Emmanuel Adebayor has spoken of how the squad is like a family to him,
We are all the same generation. We all understand each other well, we know what we need to do
He took time to praise his little brother, Cesc,
Here everyone know about the clairvoyance of Cesc Fabregas. He sees the game so clearly, better than anyone. I don’t even need to talk to him for him to know where I am – same with Flamini, I don’t need to ask. They know I like to make runs and to receive the ball deep so we don’t need to talk, all I need to do is call and the ball arrives
It has been a little awry recently with tiredness taking its toll on form. Sunday is the perfect chance to rectify that and being a big game, I would be surprised if the team did not put in a big performance.
And the Arsenal squad are like a family. Publicly united but in-fighting breaking out here and there. Did I say ‘in-fighting’? Well, more disaffection.
Chief malcontent is Alex Hleb, reportedly at the centre of a ‘tapping up’ storm with Arsene wanting to involve UEFA amid claims that, as of yet are unsubstantiated, Internazionale were testing the water over a possible transfer with the player.
Whilst their involvement is not yet proven, it would be naïve to believe that he walked out of the team hotel to meet with Claudio Vigorelli to discuss the game ahead over a Tutti Frutti. The Guardian reports that they went to Inter’s offices in Milan that might well be an Ice Cream bar given the serious drop in their revenues over recent seasons. Somehow, though I doubt it.
The incident begs several questions. Firstly, is Hleb unhappy at the club, unsettled enough to seek a move? Rumours have abounded that he will be the subject of a bid from Barcelona in the summer for months. The player has towed the ‘company line’ about togetherness and belief in the squad. If it is a case of ‘white man speaks with forked tongue’, he has let his colleagues down badly. Hleb though cannot win; the speculation has cast considerable doubt about his performances in some quarters. Whilst his form since Christmas has not been as consistent as the opening three months of the season, he is not alone in that respect. Arguably, all of the squad have been inconsistent otherwise; there would not have been four consecutive Premier League draws.
The second issue I have is as to why he was allowed to leave the hotel on the night before an important European tie. Surely, there would have been orders to rest and relax not go out on the town. On the other hand, did he sneak out? For me though, the telling point is that Arsene has obviously not believed Hleb’s version of events otherwise he would not be considering reporting Internazionale. This is a dangerous precedent. The Frenchman works on treating the players like adults, irrespective of age. However, he has shown in the past that he is not slow to relegate players to ‘extras’ if they betray that trust.
Away from their relationship and Hleb’s actions, although inextricably linked to it, I find the reactions to be extreme. Condemnation has been swift with his lack of goals being a previously ignored sore point, now surfacing in the wish for him to sling his hook. It indicates to me that the reservations held over his performances have not been universally won over by his form this season. Were he to leave, it would be a big hole for the team to fill although I have no doubt that Arsene would fill it. The interesting aspect though has been the comparison to the reactions that greeted Cesc’s admission that he met with officials of Real Madrid last summer. There was a muted criticism of him but almost to a man, Real were seen as the villains. Not much different to Hleb’s outing; the difference in the popularity of the players though is marked.
The truth will never come out. Arsene will condemn, Inter deny and Hleb remain silent. If he leaves, it is a case of ‘I told you so’; if he stays, it will take some time for him to be trusted totally by the support. Isn’t it interesting though that this story emerges in the lead up to the Chelsea game where the comparisons are there to be made with Ashley Cole. Or am I being overly cynical?
As if that was not enough, the outside influence disrupting the serenity that previously cast its shadow over The Emirates rears his ugly head in another branch of the family. Abou Diaby’s agent, Roger Boli, has come out and said that his client’s future is not at The Emirates,
He’s a super player. For now he is learning under Arsene Wenger, but in two years he can make the leap to a major Italian team
Two observations; firstly is he speaking with his client’s approval? Probably. Secondly, it raises an interesting point about Arsenal’s standing in the World game, or at least the perception of it. The inference is that The Emirates is almost a primary school, a building block en route to the secondary school that is the rest of the former G14. More accurately though, it signifies the Agents perception of the club because they will not play his client in his favoured position or enough money, whichever is his current agenda. I can almost read the reactions to Boli’s comments though…