Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts

A precious three points at Craven Cottage on Saturday. We all need to say a HUGE molto grazie, regazzo! (thanks very much, mate!) to third-string goalie Vito Mannone for an inspired performance between the sticks. I share Fàbregas The King’s reservations about him as a long-term prospect, but you’ve got to give credit where credit’s due. He made a series of outstanding diving saves against the Cottagers. I’d say he’s earned the right with that performance to stay in the side for tomorrow’s night visit of Olmypiakos in the Champions League, a game upon which we must now focus all our attention.
Not paying attention can have VERY bad consquences. We should have learnt that from our visit to Ličge. We could very easily have lost that game. Two down within minutes is not a place you want to be away from home in the Champions League. We also rode our luck. Our equalising goal couldn’t have been more offside in the entire team, substitutes, Arsčne Wenger, the trainer and the Gunnersaurus had been standing on their goal-line. There was also more than a suspicion of hand-ball too. It would be unwise to go fishing in the well of fortune too often as we did that night.
I confess to being mystified by Manuel Almunia’s continuing “infection”. You would have thought that he’d be over a simple virus by now. I can’t help speculating about whether the “infection” might be more diplomatic than real. Let’s not get too carried away by Vito Mannone’s performance on Saturday. He still has obvious defects as a goalkeeper which he needs to address. Lest we forget, Manual Almunia was – rightly – hailed as our hero in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford last season when he kept United’s lead down to one goal. That doesn’t mean that Almunia is top of the line. He isn’t, although he’s a better, more reliable goalie than when he first broke into the first team. Whatever the circumstances Mannone has earned the right to start tomorrow night I think.
The club’s annual accounts were issued today ahead of the shareholders’ annual general meeting on 22 October 2009. They show that the loan taken out to build Highbury Square has been reduced from £150 million to £47 million, all with money from the sale of flats at the old ground. This is good news. We should be able to re-schedule the remaining £47 million without it costing too much and fund the repayment from the remaining sales with – hopefully – something worthwhile left over to pump into the club as additional  working capital.
The accounts show turnover increased to a record £313.3 million and a record post tax profit of £35.2 million. All just goes to show that the model of sustaining the club on the income it can generate itself works if we all show some patience. Alisher Usamov’s constant populist bleating is being shown up for the grandstanding it always was. We’re not completely out of the woods yet but these accounts to the end of May this year show that the club is holding up well during the recession. Good news all round I’d say.
Keep the faith!

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