We definitely could’ve done without this domestic interruption but with the likes of Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Song, Fabregas, Rosicky and Bendtner, all maintaining the feelgood factor in successful outings for their respective countries (even Senderos bagged a brace for the Swiss), they should all return in a buoyant mood.
As gutted as I will be when the fateful day does eventually dawn, personally I’m resigned to the prospect of Cesc Fabregas eventually returning to ply his trade on Spanish soil. Despite his clichéd badge-kissing display the other day, I’m certain his loyalty is to Arsène, more than the Arsenal. But the disadvantage of le Prof having purloined him from under Barca’s nose at such a tender age, is that Cesc is always going to want to earn the sort of credibility in his home country that colleagues such as Xavi and Iniesta enjoy.
With time still on Cesc’s side and with him feeling sufficiently indebted to his mentor to want to repay the faith that Arsène showed in him, by way of some sort of tangible return, obviously I’m hoping this won’t be for some time. By the same token, the day we achieve the objective of winning a major honour, this might well prove to be a double-edged sword, whereby Fab feels his debt is “paid in full” and takes it as his cue to exit Arsenal.
After all, while I might believe there is nothing Cesc can’t afford on his current multi-million pound wages, that would suddenly become attainable by doubling his salary in euro, there has to come a time when he’s entitled to look out for number one. Still I’m certain there’d be a whole heap more professional satisfaction to picking up a trophy as captain of the Arsenal side he’s grown up with, compared to being drafted in to join the plethora of superstars collecting regular domestic baubles at Barca.
Besides which, the lad is far too much of a “mensch” to leave his mentor in the lurch, by taking his leave unexpectedly And yet Arsène simply can’t expect to continue selling his prodigy the promise of this vision on an indefinite basis.
In the meantime we’ll simply have to avoid taking the tabloid bait, as these rumours resurface on an increasingly regular basis, while the behemoths of Barca and Real continue to jockey for the inside track on this eventual coup. Otherwise instead of savouring Fab’s remaining seasons at the Gunners, we’ll end up like pitiful Gooner Chicken Lickens, walking around waiting for the sky to fall in.
Meanwhile I wasn’t remotely tempted to part with hard cash to watch a meaningless England performance on the internet at the weekend. Mercifully we had live coverage of the Boys in Green to provide my Saturday footballing fix, even if it did mean taping “Strictly”. In truth, Italy were always likely to top the group by snaffling a result if required at home to Cyprus tonight. Nevertheless such thoughts were of scant consolation, when Gilardino sucked Croke Park dry of all that euphoria, as Ireland switched off to gift the Azzurri a last-gasp equaliser.
Even with FIFA’s best efforts to fix it for all those countries that have unexpectedly failed to gain automatic qualification by suddenly introducing seeding, most Ireland fans would’ve happily bitten off the hand that offered the current squad the opportunity of competing in a two-legged play-off for a place in South Africa next summer.
No matter which nation fate ! throws up as Ireland’s opponents in Friday’s draw, I can’t help but feel even without a command of the lingo (although Il Trap understood well enough to be antagonised by the perennial Andy Reid question), the old silver fox is blessed with just the sort of, ‘by any means necessary’ footballing nous to ensure the lads finagle their way over the finishing line and in some respects, the more illustrious the opposition, the more I will fancy their prospects.
If the denouement to Saturday’s match was agonising, it’s likely to have been a stroll in the park, compared to the unbelievably intense emotional journey of the 180 minutes of football to follow.