It’s the beginning of the beginning

Morning all, welcome to a brand new week and welcome to a brand new pre-season.

Many of the players will return today for some light jogging, a few stretches and a few minutes on the sun beds to top up their summer tans. Andre Santos, for example, can’t wait to get going again, according to his Twitter account, but sadly nobody seems to have told him that Yossi Benayoun has gone back to Chelsea after his season long loan:

I can’t be the only one now with an image in my head of Andre scouring the training ground looking for Yossi like a kid might look for his lost puppy. Heartbreaking stuff. I just hope somebody is there to give him a good cuddle when he realises what’s going on.

None of the players who took part in the Euros will be involved, they’ve had their summer holidays extended to give them a chance to rest and recuperate a bit, so that means no van Persie and no Theo Walcott, the two players whose contracts expire next summer. We already know what we know about van Persie, thanks to his dignified statement last week, but the Theo situation is one which needs a resolution too.

Almost immediately after the orange shit hit the red and white fan last week there were stories about how Walcott was going to leave and who knows, that may well be the case. He might just as easily stay but I do wonder if the van Persie stuff gives his people the chance to cite the ‘lack of ambition’ line as they hawk him around for more money. Whatever about a near 29 year old heading towards the final part of his career using that to make a move, a 22 year old who still has a hell of a lot to prove as a footballer won’t be able to get away with that.

Arsenal have been trying to deal with Walcott’s situation but it was they who withdrew from any talks, saying they wanted to see how Arsenal finished last season before making any commitment. Then there were the Euros when Theo was obviously too busy polishing the bench to worry about any of it, and if you look at the situations on paper then I guess you can be worried. If ‘we all knew’ what van Persie leaving it until the end of the season meant, is there any reason to suspect Walcott is different?

Maybe my glass is extremely half-empty this morning but I find myself rather disillusioned by footballers at the moment. If Theo Walcott believes he’s the kind of player who can hold Arsenal over a barrel when it comes to his contract talks then we’re in a funny place indeed. He’s very marketable, no doubt about it, and on his day his pace can provide this team with something few other players can, but on his other days … well … it’s fair to say he gives us something any old bloke could.

Of course I could be getting ahead of myself here, looking at the worst case scenario, and there might be a sweetness and light outcome to the whole situation. Like the van Persie thing though, we can’t let it drag on, even if throughout this whole summer Theo has barely cost a thought while the focus has been on the Dutchman. Now that we have some kind of clarity from him, leaving us with a problem to solve, it’s inevitable that Theo’s position will start to generate some column inches.

The manager will be back in the hot seat too, with a freshened backroom team. Steve Bould comes in as his assistant and will hopefully bring something to the defensive side of our game, while Neil Banfield will enjoy his first day as a first team coach. And while Arsene’s focus will be on the training and getting players fit and ready for the new campaign, he knows that he’s still got a lot of work to do. There are players who need to move on, difficult as that might be, and the squad needs to be strengthened in certain areas too. And that’s not even taking into account the two big issues I’ve already touched on this morning.

Hopefully, with the manager back in the ‘hood, we’ll get some more info as the arsenal.com guys dust off their cameras and microphones after their summer downtime. It was kinda funny to see Arsene be very open with the foreign press this summer as he provided punditry for Euro 2012. The idea of him confirming a transfer before it’s official is quite a departure so hopefully he’s as upfront in the next few days and weeks. I won’t necessarily hold my breath though.

Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey has spoken about the van Persie stuff, saying:

There is no need for me to get involved in that. I don’t know and we as players don’t know what is happening so we will just have to wait to see what happens.

Which isn’t terribly enlightening but probably for the best. Whatever work needs to be done on this has to be done by the manager and the Chief Executive, so better to let them get on with it – especially as anything any player might say would be jumped on immediately and cause more unnecessary chatter. He has, however, welcomed the new boys Podolski and Giroud:

They are great additions to the squad. Hopefully they can do their bit for the team and hopefully we can have a big season.

I could be wrong but I think it’s the first time we’ve heard any of our players ‘welcome’ the new boys, in public at least, and they are sentiments I think we can all get behind. Despite the fact Podolski’s substitutions in the Euros mean he’s utterly finished and Giroud is just a pretty boy with nice abs.

Right, that’s yer lot, easing you into a new week. Till tomorrow.

 

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