Regular readers will once again notice that this blog contains very little reference to Middlesbrough Football Club. Well there’s a reason for this. As me gran always said ‘If it’s pissing it down outside, let’s not talk about the rain.’ Or as I’ve always said: ‘Just cos I’ve done a shit doesn’t mean I have to keep going back to sniff it.’
So it is to other matters I turn.
I spent the afternoon with a wine-drinking Arsenal fan. Needless to say he was into the third bottle when I left. And in between quaffs of his Chilean Red (he’s got 32 more bottles in his underground cellar and apparently the longer they stay there the more money they’ll make) he told me what Arsenal needed.
It wasn’t, apparently, the boss to be having an affair with a 39-year-old (that means 40, obviously) woman who has been variously described as a waitress, a singer and a French rapper. (If by ‘French rapper’ it means that she talks quickly and incessantly in a language I don’t understand then it could well be my missus.)
I don’t care what Wenger does off the pitch, mind you. Neither did my mate. He reckons Wenger needs to do three things: defence, defence, defence.
This is the Wenger Giant Knife, apparently - surprisingly it lacks that cutting edge.
It remains the case that Wenger’s best-ever back four was probably the one he inherited when he got to Arsenal. Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon. Attacks foundered on that flinty foursome like balloons in a porcupine farm. If Gooners ever did a Mount Rushmore they could do worse than chisel them faces into the rock face.
Behind them loured the mighty frame of Yorkshire’s moustachioed answer to Steven Seagal, David ‘Don’t Come It with Me’ Seaman. You can imagine Arsene arriving at the club and just forgetting about defensive matters.
Gooners have of course seen a series of centre-backs trot across their green and pleasant playing-fields like a string of second-rate mules on a Blackpool beach. Stepanovs, Luzhny Cygan, Senderos... transparently woeful plodders – like Adams without the nous or the part-time poetry.
Wenger’s keepers, post-Seaman (which sounds like an online fertilisation clinic) have all displayed only a passing acquaintance with the goalie’s arts, or in Jens Lehmann’s case, sanity. The most gaping gaff in Wenger’s latest version of Boyz2Men is not digging round in his office for George Graham’s big Brown envelope collection so’s he could slide a heap of cash under the nose of the horribly under-employed Shay Given.
Even Koscielny and Squillaci (if that is his name and I can’t help feeling he’s just a brand of kid-friendly pasta) would look sounder in front of the Irish No. 1.
Of course, my pal’s lament and alcohol intake was exacerbated by losing a two-goal lead to Spurs in a pretty abject way. Arsenal still look as pleasing on the eye as a Kara Tointon thigh but they’re pretty easy to score against...
... unlike Kara
Spurs’ goals featured some traditional Arsenal defending. A hopeful punt upfield saw Jermaine Defoe win the header that led to Bale’s opener. Fabregas ruined a gorgeous performance with a handball that only a stroppy kid who was trying to get his ball back cos he wanted to go home would have tried. And Kaboul’s flick on was the sort of goal that every team reckons on getting against a Wenger outfit.
Apart from Campbell and the unfortunate Vermaelen I don’t think Arsene’s found a good defender. Gallas was pretty flaky, to say the least, while he was with the Frenchman (witness Nasri’s refusal of a handshake pre-match) and Ashley Cole only really learnt to defend when he naturally left the club cos of that pitiful 55 grand a week offer from David Dein.
It doesn’t matter how long Arsene keeps up his claim that youth will win the day, the feeling remains that the poor little lambs will always be taught a one pass too many attitude. I hat slagging off Arsene by the way – and I’ll always watch his teams play when I can – but frankly he’s got another year of nowt approaching.
He’ll have no regrets though, our Arsene:
Sing, Arsene Sing!
"Non, je ne regrette rien.
Non je ne regretted rien.
Je n’achete pas
un bon centre-back
ou un demi-decent goalie mais
Ou meme un Reynard dans le boite.
Non, je ne gagne rien
Non je ne gagne rien
Depuis la Tasse
De la F.A
Nos avons gagne fuck-tout!!!!"
And yet this season, with United staggering and Chelsea stuttering, you’d think that someone would be grabbing the League by its throat.
Of course, the average England football fan would love to grab someone by the throat. And that someone is whoever decided that Capello should stick around post South Africa and continue to confuse our boys with his strangled English and feckless selections. Somewhere there’s a plot he’s lost.
He appeared to go for youth v France in an attempt to prove to his doubters that youth wouldn’t work. Ergo it’s better to go back into the annals of history and drag out retired carthorses (Carragher, Davies). I’d long since given up on getting the call but if Jay Bothroyd’s on the radar and going to make sure me mobile’s charged up for the next time Il Cap names a squad.
Ok, he’s not helped by the fact that England squads these days face more late withdrawals than a Roman Catholic orgy, but to be frank no one seems to bother taking him seriously anymore. And to think his was going to be the iron fist that got our feckless party animals biffed into shape.
This is how many decent forwards are available to me!
It is certainly time he went. Given every important phone call he makes is done by Franco Baldini we may as well be shot of him and just go for an interpreter in his place. Barca fans will tell you that that worked for Inter.
On Wednesday the team were visited by stupid-haired X-Factor hopefuls One Direction –and that pretty much describes the trajectory of Capello’s England. Down, down, down.
As for Arsene - there are many days ahead - but I think we can all agree that from now on they are numbered.