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4 Goals Till Furlough – An Ode to Yaya Sanogo


On the back of an early FA Cup exit and what could be considered a fairly rough season, I invite you to social distance yourself appropriately, whilst joining me on a trip down memory lane.

Cast your collective minds back 7 years. It was a different era, the words like Brexit and furlough had yet to enter into our daily vernacular, Kim Källström played through a broken back, and importantly an unnamed student in Berlin was rescued from a large, marble vagina structure. These stories of course are all unrelated.

In Arsenal news, we were entering the 9th year of an unprecedented trophy drought. Mesut was the talk of the town, in a midfield that boasted such creativity (Santi, Wilshire, Rambo, Arteta, Little Mozart) even the likes of Heston Blumenthal would be relegated to working in his local Toby Cavery.

She wore, she wore…

Commeth the 17th of May 2014 our chances to end this drought looked grim. The CB/trequartista Curtis Davies looked to have killed the game before it began. Yet the air was special that day in Wembley. Santi the magician started, what Kos continued.

Injury time loomed and big games call for big players. Yes, that’s right, king of the pre-assist, part-time postman, Yaya Sanogo stepped up, receiving the ball on his cultured left, allowing himself to be intentionally tackled, thus delivering the most important back-heel of Giroud’s career. Peak Rambo worked his Welsh magic, the day was ours.

The Dawn of l’enfant prodige?

A graduate from the French U21 team, alongside Umtiti, Martial, Laca, and many more, there’s no doubting the promise monsieur Sanogo held. A return of 11 goals in 21 Auxerre apps was testament to this. Yet like many gifted footballers, injuries played a defining role in Yaya’s career. As 2014 was the year of suspicious spinal signings, it was only fitting with gifted a chance to Le Facteur and his tibia.

Waylaid wonderkid or fortunate freebie? This question may well have been answered by the big man himself, when asked about if he was hyped too quickly for his involvement in and around the French team youth setup, Yaya responded, ‘I wasn’t a phenomenon, rather I just did my job.’

From Colney to Cassoulet

Now Yaya, has always held a special spot in my heart, perhaps it was due to Football Manager 13 and the 30-goal haul he delivered, perhaps it was because he never complained about receiving a birthday cake (other Yaya’s take note). Or maybe it was because we both shared that magic atmosphere at Wembley.

Whatever the reason, I seemed to have gravitated to him. Whilst he came from Chablis (Auxerre) to Colney to Cassoulet (Toulouse), I came from Watford general hospital (Colenyesque) and live in Toulouse.

Sadly, both mine and Yaya’s arrival did little to shift the tide for Toulouse FC, as they descended without protest into Ligue 2. Yaya unfortunately sustained a myriad of injuries, that followed him through his career, haunting his glory -4 goals against Benfica- days.

In his own words, his stint at Toulouse ‘wasn’t disgustingly bad’ (63 apps 12 goals), but will further add to a list of maybe moments, in a career littered with loans, and stuttered returns.

Postal Charge

So as our quaint stroll down memory lane reaches its end, we are faced with our 2021 future. Stringent budget control has led to mascot mischief, Yaya’s fellow 2014 finalist, quietly frittered two years of contract into mutual consent, with our new Ø arriving to hopefully kickstart our creative comeback.

But the future feels promising, the Hale End production line has delivered youth like a 1st class recorded delivery. Arteta has overseen some rough patches in the early stages of his career, and despite recent failings in OUR trophy, a squad shape is developing, and finally wheat and chaff are being separated (with the exception of a certain chaffy Willian). With any luck past mistakes over Bosman transfers have been laid to rest. For all his shortcomings Yaya could (sometimes) register a shot on target.

7 years and 4 FA Cups later, we continue our quest for Premiership glory, yet we do so unburdened by trophy droughts, perhaps thanks to a certain someone.

Alas Yaya faces the search for a new club our perhaps, just maybe a part-time role at Holloway Post Office. Renaissance or retrograde? The 27th of January 2021 brings Sanogo’s 28th trip around the sun, hopefully by the 31st of January, he’ll have something signed, sealed, and delivered.

By J F Bartley

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