God this Interlull is boring.
For us supporters, Arsenal news is as vital to our souls as water is to our bodies.
Like a thirsty man crawling through a desert we are on our knees, parched and desperate.
And like that thirsty man we are prone to seeing mirages: images that might be an oasis (or, in our case, a genuine Arsenal news story) but turn out instead to be no more than a trick of the Sun.
• “Andrei Arshavin has had enough of sitting on the bench and will demand a move if not played more often”. Cue much outrage from Arsenal supporters less than impressed by the size of his arse, sorry, contribution so far this season. But of course this story turned out to be only a partial interpretation of his quotes, which also included the admission that he had been playing below par and could not expect a first team berth unless it was merited.
• “Francis Coquelin has had enough of sitting on the bench etc etc”. Cue yet more outrage from some Arsenal supporters, perplexed as to why a little-known French kid named after a popular shellfish snack should expect to be displacing Alex Song in our first team. A story on Arsenal.com quickly put the record straight, with the Cockle eagerly pointing out that he was happy to fight for a place.
• “Arsenal have been trialling a young American lad called Shrek or something (related to Rooney, perhaps?)”. He plays in the MLS (North America’s equivalent of the EPL, but with a playing level closer to the League of Ireland). He could be the next big thing. Or he could be the next big thing to try and sell more shirts in the US. Anyway, if he wasn’t American he would be just another youngster trying out for the Gunners, which would be exactly 0.00001% of a story.
• “Peter Hill Wood says that Prince Robin van Persie used to be a naughty boy at Feyenoord but isn’t now”. Again, cue the outrage of certain Arsenal supporters: how dare that silly Old Fartonian make a disparaging comment about one of our players. In fact, what right has he to make ANY comment about Arsenal? So what if he’s the third generation of his family to be chairman of the club? So what that he has been a serving army officer and a successful banker. Blithering, know-nothing idiot.
• The usual array of “Arsenal to sign Player X in the January window” stories. I started counting the number of players we were going to sign and lost count at 19. No wonder they have extended the medical centre at London Colney.
But if we ignore the mirage stories (the ones that, when you get up close and have a proper look, shimmer away into nothing), then it’s possible to find the one really uplifting story of this Interlull (by the way, well played Arseblog for inventing a word that had truly entered the language. I have even seen “interlull” used on other teams’ blog sites).
The uplifting story I’m thinking of is that the Dutch national coach, Bert van Marwijk, has agreed that Prince Robin does not need to play in the friendly against Germany this week.
With Robin’s injury history and his current importance to Arsenal in this oh-so important season of transition, it is a wise and reasonable gesture on van Marwijk’s part.
He would have been perfectly within his right to insist on Prince Robin playing against his country’s bitterest rivals, but chose not to.
He’s now my favourite ‘Burt’, overtaking the Burts Bacharach and Reynolds (and don’t go throwing Mr Mee at me – he was always very definitely a BertIE, not a Burt).
Anyway, contrast Bert’s approach to that taken by successive England managers (and by Stuart Pearce at Under 21 level).
As a brief moment of sanity in a sport corrupted by out-of-control egos and pointless willy-waving, that decision makes it the story of the Interlull for me. What’s yours?