From stink to pink
Early Doors neglected the take the mickey out of Nicklas Bendtner on Monday for turning out against Manchester City wearing pink boots.
It was too busy banging on about the new, rough-house Tottenham, and for that it can only apologise. As such, it had plenty of quality pink-related gags stored up that were just waiting to be unleashed on the world.
‘Bendtner was shocking’, ‘The striker is playing for his fuschia at the club’, ‘In those boots he expected plenty of a-puce’, etc. You see? Real quality stuff.
However, the Dane went and ruined it all by rifling home the winner for Arsenal against Dynamo Kiev that booked their place in the next round in rather manly fashion, even if he displayed all the skills of a netball player to control Cesc Fabregas’s cheeky long ball to set up the shot.
Fabregas – on his first night as the Gunners’ new captain – was free to make the pass after Kiev did not contest a drop ball, an action that was borne of the murky gap between the laws of the game and sportsmanship, something the young Spaniard has obviously learnt from previous skipper Thierry Henry.
Some Arsenal fans acknowledged Bendtner’s dayglo footwear with a witty song about his “lovely shiny boots”, perhaps started by one of the club’s official chant-starters that they appealed for back in the 1990s.
The Emirates crowd were also soft on William Gallas, whose recent outbursts have seen him shoulder much of the blame for Arsenal’s recent bad run, the emergence of Somali pirates and the breakdown of the family unit in recent weeks.
They never got on the Frenchman’s back, even when a comedic slip near the corner let in Ismael Bangoura to fire against the woodwork. Well, he never liked it at right-back anyway, that’s one of the reasons why he left Chelsea in the first place.
Another reason, of course, was the alleged threat he issued to his then employers, claiming he would sabotage a match.
Chelsea issued a lovely statement after he had left for Arsenal, which did more to create sympathy for Gallas than the club, and included the lines: “Before the first game of the season against Manchester City, when only four defenders were available and John Terry was doubtful with an injury, he refused to play. He went on to threaten that if he was forced to play, or if he was disciplined and financially punished for his breach of the rules, that he could score an own goal or get himself sent off, or make deliberate mistakes.” Does this sound like a player that Arsene Wenger would make captain of his club?
The treatment of Gallas by the Arsenal fans is to be applauded – especially in contrast to the ironic cheers that the Spurs faithful greeted goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’s every touch on Sunday – but it was probably more by accident than design.
The main thing for Wenger is that Fabregas and Gallas overcame any awkwardness caused by the youngster usurping the more experienced player, and everyone at the club can look forward to a new era.
Though, as ED pointed out yesterday, captains don’t really matter and – like royalty – are mostly a ceremonial position that is largely ignored when all is rosy but takes on a sudden and fevered significance when things go wrong.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I do not sleep with him (Drogba). Where he was last night? I don’t know. I am not a policeman for my players.” – Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari obviously doesn’t subscribe to the Slaven Bilic theory on player/coach relations.FOREIGN VIEW: A row between the Peruvian FA and the government that has forced FIFA to suspend the country from international competition has hit clubs hard. Peruvian teams were left out of the draw for the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the Champions League – and stand to lose out big time.
“For the moment, we’ve lost $500,000 which we would have earned through qualifying for the Libertadores,” said German Leguia, general manager of Lima club Universitario.
“If they disaffiliate us altogether, things could get worse. The club would lose around $6 or $7 million a year if that happened, and if we add the interest which they charge us for not paying certain debts, the sum could reach $20 or $25 million a year. This would force us to close the club.”