Saturday, July 31, 2010

My nephew’s 1st birthday

"He likes you.”

- my brother, telling me that my nephew likes me

It’s nice to know that my nephew likes me. It’s hard to tell sometimes because he’s only one, and can’t talk beyond words like “Ma”, “Ba” and “car”. He smiles sometimes when I hold him, and he laughs occasionally when I try to make him laugh. Beyond that, there’s not a lot else to go on. I’m glad he likes me, though, because I love him to bits.

I think Wenger should sign my nephew. He kind of did a Cryuff turn today. His mother was holding him up, and he was kicking a plush football. He stepped on the ball with his left foot, rolled it forward, and rolled it back, and then flicked it to me - with the outside of his foot. Now, I realise that he’ll have to improve before he’s good enough to play for the Arsenal (I doubt he could displace Denilson this season), but he’s a very talented baby. Sign him now, bring him over to the Colney creche, and in 19 years’ time he’ll be in the Arsenal first team, a naturalised POM, and agonising between playing for the awesome Socceroos and the inept Ingerlanders.

So on the 268th last day of my 20s, I gave my nephew George a bright green Brazil futsal ball for his 1st birthday. I hope the shiny green paint is neither drool-soluble nor toxic, because he likes to chew his footballs. And I hope he uses it when he’s older and able to walk.

I suppose I’m projecting a great deal with this gift. I want him to be a sporty, co-ordinated kind of kid. I want him to be as freely expressive as the Brazilians of the 1970 and 1982 World Cups. I want him to be successful, and articulate, and able to create and appreciates things of great beauty. I want him to be able to wear loud, canary-yellow tops and be able to pull it off with aplomb. I guess I just want him to express the philosophy of jogo bonito through all the days of his life.

Happy birthday, George.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Barcelona players should buy Cesc with their own money

The problem is that Cesc Fabregas is worth about £20m more than Barcelona are able to afford.We value him at £55m. Barcelona are only able to stump up £35m. There’s a £20m difference that can’t be bridged, no matter how many tapping up attempts are made.

However, there is a solution. Off the top of my head, the following players have pleaded with the Arsenal to sell Fabregas: Xavi, Ineista, Puyol, Pedro, Busquets, Pique, and even Messi had a snipe. Now these folks are obscenely rich. If the Barcelona players are that desperate to bring Cesc back to the club, I think they should pool together the extra £20m needed to get the transfer bid to an acceptable sum. Barcelona pay their players a great deal, but Barcelona are in a world of debt. Barcelona cannot afford Cesc Fabregas, but the Barcelona players can. If those seven players are as desperate to sign Cesc as they say, it’ll only be £3m or so.

C’mon fellows, put your money where your mouth is!

So on the 269th last day of my 20s, I finished off three of my long-standing patients and got within sight of finishing off the other two. After those two, I can quit and leave and never have to see that place again. There is a lot wrong with the set-up, I don’t have the will to argue.

Today, I bought a little futsal ball for my nephew’s 1st birthday. I spent last week trying to find an Arsenal futsal ball but I couldn’t find one, and had to buy a Brazil ball instead. That and an England ball were the only two that was inflated at the toy store, and I couldn’t stomach giving him an Ingerland ball. I think they say that a 1st birthday present is often a projection of what the giver hopes that baby will grow up into. So I better start pestering his parents into enrolling him in a Brazilian Soccer Skills summer school when he learns how to walk.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Still on the hunt for a centre-back

"We are still on the search for centre-halves. We have three and we need at least four. There are people we consider and are analysing and we look at the financial possibilities."

- Arsene Wenger, on the hunt for centre-halves

With the departure of Sol Campbell, it's getting alarming. Senderos has gone, Gallas is going, Sol's gone, Silvestre's gone. We're down to Vermaelen, Koscielny (who hasn't played in the Premier League yet), Djourou (who's injured), and maybe one of the kids in Bartley or Nordtveit. It's a bit thin on paper, and you've got to think that Wenger saying "we need at least four" is a gross understatement. Personally, I'd like us to buy two more experienced centre-backs.

But it's comforting that we're still on the search for centre-halves. I was told the other day that the way you find what you're looking for it is to stop looking and let it come to you. If you're too intent on it, it's not going to happen anyway. But I'm thinking it's a bit different when it comes to centre-backs, a transfer window that's rapidly closing, and a full season ahead with just one Belgian, one skinny French/Polish chappie, and an injured Swiss defender.

Time to get a bit more pro-active, Wenger. Don't worry about being creative about it. Anyone will do. Buy a Zapata, a Chiellini, a Cahill, a Kjaer... it doesn't have to be a transfer coup which will enhance your reputation - just get someone experienced and reliable.


On the other hand, we're always linked to young, small, creative midfielders who may or may not be great in a few years. The latest one who's been linked to us is Sebastian Giovinco, who at 5'5, may give Arshavin a run for his money at the annual limbo competition. I loved Giovinco in Football Manager, he was the heartbeat of my Juve side for ten years, so I'm pretty excited about this one. Also, imagine how funny it'll be to have Arshavin on one wing and Giovinco on the other. We could have the first attack which features players running between the defenders' legs.

So on the 270th last day of my 20s, my book fell apart, and I took the afternoon off because of lack of patients. Not to disappointed, since it's a bit of a relief to have an afternoon off. Makes it feel like it's a Friday. When you consider that I've got Saturday off this week as well, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Spent most of the day thinking about something the GOMD said on the Tuesday. She said I was a lot like a friend of hers. She said it with a strange look on her face and a little smile on her lips. Her friend is a guy who she professes to have no interest in, but the way they act with each other.... there's something there. I keep going over all the possible permutations, and it's killing me. What did she mean? And is it what I want it to mean?

Going to have to ask her tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 271st last day of my 20s

So on the 271st last day of my 20s, I went to work and worked and came home. Very tired, didn't get more than a couple of hours sleep last night. Kept thinking about her. Might leave today blank. Nothing on today, other than Bendtner being injured for the start of the season. Other players are in doubt. What else is new? We're the Arsenal, after all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The 272nd last day of my 20s

So on the 272nd last day of my 20s, I cruised through work but ended up fifteen minutes late. I raced back from work in order to watch Inception with a bunch of people, including the GOMD. Went to Maccas afterwards for supper. She’s amazing, just amazing. I think about her, and I just can’t imagine what it’ll be like to go out with her. My brain would probably get fried with a serotonin overdose.

I liked Inception. It’s a remarkably complicated film and I got the impression that they spent a good hour and a half trying to explain the concept, and then spent thirty minutes executing the premise. I like concepts about dreams and fantasy, illusion and wish-fulfillment, ambivalence and doubt about the fabric of reality. I like it when stories inhabit the gap between the two. The plot twist was a bit predictable, though. I get the nagging feeling that I’ve seen it before in another film.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The 273rd last day of my 20s

“He’d be in the top 1 percent of babies in terms of football skills.”

- me, to my brother, about my nephew George

Sometimes, my brother holds his son up and we play kick-to-kick. When I kick it at him, his eyes focus intently on the ball until it reaches his feet, and on a good day, he can kick it back a couple of feet. He already knows the principles of presenting, controlling and passing that the Dutch system is famed for. He can even do a lairy sort of flick step-over that I’m trying to iron out of his game until he’s gotten better at the basics.

It’s not bad for a 1 year old baby who can’t walk.

Sometimes, I look at George and I marvel that his potential is unlimited... within reason. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll play for Arsenal (Wenger has a problem with Australians, it seems), or have the technical skills to play for a top-class continental club unless he’s scouted early by an Ajax or a Barcelona and taught how to play properly. But if he really wanted to, he could probably carve out a career as a mediocre midfielder in a suburban weekend league. And that’ll be awesome in its own right.

And you know, there’s no harm in dreaming that he’ll one day run out at the Emirates in a red shirt with white sleeves...

So on the 273rd last day of my 20s, I’m feeling the days trickle past like sand through an hourglass, and I suppose, so too are the days of our lives. Worked today, ate a lot, came home and mucked about on the internet. I had a look at my entry on the 364th last day of my 20s, when I was still panicky and motivated about the fleetingness of youth. And I start to think that I should be doing a bit more in my last year than I’ve done at present.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't come to Arsenal, Akinfeev!

“I have spoken with Arshavin about Arsenal and London life. He has only had good things to say about the club and the city. He said some very nice things about me going on to be the best goalkeeper in the world – and that he would like me to reach that goal at Arsenal with him."

- Igor Akinfeev, from the Daily Star

The Daily Star is the same paper that Peter Hill-Wood talks to, so I'm a bit uneasy about relying on them as a source. As a casual observation, the Daily Star seems to lean towards the sensationalist and the silly. So while a story about Igor Akinfeev wanting a move to the Arsenal (and incidentally, calling us "one of the best clubs in the world") is heartening, it's something one should take with a grain of salt.

Firstly, a look at the last five years' results in the Premier League would show Akinfeev that we're not one of the top clubs in England. That honour belongs to Chelsea and Man Utd, both of whom have won recent trophies. The Arsenal is a big English club with a thin squad which is talented enough to qualify for the Champions League, but not to win a trophy.

Secondly, when did Arshavin say "only nice things" about Arsenal and London? He's complained about women drivers, the food, the nightlife, the traffic, the pay, the thin squad, the lack of experience... I think Arshavin's hilarious, but I'd be surprised if he's wholeheartedly endorsed the Arsenal without a single bad word.

Thirdly, if I was Akinfeev, I'd be wary of kind words said by a man who has to play with goalkeepers of the calibre of Almunia and Fabianski. Arshavin (and the rest of us) desperately wants a new 'keeper. At this point, we'll do anything to get someone of international repute... including trying to sell a dead horse to stable-owner. The reasoning is that Akinfeev signs with the club, we lock him in for a five year contract, and then... we only need two, maybe three top, top players to challenge for the league title.

Save yourself the heart-ache, Igor. Sign with Man Utd and win stuff.

So on my 274th last day of my 20s, I talked to the parents of this kid who's doing dentistry in Adelaide. They're family friends and he's such a nice boy. I've been kind of mentoring the kid. He reminds me a bit of Theo - polite, respectful, well-mannered. He's doing really well at uni, passed his first semester exams and has settled in nicely, really loves the fact that he's achieved a measure of independence for the first time in his life. Make me feel a bit envious, really - my uni experience was much like a continuation of high-school, when what I really wanted was something resembling Animal House.

I'm missing the GOMD like a phantom limb. I talked to her for like five seconds today, and that's not enough. For the rest of the day, I kept looking around, expecting her to be there, but she wasn't. I've this nagging urge to call her, or text her or something. Not a good idea, I think.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wenger believes in the status quo

"The aim is to continue to progress as we have been doing. We were very close last year – closer than the previous season – so we are heading in the right way. We hope we can continue that this season. It is important to start well, start strongly and get into a good position early on and to try to maintain the level."

- Arsene Wenger, promising more of the same

It's a bit depressing, reading that quote. Yes, we were close last year, but only because Chelsea and Man Utd were both weak. Yes, we should have improved via the experience gained from last season, but we've also lost experienced in the departure of Gallas (he's gone, hasn't he?). Yes, we could've won the league last year, but we didn't because we failed to strengthen our squad in the January transfer period, and guess what - we STILL haven't strengthen in the summer transfer period.

So in the upcoming season, I expect more of the same. We'll make a bright start, win a few games and be top of the league when it's spring. As the weather turns colder, we'll drop points against a few bus-parking side, English-footballing playing clubs. We'll lose a few players through injury, and drop out of contention by Christmas. We'll make a last surge around March and we'll pretend that everything's okay, that we're improving, and we'll be ready to challenge for the league... next season.

Personally, I'm writing off this year and seeing it as a season where our Academy kids can have a proper debut season with the Arsenal. Fact of the matter is that we don't have the squad to win, so we're going to have to take the positives out of the season where we can find them. And witnessing the culmination of 10 years' worth of investment in our academy is a pretty big positive. These kids (JET, Jacks, Gibbsy, Eastmond and the 'Pong) are the first graduates of Wengerball. It'll be really interesting to see if they'll be comparable with Barcelona's La Masia graduates.

If I was Wenger, though, I'd take some of the £40m he's got in the bank, and buy a goalkeeper and another central defender who can also play as a defensive midfielder. Because if I was Wenger, I'd be sick of the mistakes that the goalkeepers have made over the past 5 years, and just want someone reliable in front of goal. I'd also employ someone to take care of the aspects of managing that I don't fancy - such as defence, tactics, motivational speeches...

So on the 275th last day of my 20s, I went to work, had lunch, came back. Very tired, thinking about a nice long nap. Came across an autobiography by Wangari Maathai. Interesting read.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Let’s raise money to buy a ‘keeper for Arsenal

I’m thinking that it wouldn’t take that much money to buy a decent ‘keeper. There aren’t that many around, but we could probably get a Lloris, or an Akinfeev or a Handanovic for about £15m - £20m. It’s not THAT much money when you consider Almunia and Fabianksi will cost us 6 - 9 points a season, which would equate to one or two positions on the league.

In fact, if gooners all around the world started to put in £100 a year into a “Buy A Decent ‘keeper” fund, we could have enough money for a ‘keeper by the time Szczęsny is found out as another pretender to the throne. We could set up a fund-raising drive, show clips of Fabianski and Almunia’s greatest moments.... it’ll be more convincing than those starving kids in Africa.

Joe Cole’s move to Liverpool is probably a good thing for the Arsenal. It means that Cesc is definitely going to stay, and it’ll give Wilshere and co. a chance for more playing time. I’ll love to see our Academy kids spend time in the senior team this season. Let’s face it, we’re not going to challenge for the league this year, so we might as well just blood more kiddies.

So on the 276th last day of my 20s, I got irritated at work because a couple of dentures didn’t fit. I’m counting down the weeks left at Wandin, and it irritates when I’ve got to add another couple of weeks onto my time there because I have to wait to complete things. Also with things that aren’t set up correctly, but you really can’t change because because you’re about to leave. To compound my irritation, I ate an Angry Angus burger for lunch. Steam must be coming out of my ears like a cartoon character...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stuff about the Arsenal

So Eduardo’s left for Shaktar Donetsk. I think he’ll do well there, providing he gets the games he needs to improve his confidence. There’s a lot of Brazilians there as well. Wish him all the best, and hopefully, we’ll see him sometime in the Champions League.

And Wenger wants Wilshere to stay at the Arsenal and fight for his place. He said:

It’s an interesting quote because of two points.

Firstly, Wenger tends to keep his most promising players at the club. The ones he sends on loan tend to be sent out to gain exposure for a transfer. The ones he loves (Diaby, Denilson, Cesc, Song, Clichy, Theo) he keeps close beside him. Which means that Jack’s probably going to get a few matches at the Arsenal this season. Can’t wait to see the little guy play.

Secondly, Wenger’s referred to the young English players needing “to work hard”. It’s interesting because last season we saw a bunch of our senior players lacking motivation, determination, and a pressing need to “work hard”, and still be able to front up game after game after game. So I think maybe all of the Arsenal needs to buck up and “work hard”. Also, the Gunnerblog has been profiling a number of our more promising youngsters, and the one common theme seems to be that our youngsters are all technically gifted, but don’t really like tracking back and tackling. Perhaps we’ve missed a subject or two at the Academy?

I’m excited about next season. It’s the first season where we’ll get to see the first batch of our Academy kids integrate with our existing senior squad. For those of us who believe that the Academy (and not the youngsters brought in from outside the club) is the true Wenger legacy, it’s Year One of the new era. This is when we start to find out if the past five years of parsimony have been worth it. Will Jacks, JET, Gibbsy, Le Coq and the ‘Pong have the talent and the determination to make it? We’re going to find out this season.

So on the 277th last day of my 20s, I went to work, bummed around for eight hours, and then came home. Not a lot to do today, a bit cruisey. Spent a lot of it wondering whether I should take a month off and go travelling around South-East Asia. I’ve been meaning to go for a while now. It’s just a matter of getting the motivation to do something about it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We’re banning the vuvuzela

"Further to their hugely debated involvement at this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa, Arsenal Football Club has decided to forbid the use of vuvuzelas within Emirates Stadium with immediate effect. This decision has been taken to ensure the enjoyment and safety of supporters on match days, which is of paramount importance to the club.”

It seems a strange thing to me to ban the vuvuzela. The Emirates is a stadium of comfy padded seats, ample leg room, and a Jumbo-tron which tries to exude the kind of atmosphere that 60,000 excited gooners would normally provide... if it wasn’t for the padded seats and ample leg room. It seems that the Arsenal would want to encourage more atmosphere at the stadium, rather than less.

It has echoes of Peter Hill-Woods’ famous “we don’t want their sort” type of insular paranoia. Why is it that anything that doesn’t have British roots is automatically treated with distain? The vuvuzela might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s just football support in another language. Who are we to say that boozy singing by pallid Englishmen is really a better way to support the club? Or polite clapping and apologise to the guy behind you for standing up at exciting moments? To ban the vuvuzela is to give a massive “f**k you” to international supporters and to imply that only British forms of support will be tolerated at the Emirates.

It’s not particularly welcoming.

What I’d like to see is 60,000 gooners smuggle vuvuzelas into the stadium during the first match of the season, and then blasting one out at the opening whistle, just to show the Board that we don’t really give stuff whether they ban the vuvuzela or not... and then I hope they’ll pack them away quickly, because I find them loud and a bit annoying, myself.

So on the 278th last day of my 20s, I saw a couple of kids at work who are going to my old high school. It made my day; they were such nice, polite kids and it made me think about myself at their age. It was 12 years ago. At 17, I would never have understood what life would be like at 29. Makes me wonder what it’ll be like when I’m 41, and in the throes of my mid-life crisis.

Or I could just watch Greenberg, I suppose. I hear it’s a great film.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Looks like Eduardo’s going to Shakhtar Donetsk

"We wanted to buy Eduardo before he moved to Arsenal. Not everything went his way last season, but he is still a player of very high quality, a real marksman. Yes, he had a serious injury, we are aware of the risk, but at the same time we realise he can give a lot to Shakhtar. We expect a lot from Eduardo.”

- Martin Lucescu, Shakhtar Donetsk coach

It looks like Eduardo’s going to move to Shahktar Donetsk. It’s a good move for him, because he desperately needs games to rebuild his confidence and his fitness, and he’s not going to get those games at the Arsenal. He’s still only 27, still has talent and time on his side, and if he can get over that horrific leg injury from a couple of years ago, he’s still got a lot to offer. I hope Eduardo gets back into form and goes on to be a great player for Shahktar. He deserves to finish the rest of his career strongly.

It’s a pity he had his leg broken when he did. We never got to see the real Eduardo. When we bought it, he was hailed as the fox-in-the-box that we’d lacked for ages, and he was derided for not being freakishly blessed with talent like Henry. He scored eight(?) goals in his first season, and if he didn’t get that injury, he would’ve scored a lot more. If he didn’t get that injury, we might’ve won that league title, our midfield might not have disbanded, and Eduardo might’ve had a chance to consolidate a solid second season and established himself as an Arsenal first teamer.

I realise I’ve been referring to his injury a lot, but it’s the big caveat to his Arsenal career. He was looking promising when his leg was broken, and afterwards, he didn’t have the run of games to recover. You can’t say whether he was a good or bad player for us because sadly, he never got the chance to prove himself. It’s such a shame that it happened.

Good luck, Eduardo.

So on the 279th last day of my 20s, I realised that it’s only been about three months since my 29th birthday. It seems like forever. I remember wearing a T-shirt on my birthday, and now I’m wrapped up in a scarf and woollen jumpers. Time stretches like chewing gum when you sit down and blog about each and every mundane day.

Today I went to work, worked like a dog, and spent the night wrapping dumplings at a friend’s house. I listened to her conducting an interview with a prospective housemate, and listened to the biggest pile of bullshit I’d ever heard from anyone. Drank a surprisingly nice smoothie made of various bits of vegetables, and talked for several hours about the GOMD. Came to the conclusion that she doesn’t really hate me.... because she just doesn’t care enough about me to hate me.

I think the thing that really frustrates me is that, like Eduardo, I never got a chance with her. Could’ve been great, could’ve been crap, could’ve been her first team starter, but I got hobbled at a crucial moment in my debut season and never had the match-fitness to get back into the game. Never got the chance to be her fox-in-the-box....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Transfer speculation

It’s been rumoured that we’ve made a £18 million bid for Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka. If it’s true, I don’t get it. It’s not fancy enough for the Arsenal. We like our defenders fairly cheap, skinny, and in possession of great technical quality. Also, we spent a month dicking around trying to sign Ksocielny for £10m, so why are we suddenly making a more expensive purchase a coupe of weeks later? It doesn’t make sense. Logic would’ve been to have made the more important purchase first, and then spend the remainder of the transfer season dicking around with Ligue 2 players.

Also, if we’re really going to spend £18m on a defender, why couldn’t it be someone a bit more exotic, like a Zapata, Kjaer, Sakho or one of those Uruguayan defenders who seemed quite good at the World Cup?

I’m actually looking forward to us starting the season with Vermaelen, Koscielney, Djourou and Nordtveit as our four central defenders. And I’m terribly excited by the prospect that they’ll be defending Fabianski in goal. Considering our performances last season, it’ll certainly be a spectacle. Oh, what larks we’ll have!

So on the 280th last day of my 20s, I got into a good-natured argument with the GOMD’s sister. One of those deals where she’s on the edge of going ballistic, and you begin to realise that pissing off the GOMD’s older sister ISN’T going to endear yourself more to her. So I bit my tongue, kept it in... it’s the same thing we’ve been arguing about for a few months now, and it’s so frustrating to know that you can win but only if you brought out your rhetorical napalm and employed a scorched earth policy.

Later on, I asked her if the GOMD was like her in an argument, and she said that she doesn’t argue. The GOMD avoids confrontation, rolls her eyes, disengages, and just cuts you off dead. Man, that’s cold. And that’s just what she did to me on Sunday. That’s really cold.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The 281st last day of my 20s

So on the 281st last day of my 20s, I pissed off the GOMD and now she ignores me when I try to talk to her. It’s not an unexpected turn of event - people tend to think I’m a nice, quiet guy until I open my mouth - but it’s disappointing all the same. I tend to piss off a lot of people a lot of times, and it’s expected that I do. The problem is when you’re desperately trying to convince one girl that you’re good value, and you fall flat on your face.

Spent the whole afternoon and night talking about the GOMD to some friends over dinner. Must have bored them quite a bit, but it’s very difficult to find another topic of conversation in which I am as fluent, passionate and attentive as the GOMD. In the end, all they could do was pity me, and all I could do was accept their pity.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thoughts about Chamakh, van Persie & Bendy...

Chamakh, van Persie, Bendy - we've suddenly got three centre-forwards competing for the one spot. It's quite comforting considering that van Persie is injury-prone, Bendy is young and still inexperienced, and Chamakh is a bit of an unknown quality. In the best case scenario, we're going to have to shoehorn three quality players into one spot. In the worst case scenario, van Persie gets injured for the rest of the year, Bendy is STILL too inexperienced to carry the forward line, and Chamakh isn't up to standard.

Probably what's going to happen is that van Persie will get injured somewhere around the January crush, Bendy will be sporadic, and Chamakh will be good, but not great. We'll still score goals like fun, but when the going gets tough, we're going to fold like laundry. It's what you get when you're not willing to stump up £60m for a world-class forward.

There's speculation going around that we're going to change our formation to a 4-4-2 again. I don't think this will happen. We switched to a 4-3-3 because we didn't have the box-to-box midfielders to play 4-4-2 anymore. We still don't have those players, and we won't until Ramsey, Frimpong, JET and Coquelin grow up. We've got a DM in Song who sits in front of the defence and who can cover for our rampaging centre-backs, but who doesn't have the aerobic capacity to go upfield (and hence, should stay put). We've got a CM in Fabregas who's been converted into a Frank Lampard type goalscoring midfielder. We spent the whole of last year breaking up the midfield into two separate lines of attack and defence, and I doubt we're going to go back after just one season.

If worse comes to worse, I think we'll reprise the tall-striker-on-the-right-wing experiment from last season. It worked reasonably well last season as Bendy won a lot of free headers. And Chamakh would be even better, because unlike Bendy, he's reasonably quick and mobile.

For me, the bigger question is who's going to replace Song if he gets injured. He didn't have genuine backup last season, and heading towards the new one, he still doesn't. And I don't see Eastmond as being ready, or Denilson or Diaby as being suitable. We need someone in this position, pronto.

So on the 282nd last day of my 20s, I went to work. There was this guy with a raging toothache from two teeth, who decided against treatment because he had to play footy later in the afternoon, and he wouldn't be able to play if I took out those teeth. So I numbed him with enough anaesthetic to last him through the match, and sent him on his way. He's going to be in the worst possible pain until Monday when he comes back, but he'd rather endure that than let down his team mates.

And I'm just wondering, would our Arsenal boys play through pain for the team?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Barcelona have €50m to spend on Cesc

"The club has approximately €50m net to spend on new players each season. In the case of this season buying David Villa [€40m] combined with the sales of Yaya Touré and Dmytro Chygrynskiy balance themselves out. This means the club still has €50m to spend."

Barcelona are starting to resemble the boy who cried wolf. They’ve tapped up Cesc, they’ve tapped up his folks, they’ve tapped up the media. They’ve trotted out all the Spanish Barcelona players to say how much they’d love Cesc in their side. They’ve blasted Arsenal for holding them hostage over “unreasonable” transfer demands.

And now what they’re doing is trying to convince the world that they’ve got the money to buy Cesc Fabregas. They’ve got €50m left in the bank after a €150m bank loan, and they’re prepared to spend it all on Cesc.

I’m getting really sick of it. Proper clubs conduct their transfer business behind closed doors. They don’t splash details of their accounts to the media, manipulate the press, try to drive down the price through under-ahnd tactics. Barcelona do all this, and as a result, I’ve lost a lot of respect for them. They used to be my second favourite club. Now, they’re fast becoming my second least-favourite club.

I realise I should probably stop focussing on Cesc-to-Barcelona, but honestly, what other Arsenal news is there? We’re in pre-season or something at the moment, and we’re not signing anyone, and Almunia and Fabianski are still at the club. The only thing happening is rumour and hearsay.

Melbourne Heart played their first ever match the other night, a 0-2 loss against Everton. It’s a naff name, and it’s a naff premise to try and set up a football club for the “purists”. All the purist clubs were expelled from the national league with the creation of the A-League, and were replaced with commercial franchises with no soul, no heart, no history, and designed to appeal to a wider, mass audience fan-base. For a new franchise club to spring up and suddenly claim to represent the ghosts of all the ethnic-based clubs of the old NSL is pretty damn stupid.

So on the 283rd last day of my 20s, I worked, stood in line at KFC for lunch before thinking better about it, then went home. Having been thinking about asked the GOMD out again. There is very, very little chance that she’d say yes, but then, it’s that very, very little chance that makes it still a worthwhile goal. Won’t see her tonight, which is vastly disappointing. I have Friday on my mind.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No Arsenal news

I don’t think about football every day. After the World Cup, I’ve been in a footballing lull. There’s no Arsenal news other than the daily Cesc-to-Barca stories, and it’s the off-season, so there’s nothing of real interest.

I’m wondering how long it’ll take the Arsenal kiddies to grow up. This current team is merely a place-setter until the double-winning Academy kids have enough experience. Wilshere, JET, Frimgpong, Gibbs, Eastmond, Coquelin are the nucleus for the next great Arsenal team, and when Wenger talks about his “interesting” experiment of getting a group of players who’ve grown up together and play for each other, he’s referring to this lot, and not the current squad. A lot of those players are going off on loan, so it might not be too soon. Two, three years at tough Championship level teams, and they’ll be a bunch of hard, ballsy, technically-proficient players who have a winning attitude and who will lead the Arsenal to victory!


So on the 284th last day on my 20s, I had a talk with my mate about the eccentricities that are encouraged in our profession. We went to a work function last night, and came back with the impression that the older members of our profession are a bit childish and odd. My mate was a bit worried that he’ll end up like that in about twenty years’ time.

I had a think about it, and I think it’s inevitable. We work in a field where there isn’t any real corporate structure, and where you don’t need to conform with an idealised norm in order to fit it. In fact, we work in a field where we’re isolated and where our oddities are tolerated. Without that pressure to conform, and with the stress of bearing all the responsibility on your own shoulders, your sense of normality is bound to buckle a bit. And acting zany and goofy (which was the extent of the speaker’s oddity), isn’t that bad, in the context of what could happen.

Today, I also made a small pink pig out of light-cured acrylic. I’m quite proud of it; it’s all of one piece and it’s got a delicate curly tail that took me ages to make. It’s noice, it’s different, it’s unusual... and it’s probably one of the first signs of my impending eccentricity. Next thing, I’ll be carving jack-o-lanterns out of egg shells, or keeping extracted teeth in a chest in my bedroom (both things that dentists have done in the past).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More mindless speculation on Cesc

Cesc Fabregas says that we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on him being stuffed into a Barca shirt by Barca players. Hodgson says that he’s lifted by Fernando Torres wearing a Liverpool scarf during his World cup celebrations. I’m not sure why we’re placing that much emphasis on what footballers are wearing during the off-season. I’m pretty sure that their choice (or lack of choice) in clothing is immaterial to the validity of their club contacts.

Iniesta is the latest Barcelona player to chime in and say that Cesc should move. He said:

But considering Barcelona’s debt, it’s hard to see where they’ll get the £50m to push a transfer through. I think we’ll end up with an arrangement whereby Cesc will go to Barcelona for free, and Wenger will get to roam around La Masia with a couple of large canvas bags and kidnap as many talented young Catalans as he wants. Cesc gets to go to Barcelona, Barcelona get to reunite their Golden Generation, and Wenger gets to coach a clutch of little Cesc Fabregases for the next five years.

That said, Cesc himself is quite vague about his transfer prospects this summer:

I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. My guess is.... nothing will change.

So on the 284th last day of my 20s, I went to work, and went to a work function after work. Met my old boss, asked about the old job. It’s a bit different now. People move on and things change. Nothing stays the same. For every season turns, turns, turns. And rot like that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cesc forced into a Barcelona shirt

Puyol and Pique throw a Barca shirt over Fabregas’ head, and it’s headline news. I’m not sure why. It’s a despicable act by despicable Barcelona players, but what’s new? Barcelona have been trying to put a Barcelona shirt on Fabregas for a few months now, and this time, they’ve tried it a bit too literally. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

I hope Fabregas stays at the Arsenal, but only the most one-eyed gooner would deny that he’d have his head turned over the next few days. He’s a European Championship winner and a World Cup winner, but if he looked around the dressing room, he’d see half the team over-laden with club titles from Barcelona. Success tends to instil the desire for more success, and I can’t really see Cesc wanting to wait another two years for his next legitimate shot at a trophy.

Still, I loved how he dedicated his World Cup win to Arsenal. That’s a sign of class - Cesc might have Barcelona DNA, but his blood runs red and white. Let’s hope we can do the right thing by him.

There’s an interesting piece from football-talk. Fiorentina have signed Artur Boruc from Celtic, which means that Sebastien Frey is up for sale. I’ve always like Frey from Championship Manager days, but I’m not sure about this one. If we’re going to spend a lot of money on a goalkeeper, I’d rather we spend a LOT of money on a great goalkeeper. Is Frey a great goalkeeper? He’s no Hugo Lloris, that’s for sure...

So on the 285th last day of my 20s, I didn’t do much at all. Went to work, had lunch, came home had dinner and am contemplating doing my tax return before going to bed. I’ve been putting off tax for a while. I should do it, and do it soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain win the World Cup

"All I can say is that this (World Cup victory) is for all the Arsenal players and fans, they are a world-class club. I am an Arsenal player and proud to be."

- Cesc Fabregas, European Champion, World Champion, and Arsenal captain

We love Cesc Fabregas. We all love Cesc Fabregas. There's a spiritual network of maniacally depressed gooners who see nothing but bleakness and despair in store for the Arsenal, but even we love Cesc Fabregas and are happy for him for winning the trophies he deserves. And the fact that Cesc, in the midst of the crowning achievement of his sporting career, can look back to drab north London and dedicate his victory to the Arsenal... well, it just speaks volumes about the guy's character, doesn't it?

As I said, we love Cesc Fabregas.

It wasn't a great World Cup final, but the best team won and Cesc Fabregas got his cameo and in extra-time, provided the assist for the goal that won the World Cup. It's the stuff of boyhood fantasies; the only thing that could've topped it is if he'd scored the winner himself after a mazy run through the Dutch defence... which incidentally, he would've done a few minutes earlier if he'd managed to lift the ball above the goalkeeper's foot.

I'm antipathetic about this result. I'm happy for Cesc because I love Cesc, but Spain leaves me a bit cold They play great football, but they're stocked to the brim of unscrupulous bastards who try to tap up Cesc at every opportunity. They're also the team that leaves Cesc on the bench until the 85th minute, and then watch him create more chances in his 30 minute cameo than the whole Spanish midfield did in the previous 85 minutes. Honestly, if Cesc played for Barcelona or Real Madrid (heaven forbid), he's be a nailed-on starter for the Spain side.

Overall, I quite liked this World Cup. It took about a week for the teams to warm up, and it never really developed the free-flowing drama and excitement that Japan/Korea had, but it was definitely an improvement on Germany 2006. It had (some) good goals, genuine craziness in Argentina, a couple of pantomime villains in Uruguay and Holland, and like most fairytales, offered a heart-warming ending with good (technical football) triumphing over evil (van Bommel).

I like how it was played in Africa. A neutral continent (as opposed to the Europe/South America dichotomy) throws up a lot of unexpected results, strips away home advantage, and lets the leading teams challenge on even footing. So we can see the Italy, England and France are really crap. We can see that Argentina is brilliant but crazy, and that Brazil is methodical but brittle. And when you strip away home advantage, rub off the gloss and glamour of media saturation, and we can finally see that Spain truly IS the best national team in the world.

Anyway, enough with the football. Time for the Premier League to start again. We're going into the season with a squad that's a couple of signings short of being complete. Our immediate rivals have all strengthened. We've STILL got Almunia as our first choice goalkeeper. If nothing changes between now and August, we're out of the title race before it's begun.

Still, c'mon Arsenal, I've got faith in you.

So on the 286th last day of my 20s, I got up, watched the World Cup final, headed for work, spent 8 hours working, then came home. Wondering what to do next. Listening to Angus and Julia Stone at the moment. It's a great little EP. Folksy Australian singer-songwriters can be a bit inconsistent, but these guys are quality.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup's ending tonight

I set the alarm for 4:30am, but when the time came to get up, I didn't. It was cold, I was tired, and the thought of shivering through another early morning football match didn't appeal. Turns out I missed out big-time, as a 3-2 result ain't often boring.

I'll get up for the final tonight, though. It's Spain versus Netherlands, and it should be a game of pretty, pointless passing and tiki-taka. I'm thinking it'll play out like Spain versus Germany - Netherlands will sit back and hope for a counter-attack, and Spain will play at a low tempo to avoid getting caught out on the counter. Whoever gets the first goal will immediately clam up and defend. Both defences are good enough to kill off the match. I'm thinking it'll be 1-0 to Spain, but then again, I've been wrong about most things so far.

It's the last game of the World Cup, and I'm going to miss it. It's nice having football matches on every night for a coupe of weeks, and then a really good match every other night. When you live in Australia, and the closest you get to good football is a jerky, early-morning internet stream, the World Cup's a real treat.

I'll also miss Martin Tyler. Apparently, he's signed for ESPN and he's commentating for Americans now. I loved him when he was commentating for SBS. He's the best. The English might churn out over-hyped, technically-deficient footballers, and inconsistent, egotistical referees, but they DO do a good line in commentators.

So on the 287th last day of my 20s, I spent most of the afternoon following the GOMD around like a hypnotised puppy-dog. She's gorgeous in a red scarf and black pea coat. She's gorgeous in a casual, unaffected manner. She's gorgeous when she tilts her head and smiles, and incredibly, she's still gorgeous after she's gone, and the sound of her voice keeps rattling around the insides of your skull.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Barcelona want resolution on the Fabregas deal

"We want a quick decision: Yes or no."

- Sandro Rosell, with regards to Fabregas' mooted transfer to Barcelona

So far, Barcelona have tapped up Cesc, Cesc's father, Cesc's grandparents, Cesc's sister. Nearly every Spanish Barcelona player has been in the media, talking about Cesc's "Barcelona DNA". Barcelona presidents, both past and present, have been in the media, talking about their love of Cesc and their need to buy him. And now, Sandro Rosell has had enough, and wants a quick decision: yes or no.

I think the reason Arsenal are hesitating on the reply is that they're trying to work out which expletives to use to accompany their refusal. A plain "hell no" seems a bit prosaic, considering the melodramatic lengths to which Barcelona have conducted themselves. Barcelona deserves something a bit more colourful. So don't rush them, Sandro. A carefully-worded insult takes time to craft.

It's the 3rd place play-off tonight, between Uruguay and Germany. I quite like the tradition of having a third place play-off. It gives the two losing semi-finalists a second chance of showcasing their talents. In the case of Uruguay and Germany, that can only be a good thing. They've both contributed greatly to the tournament, and deserve a good sending off. I think Germany will win, though. They're fucking brilliant.

So on the 288th last day of my 20s, I woke up at about 4:30am with a cramp in my calf. Damn thing had been threatening to seize up for a few weeks now. Couldn't flex it for about five minutes. In the morning, I hobbled to work, did stuff, came home, returned a whole heap of CDs to the library and slept. Waiting for the 3rd place play-off tonight.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The 289th last day of my 20s

So on the 289th last day of my 20s, I got new glasses which suspiciously look like ladies' frames. They were the friendliest bunch of optometrists I've ever met. The woman who attended me had a splitting headache, but was kind enough to point out problems with my glasses and adjust them for me. The other saleswoman fixed my friend's broken glasses for a nominal fee to their charity of choice.

Picked up a Lonely Planet guidebook for Brazil, wondering whether I should go in September. My heart tells me that I need to holiday in the happiest place on earth, and my gut tells me that if I go, I'm going to be mugged. So I'm not sure which I should follow - heart or gut? Motivational messages are made from moments like these....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We've sign Koscielny

Arsenal has signed Laurent Koscielny on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee. He's a 24 year old central defender from a middling club in France, with one good season of Ligue Un behind him. And yes, he's not Kjaer, he's not Sakho, he's not Hangeland, he's not Cahill... but on the bright side, at least he's not Mikael Silvestre.

The jury's out on him until he fronts up for the Arsenal. Remember Vermaelen? He was dismissed by many (including me, I think) for being too short, too unfamiliar, too Belgian. He came from a weak Dutch league, and hadn't been linked to any of the big clubs. And he's turned out okay. Fingers crossed that Koscielny will turn out okay as well.

Wenger generally has a good record with buying experienced players above a certain transfer fee. Sagna, Arshavin, Nasri, Hleb, Adebayor, Vermaelen, Eduardo... these were all fairly good signings, circumstances permitting. At £8.5m, Koscielny's on the borderline. Above £10m, and you get quality like Arshavin, Hleb and Vermaelen. Below £10m, and you get speculative signings from weaker leagues (Eduardo, Sagna) who may or may not make the jump.

Personally, I'd want us to sign someone else. At the moment, we have Vermaelen and Koscielny as our first choice, then Djourou and (maybe) one of the geriatrics. I'd like us to sign another experienced defender to even things out.

Anyway, Koscielny had this to say:

Damn right Koscielny should do his best for the Arsenal supporters. We're an impatient lot - we dismiss new signings we've never heard of, we pine for players we've been linked with, and we boo everyone in the red shirt with white sleeves who doesn't look world-class every second of the game.

So on the 290th last day of my 20s, I got up to watch Spain beat Germany. Really good game. Germany passed well, played well, but couldn't get the ball off Spain. Spain played at a low tempo in the first half, then ramped it up in the second. Got a goal with a set piece, but could've got more if they'd been more direct and more incisive from the get-go. I keep saying that they play like Barcelona without Messi. They need someone who can keep the passing direct and quick. They need Fabregas.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Barcelona won't be intimidated by us

"We will never pay 50 or 60 million [euros] for Cesc. The whole world knows he wants to come and that we want to sign him. It's a topic that has become so public and that's the worst thing you can do with a transfer, because it makes the selling club raise their expectations and you end up paying over the odds."

- Sandro Rosell, Barcelona FC president

Sandro Rosell came to power on the back of an apocalyptic message of financial Armageddon. He preached financial conservatism, an end to cronyism, and a sound business plan for Barcelona FC. It's a shame that he didn't add "respecting other clubs' contracts" to the list.

I think Sandro's right. It IS regrettable that the transfer's been made public. I'm bored shitless reading about it, commenting about it, speculating about it. I read it from the Barcelona players, the Barcelona directors, the Barcelona press. Everyone connected to Barcelona has said something about it in the press. The end result is that it makes the selling club (Arsenal) raise their expectations and expect that if Barcelona are so intent on buying Cesc Fabregas, they'd probably be willing to pay more than an insultingly low figure.

I'm not sure Barcelona can afford Fabregas at the moment. They're heavily in debt. They've just bought David Villa. They're going to have to move Ibrahimovic along (possibly to Man City again?) in order to get the cash to pay off their outstanding transfer debts, and then if they have spare cash, maybe make a bid for Fabregas. Because at the moment, they're about 20m short of our valuation.

Still, it's a funny thing that Sandro Rosell said. It's bewildering to see a bidding club publicly nominate a "fair" selling price, do everything they can to piss off the selling club, and then act distraught when the selling club refuses to negotiate. It's like the school-yard bully telling the teacher that he'll won't be intimidated when the other school-kids refuse to give him their lunch-money.

So on the 291st last day of my 20s, I went to work, and spent the day in harm-minimalisation mode. Didn't try anything tricky. Worked well within my limits. Spent the day keeping out of trouble. Went alright. My nurse kept saying I was depressed, though, which is probably true. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Daily Star wants Cesc out of Arsenal

- a "source close to Fabregas", from the Daily Star

Somewhere in the bowels of the Daily Star office, they must have a Rent-a-Quote Rolodex with all the zaniest, craziest, most amusing people in the world. They'd have Richard Dawkings for religious issues, Christopher Hitchens for political commentary, one of the Iranian Ayatollahs for Western capitialism, Peter Hill-Wood for Arsenal, and "sources unnamed" for just about everything else.

The latest Arsenal-related Daily Star story seems to be about Guardiola trying to tap up Fabregas before the semi-final against Germany. Say it isn't so, Pep. I thought you were one of the good guys, one of the ones who respects a contract between a player and his club. It would be a bit of a let down if you'd allowed yourself to be smuggled into the Spain football camp in a laundry hamper, then snuck into Cesc's room to persuade him to join Barca. Such cloak-and-daggers stuff is beneath Pep Guardiola.

Anyway, shouldn't the Spanish national team have some sort of protection against press, club managers, hangers-on and the like? They should be kept in isolation so that they can mediate upon the efficacy of tiki-taka and dwell upon the sublime beauty of the perfectly weighted through-ball. Spain footballers should keep their minds on loftier things than mundane transfer innuendo.

I'm thinking that this is a Daily Star ruse designed to lure Peter Hill-Wood away from his minders and towards a Daily Star dictaphone. Maybe if they get PHW suitably deranged, they can get him to talk crap about van Persie, Vermaelen, Sagna, Song, Arshavin, Nasri and Theo, and get all of them pissed off enough to want to move to Barcelona.

So on the 292nd last day of my 20s, I had another bad, bad day at work. Something's happening. Went to see Toy Story on Sunday with the GOMD and two of my closest rivals. It's an amazing film, and she's an amazing girl. Two days after Sunday, I still can't concentrate on my work.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pique, Cesc, Barcelona... you get the idea

Gerard Pique has spoken to the Daily Star about Cesc wanting to Arsenal for Barcelona:

It's strange that Pique chose an English tabloid instead of a pro-Barca Spanish paper to voice his opinion. It's even stranger that he's chosen the one with which Peter Hill-Wood invariably makes an ass of himself. If there was an English newspaper that projected credibility, integrity, honesty and good old-fashioned ethical journalism, the Daily Star wouldn't be it. So I guess it's a perfect match.

I'm a bit sick of Spain players talking crap about Fabregas. Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Pique... they've all chimed in with a "Cesc for Barca" story at one time or another. It's disrespectful to Cesc, and to the Arsenal, but also to the Spanish national team. They should be focussing on winning the World Cup, not on tapping up one of their teammates. At least Guardiola has class.

Pique's got a unique insight on this matter, though. He was best mates with Cesc at La Masia. He followed Cesc to England as a youngster, joining Man Utd instead of the Arsenal. He was persuaded to return to Barcelona by Pep Guardiola. And now he's urging Cesc to follow him back to Barcelona, to play with his mates, play for his first club and play under his childhood hero. It's a dream that would tempt many people, and I don't doubt that Cesc is seriously considering it.

I hope Cesc stays for a few more seasons, win a few things for us, and leaves behind a legacy of a clutch of little Fabreg-Rugrats to take over his position. But if he wants to go now, I say let him go provided the price is right. A footballer's career is too short to waste on waiting for teammates to grow up.

So on the 293rd last day of my 20s, nothing went right at work. Things kept going wrong. Profoundly glad when I came home. Time to practice harm-minimalisation, I think, and get an early night's sleep. After all, nothing can go wrong in bed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Argies are out as well

So on the 294th last day of my 20s, international teams are dropping like flies. The Argies went out 0-4 against a very impressive Germany. And Paraguay went out in a bizarre match against Spain. There's only 4 teams and 4 matches left in the 2010 World Cup. It doesn't feel like it's been three weeks, but I suppose it's almost over. I think I'll miss it when it ends.

I'll miss the Argies. They played crazy, attacking, impossible football. They play two wingers as central midfielders, one defensive midfielder, and three strikers. They sat back too deep against Germany, gave them too much space, and got cut to shreds. As they say, live by crazy attacking football, die by crazy attacking football. Still, they gave us some of the best moments of the World Cup so far.

I think Argentina should consider giving Maradona another go at international management. For one thing, it probably helps him keep on the straight and narrow. For another thing, he provides a bit of much-needed character to international football. I can't imagine 2010 without Maradona on the sidelines.

It'll be interesting to see how Spain and Germany match up in the semi-final.

Spain haven't been that good. Torres is off-pace, and they don't have much going for them other than Villa's finishing. They keep the ball all day, but it translates to an Arsenal-esque performance. I think I said once that Spain are missing Messi, and I think I'm right. They're lacking that vitality and directness that Messi would bring.

On the other hand, Germany are awesome. Fast, technical, good movement, lethal. They're tear through Spain's defence like snot through a Kleenex party. I'm worried about Spain's ability to cope with them.

Then again, the team I thought would win it (Brazil) and the team I like best (the Argies) have gone out in two successive nights. So I really don't know what I'm talking about.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Brazil out

So on the 295th last day of my 20s, I watched Brazil lose to Holland in the quarter finals. It's a shocking result, because I've been banging on about Brazil winning the World Cup for a few weeks now. It's a bit embarrassing when they concede two weak goals against Holland and get knocked out. Oh well, at least now I can focus my attention fully on Argentina.

I thought Brazil played really well in the first half. I thought they lost it in the second half after two really weak set-pieces and Melo's red card. Holland did alright, but if Brazil had played as well in the second half as they did in the first, Holland wouldn't have had a chance.

It's a pity. I like Brazil. I like the Netherlands as well, but Brazil play a bit better. It means that the Netherlands have a really good chance to reach the finals (up against Uruguay, I think), if their defence can keep up with Suarez. I'm not sure they can do that, but it'll be interesting.

It's strange to think that one half of the final will now feature either the Netherlands or Uruguay. It's like the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea, which featured Korea and Turkey in the semi-finals. I like how these "neutral" World Cup locales seem to favour underdog teams. It's more exciting than watching Germany 2006, when all the games went pretty much to tradition.

My nurse set me up on a blind date with someone she doesn't know. Went along with it for the hell of it. It was bad, so very, very bad. So bad it was funny, and it was so funny it was even worse. She was a mainland Chinese girl, and we had nothing in common except politeness and awkward silences. Spent a hour or so at dinner, drove her home and didn't look back.

Back home watching Ratatouille at the moment. It's one of my favourite films. It started the minute I came home. So I guess there are some compensations for a incredibly awkward, terrible, blessedly short blind date.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Honda to Arsenal

When Wenger thinks a player is a "good playa", that's when the magic starts. The media swings into action, saying that the Arsenal are poised to make a bid for said player. Man City and Chelsea become interested. The player's value sky-rockets out of Arsenal's reach. Man City and Chelsea lose interest and start bidding for Dzeko. And a few weeks later, Tottenham sign him in a "coup".

This time around, it's Keisuke Honda, who's been lighting up the Japan side.

I think Honda would be good for us. But then, most players would be good for us, non? One thing that gives weight to this rumour is that Honda can be used in Wenger's end-of-season Castrol Oil promotional deals. Who greases the wheels of the Honda to Arsenal move? Castrol Oil, the oil trusted by more greasy football agents than any other brand of oil.

Brazil versus the Netherlands at the moment, and while I would like to see van Persie progress to the next round, I don't think the Dutchies have a chance. Brazil have this hulking massed defence that is brilliant, great interchange, a beast of a full-back in Maicon, and some of the best offensive players in the world. But most of all, they play as a team. Netherlands have comparable offensive talent, but it's not a coherent side - it's an academic exercise in trying to squeeze van Persie, Sneijder, Robben and van der Vaart into the same team. That said, it's not a bad dream. Before the Netherlands get knocked out, I'd like to see all four on the pitch at the same time.

Going to be a good game, hopefully.

So on the 296th last day of my 20s, I went to work, came home. Went to church, saw a girl get prayed for, and then vomit, cry, vomit some more, and then get carted off to the side. After that, they started passing out Kleenex as a precaution. Kind of disappointed that when I was prayed for, I didn't excrete a single bodily fluid.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cesc may stay

"I haven't said that I will definitely leave Arsenal. Everything is possible. Now I have my head and my focus on the World Cup. I am very proud to be captain of Arsenal and I love the club and have respect for them. It gave me such pride to be made captain."

- Cesc Fabregas, changing his mind

Cesc may not go after all. Barcelona don't have the money, Arsenal don't have to sell, and Cesc is too nice a guy to push for a transfer. There's about £25m difference between Barca's and Arsenal's valuations of him. Either Barcelona's going to throw the Yaya Toure money into the pot, or we're going to see Cesc in Arsenal colours for one more season.

It doesn't solve anything. Cesc will probably leave next year, or the year after. We're not exactly buying the type of players that will persuade Cesc to stay here long-time. We've got Chamakh on a free, Koscielny from the French league, and maybe Cole on a free and Schwarzer for £4m. It's hardly the kaleidoscope of reputable, experienced players that Cesc is longing to play with. In all probability, Cesc will stay a year, bid his time and go through the motions, and then move to Barcelona on a lower valuation next season.

What's to be gained by that?

If we can get a lot of money for Cesc, it might not be a bad idea to take the money, buy a heap of great players, and win the title "Championship Manager" style. It's not that hard. If I can take Cambridge United to four consecutive Champions League titles with a bunch of kids and cheap buys, Wenger can buy his way to an English title. After all, No One Knows Like Arsene Knows.

So on the 297th last day of my 20s, I bought some Codral for an impending cold. Went to work, and figured out that I'll be working a 48 hour week. That's a lot of hours for me. NOt sure how I'll cope. I'll be glad for the codeine phosphate in the Codral.