The Podolski Puzzle.

Let’s start with a basic premise – we all love our Lukas. Top bloke, committed to the club, and a fine player.

I cannot recall a similar player in the Arsenal shirt; immensely strong, a lethal finisher who possesses phenomenal shooting power and in the prime of his career at 28 y.o.. Yet despite having over 100 caps for the German National team he cannot find a set place in the Arsenal side. Why?

More to the point, why  is everyone calling for another striker when we have statistically one of the best strikers in world football in our Polish/German (born in Poland, left as a two year old)?

It is perplexing.

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A few Pod stats: 111 caps, 3rd highest appearances for Germany. 46 international goals, 5th highest for Germany. In 2013 he scored after just 9 seconds vs Ecuador, the second fastest goal of all time (first is a San Marino gaol against England!!.). Winner of the German League and Cup Double.  Since 2010 he has played 115 games and scored 51 times.

Mr Wenger says he is the most lethal finisher at the club. Yet ….

Write down your Arsenal first XI (when all are fit!), is Poldi in it? Why not?

For Germany Prinz Poldi plays on the left with licence to drift towards the centre, just the same as he does for Arsenal but with one major difference, his fullback is Philip Lahm and his defensive MF Schweinsteiger! He doesn’t have the defensive responsibility which a left sided attacker has at Arsenal.

It seems that Poldi plays deeper on the left than he does for his country, he is regularly seen on the edge of our box tracking back. Unlike Theo, he doesn’t have the pace to join Giroud upfront on the breakaways and therefore if he is to be involved the play has to be slower from the back. I would like to see him played much further forward in the Pires role – I don’t recall Bobby crunching into tackles too often – and I think this is what Mr Wenger bought him for. Poldi may not have the artistry and guile of Pires but he is certainly as dangerous.

Then there is the question of his combination play with Giroud. Can they function as an attacking duo? We have yet to see evidence of an understanding between the two (apart from one thunderous volley from a cheeky OG pass) though this will hopefully develop as the season progresses. The lightning fast interplay between JW, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Giroud is wonderful to behold, can Poldolski combine in the same vein? Perhaps – he can certainly finish off the moves.

When we signed Poldi much was made of his failure at Bayern Munich, critics said it was easy to be Jack the Peanut at FC Koln but quite different at The Arsenal or Bayern. At FC Koln he was loved like no other and remains so, at Arsenal he is admired rather than loved and I think this is because he has yet to cement a place for himself.

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The early season injury came at the wrong time because he was looking as though he had finally found his position in the team. I recall seeing him pull up as his oak-like thigh twitched and twanged, it was poor timing.

I stated recently that I believe Lukas will leave in summer. Why? For two reasons: Firstly, he is too  good a player to sit on the bench, especially at a time when goal scorers are in such shortage therefore he will be much in demand all over Europe. Secondly, the rumours of Draxler; a left sided MF who is likely to be groomed as a TH14 type player. Mr Wenger will not pay €40m+ to see him sit on the bench, so who loses his place?

That said, it could be Giroud who gets dropped. If Drexler can play in the middle an attack of Podolski, Drexler, Ozil and Walcott is frighteningly good, or drop Theo for Gnabry and have an all-German frontline!

But Drexler may just be paper talk and Podolski may well become an essential member of the team. I certainly hope so but it is clear Mr Wenger is looking for another striker.

Another cloud on his horizon is the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain who is certain to be a fixture in the team (though given the unfortunate timing of his injury,  next season is more likely), plus  the rise of Gnabry and Mr Wenger’s penchant for developing young players by putting them out on the wings.

If one looks at the current squad and the marvellous form of Cazorla and Rosicky plus the return of Ramsey, I just cannot see how Podolski will get a run in the team

It is interesting that Mr Wenger picked 18 y.o. Gnabry to start the last three games when Podolski was fit and on the bench. What must Lukas think about that, especially in a World Cup year? (yes, I know SG plays on the right).

Having Podolski on the bench is a major asset, he is a game changer when he comes on for the final 20 minutes but do you think that is satisfactory to an established German International?

Judging from his activity on social media Podolski seems to be really enjoying his time in London. It is time for us to find out whether he has a future as an Arsenal player. Poldi’s time is now – or is it?.

BigRaddy

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216 Responses to The Podolski Puzzle.

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    Thank you for the post Raddy, and I share your confusion.

    26 made the point recently about the value of impact subs, and how when used appropriately, can be integral to the team as a whole (he would have put it better).

    Now for some conspiracy. A while ago,I read somewhere that playing time is inked into his Terms and Conditions of Employ, or the transfer fee. Could there be a grain of truth?

    Last point, I reckon he brings an awful lot to the positive dressing room atmosphere and team spirit.

  2. Manthan says:

    BR,

    You have read my mind.. I was thinking about same dilemma today morning.. I would love poldi in our starting 11 he brings that much needed aggression on wings in Theo’s absence.. But due to Ozil, Santi is playing on left, and on any given day Santi will be picked ahead of Poldi.. Poldi cannot play as striker due his lack of holding skills, In the current team I don’t see Poldi starting all the games until and unless we change formation or change the style of play.. As you said he is very good asset on bench he can bring that much needed aggression in last 20 mins and nobody doubt his shooting ability.. But I really want Poldi to be part of this team.. Hopefully Le Prof find some solution to this problem..

  3. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. I agree about off-pitch but put yourself in his shoes – he doesn’t seem to be the type of player who is happy coming off the bench and picking up his half-mill-a-month. An automatic first team place is a must and I question if he will get it at AFC.

  4. Manthan says:

    @mickydidit rightly said about postive dressing room atmosphere and team siprit. He will be always happy. I remember game against Villa he was not happy with wenger because he didn’t played that game. BUT soon after game he tweeted saying he is very happy bla bla..

  5. mickydidit89 says:

    BR
    Totally agree, unless he’s a cert to go to the WC. Maybe he’s had a word with the National Herr Kaiserchief Meinleader :-)

    Manthan
    Good points, but I’d have thought either Santi or Mesut could play right, or come to that, I once wrote a post saying how Poldi would score more coming from the right himself.

    That’s it, I’ve convinced myself, “everybody over to the right hand side right now”

  6. Rasp says:

    Excellent Raddy, there’s not much I can add.

    I remember before we signed Poldi, I was discussing how he would fit in the team with Micky over a pre-match Yildiz. I was in favour and Micky couldn’t see how he’d fit into the team – at present, Micky seems to be the more correct :(

    I don’t really think he has ever had a good run of games and I agree his defensive responsibilities often leave him too deep – so maybe coming on as an impact sub when we’re looking to score may be the way ahead for the time being. He can’t play anywhere near as well as Giroud centrally as a target man, but he is a far better natural goalscorer. I hope he starts on Friday and gets a hatful of goals to boost his confidence.

    I really like him, he’s popular in the dressing room and on the pitch, let’s hope AW finds a way to get the best out of him as he has done with Giroud.

  7. Rasp says:

    Incidentally, my inside source from the training ground confirms that Poldi has the hardest shot of any player in the squad by some considerable margin.

  8. LB says:

    I think he is a nailed on starter for Friday.

  9. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning AAers, BR you’ve found another contentious issue for the learned supporters to debate, well done.

    I didn’t know much about Podolski when it was first mooted that he was on Arsene’s radar and I know little more now. I’m not sure where the problem lies, when Gervinho left it seemed the left wing spot was his for the asking, yet it never happened.

    I would love to hear Wenger’s take on the player and his future plans for him.

    Competition for places may be eased slightly in the summer, Rosicky at 33 is out of contract at the season’s end and can only expect a one year extension. With Bayern Munich sniffing around him Tomas could well up sticks for a final lucrative move to the Bundesliga

  10. Big Raddy says:

    LB. So do I but not a nailed on starter at S’ton

  11. arnie says:

    Great stuff, Raddy. Thank you. Makes me feel very sad. I would not like good footballers to say ex post that moving to Arsenal was a waste of their time. In Poldi’s case, this may happen. I have noticed speculation of a swap deal with Draxler. :sad:

    But I still think we can play a system with two strikers. At least we should give it a try. :sad:

    OK, back laters after thinking a bit more. :D :D :D

  12. LB says:

    I hope I am proved wrong but I cannot see any other way than Podolski becoming known as our nearly man.

    He may well have the hardest shot at the club but any player who cannot contribute a single thing to the defensive cause is a passenger and we cannot afford passengers.

  13. LB says:

    Superb post by the way.

  14. arnie says:

    LB: If that were true, why are we greedily looking for a striker now. It would seem we, I mean we the fans, want a striker to sit in the box and convert. Why do we not try to use Poldi in that role then.

    It seems the profits the club is earning is going to our head. We are hankering after new players without thinking how we can best use our own personnel. Makes me feel both angry and sad!!!!! :D :D

  15. jessie says:

    whats wrong with having a good bench? For me podolski any day any time can start the first eleven. We have players like park, miachi, frimpong wasting our time and resources, but No body is complaing. now we have a strong bench, people are complaing. Title contenders teams must have a strong bench.

  16. Big Raddy says:

    Jessie. Good point. But I refer you to my 9.57.

  17. 26may1989 says:

    Morning, and thanks for that one, Raddy. Given the newsnow headlines, speculating on a Poldi-Draxler swap deal, the post couldn’t have been better timed.

    But I don’t see the problem, at least not objectively. You make the “too good a player to sit on the bench” observation, but I just don’t see the current game as working like that. The game has moved on, even from ten years ago, when our Invincibles squad actually didn’t have that much depth to it. But then the same was true of our rivals, so it didn’t seem like an issue. The depth of all the top seven squads in this country, and those in Germany, Spain and Italy, is much more pronounced now.

    And one of the manifestations of that is the importance of the players on the bench. I know for some players, it often must feel like being overlooked, but as far as attacking players are concerned, I would say those that start on the bench are at least as important for the end-result as those in the starting XI, arguably even more so. Why? Because the last 15 minutes of a match are so crucial nowadays, that it is vital to have players who can exploit tired opponents to best effect, or enable a switch of tactics by using players with different qualities, or hold possession in order to protect a lead. The standards of all the PL teams is so much higher than it was previously, and starting XIs have a level of quality and organisation that is much closer from top to bottom, but the differentiating factor for the best teams is what they have to offer from the bench.

    And then there’s the impact of injuries and suspensions. Some say “What will happen to Poldi once the Ox and Rosicky and Theo are all available?” But how often are they all available??? In engineering terms, the system needs a certain amount of “redundancy” (i.e., slack) in order to function properly.

    We absolutely need to have the variety and depth that players like Poldi in the squad offer, even when he doesn’t get into the starting XI every week. It’s different for the defensive unit, the effectiveness of which is based on familiarity, coordination and consistency. (And so I am one of those that fully expects (unfortunately) Vermaelen to leave in the summer.)

    I reckon 11 of our squad represent attacking options of one sort or another, there being four or five spots in each starting XI plus two or three places on the bench. So that means up to eight of the 11 may be in the squad for any given game. Take away a few for injuries etc, and you’re already looking at using all of the available attcking options one way or another.

    There’s a reason we’ve seen Ju-Young Park apear on the bench a few times, and that’s that we still don’t have enough depth in our attacking unit. We need more options, not fewer.

    The view persists, that being on the bench represents a problem for a player. And watching the Mourinho and Mata saga, there’s something in that. But I would say that’s about systems as much as anything, and Mata isn’t getting the chance to strut his stuff (either as a starter or a sub) because he doesn’t fit into Mourinho’s system. His assists and goals per minute this season are terrible. Of course confidence is a big part of that, but there are plenty of players who understand that they can play at least as big a role for the team in what they do coming off the bench. The underrated James Milner comes to mind.

    Plus Poldi offers something in our squad that no-one else does, especially in his shooting.

    So, no, I don’t see Poldi as being a problem to be solved. When he’s fit, he makes a very good contribution, and even when he’s not, his tweets and smiles contribute to squad harmony in a valuable way (he’s like Eboue with more ability). The point about a lack of understanding with Giroud might have something in it though, that’s definitely something to think about.

    OK, back to the real world……

  18. Redcore says:

    Great article but I agree with Jessie @10:43. If Poldi is OK with an impact sub role (looks like he is) who would start around 10 – 15 games then we should be happy. I am sure that when the games come thick and fast he will get his chance.

    Song went from the first name on sheet at Arsenal to a utility guy at Barca. So I guess having someone like Poldi on OUR bench is much more comfortable than seeing a Chuba Akpom there (No offence to Akpom).

    If AW gets someone like Draxler in for the left wing then Poldi might reconsider his situation but until then I think both Poldi and AW will not part ways.

  19. Big Raddy says:

    26. I am persuaded by your comment. It is after all a squad and not just the 11 players on the pitch.

    Perhaps Prinz Poldi will be persuaded to stay and play a supporting role. I hope so.

    So Redcore & Jessie. I agree :-)

  20. kev says:

    I have been saying this on so many forum’s and for so long, why I we even talking about the January transfer window, we have one of the finest, players in not just Europe but the world sitting on the bench??? If we lose Podolski we will lose a truly great player and an injured Draxler or any other couldn’t take his place, let him play against Coventry in the cup for 90 minutes to see what he is capable of, if he doesn’t impress I would be highly surprised.

  21. 26may1989 says:

    Raddy, I still think you have a point about how not being a starter every week is perceived by indivdual players. Podolski doesn’t appear to be upset about it, but that’s just a superficial judgment, it may be eating away at him. So, whatever the demands of the modern game for the club and manager, you’re absolutely right to point out that Poldi may end up wanting a move. I hope he doesn’t, I rate him very highly and think he has a big role to play over the next three or four years.

  22. TwentyTwelve says:

    Great post BR. (Sorry I forgot to reply to your question yesterday: it was all thanks to peaches.)

    To go along with arnie’s idea, in some matches would it be possible to play Podolski and Giroud up front at the same time, if both Arteta and Flamini cover?

    Also, it might not be necessary to have both midfield cover if Podolski changes position. From what I’ve seen of Podolski, much of his scoring is done around the edge of the box or a bit inside. Thus, instead of playing on the wing, which requires getting into deep forward position for crosses and then tracking back, what if he mainly operates in the left side of the area between the half way line and the opponent’s box? He should be able to do that, I think.

    For example, this seems to be how he positioned himself when he came on the last game, against Fulham. As usual, Giroud is still on the right side or at the top of the penalty area to receive the long balls, while Podolski charged in from the left, play one-two, and shoot. Cf that lovely sequence from 71:15, and watch up to 73:13 on player.arsenal.com for what I mean.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    TT. para 2. That is exactly what I meant when I mentioned Pires in the post

  24. TwentyTwelve says:

    :oops: Sorry BR, too green to understand. Need to catch up on my history.

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    BR,

    Your summation on Podolski is spot on, our system does not suit his style of play. I believe he can be our “ace in the hole” sub when we need to get back in a game.

    While Pires may not have been a great tackler one of his tackles always stands out in my mind – when in the 1st leg of our CL Quarter Final tie with Juventus he stole the ball off of Patrick Vieira and we went up the field to score. We won the leg 2-0 and that tackle was critical in us eventually reaching the Final.

    Maybe Chas can find that clip for us?

  26. 26may1989 says:

    That Pires on Vieira moment was an absolute gem, thanks for the reminder. We completely bossed Juve in that tie, a very staisfying experience!

  27. LB says:

    I thought the post was good and then 26 goes and posts his superb 10.50.

    A point about Vernaelen; he may want to leave at the end of the season but I think the club will match any other offer made to him from any other club in the world in an attempt to keep him.

    The reason: well, your 10.50 explains the modern day squad requirements far better than I ever could.

    Vermaelen, is so, so important to our success this season, a million miles more important than Podolski.

    If Giroud gets injured there are about 6 possible solutions, none of them ideal but solutions nevertheless but if Mertasacker gets injured there is one.

    Thomas Vermaelen.

  28. LB says:

    I only read “That Pires on Vieira” and knew exactly what you were talking about.

    “Pires the Enforcer” was born after that tackle……..lol

  29. LB says:

    Well, two……Bacary Sagna.

    But nevertheless what have the Romans ever done for us?

  30. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Nice one Raddy

    Yes, what to do with Podolski? A question as puzzling as wether Larry Grayson was gay or just a man who adored wearing Turquoise shirts?

    The thing that strikes me most about Pod is that he reminds me of a 1980′s player

    Great finisher, but not much else really. The old fashioned element seems to be that as well as just been a goalscorer, my guess is that he would thrive only in a 442 formation.

    Like Larry’s shirts, Pod is sadly a little bit out of date.

  31. kelsey says:

    Raddy

    I find this a really interesting post with a lot of diverse opinions.

    I would like to judge Podolski when he is 100% fit and playing just behind Giroud as he is not a number 9, and how often have the two played together in that formation.

    He plays for Germany but never as a number 9 and the difference between him and Vermaelen is that he is guaranteed a place in the national squad but perhaps Vermaelen needs to be playing regularly to cement his position in the Belgian squad.

    Pod may turn out to be just what we need as he certainly can strike a ball harder than anyone else but on the downside there are similarities with him and Arshavin with regards to tracking back,but if we tweaked our formation a bit he wouldn’t have to track back deep into the defending zone.

  32. Norfolk Gooner says:

    I’ve decided to throw a stone in the pond and see how far the ripples spread, Yaya Sanogo, here’s a snippet from his profile on http://www.arsenal.com …”The tall, powerful forward has made a substantial impact in his short career, scoring 11 goals in France’s Ligue 2 – including seven in two games in February 2013″.

    “Quick on the ground and a resourceful finisher, his talent caught the eye of Arsenal, as well as other top clubs around Europe”.

    He’s just just returned to normal training after a long injury lay-off, he has made just two appearences, as a sub, since joining in July 2013, so he could be in the mix before too long.

    Where is he going to fit in? Is he a Giroud replacement? Is he a Walcott in the making? Is he going to surf his way to Arsenal glory? Ride the pine? Or sink without trace?

  33. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Oi! Terry, what’s wrong with wearing turquoise shirts, they go well with white flaired hipsters especially if you’ve got a nice big medallion. :D

  34. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Very true Norfolk. I like to dress like that myself. To compliment the look I have a chest so hairy that no towel is required.

    On close observation of Larry however he lacks chest hair. This makes me suspicious.

  35. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Terry, I fear you wont be the only one with suspicions, if you’ve been closely examining Larry’s hairless chest. :D

  36. RA says:

    Hi NG,

    You raised so many questions @ 1:11 that I do not know why you missed out ‘what is the meaning of Life?’. :-)

    The only question I feel able to answer is ‘is he a Walcott in the making?’

    Well if you ignore the fact that Sanogo is 6′ 3″ tall and Walcott is 5′ 3″, and that Sanogo is a CF and Walnutt is a winger, and that Theo runs like the wind and Sanogo runs like a rheumatic cart horse — then – yes – he is another Walcott in the making. :-)

  37. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Norfolk, no fear my friend. I am under constant suspicion. hahaha

  38. RA says:

    Oh stop hiding in that closet, Terry, and just come out and admit you pine for David Beckham in his unders.. :-)

  39. RA says:

    A first class Post, Raddy, which is very different from your pre-match specials, and yet has that ‘magic’ touch to draw us in.

    I would like to keep the Pod as he has a positive effect on both the fans and the players. We should let Arsene worry about how, where and when he uses him. :-)

  40. Norfolk Gooner says:

    OK RA, not a Walcott, but he did start at the same academy as Diaby, so he must be familiar with the physios. :D

    Lunch calls.

  41. Vinay says:

    Podolski is someone you want in your team than see him playing against you. He is a joy, he is the exact kind of player we need and needed. As per a lot of reports, he is delaying a potential surgery which he has been carrying in order to play in the world cup. I dont know if its true but that may explain a few doubts. Is Wenger losing his cool over this and hence wants to sell him? again this maybe pure speculation. I for one wouldnt trade him for Draxler or anyone else, wait if its Marco Reus,!!!!!!!!!!!!! well can he come and we can also retain the prince hahahah.

  42. arnie says:

    Once again, absolutely lovely post, Raddy. And together with the fantastic response from 26, and all the discussion, ah, what a day!!!!!

    Yes, for me, it has to be the Pires role. Either of Santi or Rosicky are going to be in the team anyway, or perhaps The Ox, Poldi just needs to find suitable space and provide goals. Given his ability, it does not have to be within the box. If he loses his shooting shoes, now that is another matter!

    I agree with the idea of rotation, which is a part of any big team. I also agree that Poldi is too good a player to consistently be out of the starting line up. The only reason I can think that he is not starting at the moment is that he is still not back to full fitness.

    We cannot make a habit of signing top class players and leaving them on the bench. And yes, his consistent selection for Germany (yes, one of the top sides in the world) shows what a player he is. And also, if Poldi is not treated with the fairness that he deserves, he will want out! And then, it will be curtains for us in attracting young German talent, Draxler et al.

    For me, the key question is somewhat different. There are the great players and there are the great stars. The first are liked by fans (say, Poldi) and the second are loved (like Jack). Sometimes the two go together (like Ozil) and sometimes they dont. I trust Arsene in making the correct call in this case.

    My take: Poldi is very much part of the project. Poldi is on. When he is 30, now that is another matter. :D :D :D

  43. RA says:

    OK, arnie,

    If we accept what you say, (and I do not, really) that the Pod needs to be treated with fairness, by which you seem to imply he should not be left on the bench and should be in the team from the outset — who would you leave out of the starting eleven instead?

    The reason that I do not accept what you say is because Poldi has been injured for many weeks and has only come back and been available this month. That is a bit soon to be jumping to conclusions.

    We discussed this subject previously, perhaps when you were in the US, when Wenger had been asked by the journos at a pre-match conference, why he was not playing the Pod from the start of the game, as many fans expected, and he responded a little testily, I thought, and said there was a big difference between Poldi being physically fit and being match fit, and it had nothing to do with whether or not he (Wenger) liked the player, or had doubts about his ability and contribution to the team.

    Says it all for me. :-)

  44. JanMan says:

    BR. Very interesting post. Podolski had a free role when in Koeln and had zero defensive duties. When at Bayern he struggled somewhat as he was not the number one star. At Arsenal I believe he could actually play a better role than Giroud if given the proper runs of opportunity. His big problem at Arsenal (like Ozil) is that he is expected to perform defensive coverage and that is just not a part of his game. So it is a question of are Arsenal prepared to change their system to suit him and the answer of course is no. Therefore I do not see a role for him other than an impact sub! I really wish there was a way to incorperate him in the starting line up as I truly feel that he has a great deal to offer.

  45. arnie says:

    Redders: No disagreement. I think I have not expressed myself clearly. Fairness implies starting in rotation when he is fully fit. I suspect at the moment Poldi is not. If he is, we have to create a formation where he can play and score goals for us. :D :D

    Against the minnows, Poldi can have his rest and continue his rehab. Which does not rule out turning up against Coventry.

    Against S’ton, he will be in my starting lineup, provided he is fully fit. This is a big if. I will play one DM and two strikers. When we are two goals up, I will return to 2 DMs. :D :D

  46. User Support says:

    Great post, BR.

    Poldi is an enigma.
    We need to find a way of best exploiting his strengths.
    Maybe 3-5-2?

    This is the best I could find for Bobby the Enforcer’s reducer tackle on Vieira. You don’t see its full majesty until the replay. :)

    https://myspace.com/imstilledge/video/arsenal-.vs-juventus-fabregas-1-0/343693

  47. dandan says:

    Have not read your post yet Raddy, Will do so
    But this caught my attention and I know many posters cannot get this
    A food for thought article from
    Matthew Syed Sports Commentator of the Year
    Published at 12:01AM, January 22 2014
    On November 23, 2010, a dinner took place at the Élysée Palace in Paris. In attendance were Nicolas Sarkozy, then President of France, and Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the Crown Prince of Qatar (now the Emir). Also present were Michel Platini, the president of Uefa, and Sébastien Bazin, of Colony Capital, the American owners of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
    What was discussed at that meeting has never been fully disclosed. What happened in the aftermath, however, is a matter of public record. First, Platini voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, a key objective in the Gulf state’s foreign policy. Second, Qatar Sports Investments purchased PSG (the club supported by Sarkozy) and poured millions into its coffers.
    Third, Qatar bought a lucrative consignment of French-assembled Airbus planes and wrote a cheque to finance some of the poorest suburbs of Paris (Al Jazeera also purchased the television rights to the French League for 300 million euros). Finally, Laurent Platini, son of the Uefa president, landed a job at Burrda Sports, a sports company owned by Qatar.
    I mention this sequence of events not to imply any conspiracy (Platini denies the existence of any deal), but to provide context in the present debate about the influence of third parties on sport. Earlier this week, Zoopla attempted to pressure West Bromwich Albion, which it sponsors, into dropping Nicolas Anelka because of an allegedly anti-Semitic salute. A day later, HSBC, a leading sponsor in golf, let it be known that it is “very uneasy” with male-only clubs hosting the Open Championship.
    Some pundits have been rather perturbed by this. They have bemoaned the idea of businesses “influencing decisions that ought to be made on purely sporting grounds”. One or two have called for a boycott of Zoopla. But I have to confess that I find these examples almost breathtaking in their triviality. In many ways, they obscure the sheer depth of the relationship that now exists between sport and big money.
    Last week, Manchester United announced their latest sponsor. Aperol is now the club’s official “global spirits partner”. Richard Arnold, United’s managing director, said: “Like Manchester United, Aperol is an ambitious organisation and we have been impressed by their innovative approach to developing the brand on an international stage.”
    United’s sponsors now include Aon (principal sponsor), DHL (official logistics partner), bwin (official betting partner), Casillero del Diablo (official wine partner), Mister Potato (official savoury snack partner), Kansai Paint (official paint partner), Singha (official beer partner), Yanmar (official moving partner) and STC (official integrated telecommunications partner for Saudi Arabia). There is also Nike, Thomas Cook, Epson, Chevrolet, Aeroflot, Bulova, Toshiba and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
    These relationships are the tip of the iceberg, of course. The cash nexus, as Marx predicted, is now the dominant social relationship across sport. Fans have become consumers; athletes are walking billboards; and clubs are now instruments of global advertising. Sporting events have become what is generally called “content”. The struggle between Sky Sports and BT Sport over premium football rights is a proxy battle over market share for the delivery mechanism for those rights — namely, broadband.
    The key point is that these relationships and interrelationships are so deep that they operate without any need for overt pressure. Optimising Manchester United’s position in the global industrial-advertising complex is the published objective of the Glazer family. They do not need to be told what to do. Raising ticket prices, securitising debt, minimising tax liabilities and avoiding controversies that might sully corporate partners is as much a part of their business model as winning football matches.
    Athletes, too, know the score. It is not a question of sponsors telling them what to do or say; rather, it is a basic understanding of how global capitalism operates. When Michael Jordan, the basketball legend, was asked to endorse the campaign to unseat Jesse Helms, an ultra-right wing Senator, he refused. “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” Jordan said. He didn’t want to upset Nike, the company that manufactured his name-branded trainers, by alienating customers with right-leaning political sensibilities.
    It is worth repeating that Nike had not explicitly told Jordan to keep shtoom. They had not written it into any contract. Like other athletes who self-censor actions and statements in pursuit of lucrative endorsements, he just knew what to do. This is what Noam Chomsky calls a “resounding silence”. When relationships are deep enough, nobody needs to say anything. The flare-ups involving Zoopla and HSBC are, in that sense, superficial exceptions to a deeper rule.
    The wild card in the relationship between big money and sport is the growing influence of political power. The Winter Olympics will begin in Sochi next month with the Russian government pouring $30 billion (about £18 billion) into the Games (and, if reports are to be believed, the pockets of corrupt oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin). Only a fool would suppose that the objective of this largesse has much to do with sport. Strategically staged in the North Caucasus, the event will signal to would-be secessionists (and terrorists) the power of the Russian state. It will also project soft power to the world.
    In football, political considerations are slowly dwarfing the significance of money. The Gulf states have moved into club ownership not in order to make profits. Indeed, Financial Fair Play was enacted to set limits as to how much they can lose year on year. Rather, the foray was about the exercise of soft power (at almost any cost). The same analysis, with various caveats, applies to the hosting of sporting mega-events. Nation states are prepared to do almost anything to get their hands on these circuses, leveraging their cultural potency to achieve multiple political objectives.
    The meeting between Sarkozy, Platini, Bazin and al-Thani is interesting not so much because of what was said, but because it symbolises the powerful and overlapping forces that now surround sport. Games that were invented for amusement and recreation have become pawns in a game of far bigger stakes. To be outraged about Zoopla attempting to influence West Brom is to spectacularly miss the point.
    Platini, as mentioned earlier, denies that any deal was struck at the Élysée meeting and has threatened to sue anyone who says otherwise. I am happy to take his word for it. I am also happy to state that whatever was said, or not said, at the meeting, overt deals and explicit pronouncements are rarely necessary for strategic relationships to work effectively. Indeed, when it comes to sport, it is the resounding silence that is the most noteworthy thing of all

  48. RA says:

    arnie,

    It is clear that there is a dichotomy between those who think, with the Pods record number of appearances in one of the great international teams, that he must be the bees knees; and those who think his lack of defensive abilities coupled with his injury record that he is a luxury that Arsenal cannot afford.

    I can understand both point of view and have to admit that his performances so far lead me to think the latter group have a stronger case.

    However, I was one of the many who did not think that the Mekon, also known as the Gerv was a tantalisingly frustrating player, rather like the Pod, in as much as they can both produce sublime moment of skill, and some pretty poor stuff too.

    Well, Gerv the swerve is doing his best to show how wrong we were with some brilliant displays for Roma, and I do not want to repeat the same mistake with Poldi, and so at the moment I am getting splinters in the nether regions sitting on the fence until he has had a good opportunity to show his worth with a long run of games. :-)

  49. fatgingergooner says:

    If you look at Pods stats, he has only produced as a striker on a couple of occasions, one season for Koln in German Division 2, and his final season for Koln when they were at the bottom end of Bundesliga. He never really did it for Bayern (partly due to injury) and he hasn’t done it for us in the small time he’s had up top.

    He is fantastic player with a hammer of a left foot, and I absolutely love seeing him in our squad, but sometimes players just don’t fit into the system.

    I think he has the game to be outstanding in a striking duo, and he is excellent playing from the LW as his International stats prove.

    I said a while ago that there is a LW spot in our squad still up for grabs. Personally I think someone quick and direct like Hazard for Chelsea is what we need to compliment Giroud and Walcott. Draxler fits that bill, but I would be more than happy if Podolski proved to be the answer as he is such a likeable player.

    I really hope he gets game time in the next few months as I believe he has the goals to lessen the impact of Walcotts loss. He also works hard for the team and is good for morale.

    If I were AW he would be getting in my first XI when fully fit with Walcott injured.

  50. fatgingergooner says:

    Didn’t I recently read a quote from Low who said that Podolski is pretty much guaranteed a WC place?

    I will go see if I can find it.

  51. arnie says:

    Dandan: :D Lovely. I have a feeling this guy is not going to write too long. :sad:

  52. fatgingergooner says:

    August 2013:

    He told Kicker: “Podolski is still a very important player, because he strengthens the team with his abilities.

    “With his dynamic style and his important goals, he has repeatedly showed his unpredictability can be a decisive factor in matches.

    “Therefore, despite the competition from other players, Lukas is indispensable in his position at the moment.”

  53. chas says:

    I don’t know if everyone saw that I have a spare for Coventry. £20.

    If no-one wants it by 7 pm tonight I’ll shove it on the Exchange.

  54. RA says:

    DanDan,

    Matthew Syed writes very well.

    His disclaimer that his story implied any corruption is something we would all agree with — right?

    But then, who are we to disagree with Theodore Roosevelt when he said, “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

    The business world and every countries’ national interests are simply a fact of life.

  55. arnie says:

    Redders: Raddy is a crafty guy. He created a very irritable fence to get people off it. Luckily, I have already jumped over to one side. :D I wish AA ers like yourself and Raddy, who are still trying to sit on the fence, great fun!!!!! :D :D :D

  56. JM says:

    He (Podolski) is not starting currently as:

    (i) he is the only other striker/forward we have other than Giroud @ 100% fitness (Walcott out long term; Bendtner recovering from injury; Sanogo recovering from injury; Park unused). Being a striker (with the scoring mentality foremost) and being an attacking midfielder (who looks to make assists first, before scoring goals) is a difference when playing on the pitch.

    (ii) AW is using the 4-5-1 more often, with a lone striker backed up by 3 offensive-minded midfielders available for selection (take a pick from Oezil, Rosicky, Cazorla, Gnabry, The Ox, Wilshere etc). The 4-2-3-1 is when we have a inside forward/winger joining up with the main striker and supported by 2 other creative offensive-midfielders. (esp, when Walcott was available)

    (iii) Podolski works better with Klose than Gomez in the national team. The former (quick-minded fox-in-the-box poacher), the latter (a hold-the-ball-&-lay-off-to-team-mates striker). Giroud was more of the latter type. Reus & Schurrle are often better options at the left flank of the national team nowadays. (Draxler is their future candidate).

    (iv) An alternative is to have Podolski on the right flank, supported by Sagna at right-back (improved security behind him). He could cut in from right and unleash his left-footed thunderbolt at goal. Although, at the left flank, Cazorla (supported by Monreal at left-back) prefers to cut in as well. The team becomes too narrow and congested in the middle as such. Our main creative midfielder (usu. Oezil, Rosicky, Wilshere) behind our main striker would have to switch to flank to accommodate the cut-ins from either of our flankers.

  57. TwentyTwelve says:

    The mention of Walcott reminds me of the period about two months back, when we all knew that Walcott was available for selection, but for some reason he wasn’t getting much match time, let alone starting.

    Some folks were really disappointed about that. It took a few weeks more weeks before he got his starting slot back, in that City away game, and almost two more weeks before he started scoring.

  58. arnie says:

    JM: nice analysis. I am in full agreement with (ii), (iii) and (iv). But why is (i) a reason for not starting. Is it because Poldi is more likely to get injured than Giroud? I think Redders had this right. Poldi is probably not yet 100% match fit.

    OK, another option, and this goes back to Rocky’s post on Giroud. I said at the time that Ozil also has an inclination to hold the ball and this is partly counter productive. Now, Poldi can be played in rotation with Giroud, and in this case Ozil plays the holding position more explicitly.

  59. arnie says:

    TT: Since you are around, I am yet to get the data. But when I have done the analysis, I do not really intend to write a post. I will share the results with you, so that we can decide a way to let AA ers know what we found. :D :D

  60. TwentyTwelve says:

    Sounds good arnie. You got the info I sent to arsenalnuts, though?

  61. GunnerN5 says:

    dandan,

    While I can, and do, understand that big companies, politics and high finances rule and the sports spectacle is a mere side show; I am still inclined to think of football as a game played by 2 teams of 11 players which lasts for 90 minutes – and during that time anything can happen and nothing else matters to me.

    Maybe I’m singularly naive in that belief – but to think otherwise would take away from me one the the constant loves of my life and I’m not prepared to let that happen – so I will remain protected by my cocoon of ignorance.

  62. dandan says:

    BR. Very thought provoking and timely post.
    The Pods cut in and shot that rattled the bar against Fulham, reminded me dare I say it, of Alan Shearer, another not particularly quick player, but one who knew where the goal was and was hungry to find it. We do not play in the Newcastle manner, so a starting place would probably not be of the same benefit, but as a goal hungry aggressive finisher in the final half hour against tired players Pod would I am sure reap many benefits

  63. arnie says:

    Not yet, TT, but I would expect it soon. :D :D If it does not appear in another day, I will ask Peaches and Rasp. :D :D :D

  64. dandan says:

    I am with you GN5. But an article researched as well as that one appears to be and written by an Olympian, was surely worth airing if only to be filed away under. Platini seems to be a perfect fit to the Standards laid down by Blatter for the premier post in world football. :-)

  65. Rasp says:

    Huh? …… what are we supposed to be doing?

  66. dandan says:

    Afternoon Rasp I posted an article from the times and was answering GN5. 3:52

  67. arnie says:

    Rasp: TT has probably sent some poll data and/or info to nuts. If you would kindly forward to me, please. :D :D

  68. Rasp says:

    Hi dandan, re your snippet @ 3:05

    I would say that Syed is giving the strong message that the choice of Qatar for the WC was completely corrupt. The Qataris bought it off the French. He just cannot put his conclusion into print as their financial might would also swallow him up.

  69. dandan says:

    Rasp agreed.

  70. Rasp says:

    I’m confused arnie/dandan, I’ll have a look in nuts later and forward anything relevant.

    arnie, please let me know if you wish to swap email addresses with TT

  71. arnie says:

    Rasp, yes, swapping emails will be helpful, please. :D :D

  72. GunnerN5 says:

    dandan,

    If I failed to make it clear I’m glad you posted the article as it made complete sense and was very readable.

    I think Platini is a first class twat and most likely as corrupt as Blatter – how can two such absolute clowns end up running/ruining our game ?

  73. 26may1989 says:

    That Matthew Syed article is excellent.

  74. dandan says:

    GN5 you have a way with words which sometimes makes me smile. :-)

  75. RA says:

    arnie,

    Just seen this, which adds weight to what we were discussing earlier.

    – “Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski is continuing to build up to full fitness following the German’s long layoff with a hamstring injury last year, as can be seen by all the hard work that the player had been putting in in the gym of late. (lifting weights etc)

    The experienced Germany international missed much of the first half of the campaign after tearing his hamstring in the north London club’s Uefa Champions League play-off tie against Turkish giants Fenerbahce back in August.”

    I suspect that Wenger’s caution in bringing the Pod back slowly makes absolute sense. :-)

  76. Rasp says:

    OK arnie …. I’ve got my PA working on it :P

  77. GunnerN5 says:

    dandan,

    Sometimes it takes me so long to get to the point that I forget the point I was trying to make?

  78. GunnerN5 says:

    After a night of drink, drugs and wild sex, Jim woke up to find himself next to a really ugly woman. That’s when he realised he had made it home safely.

  79. GunnerN5 says:

    Seven wheelchair athletes have been banned from the Paralympics after they tested positive for WD40

  80. RA says:

    arnie,

    I know you love a bit of transfer speculation, and this is a self explanatory list of who he might be watching. :-) :-)

    –”Arsene Wenger is a busy man we know. But he was spotted at Heathrow Airport this morning, boarding card in hand and ready to jet off.

    Presumably, given that he has a press conference tomorrow, he’s not taking a mid-January holiday in the sun, so we thought we’d have a look at who Wenger might be scouting tonight.

    In no particular order, here are tonight’s games around Europe and who might be catching the eye of the Premier League title-chasers.

    Real Sociedad vs Racing:

    Antoine Griezmann: The winger is banned from playing internationally by the French Football Federation after a case of indiscipline but he fired La Real to the Champions League last season and is dazzling again this year. Still young, the winger is an electric dribbler and adding goals to his game.

    Iñigo Martinez: Highly-rated young centre-back in the Sergio Ramos mould. Yes that does mean he is prone to a red card but also very mobile, athletic and reads the game well. Needless to say he’s comfortable on the ball and has represented Spain throughout the youth ranks. A Puyol successor with the senior side.

    Ruben Pardo: The 21-year-old midfielder is not necessarily one in a position that the Gunners need to reinforce but he’s improving and may be suitable in 18 months when Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta start knocking on a bit.

    Wing wonder: Antoine Griezmann has had a fine season so far

    Ajax vs Feyenoord:

    Jordy Clasie: The young Feyenoord midfielder has recently been linked to Benfica, so perhaps Wenger’s trip abroad was prompted by a desire to beat the Portuguese champions elect to his signature. A classy, maturing centre-mid, Clasie will have plenty of upside and a huge potential resale value.

    Bruno Martins Indi: Top-notch at both centre-back and full-back, Martins Indi is quick, strong and has a brilliant understanding of the game for someone just 21 years old. He’s a fixture in the Holland squad already and destined for a big move.

    Jean-Paul Boetius: This has been a breakthrough season from the 19-year-old, who has five goals in 14 appearances. Lively and unpredictable, he seems just the sort of rough-edged project that Wenger would relish in refining.

    Davy Klaassen: Ajax excel at producing youth players and Klaassen, 20, is going to be one of the best in recent years. An attacking midfielder capable of playing anywhere in a front three, he has seven goals in 11 games this season and has impressed at Champions League level.

    Lucas Andersen: Another Dane brought in as a teen by Ajax, Andersen could follow Christian Eriksen’s example by moving to North London to shine in the Premier League. Often used wide but with the ability to move central, the 19-year-old needs to add goals to his game and continue to improve creatively.

    Versatile: Feyenoord defender Bruno Martins Indi

    PSG vs Montpellier:

    Jeremy Menez: A pacy forward capable of playing wide or down the middle, Menez has been crowded out at PSG in recent months. With his close control and gallic flair, he would be a fairly standard Wenger signing.

    Blaise Matuidi: The France midfielder has it all: power in the tackle, energy to get into both penalty areas, quality on the ball. He would make an ideal long-term signing for Wenger, with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini unlikely to be maintain their current form forever. But he is one of PSG’s prize possessions, so would not come cheap

    Remy Cabella: A skillful, creative attacking midfielder, Cabella has been frequently linked with a switch to the Premier League in the last few months. He could well prove to be Yohan Cabaye’s replacement at Newcastle, should PSG make a move for the Magpies man – unless Wenger steals a march on Alan Pardew.

    M’Baye Niang: Shipped out on loan by Milan, the youngster has made a positive start to life in France, scoring twice in three games. He can look ungainly at times, and is not the most reliable finisher, but has pace and physicality. A diamond in the rough, perhaps.

    Milan vs Udinese:

    Mattia De Sciglio: Already one of Italy’s first-choice full-backs, the Milan youngster hopes to follow in the footsteps of greats like Paolo Maldini and Mauro Tassotti in making their name at the San Siro. An able attacker down the right flank, he has wrestled a first-team spot away from Ignazio Abate.

    Dusan Basta: Another potential replacement for Bacary Sagna, Basta is a rampaging force down the wing. Perhaps slightly more adept in a wing-back role, he certainly has the physicality and stamina to be moulded into a Premier League full-back.

    Bryan Cristante: The rising star of the Milan squad, Cristante got his first taste of Serie A action in November and his first start this month. A mobile, technically-gifted central midfielder, he will surely attract plenty of attention in the coming years – not that the Rossoneri will want to let him go.

    That will keep you quiet for a bit!!! :-)

  81. Hi all

    TT and arnie I’m just going to sort the admin ;)

  82. arnie says:

    Redders: First, regarding Poldi’s rehab, exactly what makes sense. I am happy. :D :D

    Regarding transfer, the bottom line is: “That will keep you quiet for a bit!!!”. I suppose you (in singular) mean you (in the quote above) in plural. :razz: You, devious Redders. You are trying deliberately to put us all to sleep!!!!!! :D :D :D

    On the item itself, it is nice to see that you (in singular) sift through the same rubbish that I do! :razz: I note with particular delight that your favourite Griezmann comes top of that list. :D :D

    An alternate info claims Arsene is in Germany to seal a deal either for Draxler, or, dont laugh plese, the “future Ozil” Hakan Çalhanoğlu!!! :D :D :D

    Now, I will be quiet for a while, for sure! :D

  83. arnie says:

    cheers, Peaches and Rasp. :D :D

  84. dandan says:

    GN5 just been on the phone to my brother who like you lives in the London Area, says its Minus 21 at the moment, don’t envy you that, make sure you have enough coal for the fire. :-)

  85. Gööner In Exile says:

    Raddy fine post, and an interesting question…..for me he stays and he contributes like the rest of the squad, I’d say we have the fewest first choice guaranteed starters for quite some seasons:

    Szczesny, BFG, Koscielny, Sagna, Ozil and Giroud are probably the only guaranteed starters.

    The rest:

    Fabianski, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Monreal, Jenkinson, Cazorla, Walcott, Arteta, Flamini, Gnabry, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere, Bendtner, Walcott and Podolski (did I miss anyone?) can fight for their places.

    That’s 17 players for 6 starting spots and 6 sub spots, so when all are fit 5 don’t even make the bench.

    I wouldn’t like to be a manager!

  86. RA says:

    GIE,

    You have two Walcotts — twins? :-)

    I would elevate Rambo to the definite starters. And maybe Bendtner — :-)

  87. RA says:

    GIE,

    The 5 not guaranteed to be in the squad, at the moment are;

    Verm, Jenkinson, Bendy, Walcott’s twin and Monreal. :-)

  88. arnie says:

    Redders: Walcott is 2-in-1! He alone stands for two players. :D

  89. RC78 says:

    Podolski has been injured a lot since he has joined us. As a result, he could not cement his place in our squad. However, he does provide meaningfum impact when he is on the pitch. I think he should definitely start all the CL and Cup Games as a striker ahead of Giroud and Bendtner. In the Manschaaft and at Bayern, he played “Left Forward” and at Koln, he played central foreward and that is his true position. The guy has lethal finish and he is our best out-of-the-box shooter. All and all, I do think that we should keep Giroud as our main guy in the EPL as he really provides this link-up play and strength needed in the domestic joutes but in Cup and CL, I believe that the finishing touch and shot power of Prinz Poldi could be more than useful…

    CL Team: Woj – Sagna, Per, Kos, Gibbs – Ramsey, Flamini, Arteta – Ozil, Podolski, Wilshere or Cazorla

    EPL Team: Woj – Sagna, Per, Kos, Gibbs – Ramsey, Flamini, Wilshere – Cazorla, Giroud, Ozil

    Cup Team: Woj: Jenkinson, Kos, Verm, Monreal – Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere – Gnabry, Podolski, Ox

  90. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Good point.

    arnie. In case you haven’t realised I always sit on the fence, that way I can have more than one opinion upon any given subject :-)

  91. fatgingergooner says:

    Would AW fly out to scout a player 2 days before a game and the day before a press conference?

    Sounds to me like he’s off to wrap up a deal!

    But then again, he’s probably still sat aat home. :)

  92. RA says:

    Well that’s when you are not disagreeing, Raddy! :-)

  93. 26may1989 says:

    I know I shouldn’t do this but my other half (yup, I’m blaming her) wrote off our car, so we’re looking for a replacement. I’m useless about cars, so am looking to more knowledgable types (that’s you) for tips. It’d have to be an estate, possibly an Audi or a Skoda (the sublime to the ridiculous?). We’d be buying new or up to about three years old.

    So, any advice??

  94. RA says:

    He’s sneaking off for nookie with his other girlfriend, fgg, and got caught — embarrassing ? Very! :-)

  95. arnie says:

    Wenger sent his twin off for a stag night in France to stay away from the journos and conduct his business!!!! :D :D

    Raddy: You constructed a rather sturdy fence. :D :D :D

  96. Redders,. It will be more than embarrassing if they find out Arsenes other girlfriend is fgg !.

  97. RA says:

    Hi Glic,

    Did you see that Terry came out of the closet today, Either that or the syrup has framed him. :-)

  98. RA says:

    It appears that the ‘photo of AW at Heathrow was of him returning from a trip of a personal nature.

    That sounds more like it.

  99. Hahaha Yes Redders. My conclusion to the reason Larry Grayson had no chest hair is because Terry wears it on his own head !.

  100. RA says:

    26,

    I had both a BMW an Audi and a Volvo at different times – and not recently.

    The Beamer was a great drive but relatively small, the audi was a 4 wheel drive and also relatively small, whereas the Volvo estate was massive and also a good drive, but did not have the cachet the other two did.

    For you? Either of the first two – it’s a man thing.
    For the family? The Volvo is hard to beat for practicality, especially the 4 wheel drive.

  101. arnie says:

    Arsene went to conduct his transfer business in a mule cart, and returned via Heathrow, just to tease the journos. :D :D

  102. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers RA. It’s a Volvo that’s just been written off – could trade up to a better model on that one, it’s been good.

    Your non-response on Skoda is noted!

  103. Don’t listen to Redders, 26 !
    Not quite Top Gear, but I`m sure there`s one to suit you !.

    PS
    Penelope Pitstop……Marry Snog Avoid ?

  104. Big Raddy says:

    26. No doubt at all – buy a Subaru. If you can afford one the Legacy, if not the Forester. Comfortable, unbelievably reliable, and quick.

  105. 26may1989 says:

    Wacky Races, now that’s a throwback! And thanks Raddy.

  106. RA says:

    Good choice, 26.

    The fact your better half totalled the Volvo and is around to tell the tale is an eloquent testimonial for the famed safety systems. :-)

  107. Big Raddy says:

    RA. I have had a Beamer station wagon, A VW Passat and a Volvo. The VW was my favourite but as you say the BMW was the most comfortable. Nonetheless, the Subaru is a better car which is reflected in the price.

    I have also had a number of BMW sporty things, a couple of MGB’s, a Triumph Spitfire, a few crappy French cars -all of which fell to pieces. A couple of VW Golfs , a few Fords, a Rover 3500, a Humber, many Minis, a Ford Anglia, an Austin 1100, a Triumph Herald, a Mercedes 500 SL and a 350SL, a Range Rover, an Austin A30, a few Vespas and now have two beautiful bicycles.

    And I have rented most cars known to man.

    These are my qualifications to judge the Subaru

  108. RA says:

    Off for some lunch — maybe laters. :-)

  109. RA says:

    Never doubted your motoring qualifications, Raddy, even if I haven’t heard of half of the cars mentioned.

    I have never owned a car. They were all supplied as part of my work contracts and often changed every 6 months.

    My advice was honestly given to 26 regarding his mention of estates, without realising it was a competition. I am sure you are much more knowledgeable.

  110. Big Raddy says:

    RA. It was meant to be a witty remark not to be competitive! Sorry if you thought I was impugning your opinion.

  111. mickydidit89 says:

    Superb days’ comments. Great reading.

    RA: Loved the sleuthing in tracking Arsene :-)

    26: Straight fight. Mercedes, comes in two sizes. Most reliable, hence every taxi at every airport in the world is a Merc. Crap after sales service. Wiff Waff has one. Has more children than I can remember, does thousands of miles ayear and drives it down his mile long dirt track. Swears by it. Then Skoda. Brilliant estate cars. Best after sales service. Richest bloke I know is on his third. Loves them. If something goes wrong, they’re out with a tow truck and replacement spare car in less than 10 mins :-)

    Dandan: great article, thanks.

    Nite all.

  112. Gööner In Exile says:

    So some eagle eyed readers spotted I named Shit Walcott and Great Walcott. :oops:

  113. chas says:
  114. chas says:
  115. evonne says:

    great post, thanks Raddy. No opinion on why Podolski is becoming a FPGBW
    No time to read the comments – has anybody offered a plausible explanation?

  116. chas says:
  117. Jessycah says:

    I agree too… But Poldi has to stay not on bench tho… He is a great game changer and good footballer at that

  118. fatgingergooner says:

    Mata to United. £40m and strengthens United for when they play us and City. Interesting move.

  119. RA says:

    Nope. It was just me that spotted the Walcott twins, GIE. Lol

  120. jnyc says:

    RADDY, great article and discussion.
    you all know that i am always complaing that Arsene doesnt rotate enough. I think what we are seeing is a combination of Santi needing alot of minutes to get into form,and a little bit of playing it safe after Lukas injury. Working him in slowly as he did with theo.
    i still think that theo is a huge loss by the way.
    if we must struggle to find minutes for quality Players, then let me suggest this:
    i liked the energy pod came on with recently as a sub. And if there arent enough starting minutes, then try to get our subs on before the 72nd minute. Give them a chance to make an impact. More like 30 minutes.
    jaja, do u think theres any chance Arsene might change the way he does this?
    :-)

  121. Big Raddy says:

    Looks as though the Mata to MU is a done deal. Bizarre and not good news for any non-MU fan

  122. Gööner In Exile says:

    Moist will have less of a clue what to do with him than Maureen…..he doesn’t play the best attacking midfielder from Europe two seasons ago (Kagawa).

    Perhaps it opens up the possibility of Rooney leaving….and certainly illustrates that FFP may have teeth after all, Chsvs have sold Mata, and De Bruyne (circa £60m) to buy Matic.

    Sunderland need a goal to have a chance of going through.

  123. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas I assume LG is doing the whole Beijing Red irony thing

  124. chas says:

    It is a spoof, GIE, hence @lolgrove.
    Just found out P.I.M.P. runs it which makes it less appealing somehow.

  125. chas says:

    Hang on, maybe he doesn’t.

  126. 26may1989 says:

    Assuming Mata does go to United, it will be an interesting one to watch.

    Does Mourinho think the player is spent? If so, is he right? Could Mata be the new Torres, brilliant in the past, ordinary in the present?

    Or, as Exile suggested last night, is this, in part, an uber Machiavellian manoeuvre by Mourino – strengthen a team that Chelsea no longer have to play but that all the rivals still have to play?

    Will United be able to get the best out of Mata?

    It is likely to be partly an FFP move, as with de Bruyne (a player who had a really good 2012-13 in Germany), coupled with a rebalancing of the squad by Mourinho, to strengthen the defensive side whilst discarding peripheral attacking players. But with a net spend this window of -£37m, I wonder if Chelsea are about to buy a striker.

  127. 26may1989 says:

    United desperately hanging onto a 1-0 lead in extra time in the League Cup. Mannone having a good night for Sunderland but they need a goal.

  128. arnie says:

    Sunderland ………………………….. :D :D :D

  129. arnie says:

    yo ho ho, oh what a beautiful day!!!!!!!!

  130. 26may1989 says:

    Massive de Gea mistake, Sunderland score with seconds to go!!!!!

  131. arnie says:

    ok, come on sunderland, penalties………

  132. 26may1989 says:

    Bollocks. Still, always fun to watch other teams in penalty shoot outs……

  133. RockyLives says:

    Really good Post BR
    Will get on and read the comments now!

  134. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas missed the @ address….d’oh

    Can’t believe Hernandez nicked that one.

    But what a joke of a performance clinging on to a 1-0 lead…embarrassing considering the opposition

  135. fatgingergooner says:

    If this wasn’t a World Cup year, does anyone think Mata would go to United? Or would he wait until the summer and choose his next club?

  136. 26may1989 says:

    I fancy United to crack here……

  137. 26may1989 says:

    Did I say that?!

  138. 26may1989 says:

    Three misses, bloody hell!

  139. 26may1989 says:

    Oh yes, oh yes, will they do it???

  140. arnie says:

    wow, what a poor game, what poor penalties. Vito is teh hero though!!!!!! yo ho ho!!!!!!

  141. 26may1989 says:

    How many penalty misses?!

  142. 26may1989 says:

    Sunderland through in the most incompetent penalty shoot out ever!

  143. fatgingergooner says:

    I enjoyed that! :)

    Go on Mannone. Good man!

  144. Gööner In Exile says:

    Moist In Moist In Moist In.

    No English player scored a penalty …… ok that’s not a shock but come on!

  145. 26may1989 says:

    Absolutely right, arnie, Vito’s night! An ITYS moment for me, I always liked him – ok, shoot me down now!

  146. chas says:
  147. 26may1989 says:

    Poyet stole Mannone’s interview, bastard!

  148. Gööner In Exile says:

    WC year or not FGG I think Mata just coughed during his medical…..and then asked for his ventolin inhaler.

  149. arnie says:

    Vito, Vito, Vito!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

  150. chas says:
  151. arnie says:

    26: :D :D :D I am at a loss of words…… never thought I will have to support Sunderland this way. absolutely hoarse now. :D

  152. fatgingergooner says:

    It shows how much United are struggling when Neville is saying they missed RVP and Rooney tonight.

    Even if they were fit, under Fergie they wouldn’t have even been on the bench and they still would’ve won 3-0.

  153. Gooner in Exile says:

    Just showed Jones penalty again….the technique is absolutely horrible! This is a player people thought Arsene should ave signed and some pundits called the reincarnation of Duncan Edwards.

    All the stick Puncheon took last week for his pen at SHL but these lads play for apparently the biggest club in England….and they can’t score from 12 yards.

  154. arnie says:

    This was just shocking. Very poor quality from both teams. Good news for us, as far as I am concerned. We should and will give this ManUre side a thorough mauling. Mata or no Mata. :D :D :D

  155. fatgingergooner says:

    GiE,

    Smalling is looking pretty average at the moment too. Another bullet dodged?

  156. Gooner in Exile says:

    United have played 6 games in 2014, they have lost 4, won 2, and one of those wins ended in defeat :D

  157. fatgingergooner says:

    As bad as United are, they still have RVP, Rooney, Fellaini and possibly Mata to come back. I hope most of those are injured when we play them as it will make the job much easier.

  158. 26may1989 says:

    I feel a bit sorry for the United players, all the pressure that’s accumulating was coming down on their shoulders, without van Persie and Rooney available. Plus having to do it at the Sunderland end can’t have helped. Yes, I know it’s a shot from 12 yards, but that isn’t the point is it, it’s the pressure.

    It reminds me of how incapable our players were last year, when Bradford knocked us out on pens. Players of the calibre of Cazorla and Vermaelen missed penalties that night.

    But don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this. A lot!

  159. 26may1989 says:

    Completely agree about Smalling – I couldn’t believe it when the commentator said he’d been playing well, he looked very, very ordinary to me.

  160. Gooner in Exile says:

    If they are not in red and white shirts FGG i can find fault in them all.

    Can someone name me any player that joined United as a young player (20-21) and has actually improved there?

    Ronaldo is probably the exception that proves the rule….and he has improved exponentially since leaving compared to his time at OT

  161. Gooner in Exile says:

    26 i don’t buy this Sunderland end bollox, half the lower tier at that end was United fans.

  162. fatgingergooner says:

    Rooney ain’t bad GiE! :)

    But I get your point. The likes of Nani, Young, Hernandez, Smalling, Jones, Buttner, Rafael, Fabio etc are not exactly setting the world alight.

  163. Gooner in Exile says:

    Here’s another thing………

    United’s penalty takers:
    Wellbeck
    Fletcher
    Januzzai
    Jones
    Rafael

    Players on the pitch who hid, Evra, Hernandez, Valencia, I guess most shocked that Evra didn’t take one, he had only been on pitch 35 minutes.

  164. fatgingergooner says:

    If Mata does go to United then he will probably play from the left similar to the way Moyes used Pienaar at Everton.

    Either that or a change of formation. Moyes would have to be brave to change their style as they’ve always played with attacking, old fashioned wingers. If it goes wrong he could be out pretty quickly.

  165. Gooner in Exile says:

    See i don’t think Rooney is any better now than the player he was when he left Everton, he is one of the most natural English footballers we have produced for many years, with great technique and strength, SAF focussed on using his power assets and not one bit of his technique has been developed. He could have been so much better.

  166. Gooner in Exile says:
  167. LB says:

    I think the chavs have already played manu home and away where as we the dippers and the northern oilers haven’t.

    That Mata deal in annoying.

  168. 26may1989 says:

    Agreed, I absolutely assumed Evra would take one, he might be a dick (ok, he is a dick), but he has the attitude to give him enough confidence. And it’s a time for a leader after all.

    What was it he said about us a couple of years back? Something about us being little boys who bottle it…….

    Hernandez looked like he had cramp, but Valencia had to be up for taking one too.

  169. LB says:

    That is so good GIE, love it.

    Night, night.

  170. fatgingergooner says:

    Apparently Wenger was photographed at the Nou Camp tonight. Messi? Pedro?

    Well, no, rumour has it he was scouting Sergi Roberto who is a young Barca midfielder who is willing to leave due to lack of action.

    Of course this could all be b*ll*cks!

  171. Gooner in Exile says:

    FGG probably is because Barca are away to Levante, and we all know he went to get Cesc back anyway :D

  172. arnie says:

    Moist In Moist In Moist In.

    https://vine.co/v/MBJaz11mi7H

  173. 26may1989 says:

    Evra in May 2009, after United had comprehensively beaten us in two games to knock us out of the CL:

    “It was 11 men against 11 babies. We never doubted ourselves. We have much more experience and that’s what made the difference. We were always confident. It should have been that score in the first leg anyway. It is a great United team that won. Football today is not only about playing well, it’s about winning trophies. Everybody talks about the way Arsenal play but, at the end of the day, it’s about winning silverware. At United, we play well and we win.”

    He was right, they bossed us in those games (I remember travelling up to Manchester for what turned out to be a completely one-sided game, and then see us get destroyed from the off at home). But it’s pretty satisfying to see him suffering in the team of babies now.

    Ooo, a text just in from one of my wife’s United-supporting cousins……

  174. fatgingergooner says:

    My bad GiE,

    The paper (Metro) never mentioned Nou Camp, just said he was in the stands for the Levante game.

  175. Fantastic post Raddy. I hope we keep Poldi. Still laughing at the mancs. I think maureen is selling Mata to them to take points off us and city. Very short term. I think maureen will be gone within 3 years

  176. fatgingergooner says:

    If someone had said at the beginning of the season that Mata would be sold to United you would have laughed at them.

    He has been their best player for the last 2 years and is still only 25 years old with arguably his best still to come.

    It’s a strange one from Mourinho.

    If he pays £40m for a world class striker then maybe you could argue its a good move. I still don’t understand it though.

  177. Gööner In Exile says:

    Do you think we could get Kagawa on the back of this deal?

  178. arnie says:

    motning GiE, motning all.

  179. Gooner in Exile says:

    Motning Arnie

  180. arnie says:

    GiE: We might if we tried, but I bet we are not trying. Arsene usually looks towards Europe for players. Having said that, Arteta, etc. :D :D

  181. arnie says:

    Very sad about rumours about this Poldi-Draxler swap deal. Why? Why?? Why??? :sad: I hope these reports are false.

  182. arnie says:

    TRANSFER RUMOURS:
    Manchester United will offer Shinji Kagawa to Dortmund for Ilkay Gundogan plus cash when the Mata deal is completed. [ESPN]

  183. Big Raddy says:

    Motning All

    Strange that Jose would sell one of the Chavs best players to MU and wouldn’t loan us Ba who I believe has yet to start a game.

    The man just hates Arsene

  184. chas says:

    So much funnier for the mancs to have gone out after being 2 minutes from winning on away goals, then out on their arses, then back in it with penalties.
    Glorious pens, too.
    GIE, do you think if the pens had been up the Stretford End it would have made no difference at all?

    In a way, they’ve been saved a potentially embarrassing trip to Wembley.
    Well that’s how I’d be looking at it if I was from Surrey. :)

  185. arnie says:

    Maureen thinks of Arsenal as a competitor. :D

  186. arnie says:

    Given the quality of the pens in OT, how can Mata be expected to sign his contract? :D

  187. Big Raddy says:

    arnie. Money and the chance to transform a mid-table team

  188. arnie says:

    oh dear, Raddy, this was an intended ROLF!!!! :D :D I am sure Mata has made good contributions towards his pension. :razz:

  189. chas says:

    “Infantino insisted City’s deal with Etihad, which will deliver more than £400m over 10 seasons, and Paris Saint-Germain’s jaw-dropping deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority, which will deliver up to €200m per season, would be rigorously scrutinised to ensure they were fair.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/feb/04/manchester-city-financial-fair-play

  190. chas says:

    This looks more like a rugby conversion, technique-wise.
    Does it hit the guy behind the goal smack in the face?

  191. arnie says:

    OK, off now, have to drive 65 miles and give an early morning lecture. :sad: life is tough. :D :D

  192. chas says:

    Look at PSG’s jump in revenue. FFP my arse.

  193. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas as that clip shows immediately behind the goal was United fans. So he hale and all the United others did not have to suffer waving arms and cat calling directly in their face.

    If they were facing a wall of Subderland fans I might have some sympathy, they had to kick a ball 12 yards into a total area of 21 square yards, admittedly they need to avoid the keeper but the players missing the target totally is what amazes me.

    My method of taking a penalty varied. Run up and smash it aiming for the keepers ankles, chances of it going where I was aiming <30% but a big margin for error, chances of keeper guessing where it would go <30%. Or if I new the keeper and had faced him before or he had been to watch I would take the same long run up for a smash and at the last moment side foot to the wrong side. (I used to be Number 2 or 3 taker in a penalty shoot out)

  194. chas says:

    Could you answer the question, please?

  195. chas says:

    Forget that. It’s a stupid question.

  196. Gööner In Exile says:

    Lol I think Sunderland players would have been affected more by facing the Stretford End.

    I think given United’s morale they would have suffered either way as the fans don’t believe in them.

    Whereas SAF sides found a way to win, Moyes’s United are finding a way to lose :D

  197. Gööner In Exile says:

    I realise I haven’t answered the question still ….. been watching or listening to too many politicians :)

  198. evonne says:

    poo :(
    Not only tbht manu have one less trophy to fight for, but also Mata to strengthen the ranks, not good.. I had high hopes for them finishing the bottom half of the table. Come on Moist, you can sit Mata with Kagawa on the bench, simpes

  199. Big Raddy says:

    evonne. The only disappointment for me was that they didn’t lose at Wembley.

    MU are too big a club not to react to this start to the season. If it wasn’t Mata it would have been some other excellent player.

    We have nothing to fear from them.

  200. evonne says:

    12th Feb Raddy should be a glorious evening for us. If we ever loose to them again, I am not sure what I will do, but something terrible to be sure

  201. chas says:
  202. Big Raddy says:

    AW and Gazidis went to watch Barcelona with the press talking of a deal for Tello or Pdero.

    We have a long-term injury to a right-sided, goal scoring, small attacker. Who does the job at Barca?

    AW is going to sign Messi.

    You heard it here first :-)

  203. Rasp says:

    Morning all, I’m pretty depressed about the state of football :(

    Yesterday we read how Qatar bought the WC by bribing France. Today we see that PSG have cheated FFP – only the rich clubs can do this, city are equally guilty, so FFP is now FUP. The chavs can use their financial power to either resist selling or to reinforce teams to damage their rivals. Money is killing the game. We may not be snowy white in the UK when it comes to corruption, but it seems endemic in large parts of the world.

  204. Rasp says:

    We should not be discussing whether to have the WC in the Winter. We should be having an investigation into the corruption that led to Qatar being chosen and taking appropriate action against those responsible and then having a new selection process with completely different personnel to democratically vote for a country that has a football league, stadiums and a history in the game.

  205. Big Raddy says:

    Agree. There is still time to move the WC to Australia – the obvious choice.

    But it will not happen. High level corruption is never punished. For a prime example, how many financiers have been punished for the 2008 crash – just a few minions whilst the other fat bastards continue to piss away money buying football clubs and flying in private jets

    Bah humbug.

    Rasp, Why diid you start this – I was in a fine mood before thinking about your last comments? :-(

  206. Well said Rasp !. I will only believe FFP is fair and honest when City, Chavs, PSG and Monaco are severely disciplined and by that I mean points deduction or being banned from European competitions as a financial fine will be about as effective as telling women not to lust over me…….it wont happen or have any effect !. hahaha

  207. evonne says:

    good point Raddy – WHY Rasp?

  208. Rasp says:

    Sorry Raddy, it was the article someone put up yesterday afternoon about ‘that meeting’ in Paris, and just the whole idea of Platini having anything to do with football. Although I hated the chavs winning the CL, the look on Platini’s face when he had to present them with the trophy was priceless.

  209. chas says:

    It was my fault, soz.
    The notion that Qatar can give PSG £200m a year is staggering.

    Strangely it doesn’t depress me at all. It’s just how things are.

  210. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rasp you have to remember that FFP is not necessarily about equality of financial fire power it is as much (and maybe more) to do with protecting the legacy of football clubs for fans. It prevents an owner lending money and asking for it back when they sell or decide they no longer want it. Even if the income is artificially inflated it is actually received in to the company.

    As for Qatar I couldn’t agree more, the winter cup is a diversion from the real issue. Most Southern Hemisphere nations have the World Cup interfering with their season

  211. Morning all

    We have a New Post ……………..

  212. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, I know FFP is well intentioned and I hadn’t been aware of the points you make. It is obviously a good thing – shame it can’t iron out the other inequalities

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