Ugh, it’s raining.
But on the other hand, IT’S RAINING!
Washington state gets about 4 weeks a year of sunshine, where I don’t have to mow the lawn, and the return of the rain signals both the return of the lawn mower and the return of football! Sure I have mow the lawn every Saturday, in the rain, but it’s a small price to pay for football.
As we get set for the new season and players jet off to their various international friendlies, some guys are inevitably left behind and start to pine for the camaraderie of playing in a meaningless game, getting injured, and spending the rest of the year in the treatment room.
One such player on Arsenal is Denilson, the other is Manual Almunia.
Owing to his lack of international duties, Manny Pickledickle had time to give an extensive interview to the Guardian, hitting all of the weigh points; Arsene Wenger, the youth revolution, citizenship, and the pressure Wenger is under to win something this year. Interesting stuff, I suppose but the interview has been dissected and various quotes have found their way into all of the major papers, and Goal.com.
Me, I’m just going to hit on two things here. First, the issue of him playing for England and second, a strange quote on the dot com.
I’ve always maintained that if Almunia is going to play for England he’s going to have to show a sort of mental fortitude that very few people have. English fans are notorious for their fickle-ness when it comes to the national team and all it would take is one mistake and Manny would be booed off the pitch. Further, the remarks of England’s captains (Gerrard, Ferdinand, and Lampard) regarding the possibility of Manny playing for England don’t offer any encouragement. In fact, I would characterize them as openly hostile to the idea, at least, and xenophobic, at most. So, it would take a player of extraordinary mental strength to walk in to that dressing room and look Steven Gerrard in the eye and say “I’m your new keeper, Matey*.”
Judging from the quotes in the Guardian where Almunia is basically asking them for support, I don’t think he has it; neither the support, nor the internal mental fortitude. He may still surprise me here but for the time being, I can’t see it. When he says “The England players are very important, I would like to know what they think and if I will be welcome.” I just have a real hard time imagining Rio Ferdinand going back on what he said just 6 months ago and saying “why yes, I’d love to have a Spanish guy play for England!”
Even if others in the dressing room supported him (he mentions Theo) Capello would risk alienating Gerrard, Lampard, and Ferdinand by including Almunia. Again, I really just don’t see this happening. Sorry Manny, it’s not that you’re not good enough, it’s just that England aren’t ready for that sort of thing yet.
The other weird story around Almunia is that the dot com issued an “article” which has the following quote from Mooney:
At the beginning of last season, we had tall people and we still had problems. It’s not a issue of having tall people, it’s a issue of attitude. How you face the ball and are focused on the game in every single moment.
What makes this story really odd is a confluence of events, all of which have taken place this morning (it’s morning for me). First, Everton shocked everyone and actually denied Lescott his transfer request. Second, Fulham have basically priced Hangeland out of Arsenal’s market by suggesting that since it’s so late in the transfer season and since they wouldn’t be able to find a replacement, they want £15m for him. And third, Everton have said that despite the offer sitting on Wenger’s desk for a long time, they are still in the market for Senderos, as a backup.
So, I’m wondering if the dot com piece, with the de-contextualized quote isn’t just a bit of propaganda. I mean, there’s no doubting that commitment, timing, jumping ability, and organization go a long way to settling duels in the air, but it’s patently false to say that height doesn’t matter. In fact, I went back and looked at the two losses at the start of last season (Fulham and Hull) and the back 2 were Gallas and Toure. So, he must be talking about, erm, Adebayor? And maybe he thinks that Bendtner’s commitment will be the all important factor? Who knows.
Irregardless, it’s a curiously timed article and sure to raise speculation that Arsenal are only in for one more player this year, Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.
Like I said yesterday the boss is being coy about signings. As always, we’ll have to wait and see but don’t expect any signings this week (especially not Patrick Vieira), what with everyone away playing for their country.
*”Matey” is an intentional joke.