So long Eduardo

I was watching Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby on Wednesday night. After rising through the ranks from a waitress in Missouri to a title contender in Las Vegas, Hillary Swank’s American Dream comes to an unexpected end. Turning her back after a demolishing round, her opponent, a former Berlin prostitute, plants a cheap-shot on her, sending Swank crashing towards her corner and breaking her neck on the upturned corner stool.  Now, I’m not calling Martin Taylor a German prostitute, but all I could think of was Eduardo and his similar sad case of a career.
Nonetheless, Taylor is a gigolo to the feeling in England that you need to be a tough man, that you need to prove yourself as alpha male. Sadly, many of the foreigners who come to England’s football leagues don’t share that way of thinking and Eduardo sets sail for Shakhtar Donestk having become the miserable victim of it. To be English is to demonstrate masculinity. While they do a credible job, too many young men from Great Britain join the army (the second largest in the EU with 250,000 personnel). What are their many different reasons? Could one be to show they are as brave and hard as Martin Taylor? And the foreigners? Well they’re just a bunch of vegetable-eating cowards.
Before I got home on Wednesday night I had been playing some 7-a-side football in Stockwell. It was my first taste of competitive football since the season ended and today my ankles are still fully aware of that. The pain though is incomparable to the destruction inflicted upon Eduardo. The game was of a decent standard and less angry than the typical match gets at the Powerleague closer to home in Essex. I can’t recall how many fights have started after some lump slams an opponent up against the boards. Certain teams just enjoy pre-meditated brawls. I can’t say I’ve never thought about ploughing through the back of somebody myself.
Eduardo isn’t paralysed. He isn’t sipping soup through a straw. He will find himself lucky to have his limbs working again, still making a living doing what he loves. Regardless, this is a major step backwards in the Croatians career. I get the impression it was a shared conclusion that Eduardo could no longer cut it in England and that selling would be the only option this summer. Wenger relies heavily on the fact that his players are strong mentally if not physically, and I’m sure along with his manager, Eduardo was of the belief that he could no longer apply his trade to a high standard while the hacks of English football subsist.
After the horror injury back in February 2008, Arsene Wenger’s immediate reaction was to sentence Taylor to a life-time ban, sentiments quickly retracted. Eduardo said “shit happens”, and “I see this as a risk in professional football. Sometimes you go up, sometimes you go down.” Taylor was given a three match ban and many Arsenal fans understood his position as a defender was to make tackles, he had mistimed this one, and the unfortunate happened. Despite my frustration I sensed this was true.
Still, as Eduardo leaves something doesn’t sit right. When the transfer became official feelings turned back to the original fury of that February weekend. It isn’t so much the tackle, but that nothing has been done to help Eduardo feel safe playing football in the Premiership. There was a similar mood surrounding the family of Ian Tomlinson yesterday after the CPS found no link between his heart attack during the G20 protest last year and the uncalled for brutality he was dealt by one cowardly policeman. Both stories show deterioration in relationship with authority. For Eduardo, ‘that’s his problem’ the FA will say. So long to the vegetable-eating coward and so long to Tomlinson the old drunk bastard.
The Eduardo news comes after Arsenal’s first pre-season games against Barnet and Sturm Graz. I had my computer back with a new hard drive, blessed with all the hottest programmes. Getting rid of the unnecessary crap had freed up plenty of space and the internet was running as fast as Theo. Lovely. I’d paid my hard-earned £3 to Arsenal.com and settled down to watch the Barnet game only to find the sound wasn’t working. In true Arsenal fashion, I had sent my property away and it had come back crooked.
It was painful at first but I slowly got into the quiet vibe of watching Arsenal, the interesting peacefulness known as pre-season. It was a welcome change to the irritation surrounding the club as fans clash on the internet over Wenger’s handling of transfers and what to do about Cesc Fabregas. In a strange way I was more pumped up for Arsenal pre-season than I was over the World Cup. The new kit looked class, the sight of talented youngster Jack Wilshere, all topped by the hilarious photos from training posted on the Arsenal website.
Then it dawned on me, that all I was really enjoying was watching Arsenal without stress nor strain. Without the agony defeat against Manchester United and Chelsea, just simply watching the pass and move of Arsenal albeit against a lesser opposition. Watching the games in silence gave football back its eloquence and beauty. Eduardo’s transfer to Shakhtar brought me back to reality though. Pre-season? Pre-heartache, pre-humiliation, pre-broken leg, pre-fans mutiny?

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