What’s wrong with you, Arsenal and Spurs players? Can’t take the heat?
North London proves a little bit too edgy for troubled footballers…
People who survive North London are cut from a different cloth to the average gent. That’s probably why Hleb can’t take it, but the likes of Lehmann, Bergkamp and Amy Winehouse can. They’re just a little bit edgier, and don’t seem to mind that one minute the pavements will be littered with drugs paraphernalia, and the next you’ll be diving out of the way of a speeding Range Rover on a gorgeous cobbled street. It is, in short, testing.
Hence, you’d be hard pushed to find an area in the world that football players seem so eager to escape from – and that includes Wigan. Of Arsenal’s magnificent 2003/2004 team – the invincible one – Toure has remained on board, whilst only Bergkamp and Lehmann have completely stopped playing football altogether. Parlour may soon join them having been left in the cold by Hull. But Cole, Campbell, Pires, Vieira, Ljungberg and Henry are still playing at fairly high standards, just for different teams. Lauren is rumoured to enjoy the odd kick here and there too.
Of this year’s class, Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto have all flown the nest in recent weeks, whilst Adebayor, and even Cesc Fabregas, have been linked with Barcelona over the weekend. Adebayor looks likely to go after one really decent season, and one indifferent one. And possibly joining him on a big expensive bus zooming through the gates could be Gallas – set to be stripped of the captaincy, and flirting outrageously with Barca and Paris St Germain – and Van Persie, who was supposed to be the new Bergkamp, but could yet be found speaking broken Italian in a Juventus press conference. They want him for around £15 million.
Surprisingly, no one seems particularly interested in Eboue.
Over on the Spurs side of North London, the good ship Tottenham is enjoying an equally choppy ride. Four are linked with Sunderland (Malbranque, Chimbonda, Kaboul, Tainio), Berbatov will surely be acing his way to Man United, while Keane slopes off to Liverpool, quietly cheering and whooping under his breath.
As for the rest of the debilitated team, there has been much talk of Aaron Lennon sloping off to Blackburn as part of the Bentley deal, Paul Robinson joining him (or going less north, to Villa), Dawson bolstering Newcastle’s shocking defence, and even Darren Bent – still alive apparently – furthering his rep at Everton.
Never has North London seemed so unappealing.
Have these people not tasted the subtle joys of Hampstead Heath?
Have they not bothered to stroll around the breath-taking grounds of Alexandra Palace?
Have they not enjoyed a Camden head-rush?