When he walked through the door last night, I wasn’t expecting our sixteen-year-old son to tell us he’d bought souvenirs back from his school trip to Budapest. In truth, I expected him to moan that, despite having a fridge and cupboards bursting at the seams, there was no food in the house.
No, he surprised us both with an admission he had indeed purchased souvenirs. For no-one in particular, just souvenirs. The first raised eyebrows; a cigarette case embossed with Soviet-era insignia.
How do you follow that? What about a Matryoshka doll? A plain back turned to reveal the smiling face of Uncle Joe Stalin and in reducing size, Lenin, Marx, Brezhnev, finishing up with Engels. All popular folk heroes in Hungary…
The astute among you will know that personal anecdote means there isn’t much going on in the Arsenal world at present. Manchester United are spending money left, right and centre but are the chosen club to be in crisis.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s agent Mino Raiola – for it is he – is looking after his other client, Paul Pogba. The Italian’s words essentially said United’s squad is a bit sh*t and they never realised it when Pogba returned to Old Trafford.
Raiola and Mkhitaryan could say the same for Arsenal. A shame they don’t, in fact. If we lose his pay then we can invest elsewhere. It’s fair to say that the Armenian has underwhelmed since joining the club.
At least Özil has hope that he may find a league more suited to his languid style. Fenerbahce have some sponsors in place but need more to pay his wages, in much the same way we tapped Pepsi – or was it Coca Cola, I forget – to pay for Johan Neeskens in the 70s.
Wages of Sins
Whatever the case, the pair plus Mustafi are the three sales necessary to allow the wage bill to be restructured. Mainly toward bonuses; I have no issue with Ozil’s £300k per week so long as it is loaded toward reward for ‘achievements’ such as qualifying for Champions League football rather than being base wage heavy.
Then again, as Swiss Ramble pointed out earlier in the week, do you trust Arsenal to spend money wisely? I know his target was Ivan but combined with Dick Law, they proved they knew ‘dick all’ about football transfers down the years. The good deals are easy to recall because there were so few in recent years. The bad…
The other area is the judicious use of youth, getting the promotion of young players to the first-team right. Talk of Reiss Nelson being a regular, to me, seems fanciful. Yes, he started some games but 18 of his 23 Hoffenheim appearances were from the bench. I don’t expect any different this coming season.
Freddie Ljungberg’s promotion is seen as key to this. He’s followed the same route as Steve Bould to the first-team coaching staff but will be hoping avoid the same fate. That fate is dictated (a lot) by our expectations. I’m not saying we, the fans, are deciding who stays and goes of the coaching staff but we certainly create an atmosphere where it is easy to make a scapegoat out of a man.
The same goes for young players. In years gone by, there was some patience afforded youngsters. Now, the immediacy of the world requires those players be ready for the first-team. A footballing Smash if you like; just add water and you have the defender/midfielder/striker as needed.
If only life were that simple.
Safe Hands, Butter Fingers
It is according to David ‘Viv Nicholson’ Seaman. He wants Arsenal to spend, spend, spend on a goalkeeper so Bernd Leno has competition for his place. That’s not going to happen; there are higher priorities. However, feel free to remind me of that dismissal of Seaman’s concerns when Leno picks up a serious injury on September…
Joe Hart or Jack Butland were Safe Hands solution. The latter I can see as an Arsenal goalkeeper but the former? I’d rather bring Jim Leighton out of retirement such are Hart’s frailties.
It’s a big season for Emi Martinez. He’s apparently decided to stay at the club but is Seaman right to raise concerns about a lack of experience at this level? Martinez and others won’t get experience at this level without playing so if he is #2, he plays every cup match in every competition; no exceptions, no matter the opposition. Just as we did with Cech but with more risk attached.
For what it’s worth, I think we’ll go big for a goalkeeper next summer unless one of the academy players shows exceptional potential.
But let’s get this summer done first…