Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Doctor, who?

Tim Stillman Column

G’day Arse addicts, tis I again, that Stillman fella, come to once again dispense wisdom and bile in equal measure on behalf of you, the silent majority. Aren’t you lucky that I have appointed myself to hold court at your benediction? With the internationals behind us for another five weeks, Champions League qualification secured and new signings stockpiled, I’m putting the traumas of early season behind me and considering this the start of our season. Admittedly, it’s a month later than I would have liked, but then so was our transfer business!

After the post mortem of the United mauling, followed by the breathlessness of deadline day, this week has felt like something of a giant exhale. A bit like a Sunday curled up on the sofa after one of Arsene’s infamous vodka and charlie parties. I think the time away has been beneficial, for the players, the manager and the supporters. We’ve all had a little time to reflect, regroup and to delete those incriminating photos from our camera phones.

That said, the international week has dragged since the weekend. I’ve come to view the public perception of international weekends as akin to a visit from an elderly relative on Christmas Day. The public line is that the time together is precious and to be honoured. But if everyone is honest with themselves, they’d much rather crack out a doobie and spend some time with the Xbox. As for me, I view them like an unpleasant rash on the ballbag. Unnecessary and fucking irritating.

Of course, there have still been some chewy Arse related incidents to wrap our jaws around, debate and then piss our big girl’s knickers about. The feel good tide of new acquisitions has been stemmed by a gentle current of injury. Firstly, with the announcement that Jack Wilshere will be out for “at least two months” in the club’s words.

I highlighted the club’s vocabulary there, because I know some of you will have your egg timers out, waiting for the instant we hit eight weeks. All the while sharpening your knives for the medical staff, ready to unload more acid tongued invective should Jack not reappear within this time frame. There has been a great deal of hand wringing over the club’s treatment of Jack, which I think has been unfair and a little hysterical.

I fully understand that the club’s propensity to injury bears scrutiny, but we have arrived at a stage whereby the medical staff is castigated for every single ailment. Often without the due process of analysis and evidence being offered for each individual case. If you evaluate the club line over Wilshere this summer, it has been pretty consistent.

He picked up the knock playing for England against Switzerland in June (a match in which he played the full 90 minutes). The club allowed him to rest it up over the summer and when he returned for pre season training, he reported no pain; there was no swelling and no inflammation. Pretty reasonable of them to allow him to resume pre season training then don’t you think?

Wilshere played three pre season friendlies before feeling inflammation and swelling again during the Emirates Cup, so he was substituted and put in a protective boot. I know from personal experience that immediately identifying a recovery period for an inflammation is a precarious and inexact science. It can heal in three days or three months. Hence, the club line has been marked by caution.

The day before the season began, Arsene Wenger told the press, “It’s difficult to put a time period on it because it’s an inflammation, but we hope he will be back soon.” Point to note, “we hope” doesn’t now and has never meant, “definitely will.”

Thomas knew immediately his Interior Clitoral Abductor would need surgery

The upshot is it hasn’t instantly responded to treatment, which is rather common with these problems, so complete rest has been prescribed. Even now, the club have only committed to a minimum recovery period. Over the whole piece, I struggle to identify, from the outside at least, where the club have been guilty of malpractice. Surely it’d have been a lot worse had they just pumped his ankles pull of monkey hormones, patched him up and put him out on the pitch? Or else, let him trawl Eastern Europe for three weeks in search of some donkey piss in which to submerge the offending limb.

In any case, losing Jack is a blow for sure, but maybe some time out won’t be the worst thing in the world for him. The injury goblins however, weren’t fully sated by the meaty carcass of Wilshere. Oh no. They simply had to come back for seconds, mopping the corners of their mouths before taking a great chunk out of Thomas Vermaelen. The bastards. The positive, insofar as you can label it a “positive”, is that the knock is not on the same leg as the legendary achilles nack of yore.

Once again, such is the level of hysteria around the medical staff; they’ve copped some flack for this. I see no basis for that in this case either. Nobody gets kicked on the ankle and instantly yelps, “Ouch, my plantaris tendon! Damn it, that’ll have to be removed now!” But one thing I have learned this week over the injuries to both players is that the London Colney medical room must be rather spacious, given the number that clearly overview our practises there. Sarcasm aside, I’m not suggesting our injury record isn’t troubling, but people really need to practise a bit of due diligence before lifting their skirts up over their faces and shrieking.

Speaking of shrill shrieks, those immutable Barcelona arseholes have been spewing forth on their favourite subject, the transfer of Cesc Fabregas. Having spent two years trying to give us the rough end of the pineapple on the transfer fee, their Vice President Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed what everybody already knew. “His real price was what Arsenal initially asked- at least 60m Euros.” It’s this sort of classless carry on that has soured relations between Arsenal and Barcelona. Even when they’ve got their man, they can’t resist aiming a steel toecap squarely in the bread basket.

Barca are being rather short sighted if you ask me. I’m sure this sort of public self congratulation falls within their smug remit for the summer, but they are risking making any future negotiations rather more complicated – not just  with Arsenal either. If other clubs see that, by bending to Barca’s will, they open themselves up to this kind of cheap shot, their resolve to sell will reduce. Or else, if they do sell, they sell you Alex Hleb. Nobody wants that. The moral that Barca will one day discover is that if you shit on people’s doorsteps, you don’t tend to get invited back for tea.

The Swansea match has taken on huge significance. The support at Old Trafford showed the way in terms of lending vocal encouragement in the stadium. Let us pass that torch to Ashburton Grove on Saturday. Hopefully see some of you there and indeed, I hope to see some of you in Germany next week. Till then Arse chums. LD.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

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