How are you today? That’s good. We’ve finally started pre-season training this week so I’ve returned to sleeping at night.
When we had our first session I could sense something wasn’t right. As I entered the ground and met with the players there was a sombre tension among everyone. Usually it’s just Almunia who’s jittery (especially when he starts reminiscing to us about his part as a subway ghost in that Patrick Swayze movie) but this time it was a lot more pronounced – he’s infected the others. I’m guessing it’s to do with the whole Cesc fiasco. I noticed that he wasn’t around…he must still be celebrating with his fellow teammates countrymen.
At about 7am this morning I started my own warm-up routine (training doesn’t start until 10 but I usually dance for at least 2 hours to loosen up). At 10am the lads did a couple of laps; I did a couple extra because it’s been cold for the past few days. As I was running past the Boss’s office (I call it the Boffice) all I could hear was him shouting repeatedly that ‘Arsenal Football Club does NOT negotiate with terrorists’. I can only guess which club president he was talking to.
After the morning session, at around noon, the Boss called me in. He asked if I’d learnt anything from my experience in South Africa. I told him I had. He was pleased so we began discussing and slowly Cesc became more and more the subject of our musings. I don’t know if anyone realised but against North Korea I cleverly eavesdropped on their player/manager exchanges – it’s led to some startling insights on how to promote greater club loyalty from individuals.
The Boss and I have decided for Cesc to train on his own for the large part of pre-season. With the help of Iain Dowie we designed a multi-purpose training facility just for Cesc. The facility is filled with Arsenal memorabilia and DVDs in one half, the ‘good’ half, and Barcelona stuff in the other – the ‘evil’ half. It’s simply a moralistic education program: when Arsenal DVDs are chosen to be played on the projector the room becomes extremely peaceful, pastoral images skate across the ceiling and some Tchaikovsky plays lightly through a sound system.
When Barcelona VHSs are played however, a high pitched screeching is heard, uninterrupted, for ten minutes and is followed by every minute of Ade’s World Cup commentary from BBC1 being projected onto each wall. We’ve also placed two buttons in the centre of the facility: an ‘Arsenal’ button and a ‘Barcelona’ button. When he presses the Arsenal button he will be provided with food and water (and I may even sing for him). You don’t want to know what happens when the Barcelona button is pressed, though. Let’s just say it involves Ade, William, and tapas. Cesc’s a smart lad. I’m sure he won’t be pressing the Barca button.
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