A Sunday where the papers are dominated by talk of Bernie Ecclestone. Whilst others welcome the competition, Roy Collins in the Sunday Telegraph talks sense, commenting that a bid ‘is as likely as David O’Leary returning as manager‘ to succeed. In order to fill the Sports section though, they do fill a couple of articles with it so not all of them at the Telegraph are of the same mind. The Mail On Sunday flies with the ‘Wenger is unsettled’ angle on the takeover talk, observing that the friendship AW had with Dein has been supplanted by a ‘close relationship with Ken Friar and Danny Fiszman, whose private jet he uses for scouting trips‘. Dein will no doubt be crying into his cornflakes at having been spurned so cheaply. Meanwhile The Independent nearly gives Ecclestone the coverage he deserves by relegating it to two paragraphs, a throw away comment and The Times totally ignored it on their website.
Back to The Telegraph. The paper will send some into apoplexies of rage with the news that Arsenal are second only to Middlesbrough in the number of English players in their Academies. Whereas ‘Boro have eighteen out of nineteen, Arsenal total fourteen out of fifteen. It is not that they are English that will worry people, it’s the lack of experience. The Academy is doomed to fail because they have not got enough top flight games under their belt. Steven Howard in yesterday’s Sun lambasted Arsenal for leading the way in signing foreign players to the detriment of the England team. Apparently, Justin Hoyte is on his way out following on from the signing of Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott won’t be able to hold down a place because that dastardly Emmanuel Eboue is being moved forward to provide competition for him. Well, far be it for me to disagree with such a venerable commentator as I am but a humble blogger, but that is absolute rubbish on several levels. Firstly and by no means not least, both are regulars for the Under-21’s when fit so it hardly fits with his assertion that we are holding England back.
The most important point that Howard overlooks, because well, it would shoot his view to pieces, is that there are not sufficiently high numbers of reasonably priced Englishmen who are technically gifted enough to fit in with the England side. Rather than having a pop at the Premiership clubs, he would have been better suited turning his ire onto clubs such as West Bromwich Albion who value an uncapped Centre Half with one season of relegation-striven play at £10m. That is not good business sense from a purchasing point of view, Arsene’s value of £6m is nearer the truth given his potential (that damned word). Davies is nowhere near the finished article and would not be able to displace Gallas or Toure, struggling to assert himself ahead of Djourou (who is a full international) and Senderos (shhh, he is too and played at a World Cup). You see for all of those who denounce Arsenal for not fielding Englishmen, look at the coaching they receive and then direct your thoughts there. Within the next decade, you may see the number of Englishmen in the team increase as the Academy bears fruit and then when they are more technically gifted than others, perhaps the paragons of virtue will not be the underachieving English clubs but the ones who coach their players properly. That we have the highest number of former trainees in the League at other clubs ought to be pointing you in that direction. That most of them were unable to compete with more technically gifted ‘foreign’ players is the biggest chastisement of English football that there can ever be.
Anyway onto the transfer rumours. The Telegraph lets itself down by carrying the Palacio hoax still as a rumour. The Screws reckons that Stephen Appiah is on his way to the club for between £6-£8m, which according to a friend Arsenal are aware of ‘and it really won’t be an issue‘. No, it won’t. Because we won’t be paying it just like we haven’t for the last two transfer windows. The same paper reckons Mick McCarthy is after Armand Traore which would allow Arsene to keep all of his right backs and use Sagna or Hoyte on the left. Except he appears to hold Traore in high esteem so it seems a bit of wishful thinking on someone’s part. If the word ‘Loan’ had appeared in there, I would have said ‘Go For It’, get the lad a season of hard work in a promotion battle and see if he steps up a level.
Despite publicly declaring that he will not play for another Premiership club, West Ham are still sending Freddie Ljungberg little lovenotes, and are confident of getting their man. Their Collina lookalike Chairman reckons, ‘He is a player we like and we have been watching for several months. We are confident a deal can be finalised‘. It’s a bizarre thing to say about a player who was until injury struck one of the two top midfielders in the Premiership. Still if they have only been watching him for a couple of months, then they must think he is doing a good job. Personally, I am minded to keep Ljungberg at the club as cover but it comes down to money. If someone offers £5.5m for him, then it is good business sense to let him go. Which means he’ll stay and just be added to the myriad of bad business decisions taken by the Board.
I’ve at long last got round to sorting out the Links Out to other people and there are still a couple to be added, as well as a couple of new pages to go up. If you have emailed me recently, patience please I am getting round to sorting everything out.