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Which former Arsenal ace…?

OPINION: With no actual football taking place, Gunners fans are being thrown trivial revelations from ex-players

29 May, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Former Arsenal ‘ace’ Nicklas Bendtner

IN their desperation to fill the pixels in the absence of any actual football, the soccerball press is calling up anybody they can and asking for their life story – or at least to explain “the exact moment that Jack Wilshere knew he had to leave Arsenal”, or “the one player that Robin van Persie wishes Arsenal had not sold” and “the crazy thing that Arsene Wenger once told Lauren”.

Click to find out.

We had the “former Arsenal ace” who admitted to playing too much poker. Again, click to discover who. It was Nicklas Bendtner.

We had the “former Arsenal ace” who would love to manage his old club. Click. Gio van Bronckhorst.

We had the “former Arsenal ace” who would have made it bigger if he had not been so “shy”. Click. Jeremie Aliadiere.

The “former Arsenal ace” who watched Netflix’s The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and was, not very interestingly, reminded of Thierry Henry. Click. Carlos Vela.

None of these players, of course, had memorable Arsenal careers and you may well agree that word the “ace” is being somewhat abused here.

At least the high-brow, thinking man’s subscription, The Athletic, told you whose irrelevant memories of life at Arsenal they were going to fill hundreds of words with before you began: an interview with David Bentley, who despite his unfulfilled promise doesn’t regret being a bit of a bucket-throwing prat during his playing days, because, you know, characters…

And yet there is now a market for any article which has Arsenal in the title, literally any mention will get thousands of clicks if phrased right. You could publish the code for a coronavirus cure and it would still be down the web graph if a former Arsenal ace was busy revealing “the one former teammate he didn’t want to sit next to on the coach”.

It’s not just crinkly Gunners who are coming out of the woodwork, however. This week, Teddy Sheringham emerged, video-calling Sky Sports and wondering if it’s time Harry Kane thought about deserting Spurs.

A former Spurs ace telling a current Spurs ace what he should do – think of the clickety views, hits capital in that; a model to save journalism in these uncertain times.

And yet what does it all mean?

Teddy Sheringham, these days, starring as a haunted tree

Yes, oh-Teddy-Teddy fluked the Champions League with Manchester United, but last time we saw him out of the house, he was dressed up as a haunted tree on ITV’s atrocious The Masked Singer, a sort of TV version of clickbait.

Kane should not be asking, should I stay or should I go, he should be asking Sheringham how it ended up like this.

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