|Org||xxxx National Team|
|Club as Player||Arsenal FC|
2019 05 29 Retrieve
[Petr Cech’s integrity should not be called into question ahead of Wednesday night’s Europa League final] It’s a difficult one for the manager. The story about Cech going back to Chelsea makes it’s very tough for Emery. I understand some of the fans and what they are saying. But knowing Petr, he’s a great professional and he wants to win and he wants to win for Arsenal. So I don’t think he is going to change anything on the pitch because of anything that might be going on off it.
Cech will be thinking I want to start my last game and retire with a trophy against my old club. But Leno will be thinking I’m No.1, I’m young, full of energy and I want to play. It’s an interesting situation for the manager. I’ve seen it go either way in the past. It can go well, or go bad. After the game there is always a reaction. If it goes wrong and the keeper who starts is bad, it can be very bad. But if the keeper goes well, it will be that was a great decision by the manager. That’s how it goes. If Cech starts and does well, he done well for Arsenal, one a last trophy and ended his career. Happy days. If it goes wrong some fans will say ‘I knew it’. Football is funny like that
2019 06 10 Retrieve
[Vito Mannone speaks out on bitter Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia feud] It was difficult because Jens was a very aggressive keeper, especially with Almunia. So you can imagine what it was like for me and the tension inside the training ground. It was very difficult because you’re trying to learn and do your own thing, but at the same time they were trying to kill each other. When you do certain sort of exercises like crosses, challenges and shooting, you need to help each other. But there was not so much help there.
I was not the one to split them up really. I was the youngster and those two were always fighting so it was a nervous situation for me to try and deal with. Every training session was like a Champions League final. You couldn’t miss a ball or do anything wrong. But again, it was a great learning curve. It gave me the chance to grow up, become a man and be ready for a tough environment
2020 05 18 Retrieve
[Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Mannone who is currently on loan in Denmark, discusses what it is like to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic] Before we stopped, we played one game without fans and it was really weird. It’s something I don’t wish for. Hopefully they are going to find a vaccine soon and we can see people back in the stadiums because it was terrible to be honest. Fans are football. You go to the stadium and mainly you play for them. So it was very strange without them and I don’t want to see myself playing like that in 2021 or 2022 because I have to say that one game was terrible.
[The Italian keeper adds] Without fans it is completely different. You have to prepare for the game in a different way, you have to push yourself even more. It makes it tougher to stay focused on the pitch and to motivate yourself. We played like it for one weekend here in Denmark and it was terrible
In those games when teams are fighting for something, for the championship, or relegation or for a Champions League place, it’s going to be so strange. But it’s another adaptation we have to get used to. We have to adapt to training, to the new protocols, to playing without fans. There is no normality anymore so we have to try and get used to it. And despite it being weird playing without fans, I still can’t wait to get started again and to try and get through this period in a positive way by finishing the season and giving people who have been stuck in their homes something to cheer about.
[But there are still no buildings open on site, meaning players arrive in their training gear, complete the session and then go straight home to wash their kit before doing it all over again the following day] We don’t have a dressing room or a physiotherapy room. We have one physio there with a small bed. Everything is outside. You park your car just outside the pitch, walk to the field, train and then go home with your stuff, wash it and then start all over again the next day. It has taken me back to being a kid when I had to do all that stuff. But I’m really happy to be out there again because it’s been a very strange time for everyone.
It’s going to be even more weird when the games start from what I’ve been hearing. We’re probably going to get changed at home and go the stadium to warm up in our own clothes. There won’t be dressing rooms to use. So we’ll go there and warm up. Then after the warm up we’ll get changed on the pitch and start the game. Then the team-talk at half-time will be on the pitch by the bench - again like when we were 10 years old. It’s going to be very strange. But after not playing for so long it will just feel good to be out there again. I’m looking forward to it
[Without a club lined up, the Italian is facing up to an uncertain few months and admits he has no idea how the transfer market will adjust to the financial impact that the pandemic has had on clubs across the world] I think there are two views on it. You can see that there won’t be much money, people won’t be going around spending £20 million all over the place, so it may work in my favour. But it could be the opposite as well. So it’s not the best scenario to be facing. I’ve never been a free agent in my career, this is the first time in 14 years of professional football - I never imagined it would be in the middle of a pandemic! But I’m quite relaxed. You have to live day by day and see what happens