By Bogus Cheese
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Sir Alex F-Word… sorry, I seem to have put an extra word in that. Let’s start again.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Sir Alex F-Word. Despite his much vaunted socialism and his shop steward background he has consistently failed to criticise the owners of his club, he has criticised little FC United (where the supporters at least had the guts to go with their convictions rather than waive coloured scarves around), and he has lost a series of long term ground stewards, plus a few brilliant footballers, with whom he has fallen out.
Indeed to let one great player slip through your hands while still at the height of his powers might seem unfortunate, but to do it with five? That looks a bit too clumsy for comfort.
Beckham, Ince, Stam, van Nistelrooy, Ronaldodo and now the Roon fellow. Not my favourite young men. Not the sort of chaps I would care to pass a convivial cocktail with before the seven course meal, but still, players who could by and large do it on the pitch.
Of course before you jump in and correct me, let me add that I am aware that Arsenal too have sold – Henry, Vieira, Overmars, Anelka come to mind – but the situation seems different. With the F-Word there is little to dissaude one from the view that it is all about egos – about players being bigger than the club. With Lord Wenger it has been about players who have been taken to a higher level, and who have then wanted to go on elsewhere.
In short, there is, for me, a profound difference between the troubled personality and brotherly dominance that surrounded the young Anelka, and ultimately paid for the new training centre, and the Fergusonian rows with the Family Beckham.
Likewise in the here and now, with the debate over the Roon that matters reach a sharp contrast. Through the summer we had volume IV of the Cesc Affair, where our Leader put down the Foot and and said, “Stay boy!” and the good little chap stayed. At Manchester Untidy, the reverse seems to be the case, with the Roon being forced out, as others were before him.
It is also interesting to contemplate the final words of Sven (not something I often do) as he left the job at manager of England. “Look after Wayne Rooney” he said, telling us that England was so lucky to have such a special talent, that needed nurturing. It seems no on was listening (apart from me that is).
And of course he (the Roon, not the Sven) is such a talent. Or was. But somehow things went wrong last season, through the summer, and now, and really he’s re-entered the ordinary world of the mortals, instead of touching the stars as he once did.
Of course the Arsenal / Man IOU contrast does not stop with the Roon and the Cesc. We have profits where they have debts. We have players in their teens and early 20s where they have Giggs, Scholes and Neville, who between them are so old they can recall the last time the Liberals were in power. (And yes, put your hands down at the back. I do know when that was – I wrote a book about it).
But here’s a point. I have oft read that Ferguson is the ideal manager to look after the Roon. I am not quite sure why, but apparently he is. But I wonder what would have happened if we had had him in our ranks. Would his fame have played out in such a way, or would he have become more Henryesque?
With Henry I am not sure I can recall any sort of Anklegate affair (Anklegate – I just made that up – what do you think?), but I do recall that his departure, like that of Vieira, was organised at Arsenal’s convenience as much as the player.
In fact with Henry and Vieira we got far more than we paid when it was time to say a fond farewell. They were players had given their best but who, although still brilliant, were gradually slipping down the scale. Rooney is certainly not in that class – at his age he must have his best years (as a footballer if not an intellectual giant) in front of him.
And yet, and yet… His contract is edging towards a conclusion, the papers are full of the notion that he has said he won’t sign again for Sir F-Word, and unlike Henry and Vieira he cost lots of dosh. I wonder if they will even get their investment back. (Now that ought to wipe the smile off the face of the Glazers).
It is a bit like the time when Galileo discovered that the sun was made of cheese, or when Plato found that the earth was made of earth. Confusing times.
Then there’s what the tabloids (in a rare sense of irony) call the Roon’s “private life” – which of course is always anything but, thanks to them.
I have never had the chance to be paid £5.2 million a year, nor have I ever had the mind to go trailing round with a prostitute, but if both were the case I think I might also have the ability to hire a couple of potato headed look alikes and a gang of minders to throw the press off the scent.
In fact I always think false trails work quite well. You decide what you fancy doing in a few months time, and then put out the story that you are doing it now, the stupid press fall into the trap and run it, you sue them, win (because of course there is nothing) and then (using the duplicates to distract the rather demented if not downright drunk journos and their editors) go off and do your thing.
In fact (note to young writers – never begin two consecutive paragraphs with the same first two words, it always looks as if you are running out of ideas) I rather like this story, and feel a novel coming on. Brilliant young footballer, paid a fortune, gets thoroughly fed up with the press, and so with the aid of some mates lays a series of traps for them into which they fall, hook line and mixed metaphor. And his manager.
Meanwhile back on planet earth, compared with L’affair del Roon (to mix the languages having let the figure of speech have it) we have got away with the Cesc thing fairly cleanly. Of course he might go next summer, but we’ve got Nasri, Ramsey and Jack, so who cares?)
Indeed if our Lord Wenger had been born in Northern Ireland we could have had him standing on the street corner announcing that Cesc will leave “over my dead body” outside his church. “Arsène says no!” the press would scream, the IRA would give up their arms, the KGB pull out of south west London, and the arabs turn the City of Manchester into a giant casino.
But as it stands, Sir F-Word, with his refusal to speak to anyone anymore (except I understand for the five hours a day he gives over to lecturing his hairdryer), seems to have become a parody of himself. A rather childish figure of fun, tucked in the pocket of a bankrupt bunch of shopping centre owners, and out manoeuvred by Ms Jennifer Thompson.
In fact apart from Ms Thompson it seems that Mr Roon has not scored since last March and clearly it can’t go on like this. Things will have to come to a head. As it were.
If you have been, thank you for reading.
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