Good morning and welcome to Friday. Fridays are usually quite busy days for me, as I get up and write the blog that looks back on whatever happened during the week, maybe even talking about a Europa League game that happened on a Thursday night, and then looking forward to the weekend’s football.
There’s usually a lot of managers having their pre-weekend press conferences on a Friday, and it can be a bit of a challenge trying to keep up with all of those while I try to work as well. Fridays are usually my busiest day in work as well, so it can be difficult trying to find time to get the latest news up on Twitter. But I always get through it and I always enjoy it. Today won’t be like that though, because there’s sweet fuck all going on at the moment because of the international break.
It makes it hard trying to write a 1000+ word blog post every morning, but I’ve been doing OK so far. There’s still another week to go though, so it’ll probably still be very quiet until Wednesday/Thursday of next week when players return to their clubs. Anyway, there’s a little bit going on this morning, so let’s have a look.
Ilkay Gundogan says he is almost back to his best now after he went through an awful run of injuries. He suffered a cruciate knee injury last year that kept him out for eight months. He returned to the Man City side in September, and has gone on to play 38 times this season.
“It feels great now to be back and part of the team, to play my own individual role, which is also important,” Gundogan told Man City’s official website.
“I’m enjoying it and I’m very happy. It’s a very happy period for make in my life and my career again.
“I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in the past, so obviously it feels great to be back and to train and play.
“I can’t even compare it [to last year during the injury]. It feels so much in the past. I don’t even want to think about it.
“It’s a big change now for me, a very happy change. It feels great, I’m enjoying it a lot and obviously I’m doing everything I can to stay fit.
“I just think about now, about being part of the team, about training well and playing well, about doing what the manager and the staff want me to transport into the team.
“I have my own impact and during the last months I was still on my way to my best.
“Now, I feel nearly or already there, and I am having fun and I’m happy.”
The German midfielder says winning the League Cup was special, and that City are on their way to becoming one of Europe’s elite clubs, but aren’t quite there yet.
“Just a few days before the final we lost against Wigan [in the FA Cup],” he said.
“This loss made the League Cup final even more special and important for us. I thought the pressure was even higher for that game.
“Fortunately, we won it and we were very happy that we were able to gain our first trophy early in the season. That’s now in our hands, no one can take it away.
“It feels great. But this is just the beginning, I think.
“We are still on a road – a good way, I think, with the way we play – to come into that elite of clubs in Europe.
“I wouldn’t say we are there. We need to compete with teams like Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus…the biggest teams.”
It’s great to see Gundogan back playing his best football. He’s a brilliant player and he’s shown us all what he’s capable of this season with City. He’s a very important member of the squad, and he will be important for Germany in this summer’s World Cup.
Another player who knows how it feels to face an extended period on the sidelines is Jack Wilshere. The midfielder has picked up another injury, which is thought to be a tendon problem, and hasn’t traveled to Amsterdam with the England squad for tonight’s friendly with the Netherlands. The injury isn’t thought to be too bad though, and he hasn’t yet been ruled out of England’s game with Italy on Tuesday. But when it’s Wilshere, you have to fear the worst.
Hopefully he will be back very soon, because it’s never nice to see any player suffer with long-term injuries. He’s been extremely unlucky with injuries, and the last thing he needs is another bad one. I hope we see him on Tuesday and there aren’t any problems with him.
This is the first season in quite a while that he has gone injury free, and you just have to hope he keeps it up. His contract situation with Arsenal is up in the air at the moment, and right now it looks like he might leave on a free in the summer. His contract only has a few months left to run, and while there’s an offer on the table for him, he isn’t willing to sign it. He has been offered a reduced weekly wage, but the contract is incentive-based. He would make quite a bit more money based on how many games he plays, and in my opinion that’s a fair offer. But he’s not happy with it, and wants a better deal.
In a world where transfer fees and players’ wages have gone through the roof, I can see where he’s coming from. When Mesut Ozil is earned around £350,000 per-week, Jack Wilshere will surely be unhappy if he’s getting ‘just’ £80,000. But I can also see where Arsenal are coming from. He is a player that has missed a lot of football with injury, and they need to make sure they cover themselves here. He stands to make a lot more money if he plays every game and stays injury free, but he must think he has proven himself this season so he should be given a normal wage.
At the time being, it doesn’t look like Wilshere will sign what’s being offered to him, while it doesn’t look like Arsenal are prepared to offer him any more. He might leave the club in the summer, and I think that would be a shame for everybody involved. He’s an Arsenal man and he has basically been there all his life. He hasn’t quite lived up to his potential, but he has shown he is an important member of the Arsenal squad. I hope they come to a compromise, but I’m not convinced they will.
Anyway, international breaks are a load of shit. It’s extremely boring without the Premier League, and it’s quite difficult trying to come up with things to talk about. But we’ve got through almost a week of it, and we can get through another one. It’s going to be fun for me trying to come up with things to write for the whole summer! I might end up doing previews of the World Cup games like I do for the Premier League games, but we’ll wait and see.
For some extra reading, have a look at my take on the Premier League’s relegation battle here.
That’s it for today, but I’ll be back in the morning with more. It’ll likely be scraping the bottom of the barrel stuff, but maybe more will happen today and there will be something to talk about. Have a good Friday.