Because we haven’t had a new manager in so many years prior to this summer, we haven’t seen the usual “this manager is working us soooo much more harder than the last one” type comments from footballers at Arsenal, so yesterday’s comments from Bellerin are welcome but I personally take it with a pinch of salt.
Normally I’m used to seeing players from teams like Palace, Swansea, West Brom, etc, talk about the impact that the new boss has made. It’s fairly obvious that these players say this sort of stuff because:
- They want to carry favour with the new man in charge because they want to play
- They want the fans on side to believe the new guy in charge can change fortunes
How often these players believe it, deep down, remains to be seen in those circumstances. Whether the Arsenal players are buying in to the philosophy also remains to be seen. It certainly feels like a public charm offensive has been set well and truly in motion but given how low we all were before the Wenger announcement and finish to the season I guess that’s understandable. The club needed to play the ‘reboot’ card and it looks like they’re doing it with the players laughing and joking in training half the time, whilst the other half of the time their trying not to cough up a lung.
Transfer wise now for us it’s all about the outgoings. Chuba’s out the door to Greece, Macey heads to the Plymouth corner of the UK, whilst rumours about Ospina off to Turkey persist. I wonder if to fans of Turkish clubs he’s the equivalent to when Sebastian Frey was linked to us every summer? I wonder if there are loads of Turkish ‘in jokes’ about him having the slowest medical, or driving to Turkey in a golf buggy, or the such like? Probably feels like it. Certainly feels like it from an Arsenal fans perspective.
If/when Ospina leaves for pastures new I suspect that many will be high-fiving but for me I was never on that much of a downer with him. He made a few high-profile mistakes in his years at the club but every ‘keeper does. I think his problem was that he never got enough games in which he was the hero for us Gooners to be able to forget the likes of Olympiakos at home (in which he conceded a goal by dropping a catch into his own net, if you recall).
De Gea has made a few high profile mistakes, but because that is about 5% of the games he’s played, he’s loved by the United fans for (rightly) being a world class ‘keeper. Ospina is clearly not at the same level but if he’d have spent a whole season as number one – perhaps because Cech or Szczesny getting injured would have forced it – people would probably not have as much of a downbeat opinion of him.
Whatever is in the past however, it’s clear he’s not getting much game time this season and so I suspect we’ll see something over the next day or few about his exit. Goodbye Dave, we hardly knew ye, will be my final comments on the man.
Whether or not Leno is the answer I still remain skeptical too. It does feel like a weird one. It’s not a ton of money on a ‘keeper, but it’s a sizeable enough fee and given that, I’d have thought we’d have taken a chance on perhaps a younger ‘keeper, maybe in their early 20s. Of course Leno still has room to grow but I just wonder what the response from Arsenal fans would have been if his age profile was 22 instead of 26? We’d probably all be talking about his trajectory, his learning arc, blah, blah, blah.
Everyone’s a statistician these days and everyone’s got numbers to prove a players great or shite one way or another. Sometimes players develop late, sometimes players need a new environment to thrive, sometimes they were never good enough in the first place. The only way we’ll know with Leno is if he gets at least 25 games this season.
Will he get that? Maybe. But I have a suspicion he’ll have to wait. I suspect we’ll see Cech start the season and to be honest I’m not too worried about that. He’s not the ‘keeper he once was but this competition might have lit a little fire from underneath him and who knows, if the defence can actually learn about the word ‘protection’ then it might be a situation where we see Cech being more than adequate enough for our aspirations in 2018/19.
We’ve still got some more games to over analyse to make such assessments before the big kick off, so that’s certainly something.