By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, chief psychologist at the University College Hospital of the North Circular Road.
Sometimes the mind wanders a little and I find myself in a land of “what if”; a land of beautiful dreams and enchanted forests, a land of… well another land. A land in which following an undercover sting operation the PGMO are found to have edited VAR replays before they are shown on the big screen in order to promote their favourite teams.
A land in which Manchester City are expelled from the Premier League and the Champions League for spending more money than they are allowed to and for threatening the bring Uefa to a stop by suing it simultaneously in every court in Europe.
A land in which Tottenham’s ground, so cleverly called the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, collapses after infestation of rats bite through the improperly installed underground heating system – or maybe if that is a bit too nasty (because I don’t wish any harm on their neighbours) all those clever clever beer pumps that apparently fill the glass from the bottom go wrong and 10,000 drinkers get rather wet trousers.
A land in which after each article by myself or Sir Hardly the same guy doesn’t write into Untold with the comment “is this supposed to be funny?” (Thankfully the all-powerful editorial committee doesn’t publish them).
A land in which when a blog like Soccer Souls publishes an article that says with just four games gone “Nicolas Pepe has struggled to justify the kind of money that the Gunners spent to bring him to the club,” a big billboard pops up outside the building in which the Soccer Soularians sit which says, “Do you have any recollection of how Thierry Henry performed in his first seven games for Arsenal?” Or come to that what a fair number of people in the crowd at Highbury said about his tactic of drifting out to the left all the time.
Such are my dreams, but so strange is this season that sometimes I really don’t know if I am awake or asleep. As for example when the Guardian published this positive article about an Arsenal defender. Well you could have knocked me over with a pint of whelks.
Could this mean that the newspaper scribblers are now waking up to the fact that Arsenal’s defence couldn’t have been that bad last season what with being the third best team at home last season…
No probably not – that is a fantasy too far. But how about Aston Villa, having a nett spend more than any other Premier League club being taken to court for not paying their bills. Or perhaps Chelsea facing a relegation battle….
But no, these are but wild fantasies for in the real world Harry Redknapp is writing articles in which he says Arsenal are lacking in midfield and in defence, and that this season we will finish 30 points behind the top two and will struggle to reach the top four. (Thank you TBR Football for that one).
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And thus in the actual world the blogs continue to give their advice to Arsenal and its directors, telling them as (for example) Highbury House did recently that Arsenal cannot afford to let Tyreece John Jules slip off to France, with the implication being that this is what Arsenal always do, because, well, I suppose, the lads at the Highbury House blog are not running the show.
But it is not just youngsters we have to worry about. The blog Bergkampesque recently spent some time telling us the team sheets are all wrong. As they said, “There’s no point having world class players like Lacazette and Ozil and not playing them from the start…. A “bulldog” like Torreira also didn’t start in a game of this magnitude. That to me is wrong.”
To which I would say well yes, but there is something to be said for playing different players according to the attributes of the opposition. It is, I suppose, called “tactics”.
But the experts with the keyboard, along with former chairmen and anyone else who can be found with an opinion, will always like to dive in. As when former Crystal Palace man Simon Jordan stated that he wasn’t convinced Arsenal boss Unai Emery had “much about him”. Yes well, you know, all those Europa League wins and the treble in France… I guess Mr Jordan’s cat could have done that with its eyes closed.
Of course it is the tactics as much as anything that we are told are useless. Ian Wright, who does know a thing or three about football was quoted in the Independent as saying he was less than impressed with Arsenal’s tactical approach to Liverpool, while the Daily Star told us that Mr Emery was “blasted by Danny Murphy after Liverpool run riot again.”
And so it goes on.
“Arsenal’s big-money move for this 22-goal star is already showing signs of being a disaster” – thank you Soccer Souls. We’ll come back to that in due course.