And... relax... one more big decision to make before bringing down the shutters on the season – do I care less about watching Harry’s wedding or the FA Cup Final? In the end I went for the footie, a decision which involved the availability of drink and a misdirected belief that the spectacle may be less of a hypocritical sham.
And it didn’t fail to live up to expectations - one team not interested playing for a manager who’s half-way out the door against another who’s not interested in playing for a manager who continually derides them in the media. However, the only point of interest I took from the whole charade was this: Jose has acquired the ‘big watch’.
This is a growing trend among managers, started I think by Marco Silva last season where they adorn themselves with huge timepieces, probably accurate to the half-life of radium whilst being able to the time in Narnia despite being 60 metres under the North Sea.
It didn’t do Jose any good of course, but at least he knew to the nearest millisecond at exactly what point he lost the cup. He can take solace from the fact that he’s not alone, though, because various managers have been spotted on the touchline with such ginormous pieces, and it’s becoming the ‘badge of office’. It will likely take over from Jeff Stelling’s prostrate cancer motifs, which seem to have disappeared from manager’s lapels recently.
No surprise, therefore, to see images of Mikel Arteta gamboling around in the spring sunshine, flashing the ‘big watch’. He was nailed on to replace Arsene at Arsenal, indeed, blessed as the chosen one by the great man himself... right up to the point where they gave the job to Unai (Dick) Emery.
Despite all of Arteta’s qualifications in not actually managing a team, Dick is perfectly placed to take over at the Emirates. He never broke into the top two in Spain in three years at Valencia, succeeded in the Europa League but not the Champions League at Sevilla, and never really cut it at Paris St Germain. More of the same for Arsenal supporters next year then, and mark my words, first game of the season, look out for the big watch.
Not that his predecessor is in a hurry to move on any time soon, and in amongst the myriad of interviews he’s been filling his time with he let slip a little gem about his love life. Back in 2003, he was explaining how he tried to sign Ronaldo and Messi:
The obvious player [Arsenal missed out on] that comes to mind is Ronaldo. He was here with his mother and we were very close.
He then went on to explain that they were about to pay £4.5m for Ronaldo when Manchester United came in with a bid of £12m (nothing’s changed there then), and the rest is history. But what of the love between Arsene and Ronaldo’s mum? Was it unrequited, unconsummated, unwanted, unusual? We may never know. What we do know is that it put Messi right off a trip to North London – and the rest is history.
Across town, West Ham have broke the bank and made Manuel Pellegrini their highest paid manager ever. Which is fine, except from what I can remember he was a quiet, respectful sort of bloke – who never really spoke English. How’s he going to cope with all the ‘apples and pears’, and ‘rosie lee’ and ’trouble and strife’ of the East End?
And, if he was that good, how did he end up at Hebei China Fortune in the graveyard of managers that is the Chinese Super League? And for that matter, at West Ham when there are arguably bigger vacancies out there? Probably because the top six are currently slogging it out between them on which one can land David Moyes.
It won’t be the last time I say this, but it’s going to be an interesting season next year.
But before then, there’s the small matter of the World Cup, and I’m surprised at how much I’m looking forward to it. England announced their final squad this week, with no place for Jack Wilshere or Joe Hart.
They weren’t happy. Joe spoke first, saying, ‘I know what I bring to the team.’
Yes, it’s goals for the opposition bonny lad, and we’re trying to avoid that this time round. Jack was more vocal, however, when he said, “I’ve felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad! And given the chance I could have made a real impact.”
This from the man who started 12 games for Arsenal this year, and last played for England two years ago in the defeat to Iceland. He’ll be sorely missed.
(Don’t cry for me) Argentina made the news this week with their World Cup preparations.
Not for who they left out, but for what they left in. They issued a manual to their players and staff travelling to Moscow entitled ‘Russian Language and Culture’, which included the chapter: “What to do to have a chance with a Russian girl”.
And it’s pretty useful stuff - apparently the Russian female likes people who are ‘clean and smell good’, ‘do not like to feel as objects’ and ‘want to feel important and unique’. I could draw parallels with the technique required to be successful in The Alex on a Saturday night, but space and time regretfully don’t allow.
And then there’s the ‘what not to do’ section - ‘don’t ask stupid questions about sex’, ‘don’t print out your bank statement on the first date’ all traps that the international football superstar could slip into so easily.
Of course it was all a horrific mistake:
After an internal investigation in respect to yesterday’s events during the Russian Language and Culture course, it has been concluded that the materials distributed were incorrectly printed.
Yep, that should do it. However, what the chapter fails to point out is that no matter how nice you smell, unless you’re a senior FIFA official, you stand no chance at all.
The real quote of the week this week though comes from Sam Allardyce, who bemoaned the state of the current game:
Money has just brought more instability than ever before – and it’s managers who suffer the most.
Whilst reflecting on his £6m pay off plus his £3m basic for 24 Everton games, a £1m pay-off for 67 days of his £6m England contract and a £2m bonus for 21 games of his £2.5m Palace deal. Aye...
He then made his excuses, citing the need to go out and buy a big watch, and I for one can’t wait to have a good look at it sometime around November or December when his next six month project rolls around.