Morning folks and welcome to Friday. It’s the first footballess Friday of the summer and I’m still in that weird zone whereby the old season is sill fresh in my mind, so I’m still in a “kind of ready for the summer and a bit of a rest from the stress of watching” vibe. It usually only lasts a couple of weeks, then the longing for the actual football to kick off again starts to really creep in.
Now is about the time when I start to flick through the transfer stuff without getting completely perturbed by it all, too, because although we’ve had a few journos ‘going early’ with their ‘hot scoop’ stuff, it isn’t in such abundance that sorting the true nonsense from the true ‘information’ isn’t too difficult. It’s also not deep enough in to transfer silly season that we have our first proper ‘saga’ getting in to the ridiculous stage of reporting. You know what I mean – “Declan Rice ‘likes’ picture of potential future colleague on Instagram”, followed by “Rice has decided to learn German, sparking rumours he’s made his decision”, then “New Declan Twist – he declares love for Oasis in clear snub to all rivals other than city” kind of ‘exclusives’.
I think after I’ve heard my fifth or sixth exclusive-that-isn’t-an-exclusive I basically zone out from even bothering to look at any kinds of links about a player. But as well as that, I kind of get desensitised to the transfer itself. Let’s take two separate transfers last summer. The Gabriel Jesus deal and the Fabio Vieira deal. I’ve got to be honest with you, in terms of the surprise, the intrigue, the mystique of it all, I preferred learning about the Fabio Vieira deal. It came from nowhere, nobody seemed to know about it, then BANG! He was an Arsenal player and we’d brought this up-and-coming, exciting, versatile midfielder/attacker. Compare that to Gabriel Jesus and we had journalist noise, we had chapter and verse on the deal, we had ‘nearly done’, ‘practically there’, just wrapping up the final touches’ stuff and so when it happened I was excited that we’d got a great player in Jesus, but I had already read everything there was to read about the player and the deal. So the actual unveiling didn’t feel as surprising and amazing at the same time. It’s a bit like one of the big regrets in my life; finding out that my mum had bought me a Lego pirate ship for my birthday when I was eight. I don’t know why, but I found out where they were keeping it – in my Dad’s wardrobe in their bedroom, for about six weeks before my birthday. When I first found it I was over the moon. When I knew they were in the kitchen and were therefore far enough away for me to sneak a peak, I’d go in there and look at it. It was fun at first, but then became torture that I couldn’t have it or admit to having gone searching for it. Then eventually, when the time came, I faked surprise and joy and although I was of course over the moon to get it and I loved playing with the pirate ship, the initial excitement of unwrapping that present just wasn’t there.
Of course, as we know, it hasn’t worked out as amazingly well for Fabio Vieira and so the reality is that all of that excitement is yet to fully manifest itself as the important stuff on the pitch. But this is the time of the season where the ‘on the pitch’ stuff takes a back seat, hence why me reliving that little anecdote for you this morning.
On Vieira, there are a few Arsenal fans I speak to that seem to be losing a little faith in him after this season. It wasn’t a great one I’ll admit, and when you’ve got Smith Rowe not getting game time then perhaps some questions need to be asked, but I can’t help but think there is something in there for this player. We’ve only just seen glimmers, like Brentford away, but he is a guy who was massively rated by Porto, he’s been massively rated by Arteta and Edu and let’s not forget that their success rate on signings has been pretty good in the last few years. I’m also mindful of the fact that he hasn’t played a load of games in a row; he’s been used as a rotation squad member and when you don’t have a series of games to build up a cadence, you’re always going to find it tough. I remember having numerous conversations in the pubs around Highbury about how Aaron Ramsey usually needed half a dozen games to be firing on all cylinders. I’m not suggesting that we should just give Vieira that run of games just to see if he’s good enough, but merely saying that it could be a mitigating factor as to why we maybe haven’t seen the best of him.
I also don’t buy this ‘he’s too slight for the Premier League’. History should tell us that slight players can still thrive in this league, providing they can adapt to the physicality of it. Bernardo Silva is hardly a man mountain, but he’s adapted to become a star for City, so why can’t Vieira?
Maybe I’m just looking for reasons to believe in him, but I still think there is a good player there and I don’t think we should rule him out just yet. Let’s have a look at what he does over the summer and maybe revisit this when some of the pre season friendlies have kicked off.
That’s it from me for today. You guys have yourselves a good one and I’ll catch you all in the morrow.