Mike Pence just said, “It’s hard for to express” and surprisingly he didn’t finish it with “how f*****g gullible you lot are”, but with a platitude to his new boss. Donald Trump, eh? I bet Alan Sugar is sitting in his ivory tower plotting his route to power. “Theresa May, you’re fired!”.
As a Briton, I can only thank our cousins across the ocean for taking pity on us with the attitude, “Anything you can do, we can do dafter”.
America, dontcha just love it!!!! as Glenda Slagg would no doubt declare. She’d do the same with International breaks. The news out of the Chile camp hardly assuages fears that we can overcome a poor November record:
“The medical team of the Chilean national team can confirm Alexis Sánchez has a low-grade muscle tear. The player will stay in Santiago, under treatment and evaluation, ahead of Chile’s match against Uruguay.”
Or as you or I might interpret the statement, “We knackered him up but not quite enough so we’ll keep him here and have another proper go at it”. Things aren’t so bad (apparently) that he is on his way home yet and may play next week for his country. What this means for Arsenal is a nervous wait with no news being no news, not good news.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge may not be the impartial judge of matters but he was on the right track when observed, “FIFA would be well advised to clean up the whole international calendar at some stage.” Before nailing the situation:
“It’s catastrophic. There’s always a permanent disruption to club football.”
At which point, you might think “you’ve got the power to do something about it so go do”. Ultimately, FIFA is always going to screw up the club season and a muscle tear suggests that he was already on the cusp of the injury. It could have happened at any time.
That doesn’t let Chile off the hook nor does it imply we’ve been overplaying him. It certainly is a cause for concern and the matter should now be taken out of Chile’s hands with Arsenal being given the power to order him back to London. There’s too much power with the national associations thanks to FIFAs rules. Football is their fiefdom, the clubs are serfs and the players chattels.
Of course, there is no solution which gives an equitable solution. If the power to decide returns to the clubs, the unscrupulous will pull a ‘Giggs’ which is why we’re in this situation in the first place. For the uninitiated, Ryan Giggs won 64 Welsh caps but mysteriously missed a huge number of friendlies over four or five years with ‘injuries’ that cleared up for the following Saturday’s games.
Rummenigge spoke of the interruption that this particular round of fixtures causes. It doesn’t help matters with UEFA making friendlies ‘competitive’ with their Cup of Many Nations Cup but something has to be done. The solution is one which neither international body will like: reduce the number of matches which are played. Given that the European Championships and World Cup show the opposite inclination, it’s not going to happen any time soon.
Clubs can help as well. Reduce top flight to eighteen, do away with the League Cup and restructure the European competitions to straight knockout. It’s not going to happen, not even the turkeys are stupid enough to vote for Christmas although in the current climate, nothing can be ruled out.
The news was greeted with a hop, skip and jump in Paris. Olivier Giroud’s comments about his situation will no doubt upset some:
“I see my future at Arsenal for another two or three years, the date my contract ends.”
With Sanchez injured, he would no doubt be promoted to the central striker role in the starting line-up. He’s confident, with good reason:
“I have not knocked on Arsene’s office. We’ll see, I’m not worried, my time will come. He’s always supported me in the difficult times and I have every confidence he’ll keep doing so.”
The question is whether he is motivated enough to belatedly find goalscoring consistency. For me, it’s too late in his career for it to suddenly develop. The sense of injustice he felt, underlined by his comments about the PSG game. It’s a signal that despite a decent tournament, Euro 2016 papered over the cracks rather than inspiring a return of confidence.
Getting sent off suggests that Giroud with a chip on his shoulder isn’t motivated but is hot-headed, impetuous. The recent experience of sitting on the bench isn’t sitting well with him, as you’d hope:
“I won’t lie, there have been times I’ve been disappointed and not happy with my situation. But the coach knows that. He’s the one who makes the choices.
“I’ll fight for my place. What’s happening today is the story of my career. It’s endless in football.
“I’m not the kind of player to give up and to demand things. Even if I don’t play all the matches, I’m sure the coach will use me. We’ll take stock at the end of the season.”
With the first games back being United away and PSG at home, Arsène probably had in mind that he would have to rotate the squad a little after the international break anyway; this may force his hand, certainly for the United game at least.
We shall see. Giroud’s introduction on Sunday certainly added an attacking impetus but the same happened for a spell with Nicklas Bendtner for a while; the change of style suits chasing a result rather than swapping Giroud for a speedier striker.
And in fairness to Giroud, since returning from injury, he has played well in his cameos and in Sofia. He isn’t a callow youth so we should expect him to do so but it is hard for a player to continually rise off the bench and instigate a change of fortunes. Supersubs are genuinely hard to find; he may have to a super first choice from now on.
Finally today, the latest Times Of Our LIves is on Dad’s Jukebox with an epic 1981 playlist. Enjoy