Nerves of steel; that’s what the new Arsenal head coach needs. There’s a louche attitude toward defending to deal with – “I do not think I will tackle today, I will wait for another opportunity for they always come” – which saw us concede more goals than in any season since 1983/4.
It’s a tough job and there are a number of ‘contenders’ staying put. They are committed to their clubs and honouring contracts; Arsène started a new fad there. Either that or dismissing contact from the club as a “token gesture”. The reality is they are scared of Mikel Arteta’s perfect hair. The Vieiras, Nagelmanns, and Allegris of this world can hide behind whatever excuses they want, but it’s all about Mikel’s perfect hair. How can they compete?
Either that or they think the Arsenal job is a poisoned chalice. It’s the only reason they can be turning the job down so publicly unless they weren’t contacted. Or were unhappy with finding there really is only a £50m transfer war chest.
I don’t know the truth and neither does the media, which is the point. Don’t declare for or against the appointment when nobody knows for certain who is coming in. You are backing yourself into a corner with that stance and being wholly unfair to the new boss.
The question of ambition on the club’s part is not as clear-cut as it seems. Hiring a young, untested coach could be construed as not going for the best, as a sign of a lack of ambition. Or, it could be ambitious; giving a hungry, untested coach the opportunity to make his mark is an ambitious project. A wider ambition than the narrow focus of past trophies equalling future success.
It’s a matter of perspective. Make sure you keep yours.
Are England in Dire Straits?
Which is something hard to do if you are English this morning. There might be perfectly good reasons for Jack Wilshere’s omission from the squad travelling to Russia this summer. Perhaps he wants to spend time with his family? Maybe he wants to be fit recover some pace for next season?
I would hate to think it’s because Gareth Southgate believes Jake Livermore is a better player. He is if your football is guileless and relies on typical English qualities. Hard work, running, kicking the ball hard; you know, all the things which served us so well in the past.
If you need a player who can unlock defences, Livermore isn’t the name which is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Maybe Southgate is taking a tyro like Loftus-Cheek which is an interesting choice but smacks of the youngster being this summer’s Theo Walcott.
While that is a brave decision, it isn’t going to make the nation fall back in love with the national team. That’s the battle Southgate is fighting. Rio Ferdinand thinks his self-proclaimed ‘golden generation’ wrecked the England team with their factionalism. The utter dross served up in 2010, 2014 and 2016 did more harm, I think. Call it a feeling, a hunch.
Because the one thing we can be sure of is that the jingoism of the wretched rat Morgan’s Euro ’96 Mirror is gone. The times of thinking England could do well are over; this summer, getting out of the group is a significant achievement. It’s nowhere near as tough as 2014 on paper. We ought to beat Panama and Tunisia, but this is England and doing things the easy way isn’t to be expected.
Wilshere’s was inconsistent this season and his England claims weren’t helped by not forcing his way into the Arsenal XI.
Money for Nothing
The uncertainty over his future undermined him to some extent. Arsenal’s handling of contract negotiations doesn’t reflect well on the club. We could easily achieve a £20m fee for Wilshere so letting him walk away on a free transfer ought never to have been on the table.
Surprisingly, it was and we decided to become tough negotiators, no doubt in response to the criticism from certain quarters of Özil’s salary.
Someone on the inside briefed that Wilshere’s deal was ‘take it or leave it’. Arsène admitted he told Jack to do one last summer. Arsenal were playing tough. It didn’t quite work, mainly because the manager publicly altered his stance and in doing so, whipped the rug from under someone’s feet. We re-negotiated.
My point throughout that time is that while I felt – and still do – that Wilshere is a good squad player to have, letting £20m walk out the door for nothing was madness. It undermines the ‘self-sufficiency, Good Life’ attitude we have and if the £50m is anywhere near correct, is sheer madness.
Should the club sell, do so once he’s signed a new deal. Tak the decision for the betterment of the squad. However, if it happens because of Enos’ bottom line, then it specious reasoning.
Of course, now I’ve written all that, Wilshere will be in the squad and walk away on free this summer. Sigh.