Monday, February 27, 2006

Consistency and Cockerels Part I

The title of this article pretty much sums up the problems of our season in my eyes. Now, whilst it could have been called many things – including some unprintable and another simply entitled ‘Gilberto Silva’ – I believe it distils down to these two factors. The odd thing is neither issue (particularly the second!) has troubled us too much in the Wenger years. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a Spurs bashing article, that’s next week, but having finished inside the top two in the last eight seasons and with the widely acknowledged St. Totteringhams’ Day[1] getting earlier each year, I did not expect these troubles in 2006.

What I did expect was a season with an out of reach doped up Chelsea and a battle with United and the Scousers for second place. Instead we have had injuries galore (not an excuse in itself) and a vastly improved Tottenham side who I believed were heading for another finish at 10th in the table. Credit where it’s due though, they have purchased young English talent and have a spine to their team which has not been seen there for many a century, although they do have Mido which kind of restores Karma. .

Let’s first take a look at consistency. We don’t have a captain; we all know he’s one of the greatest in the world today (too early to say ever?) but a captain he is not. The answer is to be found in central defence. He is not Swiss, liable to walk out at half-time nor an Al Murray look-a-like; his name is Kolo Toure. But if you peer just behind him, there is a rather loopy German ‘keeper who has played like a captain to our defence all season and whilst not a potential armband wearer himself, deserves an honourable mention. Kolo however is the real deal. Young yet experienced, quick yet strong and loyal yet ambitious. Never has there been a defender at Highbury who is so underrated. Ok, so he doesn’t talk as much as a certain Mr. Adams did a few years ago, but that accusation was levelled at Pat and what would some give for his attitude now? It is Kolo’s attitude that would have as much an effect as any words he spoke anyway. I remember an article that said Vieira and Adams had different styles of captaincy yet both seem better suited than the current owner. Henry may well grow into the role - if he stays - but it seems to be Wenger’s policy of handing the captaincy to the player most likely to leave. Strange if you ask me and not something to do when aiming for consistency.

Captaincy however, seems like a side issue when compared to the next hindrance of any consistency; has Henry really been able to lead out the team that was intended at the beginning of the season? I would love to know just how many games we have started with our first XI as it was intended back in August. The injuries this year have certainly been the worst I have seen at Highbury (I’m 22 so can only go back so far) but even if we have had more numbers out, have they ever been so concentrated in one area of the side? I for one (as sure as I am that Ronaldo and Rooney’s pre match meal is a Fray Bentos mega-mix) say this is the worst. I have obviously acknowledged the problems of taking one fit senior striker to Madrid, but we have better cover up there, or at least we didn’t run out of players completely! How can you be consistent when you play 2 ‘squad’ central midfield players at full back? No-one can be blamed for this I suppose, it’s not like Suicide Souness and his hamstring injuries collection, but on a positive note, it has unveiled an embarrassment of riches at right back.
Lauren has been solid for a while now, but like when Cole and Clichy are fit, we’ve unearthed Eboue and Gilbert. It becomes a tough one though, I’m inclined to prefer Gilbert as he is English, but Eboue also has massive potential. Maybe Eboue could play in front of another right back, ala Clichy on the left, in games where the left side of other teams is strong…Ryan Giggs need not apply.
Talk of the ‘Welsh (cough) Wizard leads me onto the next issue; is it not odd how two goal scoring midfielders of the recent past have pretty much died at the same time for each of two clubs struggling at the same time? Coincidence? Not a chance! United fans, do not kid yourselves that the ginger knacker (Scholes for the unimaginative of you) is injured, thus he cannot be mentioned here. If anything, he died before the other three and long before he started seeing double…blimey, TWO Gary Neville’s! Ljungberg, even after a memorable performance against Madrid, is not the player he once was, as evidenced by his astonishing ‘no league goals’ stat. Pires just can’t be bothered anymore and if you take away the 20-30 goals a year those two used to offer, it becomes, as we have seen, the difference between Champions League and UEFA Cup football.

So, our captain is not as inspirational as recent captains gone by, let alone committed to the club, our injuries in defence are so bad I found myself laughing at one point when our 4th choice left-back (Lauren at the time) followed by the man covering him at right-back got injured, and two of our main attacking threats aren’t performing. This does not equate to consistency and this is turn leads to a lack of points.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those Gooners who believes the world is ending, indeed, as you will see in part II of this article I feel quite the opposite. I just believe that the above factors have not exactly helped us in our quest to carry on being so consistent in the league. Next up; Tottenham and why things are already leaning towards the good side of perky.

As a final point, I would just like to say that in the same way that half the Madrid squad and the entire of the Catalan Capital have said they would love Thierry Henry at their respective clubs; I would love Ronaldinho, Messi, Puyol, and Casillas at the Grove. If Thierry or Cesc said that, do you think it would get on the back pages of the papers?

Thought not!

Part II coming soon…


[1] The day it is mathematically impossible for the Totts to finish above us. Arseweb started it I think. If not, apologies to whoever did, it’s sheer class.


At 3:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too long! Who do you thin kyou are? Arseblogger?

At 3:58 pm, Blogger Al's Money Shot said...

haha! i could never be that pompous or good really. and i did warn you! bet it beat being at work though!
Cheers for the comments within an hour of starting I already know to cater to the attention span of my (1) audience, hehe.

At 7:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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