Arsenal's number 2 number 1 Manuel Almunia has been
quoted in the Sun as saying that his rival for the
keeper's jersey Jens Lehmann is "cold and closed".|
Unusually, the headlines using words like "slate" and
"blast" to describe Almunia's "outburst" don't seem to
be overstating the case. That's if the quotes are accurate,
and seeing as they're in the Sun, probably with a dodgy
translation from an equally prestigious Spanish rag, let's
not forget that they might not be. But it's all good fun so here they are...
"My relationship with Lehmann is the same as ever - we don't really have one."
"We hardly speak, despite the fact I'm an easy going and friendly guy who gets on well with everyone."
"Some people are only interested in themselves and Jens is very cold and closed."
"In life there are all sorts of people, the good, the bad, the friendly and the not so friendly."
Manuel's performances have been pretty good this season,
and he seems to feel it's only a matter of time before he fills Lehmann's boots.
"My present situation is good despite often being a substitute,
I'm calm and waiting for my chance which is certain to come.
Arsene Wenger and I haven't spoken at length about things but he always says the same.
He tells me I will be first choice if I keep performing as I am."
So, should we worry about this latest bit of tabloid stirring? Nah, of course not.
Basically he's saying that he's a laid back Spaniard and
Jens is a lunatic German. This is not news. Mad Jens is mad, that's why he's called "Mad Jens". There's a fine and long-standing tradition of mad keepers in football, and it's often been said that you have to be a bit crazy to want to do it.
Even the chilled David Seaman had a bit of it. His may have been a laconic Yorkshire lunacy leading to such things as appearing on (and winning) Ready Steady Cook, being prepared to sit and grin while Rory McGrath took the piss out of him, and going fishing with Gazza, instead of the classic stary-eyed bonkers German loner style that Lehmann goes for, but it was hardly breaking the mould.
Lehmann can behave how he likes off the pitch so long as he does the business on it, and he's not playing at all bad these days (woeful against Man Utd notwithstanding). His foolhardy excursions from the box are now few and far between. Almunia's doing ok too but hasn't done enough to claim the shirt yet, and if he really is saying this stuff then perhaps he'd be better off shutting up and getting on with it (maybe working on his staring and twitching too).
There were rumours as long as a couple of years ago, that Lehmann was a loner, that the rest of the squad were scared by him... but if any of this was really a problem within the squad then surely Wenger would have sorted it out long ago.
What's really interesting about this, for me, is that it's the transfer window and yet the hacks are trying to stir up trouble between our keepers in this way rather than simply linking us with a bid for every goalie in the world, like they usually do.
Phil Stevenson writes to point out that Dave Seaman does not appear to have recovered from his own brand of madness. He appears on ITV this Saturday in a new show where he is one of a group of celebs who have been trained in ice dance by Torvill & Dean. Apparently he came in as a sub, replacing his mate Gazza (and there's presumably a story in that but I'm sure you can make it up for yourselves).
Other megastars on the show include Andi Peters, Tamara Beckwith, and Bonnie Langford.
But seriously, we wish "Safe Hands" all the best and hope that he's still got reasonable control over his feet.