Grandmaster Ivan & Arsenal At Euro2012: It’s Quackers As RvP & Bendtner Break Ducks
Denmark 2 – 3 Portugal
Germany 2 – 1 Netherlands
The media do a love a good crisis, God bless ’em and the Dutch are determined to hand it to them on a plate. Deservedly beaten last night, they drew hope from Robin van Persie’s late strike although they need to beat Portugal by two goals and hope that Denmark lose to Germany. In both cases, history is not in their favour with the Germans never having beaten the Danes in a competitive match. Portugal hold something of a jinx over Holland with the solitary Dutch win in competitive matches coming eleven years ago, having lost the other four encounters.
van Persie took his goal well and missed from the sort of chance that he has buried for fun this past season. Maybe Alex Song is able to deliver the ball with the perfect combination of spin and pace that enables the accuracy in van Persie’s finishing. Once again the Dutch were undone by their own tactics, coming to life in the second half following the withdrawal of van Bommel.
That and appalling defending. The received wisdom is never to buy a player on the basis of one good international tournament; few if any managers ever obey that. Surely the opposite must be true, ruling out Afellay, Stekelenburg and Willens for starters.
And what of Lukas Podolski? He was well marshalled by van der Wiel although he showed his Arsenal potential early in the second half. Striding purposefully down the left, he came across several Dutch defenders. Wisely turning away from trouble, he lost momentum and the ball; a surprisingly familiar outcome. His two performances in the tournament have not yielded goals or assists but have displayed an excellent team ethic, willing to work hard and pressure opponents when they have possession. Whilst his goals will have drawn attention, you feel that the Arsenal scouts will not have missed this aspect of his game.
Earlier, Nicklas Bendtner had for once lived up to his own ego. Despite being defeated, the Dane will have been pleased with his performance in leading the attack and in fairness to him, having the best of his battle with the Portuguese defence. His two goals reminded me why he was a good substitute for Arsenal to have; the alternative to a passing game when something more rudimentary was needed, particularly the second which was headed in off the top of his head with surprising accuracy.
Elsewhere Ivan Gazidis kept himself from going under in the transfer jungle. Christening the new Chinese website, he waxed lyrical about good times ahead,
Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head. Uh huh ha ha ha. We are also talking to people in this summer’s transfer market, Uh huh ha ha ha. It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under, Uh huh ha ha ha. I think there will be something exciting for our fans to be happy about. Uh huh ha ha ha.
It was said before the Q&A recently held at The Emirates that Ivan was the consumate politico; he is also a very capable CEO, delivering a consistent message on what is happening. You sense a not dislikeable smugness in his words, born of negotiations which have or are, progressing well. We can only hope that it is not misplaced and that the targets materialise.
The praise for his manager is something that Harry Redknapp could only dream of,
We want to do business carefully. We don’t have to add many players, but we have to be very selective. The players we add must bring something to the team. That’s what Wenger is doing and he’s done a good job over the year to identify special talent. I am sure he will do it again.
Which is all that as supporters, we can ask: the right players are signed, not just a big fee signing but one who has the personality to adapt quickly to the English game and life off the pitch. Too often The Next Big Thing turns out to be less than the sum of the anticipation and previous record.
Redknapp’s dismissal at Tottenham is disappointing. Whilst he was there, I always felt that they were a squad who lacked resilience, who could be pressurised into submission. Bringing in someone who is an astute coach may actually make Tottenham more of a threat. We shall see but such shenanigans are always welcome as an Arsenal supporter since it deflects attention away from the club and allows them to go out about their business out of the media glare. I wonder how long it will be until a newspaper publishes the Tottenham equivalent of a broken cannon: the chicken in a basket on a basketball.