No surprises any more, but it’s still good we’re making statements like Cech

So yesterday, after all of the speculation, endless retelling of his impending arrival and all-round media bluster, Arsenal confirmed that Petr Cech was officially an Arsenal player.

I, like you, am very pleased. I’ll talk a little bit about the signing in a sec, but as I chewed the fat with a fellow Gooner in the office yesterday, I could not help but pine for the ‘old days’, when a transfer came out of the blue. Thanks to social media and the ever-instant access to information that we all now have, the Cech deal got to a stage where we all knew it was happening, it was just a matter of time. There was no “bloody hell, we’ve signed Bergkamp!” about the announcement yesterday, nor a legendary surprise like the one Arsène gave the media when introducing Sol Campbell to the assembled hacks, who thought we’d be announcing Richard Wright instead.

Perhaps I’m just guilty of being a little too nostalgic, but I preferred ignorance, because the positive surprise and excitement I got when any big name player signed for The Arsenal ten to 15 years ago was much greater than these days. Or perhaps I’m just getting a little older and longer in the tooth.

Whatever. The important thing is that we’ve gone big on bringing in an established and ‘world class’ goalie who can only improve our team. It is a position that many of us thought Arsène had sorted three or four years ago, but after an indifferent season for Szczesny and well documented off-pitch antics, the Pole’s position as number one has been usurped indefinitely for now it seems.

His response – I have to say – was the right one. He praised the signing and publicly, at least, said he’d be pleased to learn from such a player. That is what most Arsenal fans had assumed would be the position that Wenger would take, so it appears as though Szczesny seems to have accepted the challenge, whether or not he feels it’s still the case if he hasn’t been playing much come December, we’ll have to see. When you’re number one for as long as he was, do you want to slot comfortably back into a number two’s shoes? I’m not sure you do and with the Euro’s coming up next summer, it is quite strange to think of the turnaround between Fabianski and Szczesny as to who will most likely play in between the sticks for Poland.

If Szczesny seems to have accepted his role of deputy, what now of Ospina then? Clearly three goalkeepers with aspirations of football doesn’t fit, as we have recent examples of which when Viviano rolled in to town in what most Gooners now call his ‘gap year’. Something tells me Ospina won’t fancy a gap year and so it’s only a matter of time before he asks the boss for an exit. It is a shame because I don’t really think he’s done anything wrong, he just hasn’t really smashed Szczesny’s chances of winning his place back in to touch. It’s strange because it just feels like he’s a player who’s name wasn’t quite top billing enough to excite the fans and an increasingly ‘big name’ hungry modern fanbase who want to see stars or ‘Galacticos’ of varying degrees at the club they support.

But Cech is not just a big name, he’s a big game player too, and this new ruthless Arsène would have thought long and hard about this signing I’m sure. But ultimately, Le Boss will have come to the conclusion that sentiment is no longer soup de jour at Arsenal. He’s always said through countless interviews that if we could find a player in a position that will improve the team, then he would look at bringing them in. That’s what happened with Özil. Most of us thought we needed a striker that pre-season, but there wasn’t one Wenger deemed to be quality enough out there that he could get, but there was a Mesut Özil available and we got him. And aren’t we all glad he did!

The same happened last summer. There were plenty of people who thought Podolski was good enough as a wide left option. Sure, he didn’t do much else other than end product, but when you have somebody who is that good at finishing, do you need an upgrade? You do when that upgrade is world class. So Alexis came in and has been a revalation. 

Now we have Petr Cech. He will bring experience and quality to a defence and perhaps – although not the same mega money as the last two summer signings – he can have the same positive impact on the team as Özil and Alexis have had. We may well go out and buy another big name player who costs £40million, but it may be the Czech stopped who is the most significant acquisition this summer.

From a personality point of view he comes across very well indeed. Humble to the support of the Chelski fans (many of whom don’t really deserve it given the response I saw from some), whose at the same time talking up his new club, he looks very much a calming influence. And he’ll not need any time to settle in, either, because he’s already based in London and he’s even got one of his bezzie mates in the squad in the shape of Super Tom. I particularly liked the part of the Cech interview yesterday when he said that Rosicky’s influence helped to convince him to talk to Arsenal. 

Super Agent Rosicky. 

What it does show you is the influence that other players have on their fellow pros. Sure, it isn’t the main factor behind any deal, but these things can have an impact. It does make me find something positive in the international breaks though, that’s for sure!

Anyway, I’ve spent the last week and a half talking about Cech, so it’s time to start talking about something else tomorrow. Maybe we can speculate over a possible Theo Walcott contract signing, eh?

What Arsène wants is balance and harmony

So for yours truly here after 10 days of sunshine, Sagres and late morning get-ups, it’s back to work in Blighty and back to writing my daily musings at an hour in which I’d really rather be in bed. 

Oh well. At least I left with very little happening and will arrive today with the Cech deal surely to be announced, barring any issues with the Arsenal FC official photographers camera or roll of film and yes, I’m aware it’s all digital these days but that won’t stop me pining for the past.

The other news swimming about – and it has been for the past few days to be honest so I’m a little late to the party here – is the noise surrounding the possible Arturo Vidal deal to Arsenal for just over £20million. I don’t know how much of it is Chinese Whispers because every report I read over the weekend seemed to abstain itself of any legitimacy by simply referencing another media publication, who in turn reference another publication, but it sounds like a most unlikely transfer to me. Mainly because if there’s one position that I’d say we’re pretty well stocked, it’d be box-to-box midfielders, where Vidal has plied his trade for The Old Lady for the last couple of seasons. He started out as a tough tackling defensive midfielder, so perhaps you can see where he could fit in as competition for Le Coq, but it is not where he has been playing recently and if you’re going to spend upwards of £20million or more, surely you want a) to play the player in their best position, or b) to play the player regularly and not as a squad player.

Are we saying that Vidal is miles better than Coquelin at breaking up the play in defensive midfield? I must admit I don’t know enough about him other than the odd Chile game and occasionally seeing Juventus, but the evolution of Francis Coquelin has been quick, so who knows how much further our young Frenchman can go. 

At 28 Vidal also represents a player at the peak of his powers and also someone with no resale value. I’m not sure Arsène would countenance the idea of fluffing a load of cash like that on a player with whom we might see decline in a few years time. But then again, I saw somebody ask online whether Vidal would be Wenger’s equivalent of Ferguson rolling his last dice with The Dutch Bloke before winning the league and bowing out at Old Trafford. Perhaps Arsène is doing the same knowing that this upcoming season and the one after that will be his last.

All we really know is that there is a little more noise about this rumour than usual. Usually you get a paper having a bit of a punt and then the story disappearing. This one might be a little frivolous, but it has managed to stick around in the media over the whole weekend, so who knows.

What I know – and you do too – is that Arsène is all about the harmony and balance in his squad and if he believes he’s got a little gem in Coquelin, he ain’t going out and sqwarking over £20million on a back up. I could see anything up to £8 – £10million like Nacho who was bought to rival Gibbs, but I couldn’t see big bucks spent on a player lik Vidal, or Schneiderlin for that matter. If the guy commands a £25million fee and a £150k per week salary then good luck to him, but I can see why Le Boss said ‘non’ to his fellow Frenchman. Schneiderlin may well turn out to be the real deal at United, but it’s difficult to see how he could be a top earner at Arsenal at the moment. Think about Falcao. Top earner along with Rooney, yet had about as much impact on the United team as up-and-coming youngster Tyler Blackett, so if United want to take a punt because they need a body in that position then it makes sense. We already have one. And he’s proven he’s a good one too.

Anyway, that’s me for today. I’ll be checking the site later for special discounts off headgear. There might even be a new signing attached to one.

What Arsenal need to win the Premier League

Howdy there and happy Friday to you. It’s the end of a working week for some and a holiday week for others, but we’re still waiting on a signing that might or might not happy and whom I’m pledging not to talk about until it does, even though I kind of already have in this opening paragraph, albeit indirectly.

So let’s move swiftly on, perhaps veering towards another supposed interested target in which the Arsenal Twitterverse has already set it’s sights on imploding because of, which is Schneiderlin to Man United. Firstly and foremostly, we don’t even know if Arsenal were truly interested in the player. If they were and have baulked at the price, then perhaps we should let sleeping dogs lie. Remember when Madrid tried bending Arsenal over backwards for a massive loan deal fee for Nuri Sahin, only for Arsenal to turn away and Liverpool to snap up? Sahin turned out to be one of those that didn’t quite work out and the upshot was a single year in the Prem before moving back to Germany. Sometimes things don’t work out and after back-to-back FA Cups and a team that is showing real signs of being competitive next season, I’m willing to place a foot firmly back in the ‘Arsene knows what he’s doing here folks’ camp. It’s only one foot though, mind.

This talk of Schnedierlin and how we’ve ‘missed out’ gets you to thinking though. What do we actually need to win the league? Is it a new ‘keeper, another centre half, another defensive midfielder, a striker and perhaps another winger? Or is that just Champ Man speak? Is that the budding gamer in you telling you that new players on the horizon is what we need? Whenever I start to get a little bit worried that we’re not as strong as other clubs who seem to be mobilising their squads quicker than we do, I only have to think back over the last two seasons to realise that sometimes winning the league is more about everything else other than transfers. The Spuds tried a bit of Football Manager style approach to the 2013/14 season and spent £100million on new players. Didn’t work out. The Scousers had a go last season too. Didn’t work out. So what do we need to win the Premier League?

Not a wealth of new signings. In fact I’ve said a few times that we need just one or two and we’re all set. But we do need to do things differently to last season to win the league and make good on the 13 point difference on Chelski.

We need to keep a greater number of players match-fit.

When Carl Jenkinson came into the Arsenal team two and a bit seasons ago, he managed a sustained period of games and so was given the opportunity to show that he’s a good footballer. Last season he proved that with game time he can improve. Last season Nacho Monreal found himself with a series of games – albeit some in central defence but it still did his confidence good – in which he was able to get the rhythm, feel and flow of the league and so the comments from some sections of the fan base about how he wasn’t good enough the season before, soon subsided and he will in all probability start the season as first choice number one. But Unless Gibbs is given more game time, unless he’s afforded an opportunity to get a run in the team, let’s not expect him to challenge Nacho for the starting jersey. That’s why I’m a fan of playing the best players for a specific type of game. If we’re playing a pacey wide man, like Raheem Sterling, for example, wouldn’t you feel more confident if a match-fit Gibbs could get as close to matching him on the left? I know I would.

It’s the same across the park. We need to make sure that in each position the manager needs to try different types of player and rotate his team based on not only their own attributes, but also on ensuring that we counter any of the oppositions strengths and in defence we target their weaknesses. Should we place Giroud up top against the likes of Terry and Cahill? Or should we try to neutralise them by playing a trio of pacey players who will make runs in behind?

Start the season better

It’s a fairly obvious statement to make, but we simply must be better in the opening couple of months. The excessive number of draws we had at the start of the season is what cost us last year. We laboured in games against Everton, Leicester, the Spuds and Hull and it stuttered our momentum. Never underestimate the value of momentum in football. It was the 2007/8 season in which we got so close to the title and that season success was a snowball effect in which we started brilliantly. In 2013/14 we had an initial blip at home to Villa, but shoddy refereeing was more to blame there than anything else, the result of our momentum after that game meant we led the league right up until March. If we can win at least six of our first eight games, I’d fancy that we stand a very good chance of building momentum, confidence and belief that we can challenge for the title.

Be better placed to deal with injuries

Again, it sounds obvious, but it is what helps teams win leagues if they stay fit. In 2007/8 we were derailed by the Eduardo leg break. In 2013/14 it was our reliance on a core of players and when one or two of those players broke down due to over use in February and March, we got in to a run of games in which we fell apart. You can’t legislate for all injuries, but you can mitigate some, by not overplaying players and therefore reducing their probability of injury. That, in turn, leads to more players playing more game time and so when called upon as I mention in my first point above, they will perform better for the team as a whole.

I think we’re excellently placed to achieve all of the above with success given our team. Think about your first team line up for that West Ham game. Got it? Now start to think about an alternative eleven that could play. Got that? Now think of some of the spares that you have left over. For me I have Ospina, Jenkinson (although I know he’ll go out on loan) Flamini, Rosicky, Podolski (again, most likely to leave but for now is still an Arsenal player), Gnabry – showed great promise before injury in 2013/14, Bielik (haven’t seen him play but the signs seem promising by all accounts), Campbell (again, hasn’t really done it yet but is still a full international) and Zelalem. Those names are the ‘third squad’ effectively. When you can boast the kind of talent we have to name two full squads and still have some decent players waiting for their chance, it tells me that your opportunity for success should be quite high. The challenge will be to keep the balance of the squad and keep all of the players fresh enough so they can play well when called upon.

Would I like us to sign a ball winning central defensive midfielder? Sure. Will I lose sleep over no signing in that position or up top? No way.

Nothing against Poldi, but we’ve been upgrading since he arrived

With all the talk of new signings and the like so far this summer, I seem to have completely forgotten about some of the existing players whose future is in the air for the opposite reasons, i.e. they’ll most likely be shipped out of the club.

So with Lukas Podolski admitting that his Italian adventure hadn’t really gone as planned and that he intends to return to The Arsenal again this summer, it feels like I’ve regained a bit of focus about the pressing need Arsene has to balance his squad. As is fairly obvious enough to everyone the world over, life is not linear and unlike a computer game in which you can offload players at a whim when you’re looking to reshape your squad, the reality is often very different.

I feel a bit for Podolski. I don’t actually think he’s had such a bad career at Arsenal to date. He arrived for a relatively decent price with a good reputation, quickly established himself as an ‘end product only’ player and has scored some important and great goals. But he fell victim to our circumstances. Arsenal have been a steadily improving – squad wise I mean – club since his arrival and our financial fire power have seen us look to replace players in the same position each year. Podolski was a decent option for us. Alright, his overall game was limited and many people started to see what he was about after about a year and a half, but when you compare him to previous players like Arshavin or Bendtner, who have both operated in that wide left position, he wasn’t a player that we were all scratching our heads about when he was in the starting line up.

We simply upgraded, that’s all, and unfortunately for Poldi we upgraded from the equivalent of an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 6 in the shape of Alexis. Suddenly everything worked better, was faster and the result was a heck of a lot of goals and a player who has shown us that you can be skilful, score lots of goals and still contribute to a high press and tracking back if you have the application.

It’s the same in the goalkeeping stakes. I don’t think Ospina has really done that bad this season and, if I’m honest, if Cech wasn’t about to essentially land on Wenger’s lap (because he wants to leave Chelski and stay in London and even the Spuds – for now – have a ‘keeper so they aren’t looking) I don’t think he’d be looking too much in that position. Arsene has said on multiple occasions that he would only buy when he finds that type of exceptional world class player, and whilst there was a time where you and I would look up to the heavens and roll our eyes as Arsene bought in the Chamakh’s of this world, where we are at the moment is that you can see why and when he’s upgrading players. When we bring in an Alexis to replace Poldi, that’s a world class upgrade. If Cech comes in for Ospina, that’s a world class upgrade. It’s football Darwinism, man.

Perhaps that is what is about to happen to Sanogo too. He’s apparently wanted on loan by Lille and if Arsene does go out and buy another striker – I’m not sure he will because we’ve got Alexis, Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott who could all profess to be very good players in that position – then you really can’t see any future for Sanogo. He joined the club at a time in which it seemed a relatively low-risk (in terms of cost of signing and reputation of the player) and we were counting our pennies more than we have. He was a bit of a gamble and another loan spell next season surely means his days as a potential first-teamer are numbered. Wenger like’s a project and for a while it seemed like he might be given more time, again we’ve simply upgraded our team and he has become one of the natural victims of our increased quality.

That’s what you have to do if you want a squad capable of winning the league. You have to be ruthless and there might be players that us fans see as decent enough to play for the club, but when a better one comes along, you need to trade in your own phone for an improved design with better modifications. That’s what Moneychester City and Chelski do. They have good players and they get better players in to move those good players further down the pecking order. Schurrle, for example, was a very good player, but he wasn’t the elite player that Mourinho was after. Dzeko is widely recognised as a great forward, but when you’ve got Sergio Aguero in your team then you have one of the world’s best.

So when the time comes for Ospina, Podolski and Sanogo to move on, other than back in the ‘deadwood’ days where we’d be glad to be shot of players like Denilson, I will hope they do well at other clubs and thank them for their relatively short times at the club.

The saga continues to rumble, but we have a Dragon(mir)!!

We’re now at Day 972 (or what feels like) of the Petr Cech t Arsenal and I must say Sky Sports have played this out to the best of their ability. Maybe they’re right, maybe their wrong, but their sources have run through the entire gambit of different stages of a transfer. Each time a new bit of information is added and as a result a new day brings about yet more transfer salivating fans like you and I who are really quite bored with the whole ‘no football in summer’ thing.

I tell you, It’s that desperate that I’d welcome a European Championships or World Cup. I have avoid the Copa America though – it’s on too late for my liking.

Anyway, Sky Sports and their ‘Transfer dragging storytelling 101′ have truly played it remarkably, with us now into the final stages of the saga:

  • Club express interest
  • Player and people close express interest in transfer
  • Clubs discuss possibility of transfer to work out if it can happen
  • Player agrees terms
  • Club agrees fees
  • Player signed

Then as an Arsenal fan, you’ll be aware of the next two stages:

  • Photographs taken of player
  • Wee bit of teasing from the club before official announcement on the Arsenal website

So we’ve still got a smidge of time to go through before we get the confirmation. It’s all very frustrating and whilst I am guilty of eeking this out because of the lack of other news available and on my doorstep that I can blog about, I like to be on the cynical “yeah, but all of the football websites are doing it for clicks” side of the fence, because I make the square root of naff all on this website. So In my strange and illogical mind, that makes my hands a little bit cleaner when it comes to getting you to read my waffle.

Anyway, I have been thinking about avoiding any more talk of the Cech transfer until it happens. Might mean my thoughts start to veer into the non-footballing world, so prepare yourself for it, that’s all I’m saying.

Oh, wait, no, I’ve just come across a signing! Under 16 Romanian Captain Vlad Dragonmir! What a name. Please let the guy turn out to be brilliant. Imagine having a name like that in your line up. It sounds like something from Thor and would strike terror into opponents. I wonder if Vlad carries a spear and a shield on to the pitch before battle. I wonder if he dreams of a glorious death and ride on the Valkyries into Asgaard?

One things for sure, with a name like that, he’s going to get a heck of a lot of stick so let’s hope he lives up to the billing of his name. And when I say ‘lives up to’, I mean that I don’t want to see him coming on as a sub unless he has a huge helmet with wings on and is carried on to the field by a chariot, before slaying the opposition and declaring the Emirates Stadium as Vlad Country. Vince McMahon will appear to add a bit of drama at halftime, but he’ll receive a chair to the back of the head by the Undertaker, who will then call Vlad out for a ‘winner takes all’ cage match to determine the future of the Premier League trophy in a fight to the death. Or at least until somebody taps out.

On the bench, an astounded Petr Cech watches on, having second thoughts about whether he should sign for Arsenal, having spent the previous four years ‘locked in negotiations.

Sky have the whole story covered in a series of articles on their website dating back years.

Krystian Bielik wonders what he could have become, had he had a name with which fantastical stories can be written about for him.

Big Brother household – Cech saga style; upsetting the harmony isn’t something Arsene will do

Day (what feels like) 72 in the Big Petr Cech House and, much like the social experiment TV programme that nobody bothers watching any more because everyone’s realised that the inhabitants do absolutely nothing at all, there’s nothing going on in the Petr Cech Saga. No new spins. No fresh angles. Just a quick article on Sky Sports explaining why Arsenal need Petr Cech and why he would be good for Arsenal. Stop…the..presses… In other news, the sky is blue, the grass in my garden is green and putting your head in an oven when it’s on full blast might just cause you some discomfort.

Cech will be good for us. He is better than what we have. That’s pretty much all we need to know. He’ll most likely make saves other ‘keepers in our current squad would struggle to get to, he’d be a more commanding presence in the box than the others and he comes with a big reputation. It ticks all the boxes. Now we just need to tick Chelski’s, with probably an extra nought added on if Jose has anything to do with the deal.

The non-Arsenal transfer news of the day is Kondogbia to Inter Milan. Yep, Ben warned me about declaring my hand and desires so early in the summer, and it seems I should have heeded his advice because my expressions of desire for him to play in an Arsenal shirt have clearly led to the footballing fates deciding that I cannot have what I want. Or, to put it another way, Arsene is not sure that he’s the type of player we need. Sure, he was a beast against us in the Champions League at the Emirates, but one swallow does not a summer make, eh? But what about if it’s a really really hot day? No? Ok then.

It is a testimony to the evolution of Francis Coquelin that the Arsenal Twitterverse hasn’t exploded into a ball of molten fury, ready to unleash all of its social angst and outrage on the wider world. But as it is the masses appear to be by and large abated, perhaps still revelling from the FA Cup win, satisfied with a season rescued by the form in 2015, coupled with the distraction of the Cech deal. I too feel that we need more depth in that ‘ball winning’ part of our team, but it is not as simple as ‘buy player x’, because the club need to move players on too. With so many of us that lamented the ‘deadwood’ of four years ago, isn’t it prudent of the club to ensure it balances the squad in a way in which the irons are in the fire being shuffled to make room? I think so. One of Flamini and Arteta surely do not have a future at the club and I would imagine the transfer negotiation team are working as hard on the ‘outs’ as they are on the ‘ins’.

There is a balance to be struck because spunking £25million on a player who may not even start based on Coquelin’s form is a tough one. Yet there needs to be a decent enough calibre of player who can rival the young Frenchman. That’s why I have a feeling that despite all of the noises about Schneiderlin, we aren’t after him, or any player in that ‘elite’ price tag. I have a feeling Arsene will try to go under the radar to pick up an understudy to Coquelin. I have no real basis for that inclination, nor can I offer you any kind of action from the club that suggests it, I can only give you what I have seen happen over many years of supporting Arsenal and knowing that Arsene spends a lot of time worrying about harmony and balance of his squad. Throwing in a £25million player in defensive midfield might be something we’re all keen on, but it will upset the apple cart with regards to our Spanish Captain, Coquelin and probably Flamini. You’d be right in exclaiming “tough. We need better players and it’s a cold world out there”, but whilst Arsene appears to be doing that with the ‘keepers, I just don’t see it happening in two positions this summer. It’s why I’m also not convinced we’ll land a megabucks striker. Arsene has plenty of players in those positions and if Walcott signs on for another three to four years, Wenger will feel he has enough to have a go with what he’s got.

And do you know what? With a world class ‘keeper in between the sticks, I think we’ve got a very strong squad that can compete. Ideally I’d love another ball winning defensive midfielder, but I think we’re good enough to compete.

Ticking the boxes in Cech saga; rolling back the transfer clock

A Quick mosey around the online football world and what do you know? More ‘angles’ on the Cech deal. Surely it’s all reaching its inevitable conclusion now, right? I mean we’ve had the discussions between the clubs over a fee already poured over to the nth degree, the wages have been laid out bare for everyone to see and the whole world seems to know that Cech is on his way, but we were still waiting on former player mistakenly tweets something.

Thankfully we’ve now ticked that box, with former Arsenal full back (Ralph) Lauren telling the world that Cech was signing and it was a good move. Well that’s it now, right? Right? After all, Ralph has spoken and we all know that he’s Arsene’s right hand man, who regularly speaks to Le Boss and plays the role of confidante on the most intimate of Arsene’s Arsenal thoughts.

Or, to put it another way, he’s an ex-Arsenal player who knows about as much as you and I and therefore was just tweeting a message of what he thought would be a good signing when it happens. That doesn’t stop the media from going nuts though, eh? Anything for a bit of click-baiting.

Still, it could be worse. They could be really trying to pull an Arsenal transfer rabbit out of a hat by declaring that Jack Wilshere’s future is still up in the air amid interest from Moneychester City. This despite the fact that Jack has repeatedly stated that he wanted to stay at Arsenal, was referred to by Ivan as “one of you” at a recent Q&A and has also been told be Arsene Wenger – who has also told us through the official site – that he is not for sale. Yet still these rumours persist. I wonder if Moneychester City are compiling a list of transfer enquiries of English players so they can go to the Premier League and FA and say “Look, we tried, but nobody was willing to sell, which is why we had to go out and spend £99million on Paul Pogba”. If so it’s an interesting ploy, although I don’t think it will wash with the football authorities.

What will wash will be to develop your own players and stop spunking large amounts of cash on the ‘here and now’. Micah Richards is a perfect example. People say his career has stagnated over the last couple of years, but I never saw a player whose career stagnated. I saw a player who the newly incoming manager – Pellegrini – just didn’t fancy, so he marginalised Richards and eventually went for a free transferred Bacary Sagna. How’s that working for you now, anyway, Bac? If Moneychester City want to up their home-grown quota, they should try and adopt a more pragmatic approach. Or do what we’ve done and get them so young that by the time they hit he first team they’ll be home-grown players anyway!

Then they need to get themselves a nice pre-season tournament with which to give the fans a quick glimpse of a potential player before never seeing them again until the following season. I do love the Emirates Cup. Not enough to actually buy a ticket mind, but it does allow us to see a selection of young players and wonder whether there will be any that can Bellerin their way into the first team by way of a bit of a surprise. The details are now on the official site for the tournament in which we’ll see Bendtner line up for Wolfsburg and get to have a look at Lyon. Last year I looked at the teams in it and thought it was one we’d probably win hands down, but Valencia and Monaco took it a bit more seriously than we did and we ended up finishing third I think. I wasn’t really paying that much attention if I’m honest. The important thing was to see players like Falcao look brilliant before United got their mits on him and ruined him. Now it’s Chelski’s turn so let’s hope they Schevchenko him good and proper.

We could have a bit of a talk about the rumours of Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon, but I don’t feel I have the energy or inclination. Are the media websites that devoid of anything concrete that they have to step back in time a summer or two? Will we see the re-emergence of M’Villa? Hope not. Still, it’s better to be linked with farcical players than to list all of the players who have ‘rejected’ us. Really Benedikt? Did we come calling and yet you decided that Schalke and less money (because let’s face it, like it or not, our footballers in this country are paid way more than in German by and large) is a better option than Arsenal and Champions League football? Or could it be that Arsenal made a tentative enquiry and now you’re getting all excited and telling the world you were wanted by them before choosing to stay where you are? Hmm? I thought so. Back in your box boyo.

And I shall come out of mine. For the sun is out and there is more of the Algarve to explore.

Until tomorrow.