Revenge is a dish which most definitely is best served cold. And with the chefs on holiday, that’s all there is to eat on Arsenal’s menu. Lucas Torreira got himself a permanent place in the Arsenal starting line-up when he took out Neymar Jr. The Brazilian rolled so often that it’s a surprise he didn’t end up jumping off the cliff with Butch and Sundance.
Somewhere Unai Emery watched and rubbed his hands together while thinking “Don’t mess with the best ‘cos I don’t like it!”
Meanwhile, Mesut Özil found a moment of schadenfreude after the summer. Did he text Uli Hoeneß? He ought; “Oi, you fat tax evader! Where’s your precious Bayern now? Germany never got relegated on my watch!”
I shouldn’t laugh but Germany getting relegated before England is funny. You know England are going to drop into the B section. Defeat or a score draw sends them down. In typically England fashion, we’ll be 2 – 0 up at one point before a brain-fart in the last minute gives Croatia an equaliser.
I’ll stick my neck out here: I won’t be surprised if Arsenal is one of the five English clubs being investigated by FIFA. If everyone else is ‘at it’, let’s be honest, we’d be pretty disappointed if all we were left to rely on was Freddie Ljungberg and Per Mertesacker are bloody nice blokes.
It Was Coffee And A Danish – So What?
It’s the nature of football and while we want the club to be purer than the driven snow, success doesn’t come to nice guys. Or not sustained success, anyway. That’s a fairly cynical view of football but that’s the way it is.
Take the report in the Guardian this morning. The Dynamic Duo responded to reports of Arsenal’s involvement in the setting up of a Super League. Raul Sanllehi said:
There is one document that has been presented in an article that has Arsenal’s name; it also has Barcelona’s name. But there’s no signature and I can assure you in Arsenal and Barcelona we have not seen the document.
Going back to the original reporting, you sense Raul is being a bit disingenuous here. The only signature on there could so easily have been his in March 2016. At that point still a Barcelona director, he was nominated by the elite clubs as a negotiator with UEFA over a bigger slice of the cake while knowing the “revolution” of a Super League was being discussed by a “secret society”. Football’s Illuminati, if you like.
Raul has been rather more involved than he’s ‘fessing up to which rather ruins the ‘Ivan did it’ defence although you get the feeling it’s coming. “I was at Barcelona at that time, Ivan Gazidis was there too,” Sanllehi noted.
There’s no surprise the conversations take place but I’m not convinced the appetite for a Super League exists, certainly not at the expense of national leagues. Arsenal want their feet in both camps according to Vinai Venkatesham:
Arsenal aren’t or never have been interested in playing in any competition that weakens the Premier League
That noise is the polygraph needle pushing down so hard on the paper that it’s ripping it before exploding.
Can You Survive Disillusionment?
He carried on undeterred:
The Premier League is the world’s leading league in the leading sport; we don’t want to do anything to damage it. I see these articles that Arsenal want to break away – we never want to do any of that. But we also have to recognise we have to be in these conversations or we wouldn’t be responsible. We have to be in the conversations – it doesn’t necessarily mean we support them.
Is that the same argument you’re using for the Scudamore bonus?
Raul denied the imminent arrival of a Super League, probably sensing the way the wind is blowing between fans and clubs right now:
I don’t think there’s going to be a revolution in the near future — definitely not. “We know the competition we have here in England: it is extremely exciting, extremely competitive and it is something we will value, always.
And here’s the thing with the Super League. Initially, it will have some excitement. The sense of self-entitlement from the clubs at being recognised as the biggest in the world will make the matches an event. On paper, there won’t be a stinker of a fixture anywhere. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern all coming to town? Initially, there will be a buzz but I give it three years with no relegation, nothing to fight for; no cups, just a Super League. Boredom will set in hard and fast.
Because in this time, we’ll still watch Match of the Day. Disillusioned fans will move to lower league clubs and support their local team. Worse still, be lost to football and for most children, it’s their parents and older relatives who drive their interest in the game.
As much as they stand to make more money from broadcasters, it’s not hard to envisage attendances falling.
A Fitting Legacy
The TV audience may not noticeably drop; global kick-offs was the alarming phrase from the Football Leaks report. Welcome to Arsenal vs Barcelona, at the Emirates. This 1.30am kick-off is brought to you by the European Super League. Warning: No fans are allowed at this game due to licencing laws so we are soundtracking the 1979 FA Cup and Copa Del Rey crowd noise as a background.
Raul, you and your mates might have the appetite for a Super League and feel it’s the league to end all leagues but honestly, it isn’t. A midweek league instead of the current set-up is the least worst option but if you want real excitement to draw the fans back in, dump group stages and seeding. Go for a knockout competition and don’t worry about anything.
The Champions Cup was doing fine as a fan spectacle but your ilk had to ruin it. The first casualty was the Cup Winner’s Cup but it won’t be the last. This is the Champions League legacy: the death of competition. The numbing of football.
Way to go.