PR Lessons From Time Travelling Pasties & Other Transfer Gossip
No sooner had Sky Sports We Make Up The News As We Go Along put the story out about RvP adopting a Rooney posture than the Daily Heil reckons that Stefan Jovetic and Robert Lewandowski considered most likely as his replacements. Wow, two names whom nobody else had thought of! It’s a hard life being a football scout, travelling the world, expenses paid hotels, watching football matches and then picking up the paper to see who we’re being linked with. All in order to submit a report that says, “Quite good, scores a few goals, good passer, treats the ball like a friend. You won’t be interested but he can head the ball as well“.
At Arsenal, the first pictures of pre-season training emerged somewhat tardily given the link that Big Al provided yesterday; has football ever been away? The beautiful couiffoured locks of Mikel Arteta barely straying from their place, even when running. Pre-season is a time of optimism, when the quirks of fate that the coming thirty eight weeks bring are not yet manifesting.
As if to underline that, Abou Diaby joined in training. Of course, he could just have been posing for pictures to make it feel like he is part of the squad again. Pre-season is his danger time, many a campaign of expectation has been wrecked in the six weeks leading up to the ‘big kick-off’ for the Frenchman. Let’s hope this time it is an altogether more enjoyable time for him.
Interestingly, Sebastian Squillaci was at the club. Reports from France linking him with Bastia have been quashed. The Corsican club’s president noted that they could not afford him. He will no doubt be disappointed that having hidden from successive US governments, Geronimo has had to break cover to tell us that next summer’s transfer crisis will no doubt revolve around Squillaci,
Sebastien Squillaci is an extraordinary player who plays for Arsenal where he has [a] one year contract.
I expect the Frenchman will let us know his plans as the season progresses. I am thinking of using it as a scare tactic with the kids: “If you don’t behave, Squillaci will be Arsenal’s first choice centre back next season“. The thought of that scares the living bejesus out of me, so it must do the same for them. Surely?
He is not the only maligned centre back at the club of course. Except I don’t think Johan Djourou deserves the abuse he receives. Last season’s performance levels dipped, a point the Swiss international freely admitted to recently but in his defence, even he struggles as an emergency right back. As a fourth choice centre back, I feel that he is a decent squad member. Even in the defensive midfield role, he is a useful player with his international experience gained largely in that position.
Versatility is often cited as a curse for players and to some extent that is true, particularly in this instance where he plays an entirely different role for club and country. It is strange when you read comments from people demanding that the next tier of players in the squad should be internationals, denigrating Djourou in that context without realising that he is exactly the type of player that they demand we sign.
Of course he needs to take his performances to a consistently higher level if he wants to usurp any of the first choice defenders. He knows that and naturally strives for it. Yet that comes through playing on a regular basis so is a little of a chicken and egg situation. However, the flip side of that is that the consistency is required straightaway, to promote a seamless transition when the team change is made. The eternal quandry of football.
One thing I did like in the interview was his rubbishing of agent’s claims but also his discretion when questioned about the conversation between himself and the manager:
Blick: You’ve extended your contract with Arsenal until Juni 2015. Wouldn’t it have been better to start anew at a new club?
JD: No. Arsenal have chosen to extend my contract because they’re counting on me. I did have a bad spell. However, I’m convinced that I will get another another chance and that I will grab that chance.
Blick: Why are you so sure about that?
JD: I held talks with my manager.
Blick: What did Mister Wenger tell you?
JD: That’s between the two of us.
An object lesson in PR. I know Djourou’s future is not as an emotive topic as that of Robin van Persie’s but in terms of managing a situation, there is much for him and his representatives to take note of. Perhaps they can ask Cbob if they can borrow his time-travelling flying pasty to go back and restart this process from the beginning.