naturally I’ll be refraining from commenting on the John Terry trial until he’s found guilty, but those of you who are bored in work could do worse than follow some of the reportage via Twitter or elsewhere. The best comedy writers in the world couldn’t come up with some of the stuff we got yesterday, this piece in the Guardian gives you a flavour of what went on.
I’m looking forward to some more hilarious, ‘does he really expect us to believe that?’, evidence today, during which words will be redefined to suit the defence. I say this all quite sarcastically, you know.
In the world of Arsenal I’m guessing the first day of pre-season went well. I was expecting some pictures and perhaps a video set to the kind of music they used to use when they’d take an ad break at night but there were no ads, but maybe I’m just being impatient. Did Steve Bould tie the back four together with rope and make them work on offside drills for hours a time? I’m not sure we’ll never know.
Speaking of defenders and such, reports emerged yesterday that we’re in discussions with Laurent Koscielny to extend his current deal. We’re looking to tie him down until 2017, his current contract expires in 2014, and I don’t think too many people would have any problem with that. I don’t mean to suggest we bought a caterpillar back in the summer of 2010 but he’s certainly become a butterfly, or a really impressive looking moth, over the last 12-15 months.
There were moments in his first season where it looked as if the transition to English football was proving a bit much for him, but displays like the one against Barcelona at home showed the potential was there. For me he’s now the first centre-half on the teamsheet. I know Vermaelen’s steely-eyed passion and penchant for goals makes him a firm favourite but for me he’s still got a bit to prove in terms of his defensive consistency. I think Koscielny’s ability to work as well with Vermaelen as he does with Mertesacker is a testament to his quality and he’s exactly the kind of player we need to avoid summer contract mayhem with like this summer’s van Persie/Walcott extravaganza.
I’m sure the arrival of his good mate Olivier Giroud, and the fact that he doesn’t appear to be an ungrateful whelp, will make this negotiation relatively straightforward. You would have to start seriously worrying if this was something we couldn’t sort. And while we’re trying to get our house in order to avoid more contractual difficulties, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs have contracts which expire in 2014 and you would have to think that similar efforts will be made in all those cases. However, Song’s decision to take representation from a certain son of a certain former director suggests that his intention may not be to extend with Arsenal and if that’s the case, perhaps we ought to get that clarified this summer to avoid an unhappy situation next.
Meanwhile, the French press suggest we’re going to take 17 year old Caen striker M’Baye Niang on trial, which is rather odd as he’s already made the breakthrough to first team football despite his tender age. So a trial seems an unusual deal for both the player and the club in question to agree to. Maybe Arsene wants to see him up close and personal, rather than rely on scouting reports, but after 23 appearances for Caen last season it’s still a bit of a weird one, in my opinion.
That we’re looking at other striking options is no surprise though. When you consider that we could lose van Persie, Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner, Park and even a contract stalling Theo Walcott from the squad this summer – and on paper that looks like one hell of a clear-out, regardless of what you think of most of those players – then we do need to boost our options. Whether a 17 year old from France is the right answer is open for debate but the manager’s done all right in that particular area before, at least until the player gets good and wants to bugger off somewhere else. Let’s hope he’s got no meddling brothers.
Elsewhere, the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust released the results of their annual survey and there was nothing hugely unexpected in them. There’s a clear indication that people want to hear more from Stan Kroenke with 75% declaring themselves dissatisfied with ‘Stan Kroenke’s explanation of his Vision for Arsenal Football Club’, while a significant percentage believe R&W should be offered a place on the board. Personally, I just don’t see the benefit of having warring factions in the boardroom. Dissenting voices and people challenging each other to bring out the best is one thing, but these are not two parties on civil terms in any way, shape or form.
38% of respondents were ‘unsatisfied’ with the performance of the team over the last 12 months although 77% believe Arsene Wenger should continue as manager. The most interesting result for me, from a footballing point of view, was that just 7% considered our defensive performance ‘good/very good’ and with Steve Bould coming on board this season it’ll be fascinating to see if that improves next year.
It’s worth noting that the survey was carried out before last week’s shit-storm and that they are the opinions of the members of the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust, and not the wider fanbase (in case they are lazily presented as that – and not by the AST, I should clarify). You can find the full survey download, along with other supporting documents, in the link above.
And that’s yer lot for this morning. More tomorrow.