A fine bottle of Claret on a Blue Danube!

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A fine bottle of Claret on a Blue Danube! Published 24/01/18 on Moore Than Just A Club

When the Austrian composer; Johann Strauss II composed ‘The Blue Danube’ in 1866, he had hoped for a greater reception from its first performance. On reflection he initially rebuffed with an indifference but after a reworking was able to finally realise its true potential and received high praise.

Our Austrian composer also started with similar indifferent performances and the crowd looked quizzically upon a player of reputation but of little substance. Then came a reworking…inspired, influenced and dictated by a Scot…to unleash the talent we surmised lay dormant.

Marko Arnautovic started to perform with greater zeal, he chased down lost causes and stole a few envious glances. He came alive over a period of three games, maturing to deliver us from the evil of the bottom three.

With a combination of bullish strength, quick change of pace and an eye for hitting the target, he made things happen, he inspired an insurrection to topple those loitering kings and bring us the freedom to be creative once more.

Of course, we wonder whether this turnaround is permanent or will our boxer indeed have a glass jaw. Since Moyes has been in charge, Arnautovic has taken up the cause and ran with it…like he’s been instructed to. He has shown wondrous selfish qualities but also the ability to link in with other players too…something that is attracting high praise from far and wide…especially within the rank and file and the leadership too.

With improving performances and scoring goals with regularity, you might think that we’ve found the perfect striker to carry us until the end of the season. However, strictly speaking, that isn’t his natural position, much preferring the attacking midfielder role. Indeed much of his success has come from dropping short to receive or link up with our other talents…or operate on the flanks and spin inside to drive forward towards the goal sending fear into the hearts of hardy defenders.

On reflection…his early performances under Bilic were pretty lacklustre and devoid of hope to excite an expectant crowd. We assumed this reincarnation under Moyes was a fickle attempt to gain favour in the new regime, but much to our surprise and his credit…he has continued in the same vein and regularly is achieving the fan’s choice for man of the match.

With Mark Noble returning to demonstrate great leadership in the middle and Lanzini starting to fire on all cylinders…the future looks very promising but we wonder whether Marko’s Waltz could ever dance with Lanzini’s Tango…recently it seems it can…let’s hope Lanzini’s injury from the game on Saturday against Bournemouth won’t keep them apart for too long.

As for ‘Arnie’, he continues to please his peers and bring delight to his fans but there continues to be an undercurrent of doubt of a young man susceptible to indifference and rebellion. Indeed, whilst finding fabulous form, he has gone missing a few times in matches…only to ease our fears with a sudden burst of life in the second half.

With Arnautovic we appear to run along a knife edge of professionalism, containment and exuberance whilst his talent is certain…we wonder whether his form is likely to dip at any stage. Perhaps Moyes has registered this trait and although he is full of praise for this new saving grace, he aims to “keep a tight leash” on his leanings. A talent that has the potential to rise and fall with the heat of battle needs a buffer to soften the extremities.

Much of the success witnessed in recent games has been due to his performances but we can’t ignore the rising star status of the remaining cast. He may be the integral component of a machine that is starting to run sweetly but he alone cannot carry us on his broad shoulders…although I dare to think he would not be shy to try.

His goals against Bournemouth a few weeks ago demonstrated a will to never give up the cause and scrap for any opportunity, whilst his combined performance with Lanzini at Huddersfield not only showcased his superior skill but his affirmation of being a quality team player.

I cannot praise him enough for what he is achieving on the pitch, although some of his recent goal celebrations are more rumba in the jungle rather than dancing on ice. He has ignited the aspiring flame from an expectant crowd, all too often left out int he cold with flat and uninspiring displays.

When we lunged with purpose last summer to secure his talents, I wondered if this was another big whopper that would fail to fill our bellies but I am happy that I was proved wrong. Whilst Stoke City fans mocked us for investing in a player that missed more often that he hit form…it appears that we are having the last laugh. Pouring water over their pithy pots, resentful of an asset lost to comrades of circumstance but with deeper pockets.

My reservation going forward is less to do with my faith in Arnie’s commitment to do the very best he can but more to do with an unrealistic expectation that he can maintain his current level of performance. I do not stand alone in this cautious tone but collectively hold our breath, but a while longer until the understudies can jump in to take over if ever needed.

Moyes has a tricky challenge ahead to manage the expectation of the fanbase and ownership who demand a return on their investment. He also needs to manage the game time of the in form players, saving them for the most important battles and affording them the much maligned rest periods for lesser tasks.

If only we had the luxury to rotate the squad with confidence, to trust a depth of quality that is noticeably wanting…but we cannot move without first securing stability. Moyes’s hands are tied, even though we may demand optimum effort and performances in cup games or to every final whistle.

It is evident that when Marko does not play then we are missing that special something up front, that stalwart that drags the team forward, but when his services are employed…we look empowered, positive and ready to action a plan much rehearsed in training.

In Arnautovic we have found a quality Claret waltzing along the Blue Danube through opposition defences. I’m liking this tune but his dance needs work still.

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