There were some rumours earlier in the week that Arsène or Arsenal might make some sort of announcement on his future, most likely that he will be staying, but as seems to be par for the course these days, Arsène went in to PR template more when asked any kind of difficult question. Even when prompted for what feels like the twentieth time, he still told reporters that he didn’t want to answer the question.
Perhaps I’m late to the party on this, but after hearing it yesterday for what seems like the millionth time, Arsène said when asked about whether he’s been soul searching over the international break, his response of I don’t know, I just prepare for the next game”.
I couldn’t help but give an ironic chuckle at those comments. Firstly because I realised that this is a stock answer that he uses to get himself out of answering any difficult questions, like a true politician that he is, but secondly at the prospect that he spends so much time preparing. The irony wasn’t lost on me or perhaps anyone else that watched the clear lack of preparation by his team as they set up for set pieces. It was embarrassing. As embarrassing as making a statement about how much he prepares for the next game. He’d be better to admit that he just watched other football matches – commentated on a few – and tried not to think too much about Arsenal. A bit more honesty from the manager would have been great.
He batted away comments about the instability affecting the team, instead preferring to suggest that perhaps the players having one eye on the international break had an impact.
I’m sorry, what?
So now we’ve got international breaks causing our form? What’s next? The download chart? Are the players being affected by the fact that only sad add Sheeran songs can be downloaded in to their massively oversized headphones now? What the actual eff is he talking about? International breaks have never been used in the same breath as trying of explain poor performances, so why is he even putting it in people’s minds now?
Perhaps because he’s run out of things to blame this current lull on and by god is he going to avoid the obvious: his own instability is causing some of this current malaise around the club. Just look at Pellegrini last season. Man City started tanking, then we find out that it’s because he’s off, before they recover a bit and get themselves in to the Champions League spaces for when Pep arrives. So why isn’t it that obvious to Arsène that we could be seeing the same situation unfold at Arsenal? The only difference is that we know Arsène will cling on to power for another two years. It’s just a matter of him confirming it publicly.
He has talked so often about the ‘mental strength’ of these mollycoddled players, but we all know this team has little of it, because they’ve shown little of it since the start of the year. So it stands to reason that if they can find an excuse to under perform – the manager and his future being the excuse in this case – then they will take it. So it really makes you wonder how much further into the depths of dispair this team has to fall before the manager gets his lightbulb moment. A hammering at the weekend? A seventh place finish? A public declaration of lack of belief from our two best players?
Perhaps everything. The board certainly will not act. They’re happy to stay in Wenger’s slip stream and avoid any nasty headwinds. So we’ll stumble through the rest of this season and then get promises of change in the summer that will never really materialise.
But hey, Arsène has faith that players want to stay, so that’s fine right? Well no, not really, because he said the same things about Fabregas, van Persie and Nasri and now with the benefit of history and hindsight we can all see that they wanted out. Apparently according to Arsène yesterday, we no longer need to sell our best players, but in the summer when they tell him they won’t sign a new deal, what happens? Exactly the opposite of what Arsène promises. Guaranteed.
The only good thing that came out of yesterday’s press conference was that we got to see a second or two of the old Arsène. You know, the one who made humourous quips because he knew he managed one of the best teams in the world and was confident to make little jokes. When asked about Alexis saying he wants to stay in the city Arsène said “good, there’s only one team in London so I am happy”. It made me smile for a split second, before I was brought back to earth because I knew that not only is there lots of teams in London, but two of them are better than us now.
The team news was also delivered and at least we have everyone back for Sunday bar Cech and Lucas. That’ll give Ospina a bit of game time to stay on his line for a couple of matches, but at least we’ll get to go ‘Ooooooospina!’ every time he kicks the ball, eh? …sigh…
I think I’ll save my sobering thoughts on the game this weekend for the weekend. I’ll keep today’s blog like the chances of us seeing change at Arsenal.
Actually, a bit of a ‘p.s.’. David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle died on this day 16 years ago and there’s a gathering at Arsenal today. I can’t make it but wish I could to pay my respect. Rocky was my first ‘favourite’ player and loved The Arsenal. He is gone, but not forgotten in my eyes, or the eyes of thousands of Gooners every. RIP Rocky.