01 July 2015

Arsène LIED to Szczęsny, keeper is "devasted"!

According to former Poland national goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, Arsène Wenger lied to Wojciech Szczęsny over the lad's future as Arsenal's #1 keeper, deluding and damaging Szczęsny so much that his future with Arsenal and the Polish national team are now in doubt. The arrival of Petr Čech, according to Tomaszewski, has "devastated" Szczęsny. This seems to fit an emerging pattern in which other people associated with Szczęsny make boneheaded remarks that, if anything, only complicate matters for the very player they are purportedly trying to help. To Tomaszewski, then, I say,głupie gadanie!

Let's first plow through Tomaszewski's accusations, er, assertions:
In January, I spoke to [Poland manager] Adam Nawalka and he said that Arsène Wenger had told him that if Szczęsny worked hard in training he would play again soon. It turned out that he didn't tell the truth. I'm sure that when Szczęsny said that he was going to stay at Arsenal, he didn't know that Čech was going to come because Wenger didn't tell him about his plans. Szczęsny should leave, because it will be waste of time for him, if he stays...after Čech's transfer he has no chance to play at Arsenal and for Poland. It could be end of his career in national team.
First of all, we've got a bit of a grapevine to weed through. Tomaszewski says that Nawalka says that Wenger said. Second, let's talk the resulting message at face value: "if Szczęsny worked hard." Tomaszewski takes this to mean that Szczęsny did in fact work hard. Was he there watching Arsenal train on a regular basis? Somehow, I doubt it. To blithely assume that Szczęsny trained hard and accuse Arsène of lying stretches credulity a bit.

"In January" we were thumped by Southampton, after which Szczęsny was found smoking in the shower and fined £25k. He was allowed to continue playing in our FA Cup matches anyway, playing a role in us winning it, so, Jan, he did play again soon even if not in the Prem. Had his performances in the FA Cup inspired greater confidence, he might have seen his stock rise again. As it stands, he was a bit shaky at times while Ospina continued to play well enough to keep the starter's role. If Szczęsny assumed that Ospina, like Fabiański, Mannone, and others, would be shipped out, that's his own fault, not Arsène's. Instead of taking a page from Fabiański's playbook—deliver some stirring performances that inspire the squad to victory—Szczęsny had been listless and lacklustre. That there are rumours around Ospina leaving rather than him is a testament to Arsène's continued faith in Szczęsny.

Instead of seeing Čech for what he could be, Tomaszewski is playing the role of Henny Penny, seeing crises where there are none. Szczęsny can no longer assume that the starter's role is his, as he's been able to do for most of the last five years. That's not necessarily a Bad Thing. It should light a fire under Szczęsny, motivating to train like he's never trained before. I emphasize "should."

It should expose Szczęsny to the tutelage of a world-class keeper, the likes of whom he's never gotten to play alongside during his entire time at Arsenal. The challenges issued by Almunia, Mannone, Fabiański, Lehmann, and Ospina never seemed to be more than stop-gaps, slaps on the wrist, or other piddling obstacles to Szczęsny's reign. This had to have convinced him, subconcsiously or otherwise, that all he had to was be a little better than those guys. That's been just good enough for a squad that aspires to live on the brink of Champions League qualification but not nearly good enough for a squad that aspires to something higher.

Čech's arrival does not loom like storm clouds over Szczęsny's career. If anything, it should shine like a beacon. From him, Szczęsny will learn how to fight for a spot, how to position himself, how to command his area, how to win. If he can't or won't, well, Arsène will have told him the truth in the first place.