Veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech has called time on his career and although, he wasn’t nearly as impressive in an Arsenal shirt as he was in a Chelsea one, he has remained a dedicated professional during his time at the Emirates.
He simply realised that Father Time was on his shoulder and that perhaps, he might suffer the indignity of being released by the Gunners in the clearance sale during the summer. So, he chose to jump before he was pushed, nothing wrong in that.
What I do have a problem with is the announcement on Sky Sports, that Cech will return to Chelsea as a coach before they meet in the Europa league final on the 29th of May in Baku.
What in the name of Bruce Springsteen was everyone thinking ? Now, despite my best efforts to rationalise the situation and act like a genuine grownup, I tend to want Leno to play instead of Cech, to avoid any suggestion of collusion or misplaced loyalties on such an important occasion.
Petr Cech is set to return to Chelsea as a sporting director, according to @SkySportsNews.
His final game as a player will be the Europa League final with Arsenal…against Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/94qVmuUrjl
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 21, 2019
Imagine Arsenal losing because of a goalkeeping error, the question of a conflict of interest would never go away. The inference that Cech didn’t try because of his future destination would simply taint what little he did achieve with the Gunners.
After the announcement, social media lit up like a Christmas tree with fans demanding the goalkeeper be benched for the final and one has to agree with it, I’m afraid.
I’m not suggesting that Cech can’t be professional in his final game, nor am I denying that he has an excellent record in cup competitions, but is he one hundred percent able to separate his emotions from his duties ?
Will he be overwhelmed by this immense occasion between current and previous club ? It’s a tall order from where I’m sitting.
Something Cech has acknowledged himself in conversation with the Guardian,
“You have your last game, a European final and, if it is against Chelsea, an emotional attachment to the opposition team. It’s probably a bit too much … but if it happens, it happens. It’s the way it is.”
This gives Unai Emery a massive headache, does he stick with Cech or turn to Leno.
Since it was revealed, surely he has doubts in his mind as anyone would. Emery started on a positive note when talking about Cech:
“All is positive. I have only known him this year.”
“His experience is vast in football, he is here because he has done [great] service.”
But then, he added something that had escaped many ears by saying
“I believe in him, I can use him or I can use Leno but above all, I want to enjoy special moments with players.”
It sounded like he was covering his bets by protecting himself and his decisions which may have to be harsh on the night. I fully expect Cech to start, but I’m starting to think he may not finish.
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I have a feeling that Emery will know that the occasion may impact on the goalkeeper’s performance and rather than Cech tarnishing his reputation or leaving himself open to any accusations, it would be easier to bring on Arsenal’s new number one.
It would, of course, be viewed as unkind and unjust perhaps, but sentiment needs to be kept at arms length.
Cech’s final game is far less important than giving the fans, who somehow managed to get to Baku, some reward for their Herculean efforts in traveling so far.