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Do that smile again and I will smack you Frank

It would be rude of me not to start with the most obvious of things. Happy Birthday My Lord Dennis Bergkamp, half god half man who once bequeathed to us beautiful football. Now 43 years of age and retired for 6 years but as can be seen through numerous videos of Ajax veterans, still possesses that silky smooth football mind.

Now an assistant to Frank De Boer at Ajax Amsterdam, Bergkamp has gone back to his footballing roots to learn the ropes of football coaching and management. Of which I’m sure he played a great part in helping Ajax retain their Eredivisie title. Many have mentioned his name as one of the possible successor to Pat Rice but I think that it is too soon for him. Perhaps a role left behind by Steve Bould (should he get the assistant manager’s job) would be more suitable.

Let’s not digress. I love the man that is Bergkamp. From his attitude to his desire to his world class talent, you could hardly find anyone who would want to bad mouth him. Perhaps those who have gotten some retribution back from the Dutch great. Bergkamp has given us many wonderful memories and that includes the winner in the 1995/96 season in that last game which propelled us into Europe. Something which we need this Sunday.

On Sunday we travel to the Hawthorns looking to find that 3 points in a single match that has eluded us for a while now. By the time the game kicks-off, it would be slightly over a month since we last tasted victory. The mathematics are simple enough. Win and we confirm a place in the draw for Champions League group stage next season. Draw or lose, then we are at the mercy of other team’s results.

If the team could replicate what Bergkamp and the side back then did, it would be fine with me. Any victory is a good victory. Especially when we haven’t won for quite so long. There’s no one who says we are guaranteed of 3 points on Sunday. WBA would not be an easy opponent, especially not with it being Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge. We assume that their players will be slightly more emotional and will play their best one last time for Hodgson. Are we wrong to assume so? The prospect of Harry Redknapp leaving earlier, seemed to have imparted a very different attitude from THAT team. One can only hope.

At Arsenal, we do fall in the first category. The ones that care for their employees and wants to give their employees the best type of sending off. The squad took the time to gather and honour Rice with a private party. How they manage to get him to put on a pair of pants is as miraculous as Peter Crouch’s volley from outside the penalty box. It is perhaps for this party that Per Mertesacker is back in town and the big German has lots to say.

I’m not sure if you can construe his comments as tapping up, this one where he talks about Lukas Podolski. Though, I’m certain that the lack of time/period being mentioned in that quote should save him from all the troubles. One interesting thing that was picked up in that interview is how Mertesacker thinks that Podolski is a big star in Germany and will get less attention in England. To me, that reads as someone who has been forced to cope with intense pressure and still delivers (as best his can) on the pitch.

We’ve missed the German’s organisation at the back a little. Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny are wonderful players on their own but seemed to lack a little when it comes to steadying the ship and lead with that bit of organisation at the back. Which is why I’m also glad that Mertesacker will be there to make sure that Podolski integrates well with the rest of the team. Not that it will be a new job for him, Thomas Eisfeld being the beneficiary of that.

If you’ve got a little bit more spare time, head over to read Arsene Wenger‘s latest comments. On how even if you’re behind the computer screen and are holding joysticks/controllers, you should also have the mental strength. I’m off to learn that mental strength before my next game on Football Manager.