We do love a hero in football, don’t we? So quickly crowned, venomously disavowed on their departure.
Mostly, not always. Liam Brady, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry. Different ages, different reasons; all understood and still adored. For others, the venom is undimmed down the years. Treachery is not easily forgiven; ask Frank Stapleton and Robin van Persie.
The pair left for Manchester United amid different circumstances. Stapleton ran his contract down, van Persie didn’t want to wait for his move to Old Trafford.
This weekend saw him disingenuously claim Arsenal didn’t offer him a new deal. That’s true, according to contemporary records including his own crass letter. It leaves out one important detail; the Snake didn’t want to sign a new deal.
He, hung by his own words, made it clear to Ivan and Arsene that a new deal would be left hanging in the wind. He was going.
If he’d left to go abroad – anywhere but the evil triumvirate of Liverpool, United and Spurs – few would have objected. Most agreed that Arsenal weren’t spending wisely and that the reliance on youth was over. But he didn’t; the snake left for Old Trafford, succumbing to the dark side of the force.
The funniest part of his move is that Ferguson blatantly lied to him. Van Persie claimed he asked the Scot to confirm he was staying at the helm for at least three years; Sir Alex was gone inside twelve months.
Alexis Sanchez is on the cusp of leaving Old Trafford two years after his rash departure from Arsenal. It hasn’t worked out for him; tough. I find it hard to laugh, however. We didn’t come out of the deal well; the £60m bid we rejected from Manchester City looks foolhardy with every passing wage bill.
This morning sees Sam Wallace claim the squad labelled him ‘Super Chicken’. Essentially, his ego and focus on his own performance were to the detriment of the team. The logic sustaining that is how we didn’t perform any worse in his absence.
That’s a matter of opinion. Certainly, there were numerous occasions when we needed someone as dynamic as Alexis at his best. This is all supposition; we don’t know he would have rescued us but it can’t be proven he wouldn’t either.
Desperation breeds strange dreams.
Anyway, this is all a long way round to Dani Ceballos; the latest hero. Our reality is that he leaves at the end of this season, determined to prove his worth at Real Madrid. The hope is that the Spaniards become so desperate they spend hundreds of millions of euros this summer and winter.
A permanent deal might be possible if FFP has teeth. Manchester City flipped the finger at FIFA and probably think they can do the same with UEFA. PSG are less convinced; they are selling Neymar to cover themselves.
Of course, we’ll end up buying Ceballos and get a string of anonymous performances; that’s the Arsenal way.
There’s more to the deal than that; does he like England, can he perform in the big matches, etc.
That’s the beauty of football. We get carried away for 90 minutes and the immediate days after. Sensible stuff goes out the window. You know, the practicalities of signing a player.
And whether he can maintain the level of performance. We’ll get some indication of that on Saturday at Anfield. Ceballos has the talent to grab the game by the scruff of the neck; can he mentally in the cauldron of noise which rises in the opening minutes.
Superman, SuperDan, Super Womble
The sloth or genius of others impact on his performance, of course. I wouldn’t expect him to carry the team and given the talent we have, he shouldn’t have to. Then again…
Ceballos was outstanding against Burnley. Not perfect but as I said yesterday, I cannot think of a better home debut. The only thing missing was a goal. It wasn’t, however, through lack of effort and some good goalkeeping.
It is the big matches that we need his talents in, where he needs to flourish. Let’s be honest, it’s in his selfish best interests to perform. Real Madrid exists – in its own mind – for the big matches; recent league form exposes the flaw in their thinking. Supported by three Champions Leagues in a row, mind you.
Ceballos could be a big player. He could be a good thing for Arsenal. I wonder, however, when we look back next season, with another shiny new toy, whether we’ll remember him as fondly as we do right now?
VAR was the next big thing and its detractors have plenty of material to work with. Manchester City had a perfectly good goal disallowed because it struck an arm as it traversed the penalty area. An attacking arm; handball!
Had it been a defender’s arm, would it have been a penalty? Of course not. The IFAB in their flatulent wisdom decided an imbalanced law was the answer to debates through the years. Mr Bumble is not amused by such a one-sided rule and no doubt, one quietly disappearing next summer.
A Quantum of Solace
If there is any solace for Pep Guardiola, Sean the Ginger Dinosaur was equally unhappy when Ben Mee was punished for a handball he knew very little about. I have no sympathy for Sean; he was a twat after the game when he brought up diving as a spurious diversion to his own team’s stupidity and use of the black arts.
Maybe that won’t give Pep any solace after all. Still, at least the rule is being applied consistently across Europe. Leipzig had a perfectly good goal disallowed for similar reasons in their rout of Union Berlin. Romance, it seems, is as dead in the Bundesliga as it is in the Premier League.