It’s strange how inquisitiveness leads to momentary whimsy. Regular readers know the power behind the throne is Spanish, leading to the question around the dinner table of how the name Unai Emery translates from Basque into English.
His first name is that of a shepherd, which I quite like in the footballing context. Unai, herding the players together and guiding them, teaching them how to behave on the pitch. His surname? Well, let’s just put it this way; there are those who think the shepherd who sits and files his nails all day is very apt.
Not our dynamic duo, however. The ‘cryptic’ photo this morning isn’t very tough to tie into the theme of today’s post given Raul and Vinai’s interview published yesterday on dot com. Being Starsky and Hutch, the joint-CEOs, MDs or whatever their job titles are, they would be led by Captain Dobey. Given this would be Enos, Captain Dopey is more appropriate.
Fundamentally, the interview was PR fluff. Vinai told us “every penny” of revenue goes into the football side of the business. Aside from the management charges, presumably. He went on to talk of our adherence to the FFP regulations but let’s not mention the vagaries which allow losses and owners investing in clubs. Those pesky little paragraphs which wouldn’t stop us spending more than £40m in one window…
The headline-grabbers though came from the “changes” following Arsène and Ivan departing. Contracts won’t be run down unless players are at the end of their careers; ‘sign or be sold’ is the new mission statement. The proviso, of course, is the selling club, i.e. us, must outsmart the market.
Tall Tales From Old Wives
That old chestnut. It was the one which saw us take Manchester United for a ride when palmed off the now-ineffective Alexis Sanchez. OK, so they rode a more expensive but slightly more productive pony back, abandoning it on our doorstep with a note telling us it needed £180k’s worth of fuel each week to work.
Nobody quite counted on UEFA ensuring the brooding stallion – known as Henrikh Mkhitaryan – wouldn’t travel well. Did any of the squad suddenly think the £10m bonus for winning the Europa League would spread more generously if it were shared with one less player?
I can’t say I blame Mkhitaryan for any trepidation he feels. The limpid reassurances sought by the club over his safety were met with limp words from the competition organisers and Azeri government. The Azerbaijani ambassador to London waffled about making it a great sporting event which convinced no-one.
According to Vinai, fans are “heartbroken” at not being able to travel to Baku because of cost and logistics. UEFA continue to claim changing the venue at short notice was not an option.
Of course it was; when two English clubs reached the semi-final stage, Wembley should have been put on standby. Plenty of time for UEFA to appease the Azerbijian FA (AFFA). Award the city 2022’s as yet unawarded final. That and the threat of Baku being stripped of its Euro2020 games would keep the AFFA quiet. That attitude appeases clubs as well; UEFA’s contempt is for everyone.
However, the AFFA is a vote in the UEFA presidential elections and the candidates when the times comes, won’t forget that. Mind you, if a candidate gets the AFFA vote, the Armenians probably support his rival. It’s all swings and roundabouts.
Back to the Playground
Which is rather like this post as I return to the Vinai and Raul Show. In truth, the former spoke more with Raul agreeing with everything.
The club is going to be “brave” in its decision-making and “disciplined” when telling the stars it’s time for Deal or No Deal. Suffice to say, I treat this with a great deal of scepticism. The cowardice of the previous regime showed clearly when we folded for Mesut Özil’s new deal; are the new head honchos really braver than Ivan & co in a similar situation?
Maybe they will be.
Certainly, Vinai, Raul and Huss find themselves in an uncomfortable position for the coming transfer window. No confirmation of last week’s reports that Francis Cagigao is making the transition from interim head of recruitment to permanent head of recruitment. How hard can it be to seal that deal? The bloke is already in situ.
Nor, it must be said, is there any public progress on the appointment of a technical director. Edu’s name remains firmly in the frame but as yet, nothing to announce. And in a sport where leaks are commonplace, we’ve either found the best plumber or the story is already yesterday’s chip paper.
The appointments are not vital to this summer to my mind. If we have an interim appointee in the recruitment team, that ties up that loose end as much as a permanent employee while the technical director is just another voice in the crowd.
Can’t wait for part 2 of the interview to be posted…