Might be a shorter one than usual from me today, because my journey is somewhat staggered into about four stages, thanks to the wonderful people at RMT and other public transport network unions. I think they’re all after velvet cushions for which to place their drivers derrières. That or more money. That’s what it’s usually about.
In the world of Arsenal, the pampered pros of the club will be heading in to London Colney safe in the knowledge that we avoided an upset thanks to that handsome beaut of a man Ollie Giroud. Given that Liverpool have a replay in the corner of the world, the fact that we’ll avoid one by that late goal cannot be underestimated. Everyone is talking about how Liverpool have the advantage with no European football, but now the group stages are done and we have two games against Bayern, Liverpool also have two in the League Cup, as well as a replay to contend with. So from this point on the whole ‘no European football’ thing doesn’t really make too much difference to the scousers.
Of course the concentrated evil of a football club that is Chelsea is a different matter. Not content with giving them a nice, spread out Christmas schedule, the FA are also seeing fit to provide them with home ‘byes’ against lower league opponents in the cup, so I expect them to be drawn at home to Skegg Ness United this evening. Of course we’ll most likely get Tottenham away or something equally as taxing. Que sera sera and all that…
Our focus though will turn to the noises coming from the Özil camp – from the man himself – about his contract being dependent on what the plans are with Arsène’s new deal. To me, when I read this news yesterday evening, I have to say I found it strange. As a footballer to tie yourself in to the manager is quite a strange position to put yourself in. It’s strange because if Arsène decides that he wants a gold watch and a statue, it gives Özil the out that perhaps his camp are looking for, but if Arsène does sign a new deal then it pretty much forces their hand.
I do wonder if Özil discussed this move with his agent. Let’s imagine for a second that this week the club announced Arsène had signed a new deal for another two or three years. After such a public statement made by the player, Team Özil will have all of their cards on the table and the onus would be on him announcing his signed a new deal asap. It means if their trying to drag it out until the summer, from a PR perspective with the fans they’ve got nothing left.
I don’t think that’ll happen though. The club aren’t stupid and they read and listen to fan sentiment. Arsène himself knows that signing a new deal now with the season in full sway, would only lead to more questions about the ambitions of the club, because why would you sign a new deal when you haven’t actually delivered anything this season? For all we know “this could be the year” that Arsenal drop out of the top four and win nothing. That would be seen as a massive backwards step and then a new deal for the manager having been signed in January would just look like an admission from the club that the ambition is to keep making money and keeping Stan’s asset as valuable as possible.
So personally, I don’t see this move as anything else but a holding pattern by Özil and his team, to keep everything civil until the summer. By which time he can either sign a new megabucks deal, or he and his agent can RvP Arsenal and force them to sell to make the most of one of their most valuable assets. This all feels very familiar and the majority of the time with Arsenal, it ends in tears from a fans perspective, so sadly I’m seeing this as the first chess move to steer the player out of the club.
That would be such a shame. He’s a glorious player to watch and his arrival was supposed to signal the new era of Arsenal that coupled financial muscle with success on the field. We’ve had a little bit of it on the field, but the off-the-field stuff still seems to be where we just haven’t developed the right approach to get the job done.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope that Özil signs a deal regardless on who the manager is come the summer. That’s what Bergkamp did. That’s what Adams and Wright did. It was the club they played for, not the manager. I’m sure Özil has fond feelings for the club and the fans, but this just makes it seem a little less so in my eyes.
Oh well, such is life, I suppose. In ten years time I hope to be still on this earth and hopefully I’m still talking to you via the medium of this blog. If that is the case, there won’t be many of the current squad that will even get a mention, so it just goes to show you what’s important: us the fans. We’re the ones who will still be turning up to watch, talking to each other about performances, reminiscing about the good times. Individual players are there for current adulation and historical fond memories, but nothing else. Hopefully Özil and Alexis can keep the adulation from the fans. You only have to look at Adebayor, Nasri, Fabregas and RvP to see how that can turn sour.
Right, enough rambling for one day. I’m nearly at Marylebone station and do you know what that means? I have a one hour twenty five minute hike across London to work to get to. Wish me luck.