So, it would appear that we have a quandary.
Or do we?
In one corner, we have Pedro!, product of the farm, scorer of goals in six different competitions, with as many goals as our highly paid import Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If he keeps up his current qualities of showing up and scoring goals, we might have to change his nickname to something official, like Action Jackson, or some such.
And in the other corner, we have Thierry Henry, aged legend who banged in not only an impressive number of goals last season, but goals that were not only well-timed, but vital to our championship pursuits. This season, he has two goals, which means that P! is outscoring him at a 5-1 clip.
So quite naturally, the question has come up, and it’s our topic of the day: Is Pedro! ready to start? Let’s first hear what Henry has to say:
“If I have to play as backup, so be it, we’re here to win as a team. What Pedro is doing is incredible, he always does well when he plays and scoring goals is not easy. He is a worthy starter.”
Well, that’s the party line. But if you really were to ask Henry what he thought, perhaps he would say “Let’s see him play defense like I do, and occupy two defenders because he’s a constant threat, and create width. I can do all that because of my stellar past. And now that I’m finally healthy, I’m ready. That bicycle against Valladolid was a warning, folks. It’s go time.”
And Pedro! might say “Whatever, Gramps. Are you going to put the ball in the net, or not? If not, get out of the way and give the young’uns a shot. Um, actually I said young’uns, but I meant me, since I don’t really know what the deal is with Krkic. Bet.”
I’m not sure how I feel about the matter. I know that Henry hasn’t been at anything approaching his best, or even his form of last season. But I keep watching what he does when he doesn’t have the ball, and it’s hard not to like. On the other hand, our left wing should contain more of an offensive threat. On the other other hand, is Henry’s presence there creating space for other people. As Henry himself said in an interview yesterday:
“I always go out to the field to give the maximum, to run for others and help,” said Henry “Sometimes you do not see, but I always try to do whatever coach asks me. For example, he always asks me to provide depth to create spaces.”
And I don’t know. Then I think about the fast-learning Pedro!, who I think will admit that he’s been very lucky in his tallies. Nonetheless, you make your own luck by being in position to take advantage of those moments. He scored the winning goal in the UEFA Super Cup, and the tying goal in the Club World Cup. All he does is come on, and score, but has he been as impressive in a starting role?
I think that ultimately, for my money, Henry still presents too many intangibles to not start for us, if he’s healthy. And if his claims are true, that he played the first part of the season not really being able to bend his knee, it would explain why he’s looked so spry of late. The Frenchman says that he’s finally healthy, and ready to break his scoring drought.
On the other hand, you always wonder when the waiting just won’t pay off, when Henry’s potential for excellence will remain just that, an empty threat. And you start to think “Hmmm, maybe Pedro! is ready.”
What do you all think?
In other news
–Arsenal apparently want them some Gai Assulin. We’re talking to him about his contract, which is up this year. My guess is that he and his agent are trying to leverage some sort of first-team guarantees to a renewal. And truth be told, Assulin hasn’t exactly impressed in his appearances on the left wing with us. None of which is said to bother Arsene Wenger in the least. If we drop the ball, expect them to swoop.
—Guardiola wants four summer signings: a keeper, a backup at right back and oh, some Silva and/or Fabregas wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. Complicating matters of course, is that whole election business. So stay tuned.
–Offers, we have offers: Apparently the Premiership has entered the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” world, with standing offers for Assulin, Thiago, J. Dos Santos and Jeffren. Because the contracts of all four expire this summer, all are free to negotiate with other suitors.
–If you ask on-loan defender Alberto Botia, our undefeated streak is going to end this weekend, as he predicts that Gijon will win 2-1. He’s also added that he doesn’t know yet where he will be playing next season. If it ain’t for us, something’s wrong.
And that’s what I know.