Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Tell me sweet little lies + Arsecast 361 (Flamini crosses Abbey Road)

Hey, whaddya know, it’s Friday and there’s stuff to talk about.

The manager’s pre-Stoke press conference took place yesterday, the first since the end of the transfer window and of course there were questions about transfers. There wasn’t much that was particularly enlightening about them or the answers. The manager saying:

The solutions we had were not convincing at all. In the end you do not buy to give one hope, you want to buy because the players who come in can help your squad to be stronger. Buying and selling is one way to strengthen your team but that’s not the only way.

You could have probably guessed, in fairness, and he was then asked if the Danny Welbeck injury had an impact:

It doesn’t change anything. You either find someone who strengthens your squad or not.

And that’s kinda on the money, because what we all wanted at the start of the transfer window, and throughout the summer, was a player better than Danny Welbeck, all due respect to him. A player better than Olivier Giroud. In the end if there was acceptance of someone to make up the numbers, it would have been only to provide a bit of security and squad depth, not genuine improvement … until that player played and illustrated why they were that kind of player and not the improvement we all wanted – then the same frustrations surface.

He was also asked whether he lied about Danny Welbeck’s injury. In his last press-conference he said the England man would be back after the international break, then after the window closed we got the news he’d had to have surgery. On that Wenger said:

I am surprised that people accused me of lying when I was in the press conference on Friday morning, [at that point] I did not know Welbeck had a bad setback. I did not lie to you, I gave you the information I had.

Whether you take that at face value or not is entirely up to you. Frankly, I don’t really care. Even if he knew, at the point making the news public would have been daft, given the imminent closure of the window. Secondly, this was a press conference, not a courtroom. Managers tell fibs and little white lies in press conferences all the time because it suits them and it’s, sometimes, in the best interests of the club.

If you think everything Arsene Wenger says, or any other manager for that matter, is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, you’re bonkers. These are obligatory press gatherings from which the press want stories to feed the back pages and thus the fans, and sometimes there are things football clubs try to stay on top of as much as possible. My sense from watching Arsene Wenger down the years is that he tries as much as possible to be completely honest with his answers.

Even the ones above about transfers seem on the level. It would be quite easy for him to make something up, to lay blame elsewhere, or to make himself the victim of some conspiracy as others have, but he’s simply saying that in terms of forwards on the market this summer what he wanted wasn’t available so he wasn’t going to buy for the sake of it. If, now and again, he’s not 100% forthcoming that’s his prerogative. There’s no entitlement to the truth all of the time.

There was also the news that Jack Wilshere has had a ‘little setback’ in his recovery from the ankle injury he picked up in training last month. In itself that’s hardly startling news. We’re used to that happening, and we’re sadly used to that happening with Jack. It’s not clear yet how long he’s going to be out for, the manager was a bit vague about that saying he still had to speak to medical staff, but it’s a blow for him and the team.

What is a bit of a surprise – maybe it shouldn’t be though – is just how personally some people seem to take stories like this. I saw an outpouring of ire and vitriol directed Wilshere’s way and I don’t really understand why. He’s got an injury, and you’re angry at a man for being physically damaged? Heaven help us if any of these people come across somebody hurt on the side of the road.

“It’s your own fault, I’m going to sell you at once.”

I understand completely the frustration of a player not being available, and as time goes by I worry if Wilshere will ever realise the potential he has as a footballer. But isn’t that something that should generate sympathy for a person who is hurt and unable to do their job, rather than anger? They didn’t do it on purpose as some kind of insurance scam, or so they can sit around and pick up their salary.

There comes a time when you have to question a player’s place in the squad. When he can’t play or can’t contribute the way you need a player to contribute, then there’s every right to be frustrated at the situation … but at the situation. The lack of empathy for another person is startling at times … and I don’t care what a player earns, wages are not a panacea for everything else.

Hopefully Jack won’t be out too much longer, it would be good to see him add some quality to this midfield, but we’ll have to wait and see how little this setback really is.

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and although material is a little light because of the Interlull, I’m joined by Amy Lawrence to discuss transfer activity (or lack of), injuries to Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud, how the manager might get the team firing again and more. There’s also an in-depth investigation as to whether or not Mathieu Flamini has passed away (another thing the club are keeping from us, grr!), and all the usual waffle.

When you get to the bit about Flamini, this is the picture you’re looking for.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player, and if you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.

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Right, that’s just about your lot for today. Whatever happens throughout the day will be on Arseblog News, I’ll be back here tomorrow with a full preview of the Stoke game.

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