Are you stupid?
That must be a question Arsene Wenger is dying to ask his FA Cup winning goalkeeper after the Pole was pictured by The Sun with a cigarette between his lips.
It would seem basic common sense, after a season where we have seen a meteoric fall in Szczesny’s position at the club, for him to take every precaution over the summer to get back on track.
Even more so given the reason for his fall from favour – you guessed it: smoking.
Keep his nose clean, work hard and come back an changed man – exactly as he promised on his Facebook page after the FA Cup final.
So then, a surprise to see him in the papers less than a week later with a fag pinched between his fingers.
But is it a problem?
No big deal
Smoking is bad for your health. That much is proven beyond any doubt, but in the grand scheme of things the odd cigarette here and there is unlikely to be the be all and end all from a health perspective.
Of course our players have a responsibility to demonstrate, in return for the exorbitant wages they are paid, that they take every care of their health. In an ideal world, he wouldn’t be having a cheeky cigarette in the off season, particularly given how the press like to blow these kind of incidents out of all proportion and place pressure on the club to act.
However, the real problem here is the context.
Burning the bridges you build
The Arsenal fan base have only just welcomed Wojciech back into the fold, following his heartfelt message on Facebook. We are willing to forgive and forget – why throw that straight back in our faces?
Szczesny is our best goalkeeper. We have missed him for the second half of the season because the manager felt his behaviour was unacceptable, and ultimately that has been costly in big games.
Many fans expected a swift sale in the summer and a rapid replacement. However, Wojciech made all the right noises about making amends, and in doing so won the majority of the fans back on side.
For less than a week.
Actions speak louder than words, and right now Szczesny’s humble words are being somewhat overshadowed by his stupid actions. It comes across as naive, pointless and even a little disrespectful.
Arsene must wonder what more he has to do to shake the Pole out of this state of stupidity.
What intelligent (and sane) player has the sort of thought process that goes:
“I got caught smoking in the showers, which led to me losing my place in the team. It was a direct consequence of that behaviour and I’ve recently eaten some humble pie and repaired my relationship with the people who fund my wages. I have an opportunity to have another cigarette – what could go wrong?”
Well, Wojciech, you could find yourself on the outside looking in once again.
Arsene Wenger is well known for his belief that intelligence is one of the most integral ingredients for players in his side, and right now it’s one that our Polish cockney looks to lack.
Stupid is as stupid does
I love Szczesny – I think he’s our best goalkeeper by some distance and has the potential to be the very best. But if he keeps shooting himself in the foot, he’s going to find it very difficult to play football for this great club.
His timing is chronic, and the one point in his career when he needed to keep a low profile, he’s shown that he hasn’t learned from his mistakes. It could be fatal, not to mention selfish.
We shouldn’t have to drop our best goalkeeper for non-footballing reasons and jeopardise our success.
He may be on holiday, but he needs to remember that it’s pretty much impossible to have a holiday from the press these days.
Arsenal have just had a load of (ridiculous) bad press over Jack Wilshere’s antics (heroics) at the FA Cup parade. I’m sure the PR guys would probably have preferred a holiday too, Wojciech.