Alright fellow Gooners? How goes it? Are you pleased that we seemed to have at least managed to get through 24 hours without a bit of turmoil?
Nice, isn’t it?
Nice to not have to roll your eyes at the seemingly sinking ship that is our admin team. Instead we had the announcement from Petr Cech that he’ll be retiring at the end of the season. It’s a surprise I have to say because at 36 and then 37 at the end of the season he is in a position that he probably could have played on for another two or three years at a decent level. He started the season in between the sticks, had a few really good performances (notably a clean sheet against Everton) and he’s a player who I suspect with regular game time could have rediscovered some form.
But he’s decided to hang up his gloves and you have to respect that because he will have known in himself what he wanted to do and dropping down the competitive teams and leagues clearly isn’t something he fancies.
He’s been a decent signing for us. By the end of the season he’ll have had four years at Arsenal, he’s had some good performances, some dodgy ones, but what you can’t fault is the type of pro he is. He’s had an illustrious career, won pretty much everything there is to win, yet he’s always seemed to remain humble throughout.
During the Mourinho first era there were so many dislikable players for a whole host of reasons. But Cech wasn’t one of them. He was one that you always had to begrudgingly respect as an opposition fan and at his peak he was amazing. A mate of mine used to call him Nightcrawler, after the Marvel character, who used to disappear and then reappear at a totally different place. That was Cech and his ability to get to balls you just didn’t think he should.
We didn’t really get him at his best at Arsenal but as fans we can still appreciate that we’ve had a really great guy at the club and somebody who always seemed a very likeable guy.
The fact that even Chelski fans have something nice to say about an ex-player pretty much sums him up.
Whether he’ll get much more game time between now and the end of the season probably depends on the fitness of Leno and also how far we go in the cup competitions. But like Arsène Webber’s announcement which happened way before the season ended, at least we have plenty of time to say ‘cheerio’ to him, to sing his name a bit, and appreciate the glittering career he’s had.
The other news coming out of Arsenal yesterday was the freezing of ticket prices for next season. That’s good to hear but given we’re already the most in the league and are not being served the best piece of footballing cake in comparison to other teams, I would have been surprised had the club increased prices, although I suspect with Stan in full control now we can probably expect that freezing to stop from the season after next. He’s already emailing people in the club to cut costs and the step after that is to start charging customers more, as you eek every last penny out of the ordinary folk for your already gold-lined palms.
There was an interesting interview on Sky from Unai that might be worth you reading. I had a read last night and found it good to get a little more insight on him as a manager. The main point which most will pick up on is his comments about creating friction in a group of players which can lead to challenges and sometimes players complaining, but the main thrust of his argument was that players need to always be challenged, because then you always get them trying to give you more.
I kind of agree with that. The problem we had towards the end of the Wenger era was that some players were clearly quite comfortable and that ended up affecting us on the pitch. A little bit of ‘friction’ is no bad thing I think. But as he says in the article it’s about getting the balance right. Too much and you end up with a war zone like the environment Mourinho creates when he joins a club. That isn’t what Emery is going for and you could see that at the start of the season with the players excited about this new ‘process’ we were going through.
But that process which was so shiny and new in August is now well underway and it feels like this is the first proper time Emery has been tested and questioned from most quarters. As fans it felt like last weekend was the first time we thought “hmm, hold on a second, why is he doing that? It doesn’t make sense” with regards to tactical selection and with the game coming up at the weekend a kind of ‘must win’, anything else and any other contentious decisions like leaving Özil out of the team again, will only raise more eyebrows from the manager.
Some believe that he’s trying to get the opposite situation having had his fingers burned at PSG by the big names at the club. I’m sure sure that is the case but if it is he’s going to have to do something special to get a tune out of some of the players who have hardly been great this season so far. And they’re certainly not at the quality of some of the stars he had at PSG. The league is not as forgiving as the French league either, so you have to hope that his negative experience in France isn’t influencing his decision making here.
We aren’t rich enough, nor littered with enough quality in the playing staff, to be dropping certain players out of the squad entirely.
Hey, it’s still eight months though and I guess there are plenty of games still to play, so let’s hope that we can claw back some positivity at the weekend.
More on Emery and his press conference tomorrow.