Hagon Hammers

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same! I started the summer in high hopes that perhaps English football (at the highest level) might change, develop a conscience and re-engage with its fan base. That clubs would do their business ahead of the season actually starting so we can get rid of the transfer speculation charade before Sky launch a channel dedicated to their often-inaccurate, rumour-fuelled brain-numbing feculence. That players might grow a set and demonstrate some loyalty to the clubs they’re contracted to, or more importantly their fans. That the Galacticos would, at last, get the Rozzers kicking the door in for quite openly tapping up players and or Causing AOH (Actual Organisational Harm) to every other European club bar PSG. Like Hell……it appears that football is on a collision course with Beelzebub and might only be beaten to the pits of Hades by The Donald’s attempts to incite trans global thermonuclear warfare and or Civil War in his own United States of Abominations.

However, having resided to the fact that the murky backdrop wasn’t going to change in a good way, perhaps we could find solace with a much-needed silver lining? And as timely as it is pernicious the Premier League has started to deliver. The football has at times been destitute on one hand in terms of defensive quality but stupendous in terms of offensive prowess on the other. This has already lead to several end-to-end goal fests and a few barnstorming nail bitters. Which I guess is what this league is all about. Entertainment!! Because that’s what sells the brand (globally).

So what else gives consistently now that Sean Spicer is no longer on the Whitehouse Staff roster? Of course, the omni-shambles that is Arsenal. Now having the opportunity to prepare for EPL games without the distraction of the Champions league, a transfer kitty fuller than Piers Morgan’s intestines after a night fuelling his face in an Emirates Superbox and a manager who has openly admitted things need to change, might this just be the perfect storm for an Arsenal resurgence? Nope, like a mange ridden pigeon lolloping from one near death incident to the next the Gunners are already hell bent on cataclysm by failing to motivate and secure the long term services of Alexis, This discourse alone has fuelled the fans in a bad way, but some of the players also appear to be emotionally battered and I wager now that everyone can see the ‘smiles’ after the gubbing at Anfield this will add fuel to the numerous fires already ablaze.

Already a few weeks into his contract extension Wenger has authenticated to us all why he should have been sacked or moved upstairs or moved into FIFA or a sewage pipe (whichever is cleaner). As if by a miracle or Anglo-Franco footballing necromancy, if you don’t fix the problems with the ‘undead’ (the defence and the midfield) that plagued the squad last season even smellier piles of upchuck will predominate affairs this. Just ask Rick! The worst of all the Wengerisms, is to consistently avoid the truth. I.e. Blame the ever consistent (if slightly annoying looking) Olivier Giroud for everything that goes on behind him and instead replaces him with another lightweight powderpuff speedster who hasn’t delivered anything in a real league. Yeah, that’ll paper of the following cracks fella. 1 Cech is getting slower and his reaction times are close to a sloth on Special-K he will cost you too many points this season. 2 Your CB pairings are at best average and only when Koscielny is playing now that Gabriel has been flogged. 3 Monreal is a liability in a back three 4. Xhaka is 2 yards or 0.34 seconds from a yellow card at any given time. 5. Walcott is a plank. As good players get older e.g Teddy Sheringham, Steven Gerrard & Paul Scholes, are working examples of players were labelled with the adage that they have a good footballing brain which compensates their game when the legs go. Theo is the perfect antithesis to this phenomenon. 6. The Ox was never going to deliver unless he was played consistently in a position that he can play. 7. Ozil is an offensive luxury, albeit a talented one. 8. You have no defensive midfield quality. 9. Even when Alexis play’s you won’t outscore the competition. 10. Without Cazorla present, you are totally unbalanced.

But don’t worry Arsenal faithful it’s only another 22 months before you can rid yourselves of the Le Professeur de Poop.

On other fronts, it’s nice to see Wazza return to his virtual or is that viral home on the Northern stretches of Stanley Park. Once a Blue……… However, for future reference for the thousands who burnt effigies, lambasted him with scorn over the years and justifiably questioned his integrity (amongst other personal qualities), might want to read the manual on how to delete your timelines or feeds before welcoming your prodigal son with open arms. We have to thank Wayne for many bang average records but especially being the world’s finest European and World Cup qualifying goal scorer against sides with FIFA rankings lower than a snakes rectum.

He has scored fifty-three times in 119 appearances. 30 of the 53 have been during Euro and WC qualifying against the might of (Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Andorra, Croatia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, San Marino, Poland, Montenegro, Estonia, Slovenia and Lithuania) I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the sixteen strikes in friendlies and a romping seven when it really mattered over 5 major tournaments. Welcome home Wayne, thank God you’ve retired from International Football, which was always on the cards  when you score more in Alderley Edge than Old Trafford / Woodison Park or Wembley. Donut!

Turning my attention to the pretenders/contenders I’m delighted to see Jose has finally bought his team because that’s what the best coaches in the world do isn’t it? But nevertheless, the ominous start has realised several unexpected bonuses. Primarily Jose isn’t dripping every minute. He’s far from being out of the woods yet IMHO, however, the assembled talent pool appears to have taken a collective order of their own future and decided to play football. Much like we did when we were kids. Pick the side with your most talented mates then destroy all-comers irrespective of the orders deployed by the track suited school teacher allegedly in charge. Jose can’t claim this as his brand of football as he has never demonstrated he has a gram of attacking DNA and we all know it. This disconnect has rendered him strangely quiet, a little smug but thankfully out of sight and range of earshot. Long may that continue. A parting thought if I may? I wonder if the quiet one can keep quiet and let his team do the talking now that Conte, MoPo, Klopp and others appear to be getting as many if not more plaudits with respect to the style of football they play. Here’s a pony on him being a gobshyte again by the time they get spanked by Huddersfield

Prediction: 3rd, if Jose keeps it zipped.

I admire Conte not for his coaching masterclasses last season, nor for his canny use of the transfer market which such genius purchases as Kante or Alonso, I like him because he simply told old man Costa that he thought he was a complete bonehead and he’d rather spend the rest of his life in nonretractable pain watching Made in Chelsea, than spend another second with that trouble making tool. The best bit was he did it by text and then hit Costa up large for being unprofessional when he failed to tip up for pre-season training camp. Quality stuff from the perma-tanned Leccian.

Prediction: 2nd, too much quality when, and if, the likes of Hazard returns from injury and when Morata settles.

The noisy neighbours are also buying everyone else PSG or United haven’t. City’s only real issue is trying to keep the talent in check and happy. Jesus is the new Aguero if not better, but surely Kun deserves the lead strike role given his track record? The wealth of attacking talent with Dave, Sane, Gundogan, Bernardo, Sterling and of course the majesty that is Kev with Yaya in the wings is deep enough to challenge on all fronts as long as ego doesn’t get the better of them or Pep rotates to much. Plus, they now have a regular keeper and a defence that will grow like a rude bunch under hydroponics with the Addition of Danilo, Walker, Mendy and a maturing Stones. Maybe the key to this year’s success will come in the form of a fit and healthy Kompany? But who would bet on that with the last three seasons injuries in mind?

Prediction: Champions!

Liverpool, having promised a shed load of activity in the summer hiatus got off to a strong start with the eventual arrival of Salah after his protracted detour via Chelsea and Rome. But better late than never I guess and with the start he’s made, it appears that his time under Jose didn’t affect him negatively. However, even with arrivals of Robertson (well anything is better than Moreno isn’t it?) and World Cup winner Solanke things slowed to a snail’s pace with a matter of days to deadline day.

Rumours that the VVD deal was still on the cards, Naby Keita joining but in 2018 with Leipzig realising its better to do some decent business now and guarantee the FIFA Financial Play box is ticked accordingly. Then add to that the club was ‘monitoring’ Renato Sanchez and Thomas Lemar all sounded a bit like the usual LFC malaise in the transfer window. The jury is out on the Ox but I guess the fans will be happy he turned down better packages to be with a fine footballing side and will surely prove to be a snip at less than £40M if the boy comes good.

The only other way Redmen can take any solace from the window is put themselves with Klopp on the Coutinho spectrum. Much to the satisfaction of the Anfield faithful, both ends of this spectrum are good. At one end you purse £140-150M and allow Mane, Firmino and Salah to grow and bolster the squad with the afore mentioned players. At the other end, you keep your finest prize and allow him to develop into the ultimate playmaker behind the front three and spark bids in the £200M mark a season later. Either way, it’s good to have the next best player in the world when Barca / Real / PSG are hunting.

Prediction: 4th, as they still don’t have a defence!

Spurs will start to value their players at some point, but not before other casualties are endured. Levy’s attitude to underpaying the market value in wages will haunt him soon enough. Not as many folks appeared to be bothered that Walker was tempted North and even less vexed that Rose is blundering his way out of North London as well. Everyone is replaceable, but others are coveted somewhat more for the value they can add to other title chasing contenders. Both Centre Backs, Kane, Ali, Dier and Ericssen the spine of the side are all one major move away on the premier league merry-go-round that is poised to spin should Coutinho be prized away from Anfield or should Chelsea / United decide to destructively innovate in the next window. Spurs are a selling club and everyone knows Levy will take the cash if the money is substantial enough. On the other rather shaky hand if they can overcome their Wembley hoodoo and keep the quality there’s a tangible chance that their stability might see them vying for the title, but Wembley is a proper issue both physically and mentally. It’s an enormous energy sapping playing surface. Every game they play feels like a cup final for their opponents and an away game to the Spurs players.

Prediction: 5th, due primarily to Wembley Syndrome.

So off we traipsed to the International break with the exception of Wazza and we prayed that our clubs players return uninjured and ideaally without a drink driving charge. Hey-ho