worries that I have been able to find out about, surely a first for the club in recent seasons. Hell, even Luis Aragones joined in the communal spirit by not even giving Cesc half a match. Yea Gods, next time he could think about giving the lad a complete rest!
It was, I think, Len Shackleton’s autobiography that contained a blank page under the chapter heading of “What Chairmen Know About Football” or something like that. Steve Gibson of Middlesbrough obviously subscribes to that view and is intent on proving it. Gibson has done a good job at Middlesbrough since taking over, stablising a club that was financially stricken, and funding them to buy players normally beyond their means and into a new(ish) stadium. He has been an extremely patient man with his managers and in that respect, a large number of the other 91 Chairmen could learn from him. He seems to be a friend to his managers and extremely loyal to them as well. However, in being loyal to Steve McClaren, he has opened his mouth to set himself up as a target of ridicule.
On Radio5 Live last night, Gibson sought to deflect the criticism of McClaren following another dire England performance, blaming the lack of English players at the top clubs, turning his ire on two of them,
“What chances are English footballers getting at major clubs…The Liverpools and the Arsenals – what are they contributing at national level?”
Gibson is a fool. He has contributed what exactly to England? One injury-prone defender, albeit a very good one, one mediocre left winger and one mediocre Head Coach. And his qualification for speaking out? Loyalty to a former employee and the chance to see his name in lights. Middlesbrough may have a good Academy but is it better than Arsenal’s? Unquestionably it probably contains more English players but if he is going to comment on that then he should at least have the good grace to acknowledge the high percentage of young Englishmen at Arsenal who incidentally have more caps at the younger International Levels than the ‘Boro equivalents. Will Gibson put that view forward? No, Hell will suffer reverse Global Warming before he does. Perhaps he should ask the question as to why there are not more English players in the starting line-ups of the two clubs? Could it be the decent ones are out of the clubs financial reach? Heaven forbid that someone in the Game would actually say that the current England squad only contains five players who are good enough to get into those squads! Looking at the England team, Foster looks a decent prospect in goal, Terry is a solid defender albeit probably not mobile enough for Arsene, Hargreaves is a good defensive midfielder, Gerrard is an excellent midfielder and Rooney has enough about him to make it at Arsenal. The rest, frankly, would be a disappointing signing if Arsenal were to go for them.
Gibson misses the point by so much, he could be mistaken for a Peter Crouch shot. Arsenal owe nothing to England. The only duty or obligation Arsenal Football Club has is to itself and supporters; to acquire the best players to bring success to the club. That the club have a manager who is best qualified to take on the job (thwack – don’t even go there…)
One final thought. What exactly did Middlesbrough contribute to Englands’ World Cup campaign in 2006? Aah, that will be Steve McClaren then…
It has long been known that Newspapers take two and two to make it equal twenty seven thousand, six hundred and eight nine. Many outlets report that Arsenal are in talks with an American Billionaire, Stan Kroenke, who owns MLS Club, Colorado Rapids, the inference being he is going to take over Arsenal. What they do not make abundantly clear at the outset is that it is a Partnership for marketing purposes although one hopes it does not extend to pre-season tours of the USA in International Tournament years – apologies to any US Readers but the players come back knackered enough as it is; the last thing they should be required to do is then travel halfway around the World to satisfy marketing men. Ask the Real / Barcelona / Juve players if they are happy with that sort of schedule.
The Independent at least puts across the point that there are no known plans by the major shareholders at the Club to sell their holdings with the exception of ITV who have been trying to offload their 9% shareholding for some time.
Back to this Partnership. Apparently, the terms of the deal will see the US Franchise renamed to something like Colorado Arsenal which mimicks a similar deal that Mexican club, Chivas, has – although I’m not sure, but I believe they own one of the Californian clubs rather than Partner it. The deal seems to be the same pattern as Arsenal have with Asian, African and European teams regarding training and playing staff. Speculation will no doubt continue about Kroenke taking over at Arsenal portrayed as inevitable irrespective of the views of the Shareholders, perhaps even reaching a crescendo on days when transfer speculation is low.
On which subject, Gilberto Silva is apparently a £5m target for Juventus this summer. Fuelled by comments made by Dunga after this weeks’ international at The Emirates – the Brazilian National Coach is quite correct, Gilberto would do well in Italy – apparently, Arsenal’s Invisible Midfield Wall will be sold off for a few shekels. Quite where £5m has come from is unknown as is any explanation as to why Arsene would sanction his release either. Aah, hold on it is – the hacks fag packet that was under his fifteenth pint when he made the story up. Everyone thought it said Marlboro but no, written in the brand name was the subliminal message “Gilberto to Juve”. Those pesky Tobacco companies will stop at nothing to keep smokers hooked…