It is remarkably quiet considering we’re heading into the final two games of this league season. Maybe it’s not that remarkable though, maybe there’s just a sense that this campaign is one most people would pretty much like to see the back of … once we secure third place.
We’ll watch tonight’s games with some interest. Chelsea, who pounded QPR at the weekend, host Newcastle who were pounded by Wigan, while Sp*rs travel to Bolton. I guess the good thing is that all teams involved have something to play for. Bolton are fighting to avoid the drop and will be looking to take advantage of a Sp*rs side who now know they’re stuck with Harry Redknapp, while a tasty, ultra-violent draw at Stamford Bridge would suit us fine.
Of course whatever happens tonight our future is very much in our own hands. It’s as simple as it gets – win the last two games and third place is ours. It would be nice to have that task made easier by favourable results tonight but the reality is that it’s down to us and how we perform against Norwich and West Brom.
After the signing of Lukas Podolski there was much mutteration and scuttlebutt floating about the Twitter box yesterday with all kinds of whispers about Jan Vertonghen and Yann M’Vila. As you might expect, much of it – if not all – is absolute bollocks. Perhaps we are after Vertonghen but I very much doubt that a signing is close. And you hardly need to Johnny Indaknow to suggest we have an interest in M’Vila. Pretty much every French football related journalist has reported that over the last few months.
I guess people are just hopeful that the Podolski signing is a sign(ing) of things to come. We can be very cautiously optimistic that it suggests a change in our modus operandi but hardly convinced just yet. Look at what Arsene said after Stoke when asked if Chamakh was going to be let leave at the end of the season:
At the end of the season I think you will have big surprises because there will not be a lot of movement in football.
I think he’s referring to football in general, rather than us, but it does have an impact. Depending on who you talk to, Arsenal fans list of players they’d like to leave this summer is either long or pretty damn long indeed. You can look at the squad and see ways in which players who don’t contribute ought to be sold and replacements, who can offer more, could be brought in.
Yet we go back to the old point that it’s not like getting a new car, you can’t just trade one in for scrap and get a new one. We have to find other teams to buy these players and while complaints about our wage structure do have some merit, this is not the only reason it’s difficult to move players on. The reality of football today is that the finances of many clubs are in the shitter. As clubs like Chelsea, PSG, Man City, Malaga and others who have sugar-daddy owners continue to inflate transfer fees and salary expectations, the more conservative others become.
That doesn’t alter what we need to do, of course, but it does make it more challenging. And perhaps we’ve erred in offering long-term deals on healthy contracts to players who didn’t quite merit them, yet not so long ago we were losing players on free transfers and that was as much a cause for complaint. Maybe we went too far the other way but let’s not ignore the fact that when Edu and Flamini ran down their deals there was as much gnashing of teeth about that as there is about those on inflated salaries that make them unattractive other teams.
What we have to do, I suspect, is count on the fact that for the most part footballers want to play football as much as they want to earn a lot of money. The Winston Bogardes of this world are few and far between and if we can clear the way for players going out – by lowering our expected transfer fees and allowing the purchasing club to bump a signing on fee, for example – then it should be possible to do the business we need to do.
But we shouldn’t be under any illusions that it’s a complicated process, both buying and selling, and that if and when we bring more players in it’s got to be tallied with players going out due to the restrictive 25 man squad rules.
Anyway, in order to keep a relatively clear head about things, remember that most Twitter rumours aren’t worth the virtual toilet paper they’re spouted on, and that finishing third has to be the focus for now, not the summer madness which this, of all summers, is going to be pretty intense, I reckon.
In other news, well, there is none, apart from the fact that Ryo Miyaichi looks set for Japan’s Olympic football team. The Japanese FA have sent documents to Arsenal asking for him to be released this summer and unlike the Wilshere situation, I don’t think it’d be a bad thing at all for him to be involved. It may not be a ‘big’ tournament, or a tournament many people care one jot about, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bad experience for a footballer still as raw as Ryo (a sentence I’m glad I’m writing and not trying to say out loud).
And that’s about that, finally for today, a shameless, towards the end of season plug for So Paddy Got Up. You can read reviews and reaction here, and purchase it here. While if you’re a digital reader you can get it from Kindle, iTunes and Kobo. There are also copies behind the bar at The Tollington so if you’re heading into the final home game of the season you can pick one up there. I might see you there for a pint too.
Ok, that’s yer lot, till tomorrow.