It feels like it ought to be a public holiday. Perhaps a moment when the UK integrates with our European cousins, nay, a global occasion of celebration. A moment when we dive gleefully into the back pages and scour the web for the merest morsel, the meagrest crumb of news. Yes, the Transfer Window is fully open!
I was going to suggest searching for titbits but frankly that’s a whole different discussion and you really do need to clear your browser history. So I’m told.
You came looking for some dissection of last night’s Euro 2016 action and when I find that action, I’ll dissect it. Not as bad as Portugal’s win over Croatia, it wasn’t as good as Poland’s penalties win over Switzerland either. And that was an utter non-event.
The two sides are distinctly average which makes England’s failure all the more painful but gives a certain clarity to the national team’s failings. The FA are being given a lot – and I mean a lot – of advice by ‘experts’ on who to appoint as Hapless Hodgson’s replacement but so long as they don’t dive head first into appointing Jurgen Klinsmann, I don’t mind.
Big Phil Scholari is interested in the job he turned down a decade ago and in no way should you read anything into the fact that he had a good job then and doesn’t now.
Anyway, the Portuguese are through and Ronaldo’s still not the hero. Fair play to him for taking the first penalty last night – and it was a good one – in front of the Polish supporters. It’s one of those moments when the élite players need to stand up and set an example; he did.
Interesting the Polish striker Milik has been coached by Dennis Bergkamp at Ajax on his finishing. His form this tournament may have sabotaged any dreams that Bergkamp had of returning to Arsenal…
Back to the transfer window. It’s the footballing equivalent of ‘Are we there yet?’ but one which fixates us, no matter how much you try to ignore it. A moment in a Hollywood movie where the hapless victim stares into the water unaware of the danger which lurks beneath.
It’s also a time when envy strikes, playing on your every fear, no matter how latent and deeply buried they may be. Rival clubs are busy in the market, signing anything with two legs and even one of them appears to be an optional extra. Their money is no object unless you object to how much money they’ve got to spend.
And we’ve got plenty of fears. Serial under-investment in the squad has harmed successive title challenges before a ball has been kicked in anger. That isn’t saying that Arsenal don’t spend or even enough, simply that Arsène habitually begins a new season with serious question marks over the depth in certain positions.
It’s not one area either; he’s gone into season’s with under-strength defence, midfield and strikers. I don’t whether it’s a relief that there isn’t one blind spot or whether to be concerned that there isn’t just one blind spot.
Last summer was baffling but you sense had a deep impact on the Arsenal psyche. The club’s transfer business was feeble; we’ve revisited the reasons and consequences time and again, so I don’t intend to do the same again this morning. Suffice to say, expectations this summer of filling the positions identified are low, despite Granit Xhaka’s arrival.
Football currently has a dearth of world-class strikers and even the next level down is poorly stocked. It’s put pressure on Wenger which is added to with stories that Gonzalo Higuain has rejected a contract offer from Napoli. The key element of that story is always omitted; the only dispute is over a release clause – the wages are fine so it’s unlikely he will leave this summer.
I know we look at other clubs and their seemingly decisive transfer market actions enviously. Frustration grows as Chelsea take one look at a player, offer €40m and he’s due to sign in a matter of days. Except Chelsea fans are probably frustrated by Batshuayi not being signed; “he’s had a medical, what’s the delay?” – sound familiar?
It could be worse, Arsenal could be selling shirts with Lacazette on the back already. It’s as if the name Aaron Ramsey has been erased from the Manchester United memory banks and certainly enough to make Borussia Dortmund hold out for €5m more or take Henrikh Mkhitaryan back to Germany. And his agent to an office furniture superstore so that he can chuck chairs about to his heart’s content.
On the Arsenal front, Juventus have been told to walk the big door marked “Do One!” after they enquired about Alexis Sanchez’s availability. They’ve only got to look at social media to find out that he’s on holiday with his foot up. I’m just surprised he hasn’t been ruled out for the season, such are our injury woes.
But that story signals that we’re here, the first day of July with pre-season soon to begin. Which makes the proper football ever closer.
Let the mayhem begin!