The rain in Spain falls mainly on England's future #1

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

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.


  1. So last night was the first night where I’ve experienced trouble sleeping due to thoughts of Saturday’s matchup. I think between 3 and 4am I was half trying to sleep, half trying to play out in my head how this matchup goes. Really wish we’d be opening at the Emirates against Birmingham, but what can you do. I believe I just want the season to start so I don’t have to scan the web each and every morning to see if we’ve signed anyone. Anyway, as it pertains to the match on Saturday, I’m hoping we opt to go a little more conservative in the first half, bearing down and really establishing the defense, as I’m anticipating Everton flying around on adrenaline given it being the season opener at home against a club of our stature. Then, in the second half, Wenger can release the floodgates. A lot of matches last year, particularly at the end of the season, saw our opponent tire themselves out and us capitalize in the last third. Wouldn’t be the worst way for things to materialize.

  2. Fulham can keep HANGELAND at that price plus i never thought he was good enough to play for us, we have Senderos who after a full season at Milan should be more than good enough to kick lumps out of EPL strikers including the hated Drogpus of Chelski.

    Good news that Eboue is staying at the club, he’s a great squad player who actually adds that other dimension to team when he’s playing.

  3. I hope he doesn’t play for England, it would be a disaster for him, if you think the England players are bad, the fans and press are way worse. It would take one mistake that causes England to lose a match and he wouldn’t be able to play soccer in England again, unless he had as you said extraordinary mental fortitude.

    I also don’t want him to play for England because I’m Irish, I don’t want them to get a good keeper because watching England lose in any sport is actually more of a joy for us than seeing our own sportsmen win (when an irish team beats them it’s like winning a world cup final), the English are so pompous and arrogant about their sportsmen and the majority of our cable/news/sports channels are all English, so we have to listen to their xenophobic brand of sporting patriotism anytime we want to see sports related news.

    It is especially grating for us that when a Scot/Welsh/N. Irishman/woman is great at a sport the English call them British, but when they’re not, they brand them as their respective nationality. The funny thing about this whole thing is that England have had foreign players play for them before loads of times, players like the Jamaican John Barnes.

    So no, for many reasons he should not play for them.

    1. @Bongo,


      Yeah, the whole “British v. English” thing is hilarious. I almost made the joke that if England don’t want him he could play for N. Ireland, Wales, or Scotland, but I don’t want to piss those folks off — THEY ARE BATSHIAT CRAZY.

  4. Almunia can save himself a lot of grieve if he shys away from playing for England. These lot here can be pretty unforgiving when a slight error is made; It doesn’t matter how many times he saves them. Just go ask David Seaman, who saved England asses so many times, yet they never let him forget the so few mistakes that he made. Sad lot they are; No wonder they lose in almost all sports.

  5. I rather like the nickname “Mooney” for Almunia. I believe one of the cops from Superman the Movie who saw Supes take out the criminals on the yacht was named Mooney…

    *hangs head in shame*

    Personally I’d like to see Almunia in goal for England, but really only to witness the spectacle.

  6. I certainly think that if Manny picklewhatever opts not to play for England, it would have more to do with the assholes of Rio, Lampard and Gerrard not welcoming him than being afraid of making mistakes.

    1. @Yan, I get that feeling as well. I’m just worried what will happen to him IF he gets called up, ends up making it to the World Cup and makes a serious mistake. I’m pretty sure he’ll be crucified and as Tim intimated, I don’t think Mooney’s got the fortitude to come back from it.

    1. @Travis The Septopus, Fulham’s way of saying “go f**k yourself”. Value truly in the eye of the beholder. Toure goes for 16m and he’s won plenty in the EPL. Hangeland doesn’t have a winning pedigree to justify that price.

  7. England don’t deserve Almunia. Hart, Green, James, and Robinson can’t hold Almunia’s jockstrap. I like watching the England team to see what Walcott does, to see GK mistakes and to see their dysfunctional MF play.

    You know what’s good about having Wenger is that he will not tolerate players who become boorish no matter what their nationality. It does seem though that your Pennants, Bentleys, Terrys, Rios, Coles, Barry Fergusons, Bartons, Jay Bothroyds etc., etc., etc., etc. have the market cornered.

  8. Almunia has come a long way and, hopefully, this ridiculous talk about the England team will just push him forward among the Spanish keepers.

    I was in London in Fall of 06 during the Euro qualifiers and I saw Robinson and Scott Carson completely destroyed by their mistakes on the National team. I think Manny has a good “bounce-back” mentality, but there’s just no reason to mix it up with the fans, the media and the mostly idiot players. Of the parts I saw, Manny had a very fine pre-season and I’ve liked the general content of what he’s given to the press. He’s emerging more and more as a leader, which can only be good.

  9. La Marca claims that Man City want meet the 150m buy out for Messi and 12m/yr after taxes. If you’re Messi this is a no brainer. Barcelona are at the pinnacle and there is no point in climbing into the basement.

    I think it’s interesting the type of players that Man City are attracting to their ‘project’. Despite the hype and the money spent, they’ve only acquired 1 player who is a star (definition: a game changer) in Tevez this season and Robinho last season. Tevez’s hard work and consistency will make him the best player they’ve acquired.

  10. Some more talks sparking in the last few hours for Brede Hangeland joining us …. I think that would be great, He is 6foot5 and was born in Houston Texas and would be a solid defensive addition.

  11. got my t-shirt today tim. thanks!

    why the hell does almunia want to play for england anyway? they are one of the most overhyped teams in the world. not only that – make one mistake and the newspapers tear you up – well, like a newspaper! i can’t bring myself to root for the likes of rooney, ferdinand, lampard and terry. sorry, but im rooting for their faces to get kicked in every weekend so im not about to make a u-turn and cheer for them when they are playing for ingalund. if almunia has any sense, he will stop chasing this foolish dream and focus on winning something for arsenal instead. and if he puts on a shining performance that wins us trophies – the call will come automatically. so my advise to almunia is to stop dreaming about playing for england and instead concentrate on not letting in goals like he did against the spurs and the mancs last year.

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