So today we get our first taste of football since the end of last season. Back then the taste was not so sweet. Like eating a vomit pie, with cow poo crust and gravy made from the liquidised entrails of a bison with septic gut-rot.
Today is just a pre-season friendly, of course, the result isn’t that important and it’s about getting players on the road to proper fitness and sharpness. That said, if we lose I can imagine the outcry, the headlines about us being in crisis and all that, so the players would be well advised to score more goals than them. That’s the simple tactic I would employ if I were a football manager. “Score more than them. Or you’re fired”.
The football will be a welcome diversion from everything. The continued sagas of Nasri and Cesc rumble on with things not much clearer despite yesterday’s comments from Arsene. If anything, they’ve confused things even further. Why is a manager as financially prudent as ours seemingly going against all good sense and allowing the Nasri situation to develop this way?
As Gunnerblog points out, he’s either firmly convinced he can’t hold on to Cesc and refuses to lose both players in the one summer, or it’s a challenge to the board. I’m told that there was a definite agreement between Arsene and the board that if Nasri and Clichy refused to sign new deals then they would both be sold. The logic being that Arsenal were not in a position, nor willing, to let valuable assets leave for free.
Now, that agreement seems to be in tatters as Arsene has very publicly and quite categorically said he will not sell Nasri. I don’t see it as brinksmanship to get more money out of City, we could do that quite privately if we wanted. If he were to sell him now it would reflect badly on him after his comments. Even if everyone accepts that every player has his price, to be so definitive one moment and then to sell him would seriously damage his credibility.
Just a few weeks ago Arsene said of the Clichy/Nasri problem:
We do not want to do that [allow them to leave on a free like Flamini]. We won’t allow that to happen.
Yet now he seems willing to allow that to happen in Nasri’s case. Why? You might suggest it’d be better to hold onto Nasri, that a replacement might be hard to find, take time to settle etc, but if Arsene Wenger can’t take £20m, find a quality player who can perform at level equivalent to a half-hearted, uncommitted player in the final year of his contract (who is awaiting his Bosman to a rival), then I would raise questions about his ability to do the job properly.
The bottom line is the whole thing is a big, horrible mess and while I’ve always had faith in the manager to handle situations like this for the benefit of the club, I don’t know that I have much in the way this is being dealt with right now. Is it really in our interest to turn down £20m for a player like Nasri who is more than likely going to leave on a free next summer? I don’t think so.
Elsewhere this morning Jack Wilshere has been talking about loyalty and although most of the headlines are directed at Cesc, it’s clear Jack isn’t referring to him (more scurrilous sub-editors at play here – and Jack has quite excellently taken them to task on his Twitter). I suspect that his real ‘target’ is Nasri who has had his head turned by agents and the massive money on offer elsewhere. Human nature, I know, but Jack says:
Loyalty is a big part of football and it shows if you are a real man or not. Cesc showed that last year and, hopefully, a few more players will show it this year. There have been a few players who have shown Arsenal great loyalty and, hopefully, we will get a few more like that. Then we will see if we can get a trophy or not.
And on Cesc specifically he said:
Robin has said he would be devastated if we lose Cesc and it’s the same for me. He has been a role model for me and he is the player I want to aspire to. It would be a shame if we lose him but, hopefully, we can keep hold of him.
No mention of our French friend there and to me it just highlights how much more important keeping Cesc is than keeping Nasri. Lose Cesc and you lose the creative heartbeat of the team, the man with more assists than anyone else in the last five seasons in the top European leagues, a man who scores and creates. Lose Nasri and you lose a tricky, at times exciting player who can pop up with some goals, but haven’t we just signed Gervinho? Can’t he do that?
With Barcelona set to spend a large chunk of their transfer fund of Alexis Sanchez, thus making it even more unlikely they’ll cough up what’s required for Cesc, it’s time Arsene showed the same conviction regarding the captain staying as he did with Nasri, for the benefit of Arsenal Football Club.
Anyway, as all this dominates the news and discussion, we await further reinforcements, especially in the defensive area. I wonder why things have gone so quiet in that regard. There’s talk this morning that Gary Cahill may be interesting Chelsea but nothing further has been made of our supposed interest. I would hope that as the links with forwards and attacking midfielders continue unabated, the issue of our defence is still a matter of priority.
So far we’ve sold an experienced left back and brought in an inexperienced youngster from Charlton. I know we have Vermaelen back, truly he is Like A New Signing, but it would be nice if further additions to the defensive side of the squad were to arrive. Fingers crossed.
Right, that’s that. Kick off this afternoon is 1.45pm, I’ll update on Twitter if and when things happen.