21 March 2013

Woj Takes My Advice, Tells Da to Pipe Down

It looks like Wojciech Szczęsny has all but followed my advice. The post below appeared earlier this morning (Chicago-time), to be followed by news of Wojciech Szczęsny's public statement, available below.
so, I'm disrespectful? Looks like I need to teach you a little
 respect. This will hurt you more than it hurts me, Wojtek...

I'm not Wojciech Szczęsny, but if I were, I'd be telling my dad to pipe down. Frankly, it looks more like desperation than determination for Maciej Szczęsny to criticize Wenger at this point. His points are not timely; they're dated. Wojciech started the season with an injury, paving the way for Mannone to fill in. Upon Woj's return, he performed well, if unevenly. As recently as February, he was talked up as a MOTM for his play against Sunderland. Yes, it's Sunderland, but the point remains: the criticism is coming a little late, and it sounds like a panicked reaction to Fabiański's recent performance than a timely assessment of Szczęsny's form since November.

If Mr. Szczęsny's point held truethat Woj's drop in form is because Wenger rushed him back from injury we'd arguably have seen more evidence of that. As it is, it seems instead that Mr. Szczęsny is overreacting to his son's temporary benching. I don't think anyone seriously believes that Fabiański has replaced Szczęsny on a permanent or even long-term basis. He's performed well in two games, but that's just two matches in more than 12 months' time. In other words, it doesn't prove that Fabiański has fixed the various problems that have limited him to 64 appearances across all competitions in six years with us. For Szczęsny père to launch his tirade nowinstead of perhaps November when it was more timely and therefore relevant— places his position on rather flimsy footing.

A simpler explanation is probably availableSzczęsny, like any player, needs a break from time to time. Rather than a drop in form resulting from one injury at the beginning of the season, he may just have accumulated various aches, pains, and minor knocks that would benefit fromgaspa rest. Look at the strategic value of the games that Szczęsny missed: at Bayern, a game most everyone had written off as unwinnable no matter who started, and at Swansea, an eminently winnable if tricksy game. Beyond those, we have the international break. Maybe there's even a little gamesmanship from Wenger to lull Poland's Waldemar Fornalik into going with another keeper for their World Cup qualifier against Ukraine. Boom. Szczęsny gets three weeks to rest and recuperate and to come back reinvigorated and refocused.

Putting Mr. Szczęsny's claim under closer scrutiny, if Szczęsny fils has dipped due to being rushed back from injury, isn't it the right decision to rest him? I do understand Mr. Szczęsny's feelings. As a former keeper himself, he's rightfully proud and defensive of his son. However, when I look at this from his son's point of view, or when I look back on my own brief career playing football, I would never have wanted my parents to defend me publicly. It would make me look like a mama's boy, pampered and protected because I'm too delicate to stand up for myself. If they disagreed with how I was being played or how often, I wanted them to keep it to themselves. I'll fight my own battles. I hope Wojciech would do the same.

UPDATE: In a statement posted to the official Arsenal website, Wojciech Szczęsny has issued an apology for his father's remarks, saying the following:
I would like to apologize for the comments made by my father, which have used by both Polish and English media. I'd like to make it clear that those were the views and opinions of my father and not mine, and, although I respect his views, I cannot accept them as I find them disrespectful to the club I truly love. I have been at Arsenal Football Club for seven years now, and I have always shown my full respect to the Club, Arsène Wenger, all the coaching staff, my team-mates, and the fans. I've always felt that I received great support from the manager and fans, and I am fully focused on getting back to my best. I am proud to be a part of Arsenal and see my future at this great club.
Some strong words, both for his father and on behalf of Arsenal. I won't even quibble with the "I would like to apologize..." part that doesn't actually apologize. He says, "I truly love" this club, and that says it better than "I'm sorry" ever would.  Sorry to get all sappy, but it just makes me want that lunk back on the pitch as quick as can be. Hurry back, Woj, we miss ya.