Despite the result, I hope the ladies of Iran who were in the stadium for yesterday’s 1 – 0 defeat to Spain, enjoyed the occasion. Can it effect change at home? We can but hope.
After the highs of the previous days, the matches yesterday were a bit deflating. Portugal and Uruguay were interchangeable in their dullness. Winning, according to their supporters, is substance over style and the teams duly obliged.
The transfer business is all about incoming so far, save for Jack announcing his future. There is bound to be some outgoings now, particularly the likes of Campbell and Perez. Neither is an Arsenal player; we know that and to keep hopes of that alive is more of a far-fetched dream than winning the Champions League.
Talks with Ever Banega’s representatives are reportedly taking place this week while the Argentine is at the World Cup. Lucas Torreira is widely accepted as a done deal, seeming with pen just to be put to paper. That might happen with Uruguay through to the last sixteen but who knows?
Aaron Ramsey remains the biggest issue. Until now, there was coaching and other staff to resolve but that is done and even dot com has now removed those no longer employed by the club.
The interesting aspect of getting the message gets across. Emery made a decent fist of his first press conference and is presumably still undergoing English lessons. I wonder how much English he knows; West Ham spoke to him in 2015 and would have expected some knowledge of the language for the interview, I’d have thought, although reports at the time tell that he barely spoke any English. However, is it a case of refreshing, as well as expanding, his skills?
Or have we hired a translator with football knowledge? A Mourinho without the devious personality? The solution has already been found, I’m sure.
A Keeper or A Leaver
The focus on goalkeepers, Wilshere and Ramsey deflects attention away from others whose contracts are in equally late stages. Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal are different propositions for the club.
Monreal, 32, has the same experience we expect Lichtsteiner to bring to the squad and is a no-brainer in my view over a new deal. With Kolasinac as well, there are no issues on the left side of the defence. Indeed, arguably this is a time when the Bosnian will suit a high-pressing game more than Monreal.
Welbeck is a different proposition. While I would not ever fault his effort, I cannot honestly see him fighting for a place in the starting line-up if everyone is fit. Certainly not as a centre-forward, which he has stated on a number of occasions is the role he wants to fulfil; he isn’t clinical enough. He’s a good squad player, but that is it.
Is that what he wants? His England career stalled by that as much as by injury. Southgate, refreshing as an England boss in many respects, is no different from his predecessors in preferring players who are in their club starting line-up. At 27, this is the prime of Welbeck’s career and time is short to deal with his talks. Renew or be sold and the latter, I think, is a genuine possibility.
I’m not so sure with Ramsey. My feeling is that he wants to stay and that he may well do so. However, can we afford to wait for that decision? Banega and Torreira keep us solid numbers-wise, but with Ramsey departing, I’d say there would be a need for a box-to-box midfielder who scores consistently. Take out the Welshman from the XI and we don’t have a ready-made replacement in that sense.
A Bridge Too Far?
Today’s matches in Russia promise a lot. Argentina versus Croatia will be an interesting tussle in midfield and hopefully, the Croats will be more inspiring than they were against Nigeria. They, of course, must beat Iceland or face the first flight out of Moscow once the final whistle blows against Argentina next week.
Then there’s the illusion of Brazil. We want the spirit of 1970 and 1982 but they never seem to reach those heights. There’s always the cynicism of 1974 lurking to varying degrees within their squad. Perhaps its too much to expect them to let go of the worst of the Dunga era by now.
Against the Swiss they were disappointing and lethargic with Neymar Jr doing nothing to advance his claims for being considered the best player in the world. He is so far behind Messi and Ronaldo that it is almost immeasurable. Yet, like them, he is lacklustre on the international stage.
There is a gap between the likes of Cruyff and Pele that the current trio seem unable to bridge. Maybe it is the fact they haven’t won a World Cup between them and they only have a European Championship winner’s medal to show for their efforts. Even that was only part-won.
We will soon find out if that is going to change this summer.