Some tasty morsels to dig our teeth into this afternoon…
Szczesny senior has been moaning that Junior’s poor form and reputation of late is a direct result of Arsene Wenger’s poor man management…If I were Wojciech in this situation I would be feeling mortally embarrassed by the publicity this has generated. Surely enough attention (let alone pressure) has been heaped on the lad in recent weeks? Either we are witnessing a case of the old man speaking out of turn, or this is a rather sinister plot to put Europe’s clubs on alert and secure a transfer away from the club in the summer (in which case he won’t be feeling embarrassed at all!). I happen to believe that we are seeing a bit of both – the old man has probably gone a touch too far, but his comments also reflect what his son believes to be true. Perhaps there have been instances of mismanagement over the past couple of seasons, and perhaps he has been played on occasions when carrying an injury (but what’s new here? It happens routinely around the football league). As a grown-up professional (yes, I appreciate he has no facial hair and skin as smooth as a baby’s arse, but he is 22 years old!) he ought to have sufficient conviction to advise the coaching team that he does not feel physically up for it. It’s not as though Wenger is holding a meter ruler to his butt cheeks and threatening him with expulsion from school!
His form this season has been average at best. This is the reason why he has been dropped – plain and simple. Players are all too ready to blame poor form on injury or mismanagement (although in this case, it would appear as though the father has done the dirty laundry for him). I suggested in a previous article that one of our top priorities this summer should be the acquisition of a world class goalkeeper. No longer is this a suggestion, but frankly it is a necessity. Fabianski played well recently and merits a starting berth at the moment but he is certainly not the long term solution for our club.
As to the suggestion that mismanagement at Arsenal Football Club has exacerbated (or even brought about) the injuries of players such as Wilshere and Diaby, I believe this to be too grey an area to make a declarative statement on. As fans we are not privy to the full picture surrounding the medical team and their advice to players. However what this latest issue has highlighted is that we need to think long and hard about the pressure we place on our star players, regardless of how much money they earn. Jack Wilshere for example is a fiery and determined character who will sooner say that he feels fit and up for the fight than concede he is not quite over a niggle – in short, he is a warrior. I can think of other legendary players at the club such as Tony Adam’s who routinely played through the pain barrier and still was able to enjoy a long and decorated career at the club. It is a difficult one to make a call on, but one thing is for sure – the recent complaint by the senior member of the Szczesny family is not only counter-productive to team unity but ought to have been voiced behind closed doors (by his son!).
Changing the subject ever so slightly, but still in connection to the topic of player well-being, it transpires that Rio Ferdinand has somehow found the time to commit to a 15 hour round trip to work as a television pundit in Qatar, despite rejecting the nations call to arms due to “on-going back problem”! The guy is a complete and utter twonk. From experience as a tall bloke and active sportsman myself, I can honestly say to anyone reading this that a 15 hour round plane trip (regardless of the class you travel in, and regardless of the spa treatments at the other end) is not a sensible decision – in fact it is probably as damaging an activity as one can do when carrying a back problem. The only explanation in my eyes can be the dollar – which let’s face it the Qatari’s are more than willing to throw around. The one thing that ought to stir most passion and pride in a football is being asked to play for your national team – Ferdinand seems to have other motivations.
Taking this marked view into consideration however, I also feel the need to play devil’s advocate (probably because I am an argumentative sod at times and I love a good debate, but primarily because I realise the importance of – sometimes – presenting both sides to an argument)… I would therefore like all of you readers, whether patriotic or otherwise, to put your day dreaming hats on and imagine the following – The year is 1998. We have just edged Manchester United by a single point to win the 1997/98 Premier League and become only the second team ever to win the double twice. Tony Adams, our general at the heart of defence and leader of Arsenal over many years has been integral to our efforts and stability all season long (let alone during both the home and away victories against Manchester United). Now place yourself in the shoes of the medical and coaching teams – Adams had chronic back and ankle problems which required constant management. Credit must be given to the revolutionary attitude that Wenger brought to the club regarding health and fitness. The medical team exemplified this (not only with Adams, but also the likes of Dixon and Winterburn). Adam’s career was extended by a good 2-3 years more than what he could have expected had such problems not been addressed and managed. His last International game was in 2000 – indeed a decision that helped him stay fit enough to lead us to another league title in 2001/02.
So what can we conclude from all this? – Varying opinions and varying ways of interpreting right and wrong depending on which side of the fence you are on. But this is what football is all about! This is what makes us as fans love the game so much. It doesn’t quite enter the same category as the Israel/Palestine debate, but it’s certainly not far off!
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Joshua @ RL