Did you ever get told by your mum to ignore the chants of other boys/girls? To brush away callous name-calling with a simple rendition of “sticks and stones”? And did you find it really difficult to understand why your mother didn’t tell you to open up a can of whoopass on the individual in question?
I did. I often found the idea of ‘turning the other cheek’ an irksome one. How can mothers understand what it is like when you’re in the middle of a playground surrounded by the mob that is your fellow school pupils?
(My mum was a Maths teacher, so clearly in hindsight she understood more than any, but try telling that to a ten year old Chris)
I wanted to be able to brush away the name-calling, but I just didn’t feel strong enough to simply shrug my shoulders. That’s why I admire Arsène’s response to the press interpretation of the Mourinho comments yesterday. The season before last, after Arsène had made some comments about managers being afraid of failure, Jose took the baiting of the press and bit back with his “Specialist in Failure” jibe. At Arsène’s pressed yesterday, the reverse happened when the press tried to turn Mourinho’s comments into something to get a sound it’s out of Arsène.
He simply dismissed it. Doused the fire with good humour and essentially did what my mum had told me to do all those years ago. He shrugged it off.
That’s why Arsène’s the better man. He’s the more composed, more eloquent and I’m thankful we don’t have a snarling and over-reactive Portuguese as our boss.
Now, let’s start to reverse the recent history with a win against Chelski this weekend, Arsène. And afterwards, let’s take that Premier League trophy from Mourinho, just for kicks.
The early team news ahead of the game on Sunday looks like it will see the continued absence of Welbeck. It’s a bit of a shame really because it will mean he’s had absolutely no preseason and if we’re all honest, with players like Mesut talking about this importance of a good preseason for a footballer, I’m not sure it bodes too well for Danny.
Even if he’s back for next week’s game, he’ll be nowhere near fully fit and unless he is able to fast track his own delayed preseason, I don’t think we’ll see him anywhere near his best until probably October time. It’s hard enough getting in to this Arsenal team with so many players fit now, let alone when everyone has stolen a march on you by having a full preseason, so I hope Welbeck can recover and not lose any confidence if he isn’t straight back in to the team.
I think he’ll get his chances though. Arsène promised as much to Chambers yesterday when asked about whether he’d go out on loan. Having only just celebrated his anniversary on joining the club, I suspect Arsène is still looking at engraining in him ‘The Arsenal Way’ of playing, which is why a loan is out of the question. But also probably because he will definitely play games. Four centre halves will almost certainly be used this season and, with Koscienly’s dodgy calfs, having both Chambers and Gabriel waiting to take advantage, it gives Arsène the opportunity to rotate actual central defenders rather than play full backs (even though Monreal and Debuchy made good attempts at it last season).
That must be true for Welbeck too, so whilst there were some rumours of a move to Turkey in the press last week, I can’t see Arsène offloading him. He’s spent a season adapting to a whole new way of life, so it stands to reason that it was going to be a similar adaptation to his teammates and I expect we’ll see better things from him this season.
The countdown is well and truly on for the proper stuff to start and although the Community Shield is somewhat of a halfway house between friendly and the real thing the following week, I’m excited about how we might line up this weekend, because it’s a half decent indicator of how close we are to Chelski in terms of seriously believing we can take points off them this season.
Sticks and stones may break some bones, but I’d rather we break Chelski hearts with what’s done on the pitch this weekend and come May next year.