It does look as if Andre Villas Boas is showing exemplary courage in plainly refusing to dance to the tune of the Chelsea billionaire, Roman Abramovich, and at last relegating the hugely costly but ever misfiring Fernando Torres to the substitutes bench.
Carlos Ancelotti his predecessor never quite became brave enough to do as much plainly feeling he was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t; on the field, then off it.
Torres himself has made a rather limp effort to exonerate himself and his sterile form, declaring the build up around him has been too slow. But as things stand, surely the billionaire Abramovich as he buys yacht after yacht and deluxe London property after property, can afford to write off a mere £50 million?
Ah, managers? Of course one bows in general to their omniscience, but just now and again they seem unable to see the wood for the trees. Such surely is the recent case of Fulham’s Dutch manager Martin Jol. Watching his team labour to a draw at Craven Cottage against Blackburn, it was hard to descry any rationality in his choices.
While wondering on the bleak evidence of that evening, what on earth possessed him to shell out £10.6 million for the young Costa Rican international, Bryan Ruiz. True, Jol may be proved right when he tried to exculpate Ruiz’s limp form with the argument that he needed to adjust. But why did Fulham need him in the first place?
Goodness knows they are not short of talented attackers. Bobby Zamora continues to score impressive goals though we know there is a looming prospect of injury. The ebullient and surely still effective striker Johnson didn’t come on till the 80th minute. That elegant, skilful elusive and perceptive attacker, Dembele, was included only at half time.
Ruiz’s inclusion led farcically to the corucating, ever effective, Damien Duff being usually initially “in the hole” until belatedly restored to the right wing where he proceeded to do frequent damage. Yet, by the end, he had been pushed to left back. No, I cannot explain it either.
Arsenal? Like England, they badly need to get Jack Wilshere back into their midfield. Of the new batch of players the enormous German defender Per Mertsacker is perhaps best when facing the ball. A fit Thomas Vermeulen is still badly needed.
If he can keep fit, the Israeli winger Benayoun with his technique and intelligence could be of advantage. The £10 million which brought the talented Spaniard Mike Arteta from Everton may seem a bargain when compared with what Fulham paid for Ruiz. But he isn’t a Fabregas. Who is?