It’s something of a thankless task being involved in Arsenal’s PR. When the bad news comes, they get hammered for not managing it better and when the good news comes, someone gets in first and steals their thunder. A new signing for example, ought to be a time for them to celebrate but the pictures of Granit Xhaka’s photoshoot have already tumbled onto the web. Not only that, he’s wearing the new kit…
And despite the leaks, the news will still be better than yesterday’s FA Cup final. It was as dull as dishwater for seventy-odd minutes, enlivened only by Mark Clattenburg’s ‘peculiar’ decisions to penalise United fouls when Palace had goalscoring opportunities emerging. Last season saw plenty of occasions when referees pulled play back having seen an advantage disappear so why not at Wembley?
The answer is next weekend’s Champions League final. Clattenburg refereed it exactly how UEFA will want to see their showpiece managed and if he impresses with that, England’s typically early exit from Euro2016 opens the door for him to officiate the final, giving him some sort of treble that his good chum, Sir Alex Ferguson, will appreciate.
All this and Jose Mourinho returning to bring his unique brand of sparkling football to the top flight. That will put Arsène’s theory to the test. United haven’t set the world alight this season, outshining Arsenal in that department, and Mourinho’s not noted for his flair tactics which begs the question whether or not United’s supporters will care if he brings trophies back to Old Trafford? Somehow, I doubt it.
Palace’s brief lead threatened some mirth at United’s expense, Chris Smalling’s dismissal also, but in ninety seconds or so of joy before the Sarf Lahndeners repeated their failure in the 1990 FA Cup final in what was a joyless match that damned Van Gaal’s tactics but allowed him the glory for about as long as Jason Puncheon’s lasted. Mourinho’s appointment was trumpeted soon after; it was either going to steal the limelight or drown the Dutch manager in its wake.
Mind you, it’s hard to have much sympathy for Palace: Alan Pardew’s dancing deserved some sort of punishment, maybe even being made a criminal offence. Drunken uncles everywhere are practising their ‘Pardews’ in the mirror this morning, ready for the family weddings this summer.
All the while Arsenal seem to be going about their business. The outlandish notions have started in the papers already with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain apparently going to Leicester and Sadio Mane (or Sissoko from Newcastle) coming in from Southampton to replace him. Whilst Claudio Ranieri had it all his own way in the Premier League last season, that’s not going to be the case this time. Oh no Sir, you will have to fight off Jurgen Klopp for the Ox! Liverpool want him and what Jurgen wants…
Theo Walcott meanwhile, is sitting somewhere quietly sobbing, “Jurgen, what about me?”
Which assumes Arsenal want to sell him of course. And this is the same media still pushing for Wenger to sign Kante even though Xhaka seems to fit the same bill. Just saying.
It pretty much leads the road clear for Alvaro Morata. €51m for the man who scored the winner in yesterday’s Coppa Italia final is a snip surely? If £40m or so can be called a snip. I’m not sure but the activity around Arsenal at the moment suggests that the club are wary of paying a ‘tournament excess’ if a player does well in France.
Not that Morata is carrying that fee; this is Real Madrid we will be dealing with, after all, presuming they exercise their buy-back clause which everyone seems to think will happen. Who knows but if they do, it won’t be a surprise if they make that kind of profit on the deal. After all, they don’t have any more land to sell at dubious prices to the city council so they have to get cash from somewhere.
That said, quite a few clubs will be looking at their kit deals in coming weeks and surely Arsenal will be one of them. Chelsea elicited a premium from Nike after dumping Adidas for €40m. That sum was dwarfed by the £60m they are reportedly getting every season in the new deal which is roughly HALF the money Nike will pay Barcelona every year for the next decade.
That is four times what Arsenal are receiving. FOUR times.
Whilst the club may believe in honouring existing deals, the way the football market is moving they are in danger of being left behind by their domestic rivals financially. These are clubs which are wealthier anyway so if Arsenal genuinely want to compete, some tough negotiations must lie ahead.
We shall see.
In the meantime, the sun is shining so I shall make the most of that.