TV View: Keown’s unusual concern over multilingual manager Arteta

Merits of plain English more to the liking of former Arsenal stalwart-turned-pundit

Mikel Arteta: the fact that Arsenal’s manager can speak to his international players in their own language is not necessarily a plus for BT pundit Martin Keown.  Photograph: Paul Childs/EPA

Mikel Arteta: the fact that Arsenal’s manager can speak to his international players in their own language is not necessarily a plus for BT pundit Martin Keown. Photograph: Paul Childs/EPA

 

It might seem like the last Premier League season only ended eight days ago, but it was in fact a whole 48, making the wait for the new one seem a touch interminable.

But it’s back – and with a bit of a bang too. Indeed, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Arsenal against Fulham 57 minutes in to the opening game of the campaign, Martin Keown declared: “You won’t see a better goal this season!”

This isn’t true, in fact you could argue that Jeff Hendrickzinio’s debut goal for Newcastle later in the evening was an even niftier effort, but Martin can be forgiven for getting a little overexcited, especially with Mikel Arteta shaping up to be a highly decent Arsenal gaffer. And in case you didn’t know, Martin once played for Arsenal.

His only concern, one he shared with us during BT Sport’s coverage of the game, is that Mikel talks to his players in their own language so that he can make his instructions clear. This might seem like quite a good, and impressive, thing, especially when they are players new to England, but not to Martin. Although while trying to explain why, he kind of ended up in a cul-de-sac and wasn’t quite sure how to get out of it.

“Arteta talks in four or five different languages. That would worry me because I’d like to hear some of it in English if I was an English player. Wenger said ‘one language, a common language’. Nonetheless, he’s a fantastic communicator and he’s getting that message across. And when you do talk a lot, as I am now, you gotta get results because people stop listening.”

You’d have needed a lie down after that one, while wishing that Martin had had a spell during his career in, say, the Burundi Premier League where his gaffer insisted on only speaking Swahili to him.

Fortunately, it was Sky who had Leeds United’s return to the Premier League after a gap of 126 years . . .

(And they provided one of the highlights of the day when Kelly Cates asked Graeme Souness if he was a fan of Miley Cyrus. “Oh enormous, I’ll be listening to her on the way home,” he said. “It is a she, is it?”)

. . . because Martin mightn’t have been able to cope with Marcelo Bielsa still using a translator two and a bit years after arriving in England. We say ‘using’ rather than ‘needing’ here because you’d suspect Marcelo can speak English as good as wot Shakespeare wrote it, but just wants a quiet life.

Any way, what we learnt from that first half at Anfield is that Leeds are going to be mighty craic this season.

“Are we watching a computer game or something here,” an agog Jamie Carragher asked when we had our fifth goal in 33 minutes. It was 4-3 in the end for the “former champions”, as Gary Neville so provocatively described Liverpool, but the Leeds attack gave Virgil van Dijk so torrid a night the crowd would have sung “are you Torben Piechnik in disguise?” if there had been a crowd.

The reviews for that particular contest were considerably kinder than those for the new-look Soccer Saturday, Tim Sherwood, Tony Pulis and Clinton Morrison among those in the seats once occupied by Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson.

The banter rate has certainly dropped by around 84 per cent, but the very good thing is that we still have Jeff Stelling. Mind you, not everyone loves him, as he told the Guardian last week. He once had a letter delivered to him despite the envelope only having “Jeff Stelling - Shit” written on it.

But who else could tell us that “Anthony Stokes has left Persepolis in Iran for Livingston – Persepolis is a royal city, an architectural gem which was built in 1518 BC, Livingston was built in 1962”?

Jeff Stelling – Legend.

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