Toon/The Future's Good, The Future's Green and Navy?

An excellent three points on Tyneside on Saturday. The only fly in the ointment is our continued flakiness in defence. Big Bad Bill Gallas made an awful error for their goal. Disappointing after he’s played so well in recent months.
Manuel Almunia was also very clumsy for their penalty. He’s definitely grown in confidence this season but I still think we should be looking for a world-class goalie. With the recession now going full-tilt and 20,000 jobs being lost every week at the moment, a frightening statistic, we’re not going to have money to spend without creating some losing some players.
I’d still sell William Gallas if we can get a top-drawer centre-half in his place. Well as he’s played in the past months I still think his attitude is pooh. I’ve also come to the conclusion that Emmanuel Adebayor should go if we can get somebody to take him off our hands. Sterling’s plummet against the Euro helps in this respect, making offers from Euro-zone country a lot more tempting at €1.05 to the Pound than they were at €1.40. Emmanuel simply hasn’t shown the desire this season than he did last term. His very public flirtation with a move last summer has, I’m told, honked off the management. Quite right too.
I expect players to do the very best for themselves. Football clubs and we fans are good at demanding loyalty from players but it’s a bit of a one-way deal. How many times have we all said, “He can go” in the pub or in the car, bus or train after the game? We only want loyalty from the players we want to keep, not those we don’t like.
That said, if a player signs a contract he should be prepared to honour it. I have no personal animus against Mathieu Flamini. He let his contract expire and used that to his personal advantage. Let’s not forget wet got him from Olympique Marseilles for a song. I’m not one of those who gloat at his fringe status at Milan. He has however made his bed. He’ll have to lie in it. I do think he might well have made a mistake leaving us from a long-term career point of view. Milan is a team which needs major surgery to re-build it. Italy is also not the most stable of football environments at the moment.  The money must have been a bit temptation though. I can understand that. Who amongst us is going to say with their hand on their heart they haven’t experienced moments of personal greed?
What I do expect is for players to honour the contracts they sign. That is a two way street however. Selling players is likely to be more difficult than we might imagine in the current environment. Most of our players agreed their current contracts at the top of the market pre-recession. We can’t really moan if a player says he’s not going to leave for a pay cut if he doesn’t get the offer he wants. It may make sense to be a bit creative and subsidise a player’s move in one way or the other to sweeten the deal.
Much as I’ve defended Emmanuel Adebayor he simply hasn’t shown the spark this season. His first touch is never going to be the best, although he’s more skilful than he’s given credit for once he’s got the ball under control. If the right offer comes along, I’d let him go.
It’s early days yet but it looks like Arsčne’s signing of Andrey Arshavin was worth the wait, the large transfer fee and all the angst. It’s too early for a final judgement yet but all the initial signs are very encouraging. Such a pity that he’s ineligible for the Champions League this season, but we knew that when we signed him.
I know this season is far from over yet but now we’ve got Ivan Gazidis in place as chief executive officer Arsčne needs to give him his list of players who can go and his targets ASAP. Ideally signings should be concluded as soon as the window opens so they can have a full pre-season with us. Likewise, the quicker we can ship out those players we’re happy to let leave, the quicker we know how much we’ve got to play with in the budget.
I’d let Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas go, subject to suitable offers and replacements for both of them. Nicklas Bendtner I’d keep for one more season. I still think there’s a chance he’ll mature into a very good player. His attitude has certainly improved out of all recognition.
My priority targets would be a tough-tackling, they shall not pass centre-half, a top-drawer goalkeeper and a top of the range holding midfield player. Talking of the playing side, Ivan Gazidis has been quoted as saying Arsčne has the manager’s chair for as long as he wants it. Personally, I hope Le Boss stays for at least another three seasons after his current deal expires at the end of the 2010/11 season.
Whilst we’re on about contracts, Theo Walcott (whose training injury is not, thankfully, as serious as it first appeared) and Robin van Persie are still to sign new deals. We want both those issues sorted out as quickly as possible too. In these two cases specifically and generally as player contracts come up for renewal, I’d be looking to lower the downside risk and offer heavily incentivised contracts where the players can earn big through success on the park.  Big bonuses for success but lower basic salaries are the way to go in the teeth of the recession.
In the League, fourth spot is now firmly in our own hands with Villa getting absolutely caned yesterday at Anfield. Liverpool has suddenly hit a rich vein of form in the last couple of weeks. If Yoonited keep on stuttering they’ll be in danger of losing out in the League, something that looked inconceivable a few weeks ago.  We can’t worry about other results however. We have to stay firmly focussed on our own performances. No games this week as the players will all be off on international duty. Let’s hope they all return fit and well for our next game home to Manchester City in the League. Keep winning and I think third is a real possibility. That’s got to be our target in the League.
I shall be in Cardiff for both the coming Welsh World Cup home qualifiers against Finland and Germany next Saturday and Wednesday. It’s a BIG ask, but two wins in those games would see my beloved native land in with a real chance of qualifying for the play-offs in second spot in the group. It’s a small chance granted but I live in hope!
One final thing. There are rumours circulating, yet to be confirmed, that the FA intends to hold a minute’s applause to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy (14 April 1989) at our FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea. My personal “take” on Hillsborough is clear. It was a preventable and foreseeable occurrence which resulted in the unnecessary and neglectful deaths of 96 fans. I know the Scousers can be their own worst enemies at times but this shouldn’t blind us to the catalogue of neglect and indifference which killed 96 of them. It could quite literally have been us. I was in the Leppings Lane End for our FA Cup Semi-Final against Sunderland in 1973. The crush was terrifying. Neither the stewards nor the police gave a monkey’s.
All that said, I can’t think of anything more inappropriate than a minute’s applause in this case. It’s either a minute’s silence or nothing in my view. The majority opinion of Chelsea fans appears to be that any commemoration of whatever form will be greeted with boos and whistles by a significant element of their support. I’d welcome YOUR views on this. I promise to ensure that the FA gets to hear them loud and clear, whatever they are. Either post a reply to this blog or email me at the address below.
Keep the faith!

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