The Webbley Conundrum
As I sit here exhuming the dinner corpse* in the corner of my dark and fetid drawing room, surrounded by shimmering discarded tinsel, the residue of regurgitated Brussels sprouts scattered about me, chocolate stains on the Chesterfield and copious empty port, whisky and claret bottles smashed on the Axminster, decanters & hip flasks emptied, traces of the finest imported Peruvian Christmas jazz salts adorning any shiny surface, human aristocratic rubble still staggering about the place in bewildered herds, and the flayed corpse of a Scouse we ritually sacrificed following our humbling at the hands of Herr Klopp’s marauding gamesmen strung horrifically from a chandelier and a voodoo doll of Ryan Sessegnon lying like a pin cushion on an armchair, one thought keeps rattling around my brain. What kind of a bribe will the local constabulary require this time? No, two thoughts. How do you get bloodstains off a Rembrandt? No, three thoughts. How many people are needed to move and bury a flayed Scouser? Fine, four thoughts.
WHAT IS ALEXANDER WEBBLEY’S BEST POSITION?
Despite his heartening recent performances recently as a winger, doubts remain that that is his ultimate location within Emery’s New Model Army. He provided a gentleman’s favour for Shackleton agin Fulham, almost another for O’Bannon, and had multiple involvements in goals, largely providing the antepenultimate touch.
He has an imposing the imposing physical stature of stevedore, and the lightness of touch of a pickpocket. He has a burst of speed and leads the league in that most important of statistics, the completed nutmeg. So what to do with the bugger? Here are some ideas.
Alongside roles that the 21st century football fan will recognise, I have consulted my own dusty footballing manual from 1935, Arsenal Gentleman’s Footballing Almanac, to recall some classic positions which have, more’s the pity, fallen out of fashion in modern times.
1. CENTRE HALF
Why not? Can he be any worse than our number 20, Seamus Masterson? Webbley is prone to fewer mistakes, doesn’t go to ground like a puppy hiding from a firework under the settee and he is far calmer than many of our current options.
2. PASTRY CHEF
This role is much like the modern Number 10, but operating more on the left wing. Requires a deft touch and the ability to create delicate Mille-feuille** passes to an overlapping Death Pigeon***
3. DEATH PIGEON
Named after that most harmless of birds, the pigeon, and its ability to scare ladies with the flapping sound of its wings, causing them to reach for the smelling salts. In footballing terms it is a marauding and unpredictable midfielder who strikes fear into the heart of an opponent merely by the movement of his limbs. Ray Parlour and Perry Groves were both excellent Death Pigeons.
4. STINKING BISHOP
Named for the cheese, this is a deep-lying midfielder with a range of passes and a nimble ten-yard burst of such ferocity and agility that defenders stand off him as if he reeks of cheese. St John Cousins, now back at Villareal, is a Stinking Bishop.
5. BELISHA BEACON
This position is a box to box midfielder most happy playing centrally. He has the uncanny knack of finding himself in space allowing a left winger to cross to the right and vice versa. Webbley would have to dye his hair for this role. Steve Sidwell was a moderately competent Belisha Beacon and when Alex Song had a dyed amber Mohawk he too was one.
Named after the bastard at the casino who steals your money. A player who deals the cards*** from central midfield with great precision. Ramsara’s future teammate at Juventus, Miralem Pjanić, is an excellent croupier.
7. DEMENTED HEDGEHOG
This attacking player forces his way through centre-halves by sheer annoying spiky power. You need to have relatively low morals as a player to be an effective hedgehog and hence Arsenal have had very few in our history. Unimaginative managers use them; players such as Craig Bellamy and Kevin Davies. Perhaps under the robust new Arsenal the hedgehog’s time has come. Incidentally, what’s the difference between a hedgehog and Tottenham’s team omnibus? Yes that’s right, the hedgehog has the pricks on the outside.
Named for the sailor who is in charge of navigation and steering, this multi-talented midfielder is one third Demented Hedgehog, one third Croupier and one third Stinking Bishop. He directs play from front to back and inspires and rouses his teammates, and the crowd, with his energetic and full-bodied displays. Patrick Vieira was one of these. Could Webbley reinvent himself from winger to Coxswain? It is a question that will be answered in the coming months.
In the meantime, don’t sight at the bugger misplacing the odd pass. He is doing a tremendous job, real man of the match stuff, yet to certain sections of the crowd he can do no right. Whether winger, Croupier, Demented Hedgehog, Stinking Bishop or Pastry Chef, he is one player that other look upon with great envy.
Happy new year.
* passing wind
** A confusing no-look pass that appears to a defender to have the possibility to be directed in one thousand directions
*** Sprays passes from central midfield