I retract everything I said about Marko Arnautovic in my column for Blowing Bubbles’ otherwise brilliant Summer Annual.
I said I hoped he would still be with us come the end of the summer, I said our future would be brighter with him in the side. I was wrong. We were wrong. It’s now time to erase him from our memories. Forever.
I can’t say I’m surprised at how the summer played out, and I’m not the only one. Perhaps, deep down, we all knew it would happen after the events that unfolded in January.
The fact he tried to force a move away and then said he ‘was staying’ as soon as the club threw more money at him says all you need to know about his character.
He didn’t care about the club, his teammates and, worse, the fans. He only cares about the money.
With all that said, there was a moment at the beginning of this summer that we were quite looking forward to seeing him in action in 19/20, playing in front of Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals and Felipe Anderson and feeding off their creativity.
We were in the market for a back-up striker and fully expected the only semi-meaningful departure in the striker department to be Chicharito.
Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? But we weren’t surprised when the bomb dropped.
Why would we be? He’s done it before and he’ll probably do it again in China. His brother will put him where the money is, and he’ll do all he can to ensure he goes where his brother wants him.
There are a number of positives we can take out of this, though. Yes, we ended up losing a very good goalscorer on his day, but we managed to find ourselves a better one in Sebastien Haller shortly afterwards. Haller will prove to be 10x the player he ever was in claret and blue, I’m sure of it.
The other positive, and what is probably the most important of all, is the fact the squad is now fully rid of his bad influence.
From what we’ve seen in pre-season, there’s a strong squad spirit in the dressing room and sometimes that goes a long way at this level — it can be the difference between three points and defeat at the weekend.
So getting rid of a bad influence so early in the summer is a good thing, and the club should be commended for just washing their hands of him and eventually taking a fraction of the transfer fee they should’ve demanded for him.
No time to hang about and poison the squad further, we’ve got more important things to do, like sign Haller and develop a truly frightening midfield that is going to both entertain and deliver immensely next season.
And what about the way the club announced his departure? Short and to the point. No well wishing, no niceties, just a message to tell fans what they wanted to hear.
If it was me writing the statement, I wouldn’t have even mentioned his record at the club. By doing that they were almost conceding the fact they thought he was quite good once, massaging his ego a little more on his way out.
Notice I haven’t even mentioned his name once in this column? I wouldn’t even give him the satisfaction of me writing his name any more. I’m done with him. We all are.
Anyway, I think what I’ve really tried to say in this column is that I’m relieved he’s gone and can’t wait to see what Haller can do in his place. We can move forward now and we can completely erase him from our memories.