Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you, even though I was convinced that yesterday was Sunday all day long. Weird.
We’ll start with Jack Wilshere and Arsene Wenger has cast doubts over his involvement with us this season and, subsequently, his chances of going to the Euros with England. There’s a suggestion he’s got a little bit of a knee problem at the moment, which I guess is quite normal when you’ve been out for so long and then step-up the the physical intensity, and the fact he didn’t appear against Birmingham Reserves this week is a sign of the cautiousness that surrounds him.
There are just over four weeks of the season left, and Arsene says:
We will know in the next two or three weeks. We try to keep the hope alive for him and not take too many risks.
And of going away with England.
We are now at the end of March, that means to go to a big competition without having played at all is impossible. The next three weeks will be decisive. You would think a player who wants to play in June, at the end of April they will have to be competitive. The next three weeks will decide.
Of course Arsenal don’t get to decide. Whoever is managing England this summer may well select Jack and there’s not much we can do about it other than inform them if he’s not fully fit. If that lack of fitness is potentially injurious to him ahead of next season then we just have to hope that it’s taken into consideration and with Gary Lewin on the staff there that the right thing is done by the player.
Meanwhile, Sol Campbell has started a column in The Guardian and his first one deals with Arsene Wenger and his plans this summer. Pat Rice is retiring and a new number 2 is needed. Sol says:
I rule myself out as a contender for now and instead look to Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, both of whom I know would love to be offered such a role and, who knows, could replace Arsène whenever he does quit as manager and, ideally, takes up a role upstairs.
Sadly, I cannot see this happening. Arsène is a single-minded leader who does not like to have anyone around who could threaten his authority, either by challenging his decisions or by being the person that will eventually take his job. But hopefully he proves me wrong and makes such an appointment.
This isn’t anything new really, the idea that the coaching staff could be freshened up has long been mooted by fans and ex-players, but this summer Arsene has got to make an appointment when Pat hangs up his famous shorts. Does he promote from within? There’s Neil Banfield, currently reserves boss who would seem to fit the bill from Arsene’s point of view. A competent coach who knows how the club works but unlikely to rock the boat or challenge the boss’s authoritaaah.
Steve Bould has already said he doesn’t want the job as he’s happy with what he’s doing at youth level, and then you have the former players who might do a job. A few weeks back on the Arsecast Lee Dixon said he thought Tony Adams would be a candidate and I do wonder if its any coincidence that his presence around the club has increased. There did seem to be an uneasiness in the relationship between the club and the former skipper and while he may have ambitions still of management, it’d be fair to say he hasn’t found the job of being top man easy. Perhaps a role without the pressure might suit him.
Dennis, how wonderful would that be? A man of such quality and intelligence, brought up through the Ajax system, who enjoyed the best years of his career under Wenger at Arsenal, but handicapped by the inability to travel with the team in Europe. And as for Vieira, well, I’m not sure. He seems well ensconced in the ambassadorial role he’s got at Man City, but it is very interesting to hear Campbell say he knows both Dennis and Vieira would ‘love’ to be offered a role at the club.
If it were up to me, I’d have Dennis in as assistant, Tony coaching the defence, and Robert Pires teaching advanced dreaminess twice a week. Of course we can’t rule out an ‘outside’ candidate either, but as much as our player business will be interesting this summer, this is going to be just as fascinating, I think.
Ahead of Sunday, Arsene was asked to assess $amir Na$ri’s season. He said:
I leave that to you. We will care about our players on Sunday.
Haha, diplomatic as ever. The return of Na$ri does add a bit of spice to tomorrow’s proceedings. Last time, in the Carling Cup, he was involved in a tunnel bust-up with Frimpong, but as tedious and up his own arse and annoying Na$ri is and was last summer, he’s hardly the archetypal pantomime villain. He’s no Adebayor, for example, and while he’s going to get some stick from the crowd – and rightly so – taking three points off City tomorrow would the perfect riposte.
Beyond that not much more to go on this morning. Sunderland play Sp*rs at 12.45 and how nice would it be if Nicklas Bendtner continued his good run with a goal or four? Unlikely, I know, but even if there is a part of him that doesn’t care for us anymore after Arsene decided the camel-footed chain smoker was a better option, I hope there’s another part of him which holds his opponents today in the disdain they deserve.