Welcome to Wednesday. The season begins on Saturday. Our season begins on Sunday. And our defensive issues remain a significant worry.
For a few moments yesterday there was some optimism that maybe it wasn’t going to be as bad as all that when Gabriel posted a message on Instagram. It showed him running, and perhaps pulling some kind of small tractor behind him, with a caption that read: Today I feel much better, is not a big problem, thank my fans.
It put me in mind of when I left my job as an English teacher in Barcelona and my class of 10 year old lads, impressed with how I had taught them the language of football via the medium of Pro Evolution Soccer on the Playstation, bought me a card to express their gratitude at my tutoring. ‘Dear Andrew,’ it read, ‘thank for you be a good teacher’. Ah well, I probably should have done some work on gerunds rather than make them play as ‘North London’.
Anyway, it seemed like this was going to be a good update about the fitness of the Brazilian, but then BBC’s David Ornstein dropped an update which said he was going to be out for 6-8 weeks. ‘Is not a big problem’, but I would suggest that losing a senior central defensive partner for the best part of two months is a pretty big problem for us. Maybe it’s relative, maybe Gabriel thought he was going to be out for months and months, so this ‘Is not a big problem’ is like a scenario when you fear you’ll have to have both your legs amputated below the knee and the doctor says he’s just going to take off four of your toes, or something.
Still, at least we’re ‘stepping up’ our pursuit of Valencia’s centre-half Shkodran Mustafi. No rush lads, we’re not doing anything worth talking about this weekend or anything. In reality, even if we’d gone mad and acted with all the necessary haste and signed this lad really early in the week, it’s still a lot to expect him to come in and be ready for the first game. But what we could do is get him in and make sure he’s ready and available as soon as possible, as those initial days/weeks of arrival and acclimatisation will still be an issue.
People pointed yesterday to Everton replacing John Stones with Ashley Williams at more or less the same time as they sanctioned his sale to Man City. The difference there is those discussions had been going on all summer, and the deals agreed in principle some time ago, so it was the timing of the announcements that made them look efficient more than anything else. Our situation is quite a bit different, but there’s still no excusing how we’ve failed to react in the wake of the Per Mertesacker injury which happened almost three weeks ago now.
Some suggested that Ashley Williams would have been a good purchase for us, but I’d really prefer someone better than that. He’s fine, and he did kick a ball at Robin van Persie’s head which is something that I admire greatly, but if we’re going to buy someone it should be someone for the long-term and somebody with a bit more quality. Of course our situation puts us in the beggars can’t be choosers camp, and as the old Irish saying goes ‘To a starving man even a leftover sandwich that someone’s put a cigarette out in is a something they’d probably eat because they’re really, really hungry and sure look you can just dust off the ash and eat around that bit or for flip’s sake if you’re hungry enough eat that too I mean it won’t do you any real harm but it’ll taste poxy.’
We have good sayings here. My point is that Ashley Williams is a bit like that sandwich, and maybe if we hold on and we’ll find a tenner on the road and we can get a nicely made BLT and a packet of Rancheros and a can of cola. But look, I understand. Desperate times call for desperate measures and we’re not seeing any measures at all right now. Let’s see what today brings.
Elsewhere, we’re being linked with a move for Man City striker Wilfried Bony. Again, there’s a whiff off the tobacco sammich off him. I know we need a striker, but a bloke who got 8 goals in 34 games for Man City last season? Nah. Sure, I hear you say, he had to play second fiddle to the quite brilliant Sergio Aguero, and he was good at Swansea. But in his last season there he scored 13 in 40 games. Nah. Ok, he got a load more than that in his previous season, but quit living in the past. This is the now, and we need someone who can do more than what we’ve already got.
Elsewhere, Paul Pogba completed his €110m move from Juventus to Man United. In the context of the normal world, the one that most of us live in, it’s an obscene amount of money. We have no frame of reference for it. But football exists in its own ever-inflating bubble, and within that bubble this has barely raised any eyebrows at all. United fans will be happy, they won’t care they’ve paid £20m to an agent to get it done, that’s just the reality of how these deals go down now.
It certainly makes United more formidable, but let’s not forget that first and foremost it’s given Jose Mourinho the opportunity to be a tedious prick once again. He’s hit out at Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp for a second time after their completely reasonable comments when they were specifically asked to comment on a world record transfer deal. Once again the media are happy to pick up Mourinho’s baton and run with it because he generates headlines and clicks and that’s the world we live in.
Too few of them actually question his motives, too few of them actually dare confront him or call it out for what it is: attention seeking, limelight hogging, making the story all about him, narcissism of the highest order. At Chelsea he was like a kid who fires bits of chewed up paper at the back of people’s heads through an empty Bic biro. Then the biro got taken away from him and he sulked but now somebody has given him one of those super-soaker water pistols and here we go again. Whatever about our own troubles, I’m really not looking forward to having to listen to this sociopathic, egomaniacal hyperwanker every time his super thin skin is scratched.
Right, that’s that for this morning. For some extra reading, check out the first Tactics Column of the season, looking at how we’re shaping up for kick off.
We will have all the latest transfer news (hahahaha) over on Arseblog News throughout the day. More tomorrow.