Good afternoon gang, May is blissfully upon us, I am a year older, wiser and tired-er and have thusly concocted today’s column pre-birthday drinking. On the time of this going live, I desperately hope I am not deliriously hung-over; lying bare and destitute in a ditch/field/stables (delete as applicable). These things cannot be ruled out here in rural Sussex.
As the season comes to an end; the final parts of this ten month long Venetian blind closes – shutting out the glorious light of domestic football, with the subsequent darkness consuming our weekends (or at least, until the World Cup) until they’re opened again in August.
What will the football landscape look like come the start of the 2014/15 season?
We know that the Champions League trophy will reside proudly in Madrid.
We know that Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and almost certainly Liverpool will spend a vast, extravagant, obscene fortune in the transfer market. Tottenham probably will to; a new manager at the helm shopping for his trinkets.
We know that Arsenal will be wearing pristine new Puma produced kits, and using every opportunity during the summer tour to show off their new partnership; blossoming corporate PDoA if you will.
What we don’t know as yet is whether Arsenal will be playing Champions League football (although 4th place looks all but sewn up, their will, almost certainly, be a qualifying tie), which players will still be gainfully employed at The Emirates, who will come in, and perhaps, most importantly, who the person signing and managing the players will be.
We don’t know the outcome of Arsenal’s FA Cup final vs. Hull City. Will the silver polish have been excavated from underneath the kitchen sink at Colney, or will the plasterers be in, courageously filling in holes as soon as they’re being made by errant feet, fists and feelings?
Here are my three Birthday Wishes for Arsenal once the season comes to a close:
1. Get any transfer business done early
It worked with Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky in the past, it can be done.
Less hysterical, hyperventilating trolley dashes around the football equivalent of Auchan, more careful, concise, considered purchases from the top market please. I think it is fair to state that the following players are definitely off and therefore will need to be replaced: Lukasz Fabianski, Emiliano Viviano, Bacary Sagna, Kim Kallstrom, Nicklas Bendtner and Chu Young Park, with the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Lukas Podolski and Ryo Miyaichi also odds-on to leave too after a mixed season individually.
Names and rumours abound, but if Arsenal could find their way to snap up Rene Adler, Serge Aurier, Lars Bender, Luis Muriel, Danny Ings and Cesc Fabregas to fill some of those gaps, I’d be absolutely delighted.
I know every Gooner worth their salt has their own wish-list; I’d like to see a nice mix of experience and youth added, and would be hugely upset if Cesc were to end up anywhere other than N5. Let’s have anticipation over anguished hope. You remember, that feeling we all had when our #11 wearing wizard signed late, late last summer. Rather than the one that accompanied the signings of Andre Santos and Chu Young Park.
2. Sign up a manager who is open to new ideas
Now, whether this can be Arsene Wenger perhaps evolving his outlook into incorporating the delegation of jobs, or the signing of a new, hungry manager, I am at the point where I don’t mind.
After the leathering’s that Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton handed out to the team on the road, a change of approach is most definitely required. There have been occasional sprinklings of canings in past Arsenal fixtures, dating back to 2001, but for me, these were rare enough occurrences that didn’t cause too much alarm…at least up until that 8-2 at Old Trafford. However, this season…Arsenal have taken more thrashings than a pleather-clad children’s TV presenter letting out steam in a dingy, red-light-tinged S&M cellar. Not good enough and not how Arsenal should really finish up in matches vs. league rivals.
3. Bring Legends back as Coaches.
I’d like to see more ex-players involved with coaching the team.
Why can’t Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry be signed up to help coach the side? You can’t put a price on experience and seeing ex-stars like Patrick Vieira at Manchester City, Dennis Bergkamp at Ajax and Martin Keown sat on a BBC sofa makes me yearn for their input at the club. Why not?
Is it them, or is it Arsene? Surely they could add a dimension currently untapped at Arsenal? Will the next two years see a newly resigned Wenger grooming his successor? Regardless, I think that this is something Arsenal should be working towards implementing.
On a different note, just how great is it to see Arsenal win again…it’s almost like the semi-final took Arsenal to a canyon’s edge, giving the players a view of the bottom and allowing them to contemplate their proximity to it.
Since then, goals have started to flow, injured parties have returned and the spark is re-lit. Glorious stuff and the hope I mentioned last week is back in spades. Surely a fit Arsenal side will bury that trophy-monkey against Hull this month? Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny all look fit and raring to go, and what a difference they have made for Olivier Giroud’s and Santi Cazorla’s games. Super stuff.
Take care you lot, see you all next week…hopefully after a win against The Baggies has cemented that top for place…before the last day of the season!