Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Tim Stillman column : Internationals, run-in and Rocky

Tim Stillman column - Arseblog

So, the blindfolds are whipped off and we emerge from the cellar of the interlull, parched, unshaven, our eyes squinting as the light of football that people actually give a shit about glints on the horizon. The shivering and sweating is decreasing with each passing day and I’ve begun to adopt a slightly more erect posture having spent ten days cowering in a corner with only a tartan blanket for company. I’ve even begun to think about cleaning out the slop bucket and opening the curtains.

Meanwhile at London Colney, the medical team are left to their golf visas and adding machines as we count the injury cost. Like a highly tuned sports car, Robin van Persie’s wheels are king of the road when working, but all too often find themselves pulled over into a lay-by with smoke billowing out of the engine. As I write there is no further update on the affliction that caused him to hobble out of the Holland game on Tuesday evening. The Dutch coach seems philosophical, informing us “With luck he should be able to play for Arsenal on Saturday.”

“With luck.” What a lovely little qualifier. “With luck” I will get a lap dance from Milla Jovovich this weekend. (Not whilst I’m at the game though, eh dear). The Dutch medical team have been known to pull arms and legs out of aeroplane wreckages and declare them fit “in a matter of days.” They’re probably the only diagnosticians on earth that cause the Arsenal medical team to create mocking JPEGs in derision.

Wilshere set to play for England U45s this summer

I think Bayern Munich considered suing them last season for their “treatment” of Robben. Still, best replenish the stocks of unicorn piss and rhino jizz for RvP’s treatment. It’s fair to say losing van Persie at this point – having just nursed Cesc back to health – would be far from ideal at the crunch stage of the season. But I don’t think any of us will exactly be wearing our big surprised faces if his contribution will be minimal for the run in now. Fingers crossed he makes another Lazarus-like recovery.

Speaking of international football, and what a cunting nuisance it is, it looks like a summer at loggerheads with Stuart Pearce – a place many a right winger found himself in the early 90s. Jack Wilshere will be conscripted to play for the U-21s in another meaningless tournament which was memorably won by, err, who won it last time? Wilshere affirms a desire to play, which is understandable given that he’s a young, enthusiastic guy. Plus, the press would probably put dog shit in his exhaust pipe if he dared take a rain check. Or else they’d compare him to David Bentley. Nobody wants to be compared to David Bentley.

I can see what Stuart Pearce would get out of calling Jack up, but I’m struggling to work out what anyone else gets. His club and his full national side – of which he is now a first choice member – get a burned out, tired player who, if Walcott’s case is instructive, will spend most of next season keeping van Persie company in the treatment room. I don’t even think this boils down to a club versus country, because obviously the best thing for his club would be to jack in the useless circus of international football altogether.

I think what we are asking is what would be best for the player. A lot has been said about the German U-21 side that won the tournament in 2009 that bore some fruit for their exciting 2010 World Cup squad. The difference being that four of the five players that appeared in both tournaments for Germany were uncapped at senior level at the time and none of them went into the U-21 tournament on the back of 40 plus games of a gruelling domestic season. Unfortunately, we are in the hands of Stuart Pearce here. He strikes me as a decent enough guy, but he also strikes me as possessing the intellect of festering pig shit. I’ve said it many times before elsewhere and I’ll repeat the paradigm here for your consumption. Internationals are football’s answer to the royal family. They plunder, they take and they contribute nothing of their own. Once their jewel encrusted cocks have had their wicked way with you, you’re supposed to consider it some kind of unspeakable honour. Rubbish.

Anyways, now we enter the home straight and we are very much in contention for the league title. Though I do have to keep checking we are indeed second in the table and not second bottom given the negativity that appears to be floating around. But it really is an exercise in futility flaunting any of that until June, we’re going for a worthy cause and well, we’ve got the squad we’ve got and we can’t do a thing until July 1st, so channel your energy in getting the team over the finishing line first. Blackburn is the first of 9 Cup Finals now, with United playing at lunchtime at Upton Park, whatever their result, the pressure is on us.

Given our pre-Interlull form, the Blackburn match becomes more than just mathematics. Even if United were to lose, our failure to beat a side that haven’t won away for 5 months and are finding points harder to come by than rocking horse shit … you rather feel it would be a blow we would be unlikely to recover from. In the spirit of motivation for the final furlong, full credit to the guys that put this video together. It looks as though we will have Song, Cesc and Walcott back and I think we’ve missed all three of those players- the qualities they bring to the side aren’t easily replicated. Let’s hope the down time has left them fresh and fighting fit for the run in.

David Rocastle

Finally, there’s no other note to end on than to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of David Rocastle’s passing on 31st March. Rocky is one of the main reasons I support Arsenal. I began supporting the club in 1990 when I was 6. I had carved myself a niche in the school playground as a tricky winger and Arsenal boasted the likes of Rocky, Merson and Limpar in their artillery. It made it an easy choice for me given the only other choice in my family would have been to be a Spurs fan! Rocky meant the world to me as a player and almost every tribute you hear from those that knew him remark what an affable person he was too.

The minute’s silence inside Highbury on the day of his death is probably my most pertinent memory of the old ground. My season ticket seat at Highbury was housed within touching distance of the away fans and the way Spurs fans observed the silence in tandem was very touching. Rocky was genuinely one of the players I pretended to be in the playground and losing him so early in my footballing dotage was a real shock. He was one of my earliest links to this club and grew up very close to where I did – which was terribly important to me at that age. Our thoughts extended to his son, his daughters, wife and family on this day. Rocky touched us all in a way that should make them very proud. LD.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

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