I’m aware there were four musketeers but in the blink of an eye, Unai Emery’s wish for three first-team goalkeepers came true. Matt Macey went on loan to Plymouth for the season followed out of the door by David Ospina, whose year-long loan to Besiktas is the precursor for a free transfer next summer. The Turks must pay a €1.5m loan fee.
To put Ospina’s deal in context, the Times reports this morning that Manchester City are in the same boat with Joe Hart. The headline screamed they want £5m, the article declares they will give him a free transfer if that’s what it takes. While that may signal how much of a burden on their salary structure he is, it’s also a buyers market.
Ospina didn’t set the world on fire at the club but it wasn’t all bad. The trouble with goalkeepers is that unless they are exceptional – Wilson, Jennings, Seaman – or play in an exceptional team – Lehmann – you remember their mistakes. Chelsea fans will remember Petr Cech’s brilliance in title-winning seasons. I’m not so sure he’ll be remembered so fondly at Arsenal. We caught him on the downward spiral; great saves mixed with some basic errors.
The same applies to the Colombian. We’ve struggled with goalkeepers since peak-Lehmann left. Now, hopefully, we have stepped in the right direction with Leno and a change in coaching.
From the two games of the tour so far, this layman thinks the German fits more with Emery’s ideas than Cech. He’s more vocal, with better distribution. That said, Cech won’t give up without a fight. He’s hit the gym this summer and it won’t be a surprise if his distribution improves as well. New coaching has a habit of coaxing these things out of players.
Standing Room Only
The question is then who is the first choice? That’s going to become clear this week, I think. Emery must field as close to his chosen starting XI for the opening game, as he can. I’d expect the line-up against Lazio at the weekend to give the biggest clues in that respect.
Not all the answers, however. This morning’s Times (again) reports FIFPro and FIFA, as well as the ECA, want a mandatory four-week holiday for players. None of this coming back early malarkey nor would clubs be allowed to pressurise them. The fudge is that there must be four weeks between the last game played in a season and the start of a new one.
The claim in the article is that players are breaching their contracts by returning early, but that doesn’t carry much weight; a club isn’t going to sack a player who ‘voluntarily’ ends his holiday early. Apparently, the standard PFA clause on holiday is players must be given five weeks per year, three of which are continuous.
Which begs the question why we always used to give players four weeks rest after a tournament? We were told it was a FIFA rule, but in reality, were the players just using up their holiday allowance? It’s in the past now.
Elsewhere, the government’s consultation on safe standing inched forward. Tracey Crouch, minister for sport, met Hillsborough Family Support Group and Spirit of Shankly to discuss. I understand that, as I do the opposition of the former to the concept. The latter is taking a poll of its’ members to decide their position.
The Judge Cannot Be The Jury As Well
The question I think comes down to how much weight those views carry? They shouldn’t be ignored or lumped into the melting pot, becoming lost in the morass. However, they cannot be the sole arbiters of the decision and in fairness, nor do I believe they want to be. Yet the media seems determined to push them into that role.
Evidence from Germany and Celtic Park suggest it works. Even in the lower divisions in England, there is terracing. It’s absurd for that to apply solely to the Championship or Premier League.
It isn’t a return to terracing in the same decrepit designs we had back in those days. The only notion of upgrading back then was to put new barriers in or an electric fence.
The point is that we’re not talking about making this compulsory. Not every club can accommodate a safe standing area and not every club will want them. Just because the law changes, doesn’t mean there will be a mad rush to reinstall terraces.
My guess is there will a pilot scheme at a well-supported club. I’d like Arsenal to participate, but I don’t think they will.
We’ll see how this all pans out.