To paraphrase The Who, meet the new blog, the same as the old blog. So, this is what Friday mornings look like? Thanks to Isaac for his sterling work every week and I’ll pick up the baton for the, ahem, ‘interesting’ times of the close season. Which, I suppose, is a fair exchange for not having to write about some of the ‘interesting’ Europa League games.
Until the announcement is made, there’s a lot of ‘ITK’ speculation about the next manager’s identity. Will it be lego-haired perfectionist Mikel Arteta or the perfectly lego-haired Mikel Arteta?
This morning sees Thierry Henry mentioned as a candidate as we hurtle down the inexperienced coach route. Give up Sky and Belgium for Arsenal? I don’t think he will.
I understand what Patrick Vieira meant when he said “token gesture”. You can see them running down the list of candidates, making sure everyone has been interviewed. Then it dawns on Junior that Pops might ask whether Terry Henry was considered?
“Ugh,” Ivan snorts. “Is there any else you mentioned over the Sunday roast? Please tell me it wasn’t Tony Adams or Harry Redknapp, even as a joke. Keown did it with Stepanovs and look where that got us.”
The positive spin on Arteta continued in The Heil – or continued – with claims that he is good with a certain presentational product which I’m not being paid to advertise so I won’t mention its’ name, as well as presentations themselves.
Such flippancy masks a good box ticked: good communication skills, and a sneaking admiration that Pep is so thorough that he believes all coaches must be good with products which ensure Bill Gates is able to put food on his family table.
For a supposed shoo-in, there’s a lot of effort going into this appointment.
Questions and Answers
Which shouldn’t be knocked? The gap between now and June is a ‘dead space’ when managers and players jump ship to Shagaluf or wherever they are heading for the summer break. When the World Cup starts is the time we need someone in situ so they can read the coaching reports and scouting missives on targets. While Sven recruits, the new manager must have an input, after all.
Arsène diplomatically avoided public comment on Arteta or anyone else. What he has to say was said behind closed doors and that’s that. He’s clever enough to know that if he backs someone, less patience will be shown toward his successor. And he says he never reads social media…
One man who does is Jack Wilshere. A quip about heading off to Zante let the cat out of the bag; he wasn’t going to the World Cup. Southgate’s decision is easily understood and baffling in equal measure. As the England coach observed, Jack’s form hasn’t been brilliant since Christmas but that needs context. We’ve been dire collectively, with flashes of occasional brilliance.
The baffling part of the decision is the lack of guile we left with. The lumbering oafs which inhabit our midfield are such stereotypical English players that if you transported them back to 1976, they would have slotted right into Don Revie’s line-up. And that’s not a compliment.
Similarly, Southgate is displaying a level of distrust in skilful players that is all too familiar to those of use of a certain age. Stan Bowles, Charlie George, Frank Worthington; add Jack to that list. Disturbingly, we haven’t learned anything from the debacle at Euro 2016. A lack of footballing intelligence on the pitch is now matched off it.
’Big nose’, as Ray Parlour christened him, showed a stunning level of hypocrisy in criticising The FA for a tweet which poked fun at Harry Kane. The need for the player to man up and show a sense of humour is on a par with Southgate remembering that he was quick to take the advertisers pound, cashing in on missing a penalty in the semi-final of Euro ‘96.
The question for Wilshere is what next? If he harbours international ambitions, it’s fairly obvious he needs to play regularly which isn’t necessarily going to be the case at Arsenal. Consistency is portrayed as the main issue, but fitness is also playing into this. Even if it isn’t an issue as such, the perception is still there.
A new deal is as yet unsigned and walking away might appeal, albeit in a narrow channel of thought. Is playing at a lesser club every week better than a bit-part player at Arsenal. He’d buck a trend if he left for that reason; most players stay and take the pay for as long as possible.
its a decision he has to make. Being at West Brom hasn’t done Jake Livermore any harm, has it?
Questions which the summer will answer.