By Tony Stafford
This writing stuff can get to you. As I learned almost at the beginning of my journalistic career, you need a vehicle. Two important senior men at the Greyhound Express left to start a weekly magazine back in the late 1960’s. Within months – or so my failing memory seems to recall – they’d disappeared out of everyone’s attention while young old me became chief reporter.
Almost the same happened to me ten years ago when I left (voluntarily and lucratively, at least until the cash ran out) the Daily Telegraph, but luckily Raceform Update offered an initial ego-boosting lifeline.
Nowadays, though, almost anyone can say what they want and get it read by someone.
The first of my Sunday offerings brought quite a haul of comments. I realise now that I should have replied to each and every one, so sorry that I didn’t. By this Sunday we were down almost to negative equity, but I resolve in future – if dear editor there is a future – to reply to all. Keep it steady, please.
So we got through the Olympics unscathed, apart from a misdirected plastic bottle at the stadium. No doubt, as time obliterates fact, there will be questions in Parliament deploring the waste of money of “all that unnecessary security”. Next time, if we do get it again, the volunteers can be responsible for all of it.
Now, though, it’s the deadly-serious matter of the Transfer Window deadline, which has only two and a half weeks to go.
It’s no secret that my allegiances are with a North London club that has built its own stadium. They have a couple of good players who can’t live on the pittance their French manager and skinflint board have imposed on them, so they look like being off to pastures new.
Van Persie got a right booing on Sunday in Cologne, maybe it was the eau de Robin that upset the fans, while they also were fine-tuning the words of a new song for Song and his imminent departure to Barcelona.
No wonder the two buying clubs are in the market. Manchester United proved once again that you don’t need money to become rich. Just issue non-voting shares at £15 each to cream off another chunk. Barcelona have been potless, like the country in which they operate, for ages, but they simply have to buy each summer. Song will make the perfect bench-based model for aspiring Spanish hairdressers to practise virtual “cuts” all winter.
The Cologne match showed that Wenger’s summer has not been wasted, Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud – how long before the 6ft4in Frenchman becomes Le Giraffe – all looking a step up on previous intakes. They look a bet to me at 14-1, each way especially.
When you hunger for news of the van Persie departure, the last place normally to look would be the Arsenal web site. They tell the tale only once the readies are in the bank. But on Tuesday, Podolski and Cazorla still had no number, along with only one other first team squad member, Henri Lansbury.
Long ago almost before he was even a callow youth, Henri – even Thierry spells his name with a Y – looked like he was probably a bit posh. The content of one web site carrying his name, and other circumstantial evidence suggest otherwise, but over the past years of loan-outs, England U19 and U21 matches, he showed himself to be a bit of a player.
His face appeared amid the pictures of Arsenal’s first get-together training session of the new season, but he was not in the 23 who shared the action, and in Robin’s case opprobrium in Cologne, but he was still on the First Team squad page.
Then this morning, in a Chile, Argentina, Brazil-style disappearing act, his name was nowhere, number or otherwise, to be seen. He was not even transferred onto the Reserves and Youth players’ page. Whither Henri? Probably he’s going to West Ham. Sam loves a deal, almost as much as Harry. We need to know!
[STOP PRESS: It seems our ‘enri has been added to the Reserves List on the Arsenal website. Sweet relief for those of you who, like me, are troubled by such things!]