06 September 2014

'Tis the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

The butchers are sharpening their knives, what with no actual footy to discuss and petty scores to settle. Between the aligning of malevolent forces—an interlull and the close of the transfer-window, to whom can we turn for our daily tempest in a teapot? Surely, there is someone out there who can say something stupid enough to manufacture some kind of kerfuffle to help us while away the time. Piers, do you have any revisionist history to tweet? No? Specious One, surely you can find a way to insult someone, be he a player in your own squad or the manager of a rival squad? Hm. Nothing. Ah, fiddlesticks. Perhaps it's just as well. I'll just shuffle along until—what's that? Jamie Redknapp on line two? Well, patch him through, by all means!

Redknapp, never one to strive for nuance or insight, suggested that "Jack Wilshere's problem is Jack Wilshere," by which I suppose he means that Wilshere's problem is that Wilshere's ankle has been injured for some time, which does make sense, similar to my saying that "Jamie Redknapp's problem is Jamie Redknapp," by which I mean his brain has been addled for some time. Still, he gets paid to say things, which creates a fair amount of pressure on the lad to string together a series of words into sentences, and from there, sentences into paragraphs. I'm sure it's all very taxing.

However, I'm sure Jacko's a big boy and can defend himself, as he does here:
I don’t need that. I listen to people like the boss here, Gary Neville, people who talk a lot of sense and can help me with my game. It doesn’t ‘hurt’ me, hearing criticism from ex-players. It probably disappoints me a little bit more. I heard what Robbie Savage said and that was, if you like, the first ex-player to give me constructive criticism. I respected that. I’ll take criticism. I know that’s part and parcel of football. But when it’s just reckless and aggressive, I don’t listen.
Speaking of reckless and aggressive, one way that Wilshere was already improved his game is through greater control, both of the ball and his body. In seasons, it seemed he would hold the ball for a split-second too long, suffering rash tackles and spilling the ball. More recently, he's seen the value in releasing a pass a half-step sooner, resulting in far fewer slashes to his ankle or interceptions along the way. Maybe that won't quite satisfy Redknapp (somehow, I suspect that it won't...). Then again, I'm pretty sure Wilshere's not in the business of satisfying the likes of him anyhow.

On the subject of satisfaction, I got some of that and more from Szczęsny's take-down of the media after several ran stories with a byline similar to "Ospina is not my friend." Never one to suffer fools, Szczęsny took to his facebook page to declare the following:
English press need to stop looking for a story when there isn’t one. I said I used to feel sorry for Lukasz Fabianski because he was my good friend and he deserved to play first team football. Little bit different then saying “Ospina isn’t my friend and I don’t feel sorry for him”, don’t you think? With social media these days your bull…t stories will get killed straight away.
Apparently, expressing sympathy for a long-time teammate and friend from club and country can only be interpretd as withering scorn for the guy who just joined the club a few weeks ago. Credit Szczęsny for telling the tabloids to cram it with walnuts, unshelled, preferably. Now, if only we could get Szcz to weigh in on transfer-rumours...

Still, these sorts of slams are to be expected. Click-bait revenue and personal grudges can motivate those pundits to come up with most any kind of story, playing to the envy of our rivals and the insecurity of some of our own fanbase. It comes with the territory, so wear it with pride. This is Arsenal, and if a bitter former Spud (is there any other kind? Sorry to be redundant...) tries to wind us up, well, try to take it with gentle, good humour.

Still, it's not all miserable miscreants. There's often a glimmer of humour, even if it does emanate from Manchester. It seems that Frank Lampard, while having a conversation with Luke Shaw this past summer, "mentioned Tony Adams and [Luke] didn’t seem to know who I was talking about. ‘I said: “Are you winding me up?” And he said: “Who did he play for?” I knew then then it was time to retire.’" It's a bit shocking as it might be to learn that a 19-year old British footballer born a stone's throw from London proper seems to know nothing of one of England's most-esteemed players. Adams, after all, captained Arsenal from age 21, won four Prem titles (and finished second four other times), won three FA Cups, and became a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire 1999. What's to know, in other words?  Whether Lampard meant it when he said it was time to retire (and if his "loan" to Man City is any indication, he didn't mean it), it's a nice spin to a stunning story and a welcome nod to an Arsenal legend. So it goes.

I can't believe there's still a week before we get to watch an actual match...