I’m back in the pitstop for a tyre change and refuel.
My absence, to my disappointment, was decidedly lacking in football, apart from me plodding my way through a copy of L’Equipe [in which there was a photo of Ribéry being branded both Scarface and NoFace, for signing a contract then saying he wanted to leave. Suffice to say his about-turn, and then about-about-turn, was looked upon with furrowed French brows].
Nor did I browse my interwebphone much either, as Orange charge £8 for 1 [one – I repeat, one] megabyte when you’re roaming. Eight quid!
And my sojourn finished with being ordered by a Gendarme to ‘test’ a dram of Rotorbillygoat’s baby milk and Calpol before boarding the plane. Baby milk, as I always feared it would be, was rank, and nor was Calpol a taste sensation. I’ll never be a baby, I promised myself there and then. It’s a promise I plan to stick to.
I was however in constant touch via the medium of text during the Champions League tie, and although I’d been pretty terrified that it was just that bit too soon for us, 3-0 is as comprehensive a scoreline as any, and the return leg will that much less nerve-wracking for it. It says a lot about how this close season has gone, and how the side is changing, that only five of the players who contested the final in Paris in May started the game against Zagreb.
There’s no doubt that Arsène’s got a tricky job on his hands. On the one hand, he has had to contend with two players who are desperate to leave [Reyes and the C-word], and on the other, he doesn’t want to tread on the toes of the talent we have waiting to bloom.
That said, our squad is evidently too small to compete on all fronts, and it will surely be added to – as well as minused from – before the end of the month. This is why we could see short-term signings come in – Roberto Ayala, 33, has been mentioned – to cover for those who are injured, such as Senderos and Diaby, and to add some experience.
Talking of which, it’s good to see that Lauren is not far off a return. To borrow a football cliché, he could be like a new signing, especially as he’s a midfielder by trade.
Welcome back Ralph. Fancy a game?