The international break continues apace, hurtling toward the return of club football at breakneck speed.
Even the England team are eager to get through the fortnight, adding a little verve to their game. Was it the exuberance of youth? Who knows but it was refreshing to watch and that’s as far as it goes for the viewing public. Maybe Gareth Southgate learned that a back three suits that squad better than four? Or that Loftus-Cheek is a promising prospect.
Or leaving Jack Wilshere out was a mistake of his own ego? I don’t know if it was but with players falling like flies, Jack’s omission was peculiar to say the least.
Lee Dixon pointed out the deficiencies of the performance and somewhere Paul Breitner was doing the same with the Germans. A draw was an equitable result on the night but meant nothing in the wider context of next year’s World Cup. They will do well, us reaching the last eight will be a phenomenal achievement.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud scored for France. I didn’t see the goal which is an almost ‘Likely Lads’-esque task in this day and age. It does however, throw more light on the ludicrous nature of Southgate’s decision. Giroud’s only 90 minutes come in the Europa League and Carabao Cup. Or for France.
Yes, Didier Deschamps has the striker’s history at international level to call upon but Giroud’s club form is not a rigid rule which the French coach applies. It’s not as if Deschamps doesn’t have options either. One of them is keeping Giroud out of the Arsenal team; work that one out using Gareth Southgate’s logic.
You Fool No-one
Now I am biased; I think Wilshere’s style thrives in a notional five-man midfield, as one of the central pair. Calling him a ‘Number 10’ was Southgate deliberately throwing a smokebomb to ensure no-one questioned him further. And the press duly obliged.
This morning he may feel vindicated. Maybe he’s not as daft as I think and he’s certainly ruthless as Ray Parlour found out the hard way. That said, I can’t think of many scenarios where asking whether you can call the new boss “big nose” would go down well.
At least Jack is getting some rest. There must be something in the air around the midfielder because his football career is hinging on arbitary deadlines.
Arsène told him that he had to be fit by December to earn a new contract at Arsenal. Which made no sense at all when you consider new contracts given to Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky to name but two, after equally bad injury records.
That if he was fit by December, his negotiating position with other clubs in January is stronger escaped Wenger’s attention. Wilshere now holds the upper hand during discussions with the Frenchman.
Now Southgate is telling him he’s got to be in the Arsenal first team by March otherwise he isn’t going to Russia? Bizarrely, England managers have a well-established track record of ignoring the best players but let’s be honest, it only worked once: Alf Ramsey in 1966.
Making Mistakes Like Before
Ignoring Jimmy Greaves, at the time the nation’s most prolific striker, brought home the World Cup but every England manager since has failed to win a trophy. And they’ve all ignored good players at the time. A lot at Arsenal suffered:
- Charlie George (0 caps at Arsenal);
- Geordie Armstrong (0);
- Peter Simpson (0);
- Jon Sammels (0);
- Steve Williams (0);
- Paul Davis (0);
- Nigel Winterburn (2);
- Steve Bould (2);
- Kevin Richardson (0);
- Ian Wright (omitted from 54 England squads);
- David Rocastle (not taken to Italia’ 90 or Euro ’92);
- Theo Walcott (omitted from World Cup finals 2010 and 2014)
There are others who were criminally underused – Bowles, Currie, Worthington – but the ones with zero next to their names above are staggering, particularly Armstrong and Davis.
Is Wilshere this year’s model?