Just before he buried the hatchet firmly between Theresa May’s shoulders, Iain Duncan Smith offered the view that “Politics is a nasty, sometimes brutal, ghastly business.”
Unai Emery is, no doubt, inclined to the view that football management is the same. Wherever he looks, the world and his wife is offering their opinion on whether Petr Cech or Bernd Leno plays in Baku.
It isn’t an easy decision. Ignoring specious claims over Cech’s divided loyalties – a reprehensible and attention-seeking view that does a thoroughly decent man a gross disservice – does Emery go with his best team or stick with Cech?
Received footballing wisdom demands Emery’s loyalty to the Czech. That conflicts with the other received footballing wisdom which demands you play your strongest team. Football wisdom is your flexible friend. Or ‘flexible fiend’ as spellcheck demanded.
Some suggest Emery May lose the dressing room for what would be perceived as an act of treachery. Only if we lose; footballers are a shallow bunch who think only of themselves, or so many ex-pros tell us.
A winners medal around their necks and I doubt one of them will remember this situation in August when they play in the Super Cup. Or find out the other teams in our Champions League group. Chelsea remain favourites with most bookmakers. Keep track of the latest betting offers and news with newbettingsites.uk.
David Seaman speaks from experience. His only game in the 2001/02 FA Cup was the 2 – 0 win over Chelsea in the final. “For me, you play your strongest team,” Seaman said. Chelsea in the final, eh? It’s an omen, I tells ya.
On Me Heading, My Son
He was joined in that view by faux Irishman Tony Cascarino. Writing in this morning’s Times, the fraudulent Eire international declared that choosing Cech was “almost a sackable offence”. The Murdoch empire; never knowingly short of hyperbole.
Personally, I would play Leno; best team and all that. I think I probably said similar before the FA Cup finals of 2014, 2015 and 2017. Actually, I probably didn’t but I’m sure somebody will trawl through the archives to let me know. My life’s too short to worry about such trivialities.
However, let’s remember one thing, perhaps the only thing which matters. Who plays in goal is only an issue if (a) they make a mistake which leads to defeat or (b) there is no (b). And let’s face it, if Mustafi plays, his history tells us he is the prime candidate for a match-defining cock-up.
Crystal Palace at home, if you think that is a harsh judgement.
A curious thing is that the same questions aren’t arising over Danny Welbeck’s expected inclusion in the squad. Given Mkhitaryan’s situation, he is a candidate for the starting line-up. Just sayin’.
Arsène is back in the news, ironically with a sports science device. The Playmaker sounds like a comic book series which ran alongside Billy’s Boots and Jon Stark, Football Mercenary For Hire a couple of decades ago.
But no, the Frenchman believes it is the most advanced of its type. Of course he does; he’s got money riding on it. Most football clubs breed future coaches and managers; Arsène bred entrepreneurs, inventors and mad scientists.
Things Just Got Weird
There is an interesting chat between himself and Amy Lawrence in which he proves he still hasn’t lost his sense of mischief with the media. “I’m not just here for an advert,” he said in the middle of a lengthy explanation about football, science and how his contraption works. Fair play to him for that.
Alex Iwobi continued the Wenger theme as he discussed the events of last summer. “I can’t lie,” the Nigeria international observed. “It was a bit weird because I grew into the system playing under Arsene Wenger and that is all I have known.”
However, he is now a fan of Unai Emery:
I have bought into [his ideas] and I’ve played in a lot of matches and he has shown a lot of faith in me. I thank him for that.
Especially at a young age, to be involved in as many games makes me proud, but I have still got a long way to go and I am sure he has a lot more years at the club as well.
Iwobi must be prime candidate to start with Henrikh Mkhitaryan missing the trip to Baku. He believes the Spaniard deserves enormous credit for this season’s Europa League run.
To get us to a final, he has had the right tactics and the right players at the right time. We will do our best to win the final for him as well.
The wins in Naples and Valencia point to the ‘nous’ which can give us some confidence in winning next week. That said, the vulnerability Valencia found in our defending is something of a warning.
Those are thoughts, however, for another day.