Ahh man, isn’t this international break just the worst, eh? I don’t know what it is about this particular one, but it feels like it is properly dragging on to me. It’s only Thursday. We have ANOTHER week of this. Plus the warm glow of victory is starting to wear off, yet the dull ache of fear ahead of the next game hasn’t kicked in yet. Do you get that? I do almost every game. Definitely every Premier League game. When we play in the FA Cup against a team three divisions lower than us, or in the League Cup when the fear of being knocked out isn’t anywhere near as bad, it doesn’t really emerge. But any other type of game and it is very real indeed.
And as much as I hate that feeling in the pit of my stomach ahead of a game, I’d take it all day long, as opposed to the football purgatory that we currently face in the shape of pretty pointless International games.
As Robert Carlyle said in The World Is Not Enough in 1999, from a football perspective:
“What’s the point in living if you cannot feel alive”
In a way, I could kind of support Wenger’s current mission regarding the World Cups, but only to a point. His main aim of making it every two years is a flat ‘no’ for me. There are already international tournaments every two years and that is enough, so chucking one in between to basically make it every season, just so FIFA can line their corrupt coffers a little bit, is just wrong, wrong, wrong. However, in the proposal itself that has been mooted, there is one aspect that I could get behind, which is to play the qualifying rounds in a concentrated point in time so you don’t break up the domestic season.
Sign me up for that. But sign me up for it with a difference. FIFA want to line their pockets? Then why not use the end of the season in between tournaments to play the qualifiers? That way the season isn’t affected, you keep the tournaments to every four years, then you play games over a two week period at the end of May. It could end by mid June and then the players who go away still get a bit of a summer and recuperation before the domestic season kicks off again the following August. FIFA and UEFA (as well as the other federations) get concentrated air time and can have all of the attention over them, whilst the domestic leagues can claw back some weeks. We’ve had three breaks already since the season started. That’s three match weeks that can be played and removing any of the Premier League midweek matches that happen. It gives more players some midweeks and maybe the season can even finish a little earlier. Which means the qualifiers could start earlier and maybe even be done by around 10th June. If the following season starts around mid August, you’re still giving players two months for a summer during those qualifying seasons.
But that’s me thinking as a fan and also about the players and clubs. FIFA and UEFA don’t do that. They think about their pockets and have long since done so. So they will either get their own way and have a World Cup every two years (which I’m hoping all of the domestic leagues and other bodies come together and block), or it will stay as it is, and I’ll still be moaning about these breaks in November 2030.
So what else is happening in the Arsenal world? Sadly not a lot, which means the old transfer rumour algorithm needs to be dusted off by some journalists looking to keep eyeballs on their content, with salacious rumours about replacements we’re going to sign in the summer, or players we are not looking at. Of course because Arsenal are going to need a striker soon – and that end of the pitch is always big business and exciting for fans, it is hotting up right now with rumours of that lad Vlahovic supposedly on our radar. I know my ol’ mate Giles likes him and he looks to have the physical prowess for the Premier League, but Charles Watts has been saying that he isn’t on our radar and I’d tend to believe that from somebody like Charles. He is usually quite straight when it comes to this kind of situation so if he’s got some intel that Arsenal aren’t looking at him, it’s probably come from a source inside or close to the club. OF course perhaps that changes as the season evolves, but I wouldn’t be reading too much in to it at this time.
We will need to start our work now though. I know we are still building this young squad, but we’ve already gone big on a number of positions and so next summer you wouldn’t expect the same kind of volume of first team incomings as we had this summer just gone, so next summer will be about one or two big names. Maybe that is for big money but we have to remember that we aren’t a financially doped club backed by a nation state, so we will need to be clever about who we look at and when we make our move. Going to early inflates the price and with clubs like Newcastle around they could just double wages and transfer fees of players we are interested in. So when we’ve heard Arsenal execs talking about ‘outsmarting the market’, I feel like that kind of activity needs to happen now in terms of making those contacts, speaking to players and agents, getting them to buy in to this project ‘early’.
If you take a hypothetical scenario where Player A is attracting interest of both us and Newcastle, for example, then it is important we’ve been about to whisper those sweet nothings in to his ear about the ‘Project’ before an offer comes in that gives him an extra £100k on his weekly wage. There will be some players who will just go to the highest bidder, but I think there are a larger volume of those that will look at what the opportunity might be to enhance their profile at a bigger club. But you have to sell that dream early and that’s why I am hoping we are already doing our talks now for a striker in June/July.
Who that is, lord only knows, but hopefully whoever it is has been thoroughly researched and the club can ‘outsmart the market’ kind of like they have done this summer by getting the right kind of profile player in that we need to improve our team.
Back tomorrow with some more Arsenal ramblings.