David Rocastle; if only we could have bottled his spirit, fight and skill. It would be the only PED this or any Arsenal squad would ever need.
[Lawyers’ note: this blog is not for one minute suggesting that Arsenal take PEDs. Just making sure everyone knows that. Although if they are, someone needs to tell the squad snus is a stimulant, not an instruction to grab forty winks. Just sayin’.]
Steve Bould faced the press yesterday with Arsène’s voice lost apparently. There’s a joke in there about finding it and his marbles but I’m not going to make it; no.
There was no in-depth interrogation of Bould with some criticism of the former centre-back for launching a defence of his boss. Let’s remember one thing here; Arsène is Bould’s boss, probably his mate as well. The Tuesday Club – the ‘Yes Men’ Club? – is alive and kicking with Wenger sipping his Chateau Latour 2009 while Bould glugs Thunderbird with an air of street-wise sophistication.
Anyway, Bould isn’t going to slag Wenger off and claim he’s useless, lost it and whatever else. He’s going to defend the bloke he sits next to every match and works with. The one thing he didn’t want on Thursday and Friday is Wenger looking at him, asking, “Et Tu, Bouldie?”
There was no nonsense from him, basically telling the assembled hacks to do one if they wanted to ask about Wenger’s future. How you’d expect him to answer when his future at the club is intertwined with Wenger’s. When Le Boss goes, so does Bould and the long-serving backroom staff loyal to the Frenchman. That’s how football works; always has done, always will.
As I say, I’m not criticising Bould for how he handled the press conference and I’m not sure why anyone would. But they did. Sigh.
Oh Yes, I Have Some Good News for You, Mrs Smethurst.
Petr Cech was less enthusiastic about life at Arsenal. After being the batsmen stuck on 199 and surviving 11 deliveries, he finally made it to 200 clean sheets against Watford with his first penalty save for Arsenal thrown in for good measure.
Anyway, he got ‘Gabby’d’ by the BBC, which is a bit like being ‘Natalie’d’ only less pleasurable, in an interview for the Premier League show (starts at 7:37 on the video here). He showed off his two hobbies of drumming and stand-up comedy – “I had won everything with Chelsea, why not do the same with Arsenal” – as well as an admirable naivety.
Arsenal “qualities” are not thirty points different to those of Manchester City, he claimed. Sorry, old bean, but they are for that is the difference between the two sides in the Premier League table. As much as you see on the training ground, that means nothing if it isn’t translated onto the pitch. The question is whether you’ve over-estimated those qualities? I think so.
But it was when he talked about the differences between Arsenal and Chelsea that the real problems emerge. The two clubs have a different model for business. “Chelsea is like a cold, winning machine,” he said, “from the top to bottom, it works like that.”
In other words, Chelsea is ruthless. If it’s broken, fix it and if that means to change a manager or beloved club servant, sorry, you’ve served your purpose and now you move on. Arsenal don’t work that way.
Cech felt it was “hard to say” whether loyalty to a manager and other components, e.g. coaches, holds the club back. Not a ringing endorsement of the current regime or incumbents.
Frequent changes of managers, e.g. every two years or so, don’t hold other clubs back; only Arsenal believe there is a virtue in a 22-year tenure continuing. Loyalty is a necessary virtue but not at the cost of competitiveness in the sport.
Oh, In That Case I Have Some Bad News for You.
Yet there’s a bleakness to the existence of Chelsea while United and City are no different. Barcelona like to proclaim they are more than a club but at its’ essence, they are the same as their English counterparts and Real Madrid: a winning machine. That, however, is the nature of modern football at the highest level.
Arsenal must adopt a similar ruthlessness if they want to compete at the highest level and with all due respect to Arsene, life is too easy at Arsenal. We’ve taken winning to mean it’s an art form; Wenger is obsessed with winning the right way even though it’s obvious to all that his view of the right way isn’t the right way.
Nor does he have the resources.
We’ve lost our way and bridging the gap between the two ‘ways’ must be where we’re striving to reach. We’re getting nowhere near it is the problem and given we moved to the Emirates to compete at the highest level, we need to get back on track. Or even on the track would be nice.
Are Enos and Junior aware of this? Is that why the chatter around the summer and changes is increasing. Talking through back channels as they realise the game is up? We shall see.
Cech admitted he carries his drumsticks wherever he goes. “Hey, Shkodran! C’mere. You should’ve got your head to that, you know”; bop. Of course, they can’t do it back to Cech when he makes a mistake; one quick tap on the head and bang, there goes a day.