February 6, 2012
All the papers this morning are raving about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after his two goal contribution to our thrashing of Blackburn. Not surprising really. It would have been nice to keep the young man’s talent a secret for a bit longer I suppose – keep the Ox in his Box – but with performances like that one it was never going to happen. The Ox has busted open the locks of Fort Knox and now he’s all over the box dressed only in his socks and his sister’s frocks. Oh yeah, those newspapers love a pun or a rhyme. Cocks.
From now on we can expect his every movement to be analysed and scrutinised, his positives amplified like he’s some sort of a god, so that at some point when he misses an open goal or gets a silly red card or gets spotted by the Daily Mail ‘going to a nightclub’ we can all point and go ‘ooh. Bad. That’s bad. We thought you were some sort of god or something and now you’ve been to a nightclub and it was a Tuesday and in our culture we abhor nightclubs so you’re evil, not a god at all but the devil himself. Shame!’
The attention is not surprising I suppose. He is after all English. Which means that he’s not even being compared to Messi or Ronaldo, he’s being compared to Stewart Downing or…Steve Stone. No wonder he seems otherworldly. And no wonder he’s being talked up for a place at the Euros.
His captain Robin Van Persie has been doing his best to quell expectations:
Alex is a big prospect. Everyone is enjoying watching him, I do, you do and he brings something extra to the game and people just love it. But don’t put too much pressure on him. You always have periods when you are young when you have really high highs, then you go up and down until you balance it a bit better.
He will have ups and will have periods when he is not playing so well, so my advice is to be aware of it and be patient.
It’s a nice try from Robin but I don’t think it will help. You can just tell how much Robin is enjoying playing with him. There’s an early understanding developing there and with Theo still playing his supprting role from the right, having the Ox chipping in too can only be good for RVP and Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger joined in the praise too but in doing so kind of managed to incriminate himself in The Great Arsenal Injury Mystery. Blog pages and column inches have been filled to the brim in recent years questioning who is to blame for our endless injury problems. Yesterday Le Boss gave us a clue as he warned against the dangers of overplaying Oxlade-Chamberlain:
That is what happened to us last year with Wilshere, it was exactly the same.
At the start of the season you think: ‘I will play him 20 games, maybe 25′, but after they deliver a performance, they play 45 and then they play for the national team and then they get injured.
There’s an odd sense of helplessness there in what he says. Like he’s not the man who picks the team. They deliver a performance and then they end up playing 45 (actually 49) games. There’s nothing you can do. Well there’s something you could do. He goes on:
It is very difficult to manage because people understand very quickly what kind of influence the players have and you want to win the game so you play them.
I don’t know where I have seen it, but 70% of the players who play very early in many, many games have stress fractures. In England the intensity of a game is higher.
I think I might know where he’s seen it. He’s seen it on the Arsenal training ground. Young players playing too many games and then suffering injury problems as a result. It’s a surprising admission of culpability from the boss but hopefully it’s a lesson that’s been taken on board. He’s been very careful with The Ox up to now. That’s partly due to him not being quite ready I think but also a desire not to repeat the mistakes of the past. But at the same time you don’t need to look any further than our own midfield to find another young player at severe risk of burnout. Aaron Ramsey, so soon after that horror injury, has played 30 games this season already. And we’re barely half way through. It’s too much football. Not only is it a risk to his long term health but we can see in the short term that his performances have suffered.
It will be interesting to see whether AW’s guilty confession will see Ramsey used more sparingly in the second half of the season, and more tellingly whether he’ll be able to resist the temptation to throw The Ox in for every game as he continues to improve. We shall see.
Not a lot else about today. There’s a story that Steve Bould could be in line for the assistant boss job when Pat Rice hangs up his dark specs at the end of the season. It’s possible I suppose in that there will be a vacancy and Bouldy as youth team coach would be a candidate but there isn’t much substance to the story.
Meanwhile Barcelona VP Josep Maris Bartomeu has denied rumours that the Catalans are planning to steal another one of our heroes away in the summer.
Nothing exists with RVP.
It’s rumours that appear in the papers. We’ve not contacted Arsenal, nor his agent.
Our focus is now on the Liga and Copa del Rey.
It’s necessary to be focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by the transfer market.
Absolutely right. You wouldn’t want to distract yourselves or Arsenal by incessantly talking about one of our players in the press throughout the season in an attempt to unsettle said player and force Arsenal’s hand in the summer.
That’s just not what Barcelona are about.
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