In Danny Rose’s world, he imagines the shelves of his trophy cabinet creaking under the weight of silverware won in a glittering career. The title medals from childhood through to his days as a senior pro, cups and caps; the whole kit and caboodle. It’s why when he talks knowingly about winning the title, we listen.
When he tells us that Arsenal infuriated Spurs players by celebrating winning the North London Derby Which Really Mattered (NLDWRM) like it was the title, we bow to his greater knowledge and experience in such matters.
But he really needs to update his Wikipedia page because that only lists his fourth-place medal at last summer’s World Cup and a League Cup runners-up medal as his honours. The rest are missing.
How does that fourth-place medal work then? Gold, silver, bronze; that’s the accepted norm for placings but what do you get for fourth? Did Gareth Southgate go through thousands of tins of Quality Street, pull out all the purple wrappers and make medals out of them so his brave lads wouldn’t feel left out?
Fair play to FIFA for going along with that one. It’s also really good man-management by Gareth. I was going to type ‘Gazza’ but he’s never going to be a ‘Gazza’. He’s altogether too grown-up.
My favourite story of a similar ilk is when Tottenham fought back to 2 – 2 back in the day with last-gasp heroics. They celebrated in the tunnel, only to be deflated when Thierry Henry asked why they were dancing when Arsenal had won the league at White Hart Lane…
I’m sure Danny will answer that it is an altogether different situation.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Mesut Özil’s future is garnering more column inches than is necessary. I’m expecting some positive news to hit the electronic back pages today; Team Mesut won’t allow a negative vibe to damage the MÖ10 brand.
It’s hard to see how they turn it around. If I think back through my lifetime, there is always a player in every squad who infuriates. Generally, it’s the skilful ones; the playmakers, the crowd pleasers. Or to some, the crowd displeasers.
Sammels, Nicholas, Limpar, Sanchez; all of them were hugely popular but had an equally sizeable army of critics. Generally, when the going got tough, they were perceived as not turning up. Time reassesses their impact and we forget the bad times with our mental rosy glasses.
So, how do Team Mesut turn this around? I’m not convinced they can is the simplistic answer. The only way to do so is for a set of barnstorming performances from the former Germany international but does he possess that consistency switch?
Not with Unai Emery’s formation and tactical demands. And we’re fast running out of excuses. We’ve had a back injury – useful because you can have good days and bad with back problems; they aren’t as visible as legs in plaster casts or outsized boots.
Bournemouth were “too physical” which suggests Özil is as much use as a chocolate teapot in the English game while he wasn’t “tactical” enough for Tottenham. Where do you go from there? It’s only the back injury which is reusable without much fear of contradiction.
Unfortunately, claims of injury will be met with a fair amount of cynicism, no matter how truthful they may be. It’s reached that nadir or certainly seems that way.
The questions remain unanswered and cynicism abounds.
The Power To Heal
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m sure in the back of Unai Emery’s mind is Neymar Jr. The Brazilian, by the Spaniard’s own admission, ruled the Parisien roost. Mesut isn’t being allowed to take control in the same way.
The Times suggests the club is willing to consider a loan deal for Özil as a solution. His wages are the issue. Elite money demands elite performances and we’re not getting them. Having inconsistent games is not much of a USP for prospective buyers.
It will be an expensive loan fee. His wages for six months is around £11m; not many clubs will be open to paying anywhere near that, you’d think. Fenerbahce are mentioned in the report as being interested last summer which fits the narrative of Özil’s racial woes with German football.
Whether it is feasible to ship Özil out on loan is another matter. We’re, as fans, constantly told players want to play. The money isn’t that important, apparently. We’ll see if it is a barrier or whether Özil will knuckle down and adapt to what is being demanded.
The answer must come soon.