The recent performance of Thomas Partey for Ghana against Mali attracted several negative comments from expectant Arsenal fans. Some rated his performance 3/10 and others were quick to observe that Partey made little difference in the 3-0 loss, but let’s just calm down and take a breath before we lose all sense of reality.
I agree that his performance wasn’t commanding or outstanding, but the gifted 27-year-old is the shining star in a desperately average team. Ghana are no more than a pub side, guided by a second rate coach who is tactically naive, and to those looking for justification on the transfer fee paid for Thomas Partey, I’d say “get real!”
There are many cases in football where an outstanding individual has been tasked with carrying a domestic or national side, but the failure to do so shouldn’t reflect on their talent.
George Best was the standout player for Northern Ireland in the ’70s but he was often powerless to change their fortunes. He had great games, exceptional even, but there were times when you wouldn’t even know he was on the pitch.
Thierry Henry, an Arsenal legend was occasionally ineffective on the big stage as was Dennis Bergkamp, but no one questions their talent. So how are we measuring individual talent these days? At present, unrealistically by the look of it, one bad day at the office shouldn’t define a career.
Johan Cruyff was one of the greatest players ever to kick a ball but he never won the World Cup with Holland. In 1974, Holland were runners-up to Germany but surely, the greatest player in the world at the time should have won the biggest prize of all. Let’s be honest, it’s never worked that way has it, otherwise, the World Cup would be contested by Ronaldo and Messi every four years, and the fact that it isn’t, tells you that the Ghanaian is human after all.
Thomas Partey is every inch the player that Arsenal need and the type of player they have been crying out for over a decade, but fans need to be objective and patient. Partey has a series of stiff tests ahead with Arsenal’s upcoming games against Manchester City, Leicester City, Manchester United, Aston Villa. Leeds United and Wolves.
How Thomas Partey fared in a one-off friendly for Ghana is irrelevant and should be no indicator of his overall talent. It’s consistent performances that Arsenal need and the good news is that Partey will be extremely keen to make an impression for his new team.
On reflection, the Ghanaian team’s performance in this low-level knock lacked any degree of intensity, that’s not something of concern to Partey in the Premiership. From the first whistle to the last, Partey will find himself in the eye of the storm, battling for territory and space, something that he is more than used to.
Remember: This is the same player that upset Liverpool in the Champions League with a compelling performance of strength and desire and the same player that kept Messi quiet when Atletico Madrid met Barcelona. I can’t wait to see this guy in an Arsenal shirt.