The return of the prodigal son… yeah, but which one ?

December 19, 2013

While we (still) sit pretty on top of the league, between two fixtures against sides that more than one Nostradamus-wanna-be pundit would have seen ahead of us by the end of the year, many attribute this success to the managerial consistency/continuity. But if the recent rumors of Arsène Wenger finally putting pen to a new three year contract in January will have fans rejoice about the stability ahead, the fact that Le Professeur will be 67 by the end of it has people start to consider a successor to the Frenchman (some started a while ago but they obviously have poor judgement so we won’t pay attention to them).

There’s a plethora of great coaches around, people with impressive careers and their bags full of trophies. But with The Arsenal’s tradition of welcoming back its former legends to see them work for the glory of the club, it is tempting to put the spotlight on these once top, top quality players and choose among them the One that is to lead us upon to the next chapter of our history.

Doing so would also ensure a relative continuity and is especially tempting due to the recent actuality seeing a lot of these aforementioned legends coming out, One about his hopes towards club and board, One about his views on the British coaching community and its segregation problem, One with a book, One with a documentary, and so On, I mean on.

I chose from the squads up until the Invicibles, considering most of those who came after are still playing. And with the idea of continuity in mind, I decided to choose only among the players that played under Arsène Wenger. So here you have it, among the players that graced the red and white shirt from 1996 to 2004 is the One. Pretty limited you will say, also considering that not every player, not even every great player, is coach material (that’s what club ambassador posts are for), and yet there is still quiet a few noticeable names that come out. So without further ado, here are the contenders.

Patrick Vieira (37) – The “Demolition” One

I will start with the One at the origin of this poll idea. Paddy’s declaration, though probably taken out of context by the media, about Arsenal’s lack of leadership threw discord among fans with some of them stating he was dead to them while others affirming their love for him, adding that they would be glad to welcome him back at the Arsenal, possibly as a coach.

Considering Patrick Vieira was only appointed as Manchester Shitty’s new reserve team and “Elite Development” (*Cough* what a load of crap) squad manager in May, it is still early to judge his managerial credentials. But, eager to find more so that you have all the information you need to make your judgement, I crossed the enemy lines to gather some intel. Yes, I went on the Shitty web site, looked through their video archives and finally got my hands on the Inspector Gadget’s post nomination interview. What I wouldn’t do for you guys. Paddy, it’s all on you !

To make it short, a few things popped out. The love of collective football he says he retains from his early age, playing with friends. The sense of responsibility he wants to instill in the young players as well as a winning mentality. For that last One, reflecting on Paddy’s declaration that he thought “Arsenal lacked what it takes to win dirty”, we all know what he means. And I for One am a little worried someone like him could coach the team, because that is so not Arsenal.

Dennis Bergkamp (44) – The “Godly” One

Here again it is hard to gauge Dennis Bergkamp’s managerial career. Slightly ahead of Vieira for he has already been in charge of a youth team and is now assistant manager of a team of the importance of Ajax Amsterdam, it is also good to note that the head coach under whom he is working, Frank DeBoer, is considered as One of the ascending talents of European football management. Undertaking the rebuilding of the mythical Dutch club, DeBoer has won three league titles in two and a half years at the helm. Learning from the mistakes that saw Ajax disappear from the European scene for a while, he is betting on youth and has revolutionized their academy. No doubt, seeing these methods baring fruit, Bergkamp could be tempted to consider them for his yet in gestation managerial style. That plus his Total Football education, Stillness, Speed, and the love for Attack he shared with Wenger and you might get a glimpse at what Iceman as a manager could look like.

Unfortunately, Bergkamp could have also been named the “Non-flying” One. And as long as his aerophobia problem isn’t solved, it is hard to see him appointed head coach of a team playing European football year in year out.

Tony Adams (47) – The “There’s only One Tony Adams” One

Mr Arsenal had an amazing career as an Arsenal player. He is the only One to have captained a major club in three different decades, and to the first League Cup and FA Cup double in England. He is One of the “Famous Four”, the back four that made the fame of the Arsenal offside trap. On his way to redemption after alcoholism blighted his career, Big Tone is a deep an attaching character. “In March 2003, BBC Sport named Adams as the former Arsenal player that the club would most benefit from returning” (Wikipedia). And he wants to return ! In June of this year, Adams said he had postulated to enter the board only to be snubbed and see Chips nominated. Now a board position isn’t exactly a coach position (not even close actually) but Tony clearly stated he would do anything at the club, even the tea, so I guess that also means head coach. At the same time he suggested Arsenal was ill prepared in case Arsène Wenger decided to leave. Very subtle.

Unfortunately, like mentioned above, not every great player makes a great coach. And with an average record of 27.73% wins in his three different spells as a manager, and a habit of quitting or being laid off within a year, Adams isn’t exactly in the league of an Arsenal coach contender.

Steve Bould (51) – The “Baldy” One

“He has no hair, but we don’t care ! ” Another of the “Famous Four”, Steve Bould has already an interesting managerial career to show off. Appointed head coach of the Academy team, he won two Premier Academy League and a FA Youth Cup. He knows the young guns and they know he can lead them to victory. How’s that for continuity ? Assistant Manager since last season, Bould bolstered our defense. His style might be very different from Arsène’s attacking style, but the same way, as an assistant, he complemented the Frenchman’s style, the appointment at his side of a Dennis Bergkamp could do the trick. Steve Bould would also undoubtedly provide the most seamless transition but One might argue that Arsenal needs to evolve.

For all of these reasons, Bould may look like the ideal candidate, and yet there might be another One…

Arsène Wenger (64) – The “Invicible” One

Who said 67 is too old for a manager ? Especially One gifted with such cunning intelligence, meaning that even if his body couldn’t move anymore, his head would still be able to win a few league titles and the Holy Champions League Grail.

Another thing, Arsène is nothing like Ferguson and he would certainly not quit while the club is still under reconstruction. Because the record signing of this summer was only the start. The “German speaking” Öne, as we could also have named him, is the reason why Mesut signed and, let’s face it, this Bizarre Sex Appeal is his and his only. If he keeps signing top, top quality players during the next three years, will he then leave like Red Nose after BSR followed his siren chant up north ? I believe not, because Arsène isn’t after legend, he is after Legacy.

Here are the candidates.

SO FELLOW GOONERS, WHO AMONG THE FORMER GUNNERS WOULD YOU SEE AS BEST FIT TO BE THE NEXT ARSENAL COACH ?

You can vote for up to 3 choices in the poll

I apologize to those of you who were hoping for more nostalgic faces, but feel free to add any suggestion in your comments. Same thing for any player you feel should have been on this list. I also apologize for the post kind of answers to itself but I look forward to standing corrected in the comments. Let the debate begin !

Written by Benjamin Rochet


Vieira, Leadership and Nonsense

December 10, 2013

I am an occasional peruser of Newsnow’s Arsenal page. For those of you not familiar with Newsnow, it’s a website that pulls together any and all current stories on a wide range of topics, updated every few minutes.

If you’re financially minded you can visit its Business pages; if digital is your thing you might go to the Technology pages; if you like comedy you can drop in on the Tottenham Hotspur page.

But, naturally, it’s the Arsenal page that is in my bookmarks.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I started browsing said page only to encounter a barrage of headlines saying that one of our erstwhile sons – a former Invincible, no less – was slagging off the current Arsenal team.

These were some of the headlines:

Vieira Says Arsenal Lack Leadership.”

Vieira: Arsenal Lack Leadership to Win PL.”

Patrick Vieira Undermines Arsenal’s Title Bid By Suggesting Gunners Are Not Capable of Winning Ugly.”

Apparently our former captain trotted out the well-worn complaint that today’s Arsenal lacks the sort of natural leaders that were sprinkled throughout the Invincibles era team like raisins in a bagel: Keown, Adams, Campbell, Bergkamp and, of course, Vieira himself.

It’s always a bit disappointing to see one of our old heroes having a pop at the current crop of Arsenal players (or indeed the manager).

Arsenal /Leicester City-

But, reading the full story of the Vieira comments, a couple of things sprang to mind.

First, we have to remember that although he may have been one of our greatest heroes while in an Arsenal shirt, Patrick Vieira now happens to work for one of our rivals, Manchester City. (His current role is “Reserve Team Manager” which, at City, must be quite amusing: most reserve team managers have to coach a bunch of has-beens, kids and returning crocks. Vieira presumably manages a reserve team worth more than the gross national product of some countries).

So, as someone currently representing a rival – a rival we’ll be playing this weekend – we should not necessarily expect him to be bigging up the Arsenal, regardless of his history with us.

But, more importantly, I read that the Vieira comments came as part of a documentary that will air tonight on ITV4. It’s called Keane and Vieira: The Best of Enemies and brings together the two great midfield hard men of their generation to reminisce about those happy days when maiming opponents and picking fights in the tunnel was looked on as high spirits.

The documentary is more than an hour long and I can tell you that sixty-minute documentaries do not get made overnight.

In fact it usually takes a minimum of three months to get one from pre-production to broadcast (the editing alone for a one-hour programme can be up to six weeks).

So it is reasonable to assume that whatever comments Paddy makes in the film were made either very early in the season or even before the season began. The only reason they’re all over the press now is that the producers have a documentary to promote.

And it’s hard to argue with the fact that, looking back over the past few years from the perspective of this summer, Vieira would have had a point about our continuing problems with leadership and failing to win when playing badly.

But do you think Paddy would make those same claims if asked today about the Arsenal team of right now?

I don’t.

He would look at players like Vermaelen, Koscielny, Flamini, Ramsey and Arteta and accept that we do now – at last – have a decent crop of leaders.

And he would also acknowledge that, so far this season, we have been able to get results when not at our best.

So, fellow Arsenal supporters, let’s not get on our high horses about Vieira and his comments. They were almost certainly made quite some time ago and by someone who works for our opponents.

Nothing to see here, move along please.

As for the main theme of the ITV4 film – the rivalry between Vieira and Keane – I throw that over to you: who was the better player? Who was the more influential? And who was the harder?

RockyLives


Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture


Vote For Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Of The Modern Era

July 5, 2013

This must be the most difficult vote, three from the modern era of midfielders is nigh on impossible, whether its the legend of Rocky the strength and skill of Patrick, the sublimity of Pires or the goals of Ljungberg. To choose three from those four is difficult enough and then we add Parlour, Silva and Davis into the mix for good measure and not forgetting probably the best player to grace the Emirates Cesc Fabregas. Any three or four of those will make a decent midfield.

We did consider extending the vote to 4 players for this section but soon realised that in reality most of us would want 7 votes to make sure we voted for all of our favourites.

Look at this list of players and remember how lucky we have been as Arsenal fans, very few fans of rival clubs can boast anything near the quality we had in this era.

Note from ed……..

Apologies for the superfluous extra ‘s’ in Gilberto Silva


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 5

July 3, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue our quest for the greatest midfielders to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week.

14. Paul Davis: 1978-1995.

Paul appeared in 447 matches over a 17 year period.

-Images-d-Davis_Paul_910810Born in Dulwich, London, Paul signed for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1977 and turned professional the following year, he made his debut in 1980 in a North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, and within a year he was a regular in the Arsenal side, as well as a member of the England U21 team.

He was a key member of the successful Arsenal side of the late 1980s, winning the League Cup in 1987 and the First Division in 1989 and 1991. Paul will arguably be best remembered for an incident in 1988 when, during a match, he punched Southampton player Glenn Cockerill in the jaw. Cockerill’s jaw was broken and following the FA’s analysis of TV footage he was given a then unprecedented 9-match ban and £3,000 fine.

In spite of a disagreement with Manager George Graham he still appeared 447 times for Arsenal, scoring 37 goals. Paul played in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals wins in 1993 as Arsenal chalked up their Cup Double. He also featured in Arsenal’s Cup Winners’ Cup win against Parma F.C the following year.

Paul was released by Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer of 1995. After leaving Arsenal, he briefly joined Norwegian side Stabæk Fotball in 1995 and flopped. He returned to London to join Brentford signing on a free transfer in September 1995, but he retired within a year after just five appearances for the Griffin Park side. He returned to Arsenal to become a youth coach in 1996, before leaving the club in 2003.

In September 2003 he joined The Professional Footballers’ Association coaching department. On 27 October 2005, he was invited to become assistant manager of Kettering Town F.C. by new manager Paul Gascoigne, he left Kettering at the same time as Gascoigne’s departure from the club on 5 December 2005, but continues to work for the Professional Footballer’s Association coaching department. He has studied and gained the FA and Pro UEFA Coaching awards, the highest coaching award in the U.K. along with his UEFA ‘A’ Licence and the FA Diploma in Football Management from Warwick University, as well as his coach educators awards. Paul is now a senior coach/coach educator for the organisation and he is also an ambassador for the ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card organisations’.

15. Ray Parlour: 1988-2004.

Ray appeared in 466 matches over a 16 year period.

cristiano-ronaldo-469-ray-parlour-celebrating-arsenal-goal-wearing-a-dreamcast-jersey-1992-2004Born in Barking, London, Ray is most famous for his time at Arsenal, where he played for 14 years. He joined Arsenal as a trainee in 1989, and made his debut for the Gunners against Liverpool in 1992. He was only used sporadically in his initial few years, and was more noted for his disciplinary problems; however he made 12 appearances for the England U21 team during this time.

His breakthrough came in 1994–95, when he played in Arsenal’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final loss to Real Zaragoza. However, his real development, as a player, only came to fruition after the arrival of Arsène Wenger as manager in 1996; he became a regular fixture playing on the right wing or in central midfield for Arsenal. In 1997–98 Arsenal won the Double and Ray proved to be instrumental; he was man-of-the-match in the Gunners’ FA Cup Final win over Newcastle United, that season, where he set up Nicolas Anelka for Arsenal’s second goal in a 2–0 win. He continued to enjoy success with Arsenal for another four years but generally received little acclaim in the media compared with many of his more illustrious Arsenal team-mates, especially as he was almost constantly living in the shadow of Patrick Vieira.

In March 2000, he hit a hat trick in a 4–2 away win at Werder Bremen in a UEFA Cup quarter final tie. Seven months later, he followed it up with another hat trick in a 5–0 demolition of Newcastle United at Highbury. In April 2001, he struck a spectacular 30-yard winner as Arsenal beat Valencia 2–1 in the UEFA Champions’ League Quarter Final 1st leg tie at Highbury. One of the crowning moments of his career was his goal from 30 yards in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, which Arsenal won 2-0.  Another one of Ray’s finest moments in Arsenal colours came in November 2003, when as stand-in captain, he led Arsenal to a famous 5–1 win against Internazionale at San Siro. Performances like these have led many Arsenal fans to believe that he was one of the most underrated players at the club, and of his generation

In total, with Arsenal, Ray won three FA Premier League titles, four FA Cups, (which included two Doubles) one League Cup and one European Cup Winner’s Cup.

During his Arsenal career he was nicknamed “The Romford Pelé”; although the nickname was given with an ironic sense of humour, on account of his solid performance but unglamorous image.

He moved to Middlesbrough in mid-2004, (but he still has remained a fans’ favourite at Arsenal and was recently named the 19th greatest player in the club’s history), he played 60 games for Boro in two and a half years but he was released from his contract in January 2007.

For a brief period he trained with Arsenal in order to regain fitness with a view to finding a new club. On 9 February 2007, he signed for Hull City until the end of the 2006–07 season. After helping City avoid relegation, it was confirmed on 1 June that he was not offered a new contract and this meant he was released.

He made his England debut as a substitute in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland on March 27, 1999. He won ten caps for England but did not score any goals.

Ray emerged as one of the most influential players for The England Legends, a 16-man squad of former internationals who have played Italy, Germany, Scotland, Ireland and The Rest of The World.

16. Patrick Vieira: 1996-2005.

Patrick appeared in 406 matches over a 9 year period.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, his family moved to Dreux, France, when he was eight. He first played for AS Cannes, where he made his debut at the age of 17 and captained the team aged just 19.] In the summer of 1995, he was signed by the Italian team Milan, though he played mainly in the reserves and made only two first-team appearances.

patrick-vIn August 1996, he joined Arsenal, in a £3.5 million move, Patrick later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager; Arsene was officially manager of Arsenal by the start of October. His performances for Arsenal in the subsequent months made him a fans’ favourite. He ended his first season with 38 appearances in total and Arsenal finished in third place, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference. His partnership with French international team-mate Emmanuel Petit the following season was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. After a successful 1998 World Cup campaign with the national team, Patrick had another productive season at Arsenal in 1998–99. Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League, Vieira’s endeavour was rewarded as he was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Disciplinary problems beset Patrick during his time with Arsenal and it was feared that he was prepared to turn his back on English football as he felt victimised. Wenge, several Arsenal players and fans supported him publicly, amid speculation that Italian club Juventus were prepared to offer Vieira an escape route. However Patrick stayed and Arsenal finished second in the league for a third consecutive season and runners-up to Liverpool in 2001 FA Cup Final. He was later named the club vice-captain, to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. In the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double. In 2003, Patrick missed Arsenal’s title run-in, due to a knee injury, and they were overtaken by Manchester United who took first place. He was also ruled out of the 2003 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won, but jointly lifted the trophy with captain for the day, David Seaman.

In spite of growing interest to sign Vieira, not least from Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea in the summer of 2003, he agreed terms to stay at Arsenal and signed a deal which ran until 2007. The 2003–04 season was a successful one for Arsenal, as they reclaimed the league title and became the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire league season unbeaten. He endured a mixed start to the campaign, as he was sent off against Manchester United in September 2003, banned for one match and later fined £20,000. However he scored the opening goal against Tottenham Hotspur, in what ended a 2–2 draw which was enough for Arsenal to regain the title.  In the 2005 FA Cup Final, he scored the winning penalty in a penalty shoot-out after a 0–0 draw with Manchester United, which proved to be his final goal for Arsenal.

In July 2005, representatives of Juventus met with Arsenal, with a view to signing Patrick, and on 15 August 2005, he signed a five-year contract, in a deal worth £13.75 million, making his debut on 28 August 2005. Despite his performances dipping as the result of a persistent groin injury he helped Juventus retain the Scudetto, however Juventus were stripped of their 2004–05 and 2005–06 titles after it was revealed they were involved in a match-fixing scandal and were relegated to Serie B and had 17 points deducted.

On 2 August 2006, he officially signed a four-year deal for Internazionale. In his first season at Inter, he added to his trophy cabinet the Italian Super Cup as well as the 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09 Serie A. On 6 January 2010, José Mourinho stated that Vieira had played his last game at Inter.

On 8 January 2010, he signed a six month contract at Manchester City and, subsequently agreed to a one-year extension. He made a late substitute appearance in May 2011, as City won the FA Cup with a 1–0 win over Stoke City at Wembley Stadium.

On 14 July 2011, he announced his retirement from playing and accepted a training and youth development role at Manchester City with the title of Football Development Executive.

Vieira made his debut for France and was part of the France squad in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He came on as a substitute in the final against Brazil, and set up Arsenal team mate Emmanuel Petit for France’s third goal in a 3–0 win. He, with the rest of the squad, was declared a Knight of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration, in 1998.

He subsequently played as a first choice midfield player in France’s successful campaign in Euro 2000, which they won, beating Italy in the final. He helped France to victory in the 2001 Confederations Cup, ending the tournament as joint top scorer with two goals, including the winner, a header, in the final against Japan. He also played in all three games in the 2002 World Cup, in which France were eliminated in the group stage, failing to score a goal. He was injured and missed France’s defeat to Greece at Euro 2004. He won a total of 107 caps for France, scoring six goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


#once a gooner always a gooner?

September 22, 2012

I often come across this hashtag on twitter about former Arsenal players. Usually it’s in reply to Cesc or Henry saying something complimentary about Arsenal. Personally I think Cesc should be #oncebarcaalwaysbarca but that’s just me. I’ve always wondered how Arsenal fans make up their minds about which former players deserve our support/love and which deserve our contempt and the ones we could say neutral. Here is a list. Make your own minds up

Dennis Bergkamp

Real name God. Finished his career at Arsenal after signing several 1 year rolling contracts. The most gifted Arsenal player in my limited experience.

My Verdict Always a gooner

Ian Wright

Ian was top scorer for the Arsenal until Thierry took his crown. Since he retired he likes to wind gooners up on talksh*te and says he’s a Millwall fan but I think his heart is in the right place.

My verdict Always a gooner

Tony Adams

“Mr Arsenal” Spent his entire career at Arsenal. Famously said “Remember the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”

My verdict Always a gooner

Patrick Vieira

He came from Senegal to play for Arsenal. He was a great player for us but I feel he’s tainted himself working (and tapping up our players) for the northern oilers.

My Verdict Traitor

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc came to us from the Barca academy when he was 16. It was inevitable that he would go back someday. I think his timing was all wrong. Whatever talent he naturally has, Wenger made him the player he is today (and he’s sitting on their bench)

My verdict Traitor

Ashley Hole

He was the best left back in a generation. Was offered 60K PW by Dein but the board objected and would only give him 55K famously making him swerve his car (if only) and go for a secret meeting with Maureen. Still can’t stop talking about us. I get the feeling he’s a bit bitter despite the trophies.

My verdict Traitor

Thierry Henry

Our all-time top scorer and Monarch. Like Cesc, he went to Barca but unlike the Spaniard he’d helped us to win trophies. He got the CL he wanted and dedicated it to Arsenal. Came back last winter and scored the winners against Sunderland and Leeds.

My verdict Always a gooner.

Robin van Persie

He was with us for 7 years, Spent a lot of time injured, had one season without injury and f***ed off. He grew up as an arsenal fan but the “little boy inside him” was screaming Manchester United.

My verdict Scum

There are plenty more but you get the idea:

Eduardo Always a gooner

Eboue Always a gooner

Freddie Always a gooner

Nasri traitor

Gilberto

Flamini

Lansbury

George Graham

Dixon

Seaman

What do you think?

Written by goonermichael


Cesc Will Rue The Day He Left Arsenal

July 23, 2011

Not many players leave Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal and thrive.

Look at Alex Hleb.

The ‘new George Best’ sold his soul for a Mr Whippy with extra sprinkles and quickly went from Barcelona to the heady heights of Birmingham FC.

Now, still owned by Barca but not wanted by anyone, he floats in the footballing ether, dribbling in mazy circles to nowhere and declining clear shooting opportunities to his heart’s content.

Matthieu Flamini, after finally having a good season at Arsenal, showed all the loyalty of a two bob hooker and decamped for Milan. One of his main gripes was that he had been forced to play so many games at Arsenal as a left back.

No such problem with the Rossoneri. They played him at right back instead.

Thierry Henry won some gongs when he joined Barcelona, but he was literally a peripheral figure (pushed back out to the wings, from where Arsene had rescued him all those years earlier). A classy, brilliant player, but no-one can doubt that we got the best of him and sold him when his decline had started.

Now he’s some kind of showman in the Americas, wearing a Stetson and juggling footballs on the back of a rodeo bull while toting a Colt 45 or somesuch.

Patrick Vieira? Like Henry he was too good to vanish into obscurity. However, when he moved to Italy he had the bittersweet experience of winning numerous medals – but only as a bit part player. When he stumbled across the ATM that never stops churning out ten pound notes (otherwise known as Man City), who can blame him for retiring to its warm dressing rooms and well varnished benches?

Ljungberg, Pires, Adebayor, Reyes, Petit, Overmars… I could go on, but the point is: Arsene knows when it’s time to let a player go. In most cases it is when he has judged that their performances have crested the zenith. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad, just that they will never quite reach their peak again and will, in fact, decline.

Even those he has been forced to sell reluctantly, like Flamini and Anelka, have never subsequently had the central, starring roles they had at Arsenal.

So what about Cesc?

Have we seen the best of El Capitan? When he leaves us will it be for a few tortured years of bench-sitting at Barcelona, plagued by ever-worsening hamstrings and haunted by the curious longevity of the Xavi-Iniesta partnership, still winning the Primera Liga well into their thirities?

Will we Arsenal fans nod sagely to each other and repeat the mantra that players just never do as well when they leave us?

DON’T BE STUPID.

Cesc Fabregas is one of the best four or five players in the world. I would put Messi and Ronaldo ahead of him, but after that…? The man is a genius. Of course he is going to have a marvelous career at Barcelona. If he is not a regular first team starter by January London will eat his red-and-white socks*.

And yet, you say, your headline referred to him rueing the day he leaves Arsenal. If he goes on to win Spanish title after Copa del Ray after Champions League what will there be to regret? What tears will little Francesc possibly shed?

Let me tell you.

Cesc will rue the day he leaves because when this Arsenal team, whose talisman he has been for so long, finally starts to win the big prizes without him it will pierce his heart with the brilliant sharpness of one of his incredible passes through the Totteringham defence.

If Arsenal win the league this year – and I am one of those who believes it is a real possibility – then Cesc will be disconsolate. It will be a failure for him that will live with him throughout his career and his life.

He will have given eight years of his life to a project – and not just any project, but a glorious, ambitious, eyes-on-the-stars kind of project – and then walked away just before it reached its crowning glory. It would be as if Neil Armstrong got to the Moon’s orbit and said: “You know what, I’m fine, I’ll just stay here in Apollo 11 and look out the window…”

Never mind whether he has a championship medal in Spain, a Champions League title and has been chosen as Miss Catalunia 2013, there will be a hole in Cesc’s soul that will never be filled.

He will rejoice for his erstwhile teammates, but deep down he will know that he should have been with them. And for that, I will grieve with him.

RockyLives

*That’s OK isn’t it London?


Arsenal’s Best Signing Ever

June 27, 2011

Who is the best player ever to have been signed by Arsenal?

Last summer I wrote a post about ‘Arsenal’s Best Transfer News Ever’. The point of that piece was to determine which piece of transfer news was the most exciting when it was announced, regardless of how that player went on to perform for the club.

So, for example, Clive Allen was on that list even though he never played a game in anger for Arsenal and so was Davor Suker, who was never more than a bit part player.

This time I want to know which signing (as opposed to home grown player) has been the best piece of business we have ever done.

You may want to weigh up factors such as what they cost, what their impact was on the team, what legacy, if any, they left behind, their achievements versus the expectations we had when they arrived and so on.

I’m not including anyone who has come through the Arsenal ranks from apprentice up, or has been recruited at too young an age to be considered a mature signing (so there’s no room for Cesc Fabregas).

For starters, here are what I consider to be some of the main contenders:

Cliff Bastin

Cliff was spotted by Herbert Chapman playing for Exeter away at Watford. Chapman had gone along to keep tabs on a promising Watford player but was so impressed by Cliff that he snapped him up at the end of the 1928/29 season. It was an inspired piece of business and was crucial to the Chapman revolution that led Arsenal to dominate English football in the 1930s. Bastin’s scoring record for the Gunners was not outdone until Ian Wright surpassed it in 1997.

Ronnie Rooke

Arsenal’s dominance in the Chapman era was ended not by any other team, but by the Second World War. When football began again afterwards we returned as a severely weakened side and narrowly avoided relegation in 1947. But the following year we bounced back to reclaim our crown – and the vital ingredient was a tough, experienced centre forward called Ronnie Rooke. He was nearly 35 when we signed him from Second Division Fulham and he had never played in the top flight – so he was a real gamble. However, his 21 goals in 1946/47 helped stave off relegation and he followed that with 33 more the next season as we marched to the title.

Frank McClintock

Our Double-winning hard man was brought up in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, which explains a lot. He was signed in 1964 after seven successful years at Leicester. Starting off in midfield before moving to the CB role (and the captaincy) he was a rock throughout the relatively fallow years of the late 1960s and, of course, led Arsenal to the Double in 1971.

Alan Smith

Another Leicester stalwart, signed in 1987. “Smudger” was an awkward-looking, ungainly centre forward, but there was no-one better at holding up the ball and bringing others into play – skills that, along with his eye for a goal, proved to be vital in our title-winning seasons of 1989 and 1991.

David Seaman

After winning the league in ’89 most of us were happy with John Lukic between the sticks, but George Graham decided that he wanted the best and went out and got Safe Hands from QPR in 1990. It’s no exaggeration to say that Seaman was an essential ingredient in every subsequent success achieved by the club during his time with us.

Ian Wright

Although he would not win a champions medal until 1998 and the arrival of Arsene Wenger, Wrighty was a mainstay of the Arsenal team in the later George Graham era, when we stopped winning championships and started winning cups and when our flamboyant attacking midfield was replaced by pragmatic journeymen. Arguably, without Wright’s goals during that period, we might really have struggled.

Dennis Bergkamp

I’ll admit to being biased here. Dennis is my all-time favourite Arsenal player – but what a signing he was in terms of ambition and imagination. Bruce Rioch was the boss when Dennis arrived in 1995 but his signing is widely attributed to David Dein. The English league did not have much in the way of foreign superstars at that time (Eric Cantona apart) and Dennis showed the way forward for many of the great foreign players that followed. His touch, vision, passing and reading of the game was a damning indictment of the type of players being produced by English clubs in the Route One era.

Sol Campbell

Sol’s signing from the N17 knuckle-draggers was the sensation of the close season in 2001. The fabled Adams-Keown-Bould back three was near the end of its days and a significant reinforcement was needed. You don’t get more significant than Big Sol, who went on to become an immense figure in our defence, even if he did go a bit loopy at the end.

Patrick Vieira

Signed in 1996 from Milan, Paddy took the EPL by storm and is arguably still the greatest midfielder to have strut his stuff since the Premiership was formed. Arsenal captain, Arsenal legend, fearless, tireless, gifted… what more is there to say?

Thierry Henry

After Arsene Wenger’s first Double in 1998, we were all gutted when young goal machine Nicolas Anelka was persuaded by his greedy agents (his brothers, no less) to walk out on us the following year. But we need not have worried. Arsene went one better, bringing in Thierry Henry fresh from France’s 1990 World Cup triumph. He was a winger with va-va-voom, but Arsene converted him into the deadliest striker the Premier League has ever known.

That’s it.

My choice would be Dennis, because he completely transformed Arsenal and helped transform English football. He also stayed with us until the end of his career and is clearly still a devoted Gooner.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Proud to wear the Shirt?

May 1, 2011

Another game we need to get 3 points from, however in this case we must be underdogs. Following a very poor run of results (too disappointing to discuss) the team have a choice – either we settle for an underwhelming 3rd place  or we fight to the end, I expect to see some fighting spirit.

Unfortunately, United are in excellent form having strolled through a Champions League semi-final on their way to Wembley, where most right minded people will be hoping for a Barca win. Much has been said about this MU side, mostly to it’s detriment – dull, workmanlike, efficient, lacking flair, not as good as SAF’s previous sides, the worst side to (potentially) win the PL, and above all inexplicably lucky; yet their fans will look at the Silverware and the 2010/11 season with pride. Once again the Purple Conked Glaswegian has shown he is the best manager in World football, who else can make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear?

But, But But  …. the little angel on Big Raddy’s  left shoulder is screaming at me ……. this season has been about us throwing away a title not MU winning one. Alongside the  West London Russians we have contrived to gift United the title, we have consistently thrown away important points, drawing games  we should have won, losing games we should have drawn. I am no statistician but it would be interesting to know how many points we have lost to goals in the last 5 minutes of games – enough to win the title one would imagine.

Before we doff our proverbials to the excellence of SAF’s management of so called “average players,” let us take a closer look at his team. Oh, this is a surprise, it is packed with extremely expensive talent; 3 players who cost over £30m, the most expensive defender in EPL history, a midfield that (taking out Giggs) cost almost as much as our entire team, a forward line with an average cost higher than our most expensive ever signing. And how many of the regular MU players are home grown? Take out the  ancient  Giggs and Scholes and the answer is NONE. This MU team could have a bench that cost as much as our entire squad !! Yet the press cream themselves about how SAF has guided an average team to such heights, a team he has expensively cobbled together – how has this myth been spread? I will tell you – because SAF has the press under his control in the same way that the ref’s and linesmen are too scared (it would be churlish to say corrupt) to give 50/50 decisions against the Red Devil.

I could write a whole post on Nani. Without doubt the most odious player in the  PL.How can any decent football fan pay money to watch this cheat week after week? We have players who are prone to theatrics but this guy who is undoubtedly a fine player takes “simulation” to an art form. The only players in his league are Alves and Busquets at Barca (may I refer back to a fine post by Dandan highlighting the appalling cheating by Barca players midweek). I realise I am old fashioned, but what happened to honesty and integrity? How can SAF allow Nani to perform like this week after week? –  anyone who saw SAF’s playing style would know how he would have reacted to Nani had he been on the pitch against him. And they say a cheat never prospers!!

Hernandez has been a revelation and is just the type of player to cause us problems. The fox in the box who has superb reactions – AW says he was monitoring him, so why not splash a few of our millions on him and sell Vela? Sadly, this guy has the potential to become a United legend.

Our team? Kind of picks itself – we play the best we have. The major disappointment to me of the past 3 weeks is that we have underperformed when having an almost full squad; no injury excuses (apart from TV) and exhaustion cannot be a factor –  today’s opponents have played as many games with a smaller (and worse) squad.

SAF’s usual tactics when playing us is to employ a very physical forcing game and hit us on the break; the game at OT earlier in the season was typical, as was the Cup game when SAF sent out a team with a hugely defensive bias, expect the same today. If Fletcher is fit to play, Cesc and JW can expect a good kicking – the man is the essence of SAF’s  chosen midfield general (Robson, Ince, Butt, Keane, Scholes etc). I like Park, a man who must despair of Nani and Rooney’s cheating abilities, he is a player who would fit well into our squad, an Asian Ray Parlour!

Thanks to our poor run what should have been a title decider has become another interesting game –  a game that SAF can afford to rest Giggs in. Yet today remains one of the highlights of the season. Home to MU has always been a huge game. Some of my all-time favourite  goals have been against MU; a brilliant George Graham scissor kick at the Clock End in a 2-2 draw with Best scoring in front of the North Bank, Alan Sunderland at Wembley, Wiltord at OT, TH14′s goal of the season at Highbury, Freddie’s first goal for AFC, David Platt’s last minute header in a 3-2 thriller at Highbury, PV4′s last kick for the Gunners etc etc. So many great memories – I am sure you can add your own.

What I would like to see from Arsenal today is for AW to get his tactics right and send out a team to match the opposition. Keep Rooney out wide, stop playing such a high defensive line,  allow Nasri to play more central, push RvP onto the shoulder of Vidic – he has the pace to turn him. And above all, the team have to show the fans that they value their shirts, that they are not just professional footballers but that they are immensely proud to be Arsenal players.

Angus Deayton, Eamonn Holmes,  Steve Coogan, Mick Hucknall, Gary Rhodes, Sean Connery, all big MU supporters …………. all live in the South :-)

COYRRG

BR.


Why has this Arsenal team no Leaders?

April 14, 2011

This post was written prior to Rocky’s excellent post in which he covered similar areas and concerns about the fragility of the team  - think of it as synchronicity.

A refrain we hear over and over again from within and without the Hallowed Halls is that this Arsenal team lack Leaders. We are told that none of the current crop have the ability to push the team forward in times of crisis and as such we need to buy  some “steel.” It has been said that this lack of Leadership is the fundamental reason for our not being top of the table in a year where MU have faltered. How could this happen?

Firstly, it is important to look at the team and see whether this assumption is true. We currently have 5 Captain’s of their International teams. Yes… 5! Almost certainly a record and one that is rarely, if ever mentioned. Rosicky has been Czech Captain for the past 5 years and led them in the Euro Championship. Arshavin has been the Russian Cpt. for over 2 years, Vermælen has been Belgium Cpt since 2009. Both Nasri and Ramsey have been honoured with their national Captaincy this season.

So, 5 National Captain’s and it is highly likely that Cesc will captain Spain at some point in his career, as Wilshere will captain England. Surely, there are leaders amongst them?

Should Fabregas be Club Captain? Does he have the “cojones” to lead the club? In my opinion he is the natural leader of the side, and I would refute the argument that he is not Captain material. Following in the footsteps of two of the finest Captain’s in Arsenal’s history – in Adams and Vieira he has grown up with two fantastic role models – he has seen at first hand how to lead a side, and I believe is growing into the role. It must be recalled that he is still only 23, yet he is the player all the others look to, and for me he does the job well.

Perhaps Leadership on the pitch has nothing to do with Captaincy, perhaps Captaincy is just recognition of the value of the player to the team. In Italy the captain is the oldest player in the team. Often the Captain is chosen purely upon his popularity in the dressing room, but in England the Captain is meant to be the heart and soul of the team and at Arsenal this has to be Cesc.

So how can we not have pitch leaders? Is it as the pundits say, a lack of British grit? Should we sign Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan both of whom have the British never-say-die mentality in spades? OK, not Barton, but how about Scott Parker? Would his attitude have made a difference?

We talk of needing “winners” in the team, and are fed the fable that without experienced winners we cannot move forward as a team (what have Parker or Cahill ever won)? I think we are being misled by the talk of Arsenal lacking “winners”. All our players have grown up in winning teams, through schoolboy to youth and reserve team level they have represented winning teams. Every one of our players is a proven International – surely they know how to win a game or two. Or am I wrong, is winning English Silverware the only way to create a “winning mentality”? And is this winning mentality a requirement for pitch Leadership?

Recently I have read that Wilshere is a natural pitch leader. As far as I can tell what this means is that he gives everything in every game – is this Leadership?  Is it a player shouting at others to keep them focussed in the manner of Roy Keane?  Is it the sight of Cesc clenching his fists and rousing the crowd?  Or comforting a player when they have seriously screwed up?  Or a player running 50 yards to help out the defence in the last 5 minutes?

What is clear is that there is much talk about our lack of it in the current side.

What do you think?

p.s. Yesterday saw the premature passing of Danny Fiszman at the age of 66. If we lacked leadership on the pitch we certainly haven’t off-pitch. Danny took a middle sized football business and accompanied by David Dein established Arsenal as one of the most financially successful football clubs in the world. A North London lad and an Arsenal fan throughout his life Danny made his first fortune in diamond trading, and was then asked by his friend Dein to join him at Arsenal. Alongside Arsene Wenger they created the modern Arsenal, funding the new stadium, the re-development of Highbury and the surrounding areas. Arsenal are acknowledged as the financial model for football clubs throughout the world and this alongside the stadium is his legacy.  That Danny’s final act was to ensure that his beloved Arsenal was in safe  hands is proof of his devotion.

His was a successful life both in business and at leisure. We at AA wish his family long life.

Written by BigRaddy


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 423 other followers