It’s one of those days where you wake up hoping for inspiration and all you get is Nowhere Man. A song I haven’t heard for several years, probably since it was last on tv.
It might easily have Road to Nowhere, so obvious was the link to the club at the moment, but this is a big week. A season-defining week, if you like. In years gone past, both would see a second-string XI take to the pitch. The return against Östersunds is effectively a dead rubber. We’ve got to lose by four goals; c’mon, it’s not going to happen, even with a second-string XI. A third one, even.
But the team which plays Thursday is likely to be relatively weak with the Premier League’s best team waiting on Sunday. Not so weak that we lose but it’s a night when the likes of Willock, Eddie, etc, – the great hopes for the future – can shine. It leaves a week’s rest for key players for Sunday.
It’s a fan thing. “Ooooh, he can’t play his first team on Thursday with a big game on Sunday,” which is common sense, you’d think. We think everyone will get injured in the first ten minutes by the clodhoppers we played last week who barely committed a foul.
And football brings extremes away from the pitch. The reactions, well-intentioned or malicious, are extremes. Or certainly the loudest voices are, anyway. He who shouts loudest, etc.
If it’s season-defining for the club, it is for the manager as well. The last contract renewal was, by his own admission, a distraction which created a negative impact on the season. It undermined his claims to always do the best for Arsenal FC but we need to get some perspective on where Arsenal FC is.
International Man of Mystery
If we were destabilised, then questions need to be asked of the players as well. Yes, the manager picks the team but if we’re questioning Alexis’ attitude when he was leaving, then I don’t think it’s wrong to wonder if Wenger’s heart was in it last season.
Yet again, the renewal seems to have come on the back of a sense of euphoria at Wembley rather than any long-term thought-out process. There’s an element of that, of course, but the decision shouldn’t come down to one game. I know the media likes to make out that a manager is sacked if they lose a particular game but there’s generally quite a lot building up to that fixture. Usually, a run of defeats.
That said, getting knocked out of the Europa League this week would be the exception which proves the rule.
Away from that, the club announced Emirates are extending their shirt deal for squizillions of pounds. Quickly followed by a timeline full of sign a new manager/defender/goalkeeper/midfielder/attacker * delete as appropriate as well. As if this deal is going to do any of the above.
Maybe it will. Maybe the new transfer gurus can manipulate funds – and let’s face it, anyone who’s spent time at Barcelona ought to be a dab hand at that – to bring in those players would be marvellous. A manager-defining moment, to return to the original scatterbrain thoughts of today?
We see things as black and white. Ivan’s won the power battle, the biggest test in the coming year is the manager’s contract. It’s portrayed as all or nothing for the CEO while the manager renewing under a ‘new regime’ is seen as meet the new boss, same as the old boss and Ivan’s achieved nada.
Who are You?
Is it good for the club to have the pair seemingly at loggerheads? Ivan moving to Colney was supposedly a sign of him filling in gaps while new heads were found, of a stronger working relationship between him and the manager. Now we’ve got Josh doing a ‘fact-finding’ mission on the club. A new boss? If by boss you mean chairman, not one tear will be shed if Chips’ time is up.
But is Josh a new CEO? That wouldn’t surprise me. He does something similar with Denver Nuggets and maybe the two are ‘combinable’. Certainly, as chairman at the very least. The new face of Arsenal?
Anyway, we’re now one sleep closer to a match which is all that matters.