In an interview given to a Czech website Tomas Rosicky acknowledged that there was much to be happy about at Arsenal despite not being the first pick for the team. Responding to a question as to whether he was satisfied just to be back playing the midfielder said ‘I’d be a fool to say no’
After an absence from the game of 20 months from January 2008, this summer Tomas picked this season as a crucial one for him. In terms of the number of games he says that he can’t be completely unhappy with the 14 starts and 10 sub appearances he has garnered so far this season.
‘Everyone wants to play more but on the other hand I can’t complain. I usually get a game every week so I play often enough. Of course it could be better that’s for sure. One reason could be that I haven’t scored. That’s a blot I regret. Then again we know how it goes in football. I had a period in Germany where I probably didn’t score throughout the spring or autumn. Then the next spring I scored 5 times. I know that it turns around again. I’m not getting a headache about it but it doesn’t help me at the moment.’
While seemingly acknowledging that he isn`t an automatic starter Rosicky asserts that there are too many games over the season simply to be considered a first eleven or second eleven player. Accepting that he is part of a big squad he sees it as a positive that Arsenal probably has greater strength in depth now than it has for some time. ‘Everyone wants to play all the big games’ he says ‘I’m sorry that I don’t but I’m not angry about it. It’s not my style to complain to the newspapers to try to improve my position.’
It’s a new experience for a player who from his teens had been one of the first names on the team sheet. ‘It is true prior to my injury I always belonged to the first eleven, either here or in Dortmund. When I got hurt it was clear that the club couldn’t wait indefinitely for me to recover and they brought in Arshavin. But as I said, Arsenal is a big club, in which there’ll always be a struggle for a place. There are enough games to play and if we want to be successful we need to have quality players not only in the first eleven. In addition Wenger is keen to rotate the squad and I believe that spring will be better for me.’ Expanding on his relationship with Wenger he says that they speak often enough about his role in upcoming games but that while he is not one to demand to play every game he’ll never reveal details of his conversations with the manager. Asked if he was always happy with the outcome he laughed as he replied ‘No, but this does not really tell you anything.’
At the same time Tomas finds himself in the unique role of often captaining the team despite his more reserve role. ‘That’s another thing. If I had a bad position here, I’d never be the Arsenal captain’ acknowledging the honour he continued ‘Already in Germany I was captain. Maybe my coaches see something in me they like and want me to have responsibility. And I appreciate that without a doubt.’
Accepting that the risk of injury plays a role in how often he plays the Czech International explained ‘Nobody knows what would happen if I played Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday and probably no one even wants to try’ he laughed ‘I could play three matches in one week but what the effect would be is unknown. Perhaps it would be okay, perhaps not. That I have been fit for the entire first six months may be associated with the fact that I do a lot of things differently, and it works. Previously injuries often occurred to me not so much during the match, but during training. I believe the improvement will hold in the future because I found things that work for me. Of course this does not mean that I will never be injured, but perhaps this is the limit. For this I am very happy.’
Responding to rumours in his homeland about a possible interest from Aston Villa in the January transfer window he insisted that he did not think such a move possible. ‘Because I want to be here and I want to win something with Arsenal. Unless something dramatically changes, it is not possible. I know what I want.’ On the prospects of a contract extension he declined to answer ‘It remains to be seen, I do not want to go down this route. I will stay with the answer that I told you earlier. At the moment I do not want to change the jersey, it ends there for me.’
There seems to a strong sense of realism in Rosicky’s interview partly it seems from an understanding as to how close he came to ending his career and a combination of delight and relief at finding himself back contributing at the highest level. He clearly regrets his misfortune in losing what should have been his peak years and that’s a regret that gooners everywhere would share given the obvious quality of the player.
‘Unfortunately I was playing the best football of my career when what happened to me happened. I would go on the pitch knowing that what I did could decide the match. I also managed probably seven assists before I was injured in that January. We were heading the league. That’s life, it just happens. No need to cry over something. But I’m glad I’m back, I made it and I have a few good years ahead. Let’s see what happens next.’
There is no doubt that Rosicky`s peak years are behind him but with the dependence on youth now also behind the club there is an opportunity to re-evaluate the benefits of senior players, the role they can play in a squad and the experience and expertise that they can bring. If with that comes a sense of realism from a player who isn’t just chasing the biggest payday and appreciates the advantages of playing at a club which is prepared to reward loyalty and commitment to the squad then maybe Tomas’ often sublime skills, which he still has in abundance, can entertain us for a while longer.
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