The summer transfer window closed gently a few days ago and the last round of international matches for this break are played tonight. It’s one of those tough weeks in football where you have to scrabble around to find seven things worthy of a mention. Scrabble round? Do me a favour! I could do thirty if I wanted. Fortunately for you, I don’t.
#1 Arsene Wenger
Oh yes, Arsene keeps his weekly slot. In fact, I am considering rebranding the column to the “Arsene Wenger and the Magnificent 6”. But why would Wenger be on this week’s list? How about the last minute dash to the supermarket realising he had forgotten to buy Thomas Lemar having agreed to sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas Perez and, in theory, Alexis Sanchez. It turned out that when Arsene finally got to the supermarket that there were no more Lemar’s in stock, even if he offered £92m (as IF Arsenal were ever going to pay that). Ivan Gazidis and his crinklies all breathed a huge sigh of relief when the deal had been left too late to go through. Alexis was over the blue moon, I am sure.
#2 Mike Ashley
What’s that Mike? Name a tune? Oh I don’t know, do you know “Viva Espana” old chap? Mike Ashley is playing Rafa Benitez as if he is an old harmonica right now. What a transfer window for the Newcastle owner. He convinced Rafa that if he got rid of about £200k off the wage bill then he could bring some talent in. Rafa did his bit, like any good Spanish waiter would do, but did Mike do his? Did he bollocks, and Rafa is now expected to stay up with a team that would probably do well to finish 8th in the Championship which is probably just about right as it will be where they are playing next season.
#3 David Sullivan
Talking of madmen owners, how about this guy? Not content with everyone just thinking he is a twat, the guy publically opened his mouth and proved everyone right. Be it lying about the deal to bring in William Carvalho from Sporting CP or claiming that Slaven Bilic passed up the opportunity to sign a couple of other sought after transfer window movers, the manages to drag the name of West Ham United FC lower every week. Where was he on transfer deadline day? Ordering a fecking cocktail in a beach bar in Marbella, probably. That is actually worse than Diafra Sakho being at Cheltenham Raceground.
#4 Riyad Mahrez
Has he reappeared yet? The Algerian has shown the ability to go missing during matches since Leicester won the title, but he managed to go missing for the entire international break, sparking rumours of a move to Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, PSG and, probably, Everton.
#5 Gareth Southgate
It’s been a fine a week for Southgate as England move ever closer to qualifying for Russia. People will always criticise, but he was proven correct in his decision to pick TWO holding midfielders to play away in Malta. When Joe Hart is in goal, you need more than one closing down those long shots, right? And to make triply sure, he got Kyle Walker tucking in as an en-vogue “inverted wingback” too. That’s tactical genius that is. All of it meant that Malta eventually ran out of steam meaning the fresh legged substitutes could run amock and score three more in injury time. This man is the new Cruyff, I am telling you. And, to be fair, the 2-1 win over Slovakia at Wembley was actually, all joking aside for a minute, a very good three points to get.
#6 Wayne Rooney
To quote my good friend Jim, and when I say quote I actually mean blatantly nick his gag, Wayne Rooney said he wanted to sit back and be an England fan and what finer way to prove himself than getting nicked for drink driving during the international break? Jesus, Wayne. You’ve only been back on Merseyside a month. Once a Blue, always a Blue.
We all knew they’d get away with it, don’t pretend for a moment you were as stupid as Wenger and thought FFP actually existed…