Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Some Saturday thoughts …

Good morning from London.

Obviously everyone’s focus is on tomorrow and the game against Everton, but I don’t want to write too much about that today. The final day thing is something Mikel Arteta has experienced before. Here he is discussing a game in which he himself was decisive, helping Rangers to pip Celtic to the SPL in 2003:

“They were telling us we need one more goal. Now we are okay. We need another goal and in the 94th to 96th minutes, it’s a penalty and we had to score that goal to win the title.

“So I looked around, nobody was picking the ball. I went and picked it up. The crowd turned around, they didn’t want to watch it. I scored and thank God I scored, and we won the league and it was great.”

I think if we have a penalty to win the league in injury time tomorrow, my brain would literally melt. It’s a circumstance you’d probably pay good money for, but holy-moly it would be terrifying. My Garmin watch would call an ambulance for me because of my heart rate.

The manager talked a lot about belief in his press conference yesterday, but I think all we can truly believe in is the inherent, chaotic randomness that makes football great. Most of the time you more or less know, but sometimes you never know, and that’s the thing. 60% of the time, it works every time. You know yourself.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny has announced he’ll be leaving the club in the summer, saying:

I’m here today to send you a message, to say goodbye and thank you for everything you’ve done for me, your love, the support and the kindness. I’m really going to miss you so much, you will be in my heart forever. I wanted to say how much I love you and how much you mean to me and I will never forget the way you supported me.

It’s no surprise, his playing time this season has been minimal to say the least, and as someone who is turning 32 this summer, he’s in the September of his career. But he is, as it stands, our longest-serving player who played 161 games for the club. His playing career overlaps with Mikel Arteta’s, but the now manager spent most of his final season injured. They did play together on the final day of the 2015-16 season, Arteta’s brief cameo at the end of the 4-0 win over Aston Villa was an emotional moment for him (not least because he thought he’d scored and it went down as an own goal).

I wonder did his injury problems at that time influence the decision to extend Elneny’s contract after he’d suffered that serious knee injury. I know Arteta can be seen as a ruthless character, but a new deal for an injured player to give him the security and support he needed at a difficult time showed another side. Your mileage may vary on that decision, but I think when you ask for the kind of commitment that Arteta does from his players, things like that help foster the kind of environment he wants in his dressing room.

Good luck to Mo, with whatever happens next for him.

Beyond that, I think I want to leave it there. I might take a stroll down to the stadium this morning, just to soak up some vibes before the more hectic atmosphere tomorrow. Maybe I’ll buy a shirt, or a good luck key-ring, or a lucky hat, or something. Once it’s lucky. Or bad luck for City, I’m not fussy.

If you’re joining us later for our live podcast at Ally Pally, we look forward to seeing you there, hopefully it’ll be a fun night out before we turn our attention fully to tomorrow.

We have a preview podcast of tomorrow’s game over on Patreon right now. It is more about where we are and what it all means the specifics of tactics and team selection, so get stuck into that if you fancy.

For now, have a good Saturday folks.

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