The Bould Supremacy?

OK, the thesis I am about to set out is pretty simplistic and I expect it to be the biggest shooting-down-in-flames since the Hindenburg, but here goes:

To start with, cast your mind back to the beginning of the season.

We were nervous, but hopeful as we entered the new campaign. Our captain and lead goal scorer had abandoned us after hearing that Manchester United had a better medical room.

But we had signed Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud with Santi Cazorla to follow, giving us grounds for cautious optimism.

We started with clean sheets at home to Sunderland and away to Stoke. Admittedly, we didn’t trouble the opposition net ourselves, but after our calamitous defending of the previous season it felt good to be tight at the back again (no sniggering please, we’re all adults here).

Then we went to Anfield and beat the Scousers 2-0 with an outstanding performance. Abou Diaby, risen like Lazarus, was a titan in midfield. We followed up with a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton at the Emirates, we beat Monpellier in the Champions League and gained a creditable away draw at the league champions, Manchester City.

In six games we had conceded just three goals and scored 11. Robin van Who?

It was, at the very least, a decent start. Most encouraging of all was our defensive solidity. We had gone from conceding almost 1.3 goals per game in the 2011/12 season to conceding 0.5 this time round. The omens were good.

Then something a bit strange happened.

Steve Bould Summer

The media started to take notice of our improved defensive performances and identified the man they believed to be responsible for them.

Who was that man? I’ll give you a clue: He’s Big, He’s Bald, He’s…. that’s it – you’ve got it – He’s Stevie Stevie Bould.

Bouldie had taken over in the summer from the long-serving Pat Rice as Arsenal’s first team coach.

As a member of George Graham’s famous back six (Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Bould, Adams, Keown) no-one could dispute that he knew a thing or two about how to shut out the opposition.

And the press were quick to credit his influence for Arsenal’s better defensive start to the season. Journalists started asking Arsene Wenger about it and after initially priaising Bould’s influence, Arsene reacted a little, shall we say, ungraciously.

The BBC correspondent who covers Arsenal, David Ornstein, said recently that at the start of the season Bould was having extra defensive sessions with the team but that Arsene put a stop to them when Bould started getting a lot of praise.

Ornstein said Wenger did not want Bould to take too much credit for Arsenal’s defensive improvement because it might intensify feelings of disenchantment towards him from the fans.

He (Wenger) had already been prickly on the subject of defensive coaching in the previous season. When journalists asked him in September 2011 whether he should get a specialist to coach the back line he said: “I’ve just completed 30 years of coaching. I don’t want to answer this kind of question.”

Steve Bould tight lipped

If Ornstein’s report was accurate (and his contacts within Arsenal are said to be very good) it does not reflect well on Arsene. The same allegation was made by Stewart Robson, who said: “Steve Bould is not allowed to coach the defence. Wenger wants to do everything himself but doesn’t give players any explicit instructions.”

Given what an Arsenal hater Robson is I would normally lend no credence to what he says, but the corroboration from Ornstein adds weight to the story.

Whatever went on, our early defensive solidity tumbled like a Bale in a breeze and we went on to lead the league in goals conceded directly from individual errors. We started to lose touch with the top of the table and we were humiliatingly turfed out of both domestic cups by lower league opposition.

When we lost at the home of the N17 swamp dwellers in early March, the pundits had a field day about our defensive naivety and how it was costing us any chance of success. At that point we looked like no-hopers for the Champions League spots.

But that loss turned out to be a watershed moment. From then until now we appear to have switched focus back to the defensive side of the game. Wenger made (or was persuaded to make?) the significant move of dropping his captain and his “first choice” goalkeeper.

We stopped conceding stupid goals (apart from the Sagna tragi-comedy act against Manchester United) and clawed our way back into contention for the Top Four.

My theory? The stories about Arsene having initially given Bould his head with the defence, but then changed tack are substantially true. Whether it was because Arsene didn’t like someone else getting the praise or whether he felt it was leaving us too short in attack, I don’t know.

But I also believe that after the defeat at the Spuds – and staring non-qualification for the Champions League in the face for the first time in his Arsenal career –  Arsene did another U-turn and allowed Bould to take control of defensive duties once again.

Bouldy smiling

I expect to be duly slaughtered for having my opinion shaped by newspaper tittle-tattle (is the tittle still on Page Three these days?). But it is also based on the evidence of my own eyes: we were much more defensively minded early in the season; something changed; then it changed back again after the defeat in N17. We are now less fun to watch, but we are grinding out results.

The effect has been to leave us with a chance of sneaking into the top four after all.

There has been a cost: we are not creating as many goal scoring chances and the balance of the team is clearly not quite right. But better defending was undoubtedly what was needed to put us back on track for the remainder of the current season. The rest we can work on in the summer.

Steve Bould, it seems, may have won an important battle.

RockyLives

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110 Responses to The Bould Supremacy?

  1. Red Arse says:

    15teeeeenthhhhhh Yaaaaay, Eat yer heart out Big Alice!!!!!!!!!

  2. byron says:

    Typical Boulds in charge when the defense plays well and Wenger when the defense plays poorly! Guess the invincibles back four where just very lucky.

  3. VCC says:

    Nice one Sir Rock.

    I fully agree with your analysis re Defence/Bould/Wenger.

    In fact I posted here several months ago on the very same subject. Stating Bould was only allowed to place the cones out and not take training, but was ridiculed by some bloggers.

    I fully trusted my source and your article endorses that very fact.

  4. Femi Odulaja says:

    You expect to be shot down, and indeed you should. This is just another load of bull dung that we shouldn’t be having at this crucial time of the season. Two games to the end and here comes the disruptive, divisive opinion that no one really needs. We all need to pull together and get through the remaining two games. Its not over yet, and there is still the possibility that these lot can still slip up. Who gives a monkeys who gets credits for defensive improvement? We all know that defence starts from the front, and the biggest problem we’ve been having was the lack of adequate cover for the back four. Now the whole team is tracking back, putting more shift in to protect one another, and what do we have? Some guy trying to come up with some crappy conspiracy theory to explain it. Good of you. Keep it up, and keep pretending you are a gooner through and through. Damn! Only club I see that tears itself apart from inside out.

  5. Red Arse says:

    Good Morning, Rocket, :-)

    You will not be shot down in flames like the Hindenberg, for two reasons.

    First, the Hindenberg was not shot down in flames, and what’s more it is a little known fact that the Big H was actually a submarine.

    Its captain made a mathematical oops, and ordered his crew to take it up to 150 feet, when it was only 50 feet under the water.
    The resultant cover story from the German High Command was that they always intended for it to fly — so there!

    Secondly, I believe your conjecture about Arsene and Bouldy’s parts in the tempestuous ‘defence gate’ is basically correct, altho’ with mitigating factors.

    The mitigation is that Arsene never likes to have a stand out star type player and tends to spread his love evenly, if a little glutinously, over the whole team. Well you know how viscous French dairy products are.

    So, too, with any specific reference to the defence, or the midfield, or the offense.
    None of the integral parts of the team are to be singled out, and he prefers, instead, to make statements like, ‘the whole team attack as a unit and they defend as a unit’, etc.

    Then he applies the same logic to his management team which essentially is comprised of himself and Baldy Bouldy, and to isolate his right hand man as the key ‘defensive’ coach implies that he is not jointly responsible for coaching the whole team.

    Bouldy sensibly kept his head down and just got on with it, and soon the entente cordiale was re-established and all was well.

    You say that the quality of our free flowing attacking football has suffered as a result of this new defensive bias, I prefer to think that it is because certain players are not performing as well as they did, collectively, earlier in the season, having been ‘found out’ by the oppo teams.

  6. Big Raddy says:

    VCC.

    It is not “fact”, it is fiction, and until someone at Arsenal confirms RL’s hypothesis, it remains fiction.

    Sorry Rocky but I just do not believe it.

    What you are suggesting is that AW would put his ego ahead of the good of the team. Bould was Wenger’s choice as assistant so why curb his undoubted talent? It would be an illogical act from a very logical man.

  7. Red Arse says:

    Femi,

    It is disappointing that you have not realised that Rocky is an absolute Gooner, and has always been totally committed to the support of the team, the manager and individual players.

    He has written this Post, one of very many, with a sense of humour just to entertain the rest of us, especially now, in the dog end of the season, when all football topics have been written about and discussed to death.

    If you can come up with a subject for a Post, I am sure it will be welcomed. Give it a go! :-)

  8. Good one Redders, the Hindenburg just a sub that went AWOL. :)

    Interesting point Mr Rock and I do recall Wenger visibly bristling when being asked about Bould and the new defensive stability early in the season,

    I’d like to think our recent improved defensive performances are down to a number of factors, mainly the crucial centre back pairing working well, Kozzer and BFG.

  9. Pires_Genius says:

    I agree with Byron, on this, the press write what they want to write, who knows what happens on the training ground? Wenger’s philosophy has always been to play higher up the pitch in the opposition half, however is a move breaks down and the opposition team counter attacks 9/10 the opposition will flood forward and create a goalscoring chance.

    The problem has never been the defence it’s been the attackers and midfielders pressing the ball and hassling the opposition for 90 minutes to win the ball back.

    Plus playing the entire season without a defensive midfielder doesn’t help things, but again that comes down to when we have the ball we need the deepest midfielder to distribute effectively which in all fairness Arteta has done with aplomb.

    Unfortunately we lack the aggression and positional sense to work as a team to get the ball back, as a team you either all press high up and hassle the opposition into hurried passes like we did in the first 20 mins against Man united, or we retreat to the edge of the box get 2 banks of four and wait for them to break us down.

    Back when we won the league in the unbeaten season the latter was used because we had pace, power and technical ability all over the pitch. This season what has been our downfall is the lack of cover and ability to tackle from our wide players Walcott and Podolski simple don’t like tackling, you compare that with (and albeit a different formation) Pires and Ljungberg who both would get stuck and double back to help their full backs out.

    It’s down to the personnel in the team, then you can say Wenger is to blame, but from an attacking POV Walcott, Poldolski and Carzola have all hit double figures.

    The best thing for us in the coming weeks is that the teams we’re playing have to come out and play otherwise they could get relegated.

    We’ll see how good our defence is once the season is over

  10. daspecimen says:

    I actually thinkg this is a spot on assessment of what went on. Hopefully Steve picks up on the need to have some more solid protection in front of the back 4

  11. Good comment Pires_Genius. A fair summation of the situation.

  12. Big Raddy says:

    Following on ….

    IF it were true that AW relegated SB to cone man, how do we explain the defensive improvement towards the season’s end?

    Is it as RA says , “Bouldy sensibly kept his head down and just got on with it, and soon the entente cordiale was re-established and all was well.”?

    Is it really possible that the media praising SB would cause such a rift? Would someone as headstrong as SB allow AW to dismiss him in such a manner, or could it be that the back 5 started the season very well and then suffered a damaging loss of cohesion and form.

    What is clear is that for much of the season (and the two seasons previous) we have been badly organised at set plays – isn’t this SB’s speciality?

    Lastly and most importantly (for now). We have the second best defensive record in the PL. I would say SB & AW have done a very good job with the back 5.

  13. Big Raddy says:

    Pires. Fine comment

  14. Manthan says:

    I have not read the post yet. But Really like all the images in the post great work :) :)

  15. Don says:

    It all changed when Ramsey started to
    Play week in week out a midfielder
    That can defend.when arteta & Ramsey
    Play together there’s more of a defensive
    Unit protecting back 4

  16. Don says:

    Isn’t it amazing that arsenal gets slaughtered
    About there defensive mistakes yet they have
    The second best defence in the league
    Only man city have conceded less

  17. Manthan says:

    RL,
    I agree with you article.. Arsene believes in one theory that is “Attacking is the best defense”. At start of season our front line was quite new to PL santi,OG and poldi so they were not to create more goal scoring opportunity and this made arsene to stop giving priority to defense and he started working only on attacking. But we all know how season fare out for us after citeh draw so again he switched to Bould and now our defense is improved a lot. And now as team has gelled well we are attacking also well.

  18. Manthan says:

    Chary 10:13
    Spot on MAte. I am really impressed with BFG. He always motivates other defending partners. Remember at start of season when jenks was playing with him he used to pass ball to jenks.

  19. Double98 says:

    It takes a months for defensive coaching to work – to become second nature, it took many clubs including Arsenal well into 2 or 3 seasons to move to Zonal based defending.
    i think we are seeing the benefit of Bould (and “getting” how zonal defending works) now rather than the flurry at the beginning of the season.

    The way a season works is you have your preseason where most coaches who are not in the title race work almost exclusively on their defensive systems. it takes about 8-10 games before the personel click in their system.

    Arsene works on attack. Whole team orchestrated attack. This is why we traditionally rack up goals and wins at the start of the season. we are blowing teams away who are still working out a defense.

    After 10ish games – the smaller clubs defenses are set and we struggle – this lines up with our our annual November – January Slump
    united chelsea and city had worked on other things during preseason and so they are better prepared for bus parkers.

    In february, the title race andf relegation battle are evident. Mid table teams are focussed on cups but disinterested in the league. All across the league players start to get tired and players whose agents have better clubs lined up or interested stop trying as they don’t want to jeapordise the potential move – read Henry, Fabregas, Nasri.for us – but it happens to every team.
    We have a better squad depth than any other club so this is how we always have a good run in.
    This period is when your squad players shine – remember how Christopher Wreh, Diawara, Reyes used to put teams to the sword – look at how rosicky swings to the rescue each year this is because they were technically better than the opposition but now their limited hunger and desire was greater than their opponents.
    the teams i worry about here are the ones with bad managers, good players, who have nothing to play for and nothing to lose.- Read Newcastle

    I look forward to next season when another year of progressively improved defense can be reinforced by a few more extra bould sessions

  20. Red Arse says:

    No Appa, it’s called ‘having an opinion’, which is backed up by a detailed explanation of how the author arrived at his conclusion.

    Try it sometime, and get rid of the attitude.

  21. Big Raddy says:

    RA :-)

  22. Big Raddy says:

    RL. Love the title of the post!

  23. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Hi Rocky

    We will probably never know the full facts but one we can be sure of there has been, to some degree anyway, a “transitional period” with Stevie Boulds appointment.

    Thats how i tend to see it realy, no big drama or major divergence of opinion, just a seetling in period were Bouldie finds his remit and develops the appropriate relationship with his Boss.

    Let us not forget a very important thing. Steve Bould is an Arsenal man and understands better than anyone that Arsenal is built on teamwork, responsibility, and victory through harmony. He will fully understand his place and role and hone this the loger he is in the job.

    Last week Wenger made a very telling comment in his press interview “I believe a big club works well when everyone understands there responsibility”. Read into that what you want.

    “Victoy through harmony”, and “the Ghosts of the Thirties are Stiring”….and oh yeah, were gona win the league next season, so there. hahaha

  24. charybdis1966 says:

    Anyone heard that Mo(yes) won’t be answering questions about ManUre in his presser today ? What a dumb way to start off your tenure.
    Why announce it if you refuse to talk about it the next day ? What a bunch of melts, they deserve each other.

  25. Manthan says:

    Chary, :D

  26. charybdis1966 says:

    You know me Manthan, any excuse to stick the knife into ManUre.

  27. chas says:

    Interesting, Rocky.

    I still find the Wenger-Bould rift highly unlikely.

    Wasn’t the improvement after the spuds game down to the players led by BFG?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/9936052/Arsenal-defenders-studied-video-after-Tottenham-defeat-and-performances-in-Munich-and-Swansea-show-benefit.html

  28. charybdis1966 says:

    Wenger weighs in on the Fergie “tributes” with his view:

    “it’s a great void to fill for Manchester United, because the charisma and personality disappears suddenly in a club which has been dominated by it for such a long time. It’s not an easy task to replace a person like that.”

    I get the feeling that Wenger feels next season is a good opportunity to get ahead of ManUre.

    Wonder how the cutch dunt is feeling about the prospect of working for Mo(yes), I’m ROLFing at the thought.

    First Champions League game they get he’ll tell his players to get stuck in and have yellow and red cards coming his way as the European referees have a different view on reckless tackles to the EPL referees.

    “But that’s how we tackle up north” he’ll say. ROLF indeed.

  29. Dog says:

    The article is correct.
    Wenger snapped at a press conference when asked about the impressive upturn in our defense and said “it’s not all him [Bould]”

    Immediately Bould’s defensive drills were stopped and we started to slip.

    It should always be about Arsenal first and last not about Wengers pride.

  30. GunnerN5 says:

    Rocky,

    I intuitively knew what to expect from your post but I forced myself to read it, hoping upon hope that my intuition was wrong and that you had written a humorous tongue in cheek article – no such luck!

    I know that AA is in constant need of headline posts but why oh why would you resort to writing such utter balderdash when you have the innate skill and ability to do so much better?

    I will keep my fury under control and simply say that I’m deeply disappointed to see you sink so low, just for the sake of filling in a void in posts.

    I will close with a few points-

    We are currently 4th in the PL with the 2nd best goals for and the 2nd best goals against averages,

    Arsene owns the best winning % of any manager in our history at 66%, he has the best average position of any manager at 2.6, he has the 2nd best goals against average at .84 per game and the best goals for average in 80 years at 1.89 per game.— Let’s all give a big round of applause to Bouldie – Oh I forgot he’s only been an assistant for a few months.

    But for the sake of a post why not simply ignore the facts and instead quote Red Top innuendo!

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    Goals against average should read .94 per game.

  32. Red Arse says:

    Hi GN5, :-)

    Before letting my fingers run across the keyboard, the old adage “fools rush in where ……” and it would be easier to say nothing, but clearly I am a fool and just have to speak up on behalf of Rocky, while also hoping I do not cause offence to you, because I acknowledge the support you always give to the club and our manager.

    You may have noticed that I took Rocky’s Post as a somewhat light hearted effort to generate a discussion point, and responded in kind, while offering a counter argument to the one he has postulated.

    Rocky’s motive, I am sure, was to provide an article that was designed for us to hang our blogging coats on, and not because it was a burning issue for him.

    From knowing you through your articles and comments, it is easy to see where your heart lies, and I understand where you are coming from, but I think that also holds true for Rocky, not that i always agree with him.

    What concerns me, is that Rocket, who provides a raft of articles/essays for us to enjoy, might decide to cut back or entirely stop contributing and that would be devastating for many (all?) of us.

    Hopefully, you might agree with that sentiment, and understand that he, at least in my opinion, did not mean to disrespect Arsene, and this essay was simply him acting as a light hearted agent provocateur.

    I hope you can agree. :D

    [he might have responded himself, by the time I send this -- in which case, my apologies to all for interfering] :-)

  33. Bayonne Jean says:

    (Scenario: first day at Manure with David Moyes and the Glasers to plan upcoming signings. A fan, Gooner Bart, phones in:)

    GB: “Hello, Manchester United scouting director here. Is this Moe’s?”
    DM: “Actually, it’s pronounced Moyes, not Moe’s…What’s up?”
    GB: “Surefire 30 goal a year striker; young, fast, strong…”
    DM: “Who’s that?”
    GB: “Mike Rotch”
    DM: “Mike Rotch!”
    (holding hand over phone and turning to the Glasers…)

    DM: “You have to sign Mike Rotch!” (chuckles…) “No, if we don’t, Mourinho will sign Mike Rotch!” (giggles….) “At the presser presenting him, could we have Sir Alex kiss Mike Rotch on the cheek?” (ROFLing..) “Could we..(turning redder than SAF hooter)

    DM: “Listen, you. When I get a hold of you, I’m going to use your head for a bucket and paint my house with your brains!”

    (Bart laughs….)

  34. Bayonne Jean says:

    (Scenario 2: It’s December 24, 2014. In 2013-14, Manchester United has finished in seventh place in the premiership – par for the course for a side under David Moyes. And this season is looking no better. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas and the Boxing Day fixtures. We’re in the boardroom at Manure, with the Glasers and the gaffer:)

    GL: “We have something for you….”

    DM: “Oh joy! Looks like what I wanted most of all for Christmas – the book “The Wisdom of Sir Alex Ferguson”. But that looks like a pretty slim volume.”

    GL: “Actually, it’s your P45.”

    DM: (incredulously) “What, it’s only a year and a half. You’ve said I have six!”

    GL: “Well, we go by Fergie Time around here!”

  35. charybdis1966 says:

    Good stuff Jean – perhaps we can get Arsenal fans to wear Simpson’s masks when the Cutch Dunt and Moe come to our place next season ? I would certainly be ROLFing hard. :)

  36. GunnerN5 says:

    RA;

    I acknowledge your point and the sentiment that you show.

    However I do not completely share your sentiment,- as I eluded to in my post Rocky can, and constantly does, exceed the skill level of most bloggers on AA and for that I give him full credit and I hope that my opinion piece does not drive him under cover.

    No offense was intended – simply my pointed opinion stated.

    In this man’s opinion, to quote “Red Tops” and “iffy” sources and then to use them as the basis for the thesis is sinking way to low for a writer/journalist of Rocky’s calibre.

    Just an old man’s opinion, for which I make no apology.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………

    It looks like I caused the poor reaction, towards you, from dialsquare at 1:14, for that I do apologise.

  37. VCC says:

    RA,

    Your waisting your time, you are not part of the clique i’m afraid.

  38. Red Arse says:

    Hi GN5,

    That’s a fair point, and Sir Rock-the-Boat had better have a good explanation!! :D

    As for Dial Square/Muttley/saarci/Just-Call-me-Jules, he is my personal, multi-named stalker who is infatuated with me! :D

    My policy is to simply ignore morons! Hopefully someone will bin him – again.

  39. Red Arse says:

    Vickers, anyone who can run the UMF League as well as you, is part of my clique.

    Trouble is, I would never want to be part of a clique who would want someone like me in it! :-)

    Anyway, what clique?? :-)

  40. GunnerN5 says:

    RA.

    I would feel honoured to be a member of your clique.

    My opinions have caused enough trouble for one day – so I’m off – back to writing my off season posts.

  41. Red Arse says:

    You would be very welcome, GN5. :D

  42. Shard says:

    Hi Rocky,
    An interesting post, and I guess it depends on how much stock you put in the rumours in the media. I usually tend to ignore them, and in any case, whatever facts they might know, there is no way they can know Wenger’s motivations and thinking behind his actions. Which you allude to as well.

    In my view, it’s quite a non-issue. Does Wenger like being in control of training? Yes. He’s said it many times over. He loves the job for that reason rather than the boardroom tussles and transfer market shenanigans, and dealing with the usually obnoxious press. Would he would willfully harm the team simply because of what the press say about Bould? It is Wenger’s team. There is no competition there for him to feel threatened by Bould, least of all due to what the press say. He probably just wanted more attacking flair. That’s what we are renowned for. And I think that’s what most of us want to see.

    There is no attack vs defense debate here. It’s a team game, and everyone, including the staff contribute to the team doing better in whatever way they can. It is up to the manager to balance all of those inputs. Which he does according to his judgment. I am certain, the praise for Bould had nothing to do with it. In fact, although the defense was encouraging at the start, I don’t think our football as a whole, nor our results were.

  43. Nick says:

    I think it’s a lot simpler.

    Earlier in the season we played Vermaelen who got into a wretched run of form.

    Vermaelen got dropped and then the defence improved.

  44. dialsquare says:

    Your stats are meaningless and obsolete we only conceded 17 goals in 99 Season and still won nowt.

  45. charybdis1966 says:

    Hiya Peachy :)

  46. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good day to you all, Has anybody heard from the Rip van Winkle of Thailand? C’mon Big Al WAKEY WAAAAAKEEEEEY.

    Good post Rocky, but like Shard’s effort the other day it relies too much on conjecture.

    As Donald Rumsfeld famously (infamously) said. There are things we know and things we don’t know. There are things we know we don’t know and things we don’t know we don’t know.

    Anyway that’s my lot for a week or so, off on a seven day cruise around the Norwegian Fjords, that’s my Spurs supporting wife’s idea of a seventieth birthday present for me. Miss The FA Cup Final, the Wigan game and probably the Newcastle one too. By the time I get back we will either be in the Champions league or the Thursday Night Losers League.

  47. RockyLives says:

    Hello All and thanks for comments (all of them :) )

    Busy day today but will try to check back later.

  48. Hi chary, are we eating on Tuesday or just drinking ;)

  49. VCC says:

    Have a great time Norfolk…..Are you sailing from Tilbury?

  50. charybdis1966 says:

    Depends on when you can get up there Peachy – the earliest I can make it is about 6. Would that be enough time ?

    VCC – I reckon it’ll probably be Lowestoft.

  51. VCC says:

    chary, your probably right, but Tilbury have sailings to the Fjords too.

  52. charybdis1966 says:

    I went on a one day fjord cruise a few years back VCC – mind, I was staying with relatives on holiday then anyway.

    If he goes right up to Nordland he might get a bit of that midnight sun.

  53. VCC says:

    chary,

    That’s on my Bucket List…..I want to go to see the Northern Lights.

    The Marco Polo is doing some deals from Tilbury. Not the most luxurious of ships, but due to it’s size it can get into the smaller ports.

  54. charybdis1966 says:

    You’ll have to go in the winter for the northern lights VCC – it’ll be f-f-f-ff-reezing.

    But well worth it I’ll bet.

    I stayed in Dedham, somewhere in East Anglia, about 5 years ago and saw the Milky way for the first time.

    Wow, just wow.

  55. goonerjake says:

    Just read the post, cant see it being the case, just think its media bias, trying to unsettle the arsenal.

    HOWEVER

    Would love to think its true tho.. Wenger gets in an assistant who has defensive qualities and then basically says ” I know better than you” ha! what a gooner…. how I wish it WAS true.. very funny.

  56. GunnerN5 says:

    As Arsenal fans we have a lot to be thankful for and proud of – this article is a tad lengthy but it highlights a part of the demise of a once great club.

    …………………………………………………………………………………………

    The secret, it appears, is out. The treatment by Liverpool Football Club to the residents of Anfield has been brutally — and expertly — mapped out by The Guardian’s David Conn.

    If words could kill, this is the smoking gun; nearly 3,000 words which expose how the club have bought houses near the stadium for two decades, allowing them to remain empty and promote stagnation, dereliction and decline in the area.

    Except the secret is not really a secret. Not for those who have seen the daily deterioration of the area; not for those who have walked up Walton Breck Road on days when no football is played, snaking up and down the side streets paved with tin. The area surrounding Anfield has been long forgotten, if it was ever thought of at all in the first place.

    Conn’s findings — the bitterness, upset and anger of the residents — is simply more confirmation of something explicitly obvious: there is a disconnect between the club and all those who serve it, and for as long as money can be drawn from the latter, there is little desire of reconciliation.

    Forget the floodlights of the stadium, so effervescent and alluring on Champions League nights; disregard the red-tinted vibrancy that the television focuses on before a sunny summer kick-off in August. That paints a picture, granted, but not a very true one.

    On the days the cameras switch off, the Anfield area is dilapidated, barren. Pubs that are brimful of a weekend are inhibited by only a handful; there are no supermarkets, few eateries and little reason to visit, little for the local children to do.

    As one of those children, what Conn penned came as no surprise. I grew up just 15 minutes from the stadium and occasionally played football in the streets which housed the shadows of the famous ground. Everything grew over time: the Centenary stand had already done so and the Anfield Road both became higher and held a bigger capacity in front of my agog, youthful gaze; the number of tinned-up houses — a symbol of Liverpool’s aimless purchases — rose too. Even my little legs started to grow, if not their ability to kick a ball hard into the increasing number of vacant terraced houses.

    I did not realise at the time, but this all correlated with the growth of one particular thing: Liverpool’s necessity to increase revenue.

    The formation of the Premier League saw the club left in a shadow of their own, one created 30 miles away in Salford. As Manchester United embraced the new-found wealth of English football, Liverpool floundered. They could either mimic their Manchester rivals or retain a sense of community and socialism which Bill Shankly promoted when manager. They chose a half-hearted compromise; disconnect and disinterest began.

    And so the bottom line became the bottom dollar, with no thought to the supporters or its area. Ticket prices rose and have done steadily over the past decade — a Champions League semi-final ticket against Chelsea in 2005 was less than £30, but next season will see the same fixture in the league cost over £20 more in some sections of the stadium.

    It’s a checklist of woe: McDonald’s was built upon the Kop before being removed to make way for an even bigger club shop; the opportunity for local support to purchase tickets at the ticket office diminished, replaced by premium-rate phone lines barely able to withstand a few calls at a time; children still cannot attend games at Anfield without an adult accompanying them. An entire generation of supporters possibly lost unless their parents have deep pockets and an affinity for football.

    How the club has acted with the residents of Anfield is shocking, upsetting, maddening — but the most maddening thing is that it does not come as a shock. It highlights the lack of direction in the hierarchy, a level of doubt and insecurity at boardroom level on how to move forward – to borrow a middle-management phrase of choice — with Liverpool.

    John Henry and Fenway Sports Group need to make a difference outside Anfield and not just inside, especially when it comes to children.

    This is not to lambast current owners Fenway Sports Group. The first house was bought and left to ruin in 1996, after all. They are simply inheriting a problem nearly two decades old, a mind-set that has been prevalent within the club for far too long. It is brash and brazen, a mammoth shrug of the shoulders to any dissenting voice.

    They are not monsters, of course; they have not come to Liverpool with destruction on the agenda. They are successful businessmen, ones who knew that by taking charge of Liverpool, it was not just a football club they controlled — it was a community and city, too.

    But they need to realise — and reverse — the contempt the club has held for those who it supposedly serves. They need to ruminate upon the relationship between the club, its supporters and city.

    Introducing Mighty Red — a child-friendly mascot to entertain the newly-built family park — is a good idea in isolation, but a real gesture would be to ensure young children are inside the ground, with their friends, at cheaper ticket prices. The club’s reticence to do so has forced supporter union Spirit of Shankly to offer free children’s tickets, given up by members. It is those values, that unselfishness, which should be adopted.

    Likewise, an increase of social media channels across the world is important to the global fan base, but its local support should never be dismissed either because they bring less money into the stadium on match day.

    All is not lost, but much of it hinges upon the new stadium. It must be built and it must take the community into consideration. Conn’s article was powerful, but it did not highlight what happens beyond those tinned-up streets in the wider Anfield area. A community still exists, albeit one betrayed by those who should have protected it more; Anfield is not simply a home of violence and arson — it is debatable whether that is because of the club’s house-buying policies, anyway — but a place where people can flourish.

    The club have forgotten its community far too much over in recent decades — there must be an effort to halt that. More than any player signing or trophy, that is a legacy FSG should strive to be remembered for.

  57. LB says:

    A very interesting article GN5 but not, I would suggest, an issue that is unique to Liverpool.

    Token gestures are made by a few clubs in an attempt to attract younger fans but they are only token as no club can afford to lose the revenue generated from middle aged men who are prepared to pay full price to watch the games.

    I am sure I am not saying anything you haven’t already realised.

  58. Red Arse says:

    GN5

    That is sad but all too predictable.

    Surely a symbol of the corrosive affect, not just in football, of the ‘devil take the hindmost’, or could not care less attitude shown by businessmen and speculators, preying on societies throughout the world, where making a buck is the prime motivator. :-)

  59. GunnerN5 says:

    RA;
    I hadn’t thought about it that manner, which makes me even sadder.

    LB;
    A very true comment, again it’s a sad reflection on the teams that don’t look after their local fan base.
    …………………………………………………………………………….

    I guess I show too much faith in the good of mankind, even though I’ve been burnt on more than one occasion.

    What bothers me most is that I used to stroll around those streets in the 60’s, when I was courting my wife, and I was impressed at the sense of community that I felt, which was close to non-existent, at that time, in London.

    Oh dear, everything seems to change – and not always for the better.

    Oops – I’m getting too melancholy so I’m off back to my off season posts.

  60. Gooner In Exile says:

    I agree with Nick, dropping Vermaelen was the main key to our improvements at the back.

    I also agree regarding the lack of desire to win the ball back up the pitch by certain players as highlighted by Pires (I think) above.

    As I have said before Bould wouldn’t have been entrusted with Youth Team duties if his sole focus was defensive. The early season games were hardly against world beaters, Stoke who come to stop, Sunderland who lacked goal threat and Dippers who were still getting to know the Rodgers system.

    Defending and attacking are collective responsibilities, when the team play as one we look great at both, when we start to play as individuals both elements suffer.

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks Rocky,
    That got ‘em going :-)

    Goals against: 36. Alright really. Mind you, I’ve long said a good defence needs a strong leader, consistency of line-up, and communication.

    We now have that and it shows. How much is down to post Spuds and the German saying: “Das ist it. I ist in control now. Ze end for zat cloth eared Belgian mussel muncher”

    I like the comment that our improved defensive solidity is down to Ramsey :-)

    Cant stay. Night all.

  62. MarbleHall says:

    I told you earlier that it’s not the defence that’s the problem but the key battles in decisive games that Wenger is found wanting, these are the moments that make Champions and win you football honours.

  63. LB says:

    If we make fourth I am convinced that the dropping of Vermaelen will be viewed as the single most important decision of the season.

  64. LB says:

    Here is a question, was the decison to drop Vermaelen taken by Wenger or Bould?

    I think the answer to this answers today’s post.

  65. GunnerN5 says:

    LB:

    The answer is as obvious as your “L” standing for London.

  66. I would like to say ” off you go Alex u stopped us wining trophies ” .
    Glad to see the back of u and your red nose and your extra time watch.
    Much love
    Sheep Hagger ™

  67. RockyLives says:

    The one issue I would have with the “let’s pin it all on Vermaelen” theory is that he was present for our first five fixtures of the season, in which we were unbeaten and let in only two goals.

    To my “eye” there was a definite shift of style after we lost to the Spuds. We started playing less like a Wenger team – but achieved more success as a result (albeit not too prettily).

    Something changed. Yes, personnel changes were made; yes, the BFG was reported to have said the team discussed it among themselves. So did the coaches just sit back and do nothing? Of course not. They adjusted the style of how we play.

    I happen to agree with the suggestion that AW coaches with Bould, not instead of him, so they are both involved. But when our defence looked shaky after that good start, Bould’s body language seemed to suggest (to me at least) that he was very frustrated.

    Whether that was with the players or with anything else is only speculation.

  68. Lets not blame players
    It’s down to the management and I believe we will get forth but in my welsh eyes its not good enough
    Sleepy

  69. RockyLives says:

    How’s life in the valleys Sheep?

  70. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rocky I think Munich away, Swans away, Reading H and West Brom away (up until BFGs sending off) and Norwich home were all good performances. The noticeable difference in those games compared to the last three was our desire to win the ball back further up the pitch, that left us in the games Everton and ManUre and even the last game against QPR. The question is why, energy, personnel, tactics? I’m plumping for personnel.

    We also look more organised at the back I personally believe BFG is the organiser and TV didnt take the organisation as well as Kos does.

  71. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    I agree that BFG is our best organising CB. He seems like a real leader, too.

    Let’s not give him the armband though – everyone’s form goes to pants when they become captain for us.

  72. All good rocky Man U v swans Sunday Alex’s leaving party I may get drunk to see him off LOL

  73. Lads we can’t defend we need changes
    For next season we need a keeper to start with

  74. RockyLives says:

    Sheep
    I liked the idea of all the Swans fans wearing red noses as “a tribute”.

  75. Gooner In Exile says:

    Except Arteta who I think has done a good job of skippering us over recent weeks. Think he and BFG are the only undroppables at the moment.

  76. Ring knuckles and his crew who are going and ill ask them to wear red noses for the game

  77. RockyLives says:

    Temporary armband doesn’t count GiE?

  78. RockyLives says:

    Whoops – that was meant to be :) not ?

  79. Big Raddy says:

    Walcott is undroppable and so is Koscielny. And Cazorla.

    IMO.

  80. Need a post for tomorrow people if anyone has any ideas …………

  81. Gooner In Exile says:

    Short and sweet one in drafts Peaches

  82. mickydidit89 says:

    Rocky,

    Some comments yesterday were harsh to put it mildly in my opinion.

    Divisive? Really? You were not being rude or over-critical, and presented perfectly valid theories. Blimey, who in the real world doesn’t confront power struggles with work colleagues.

    Anyhow, still think scoring one more than the opposition is more important than a namby pamby defence :-)

    Utd For 79 Against 37
    Arsenal For 67 Against 36

  83. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Scoring is so passe´.

    A modern fan is far more interested in ownership, fantasy transfer targets, profitability, health and safety etc etc

    Which ties in to a summer post I am writing!

  84. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning Raddy,

    A Summer Post you are writing!!!!! I’m more worried about the summons from Her Ladyship for tomorrow :-(

    The modern fan is a pathetic creature on the whole, to be avoided wherever possible.

  85. mickydidit89 says:

    Great individual goals is what it’s all about. The Rock ‘n Roll type I have mentioned before.

  86. mickydidit89 says:

    Kelsey,
    Have you arrived safely back in Spain/Italy/Croatia/Anywhere yet?

  87. mickydidit89 says:

    Help?

    I’m in Paris Mon and Tues (or Wigan Tues as I think of it) nights.

    Out with friends mon, which leaves Tues when I want to take my 12 yr old football hating Goddaughter out. What to do?

    Methinks she needs about 90 mins (+15 half time) culture starting at about 8:45 Frenchie Time.

    The Opera starts at 8 and lasts two hours. It will be dark, and I have an excellent phone with radio and some very expensive small and discreet headphones. What do you reckon?

  88. Red Arse says:

    Morning Guys :-)

    Micky, who is this modern fan? We need to name and shame him — so, come on let’s be ‘avin yer!! :D

    Unless he is me – so to speak. My money is on Big Randy!! :-)

  89. Red Arse says:

    Just don’t jump up and yell YEEESSSSSSS! in the sad part, because Arsenal have scored!!! :-)

  90. GoonerB says:

    Morning all I was busy yesterday so I have just read your post from yesterday Rocky and found your theories interesting. Something certainly seemed amiss between Bould and AW at certain points but I am not certain in my own mind how it panned out. I only read a couple of the earlier comments and there are certainly some sensitive souls out there judging by some of the remarks, but I though you raised an interesting debating point. Off to pesky work now. See you all later.

  91. mickydidit89 says:

    Re Stevie Bould

    I can read a face like a book, and SB is a Murderer, therefore his mid-season sulky moments were nothing more than a smidgen of guilt. Nothing to worry about.

    RA

    Modern Fan, singular? You have not attended a top flight game recently have you? We are at about the 20% vile mark. I reckon 30% and I’ll be done :-(

  92. Red Arse says:

    Micky,

    Are you implying I deliberately mistook your comment for the sake of comic effect — and to tease BR? :D

  93. Gooner In Exile says:

    Micky is that what happened to Diaby?

  94. Rasp says:

    Morning all, we’ve got a couple of posts in drafts – a 1 liner from gIe? and one from Raddy – who wants to be published?

  95. mickydidit89 says:

    A one liner sounds far too exciting to ignore

  96. Rasp says:

    Actually its a 1 word’er – a bit too cryptic I’m afraid :(

  97. Morning
    I hope Wigan win the fa cup

  98. Gooner In Exile says:

    Even it was supposed to have more than one word? Let me check my app….

  99. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp should be there now, or WP App is failing me.

  100. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, top man :P

    ….New post …..

  101. weedonald says:

    Rocky….there are a couple of holes in your theory, aside from the glaring one of media BS unreliability:

    1) We still outshoot every opponent we played against, even when losing or tying games. I watched most games on the internet and we weren’t less aggressive in attack but rather less effective…..Arsenal’s old problems!!!

    2) I really doubt whether Wenger’s ego is as big as some claim. I do believe that as you stated;Wenger was experimenting with the tactical and manpower options inherent in his new players and changing team chemistry and that cost us a bit.

    3) From what I have seen during games,Bould and Wenger seem to consult regularly and Arsene pays attention to him when he makes recommendations for substitutions and tactical tweaks (my guess) and their body language indicates a collaborative spirit.

    4) There have been, to the best of my knowledge, no complaints or statements from current players or coaches indicating any conflict or disharmony between Bould and Wenger.

    5) Wenger coached Bould and knows his approach to the game very well…he trained him after-all…so I see little reason to believe there is a significant gap between their philosophies.

    6) Bould is his own man, a very strong character and a dignified professional so he wouldn’t have stayed in his post for so long had he been in constant conflict with Wenger, or been slighted or demeaned in any way by Arsene’s treatment of him. It is also not in Wenger’s character to treat people like servants.

    I think the media are, as usual, making a tempest in a teapot and hyperbolizing vague rumours that can sensationalize supposed ¨facts¨into mythical proportions…..Enough said!

  102. RockyLives says:

    Thank you Donald
    Very well put.
    I hope you’re right and I suspect you are.

  103. MarbleHall says:

    If Abramovich was at Stoke would they win the League.

  104. weedonald says:

    We’ll see at the end of May rocky but AFC have bigger fish to fry before its all over for this season. with Wigan winning the FA Cup, it will certainly give them confidence to face us and try and take at least a point.
    MarbleHall: neither Chelsea or City have been overwhelming this season, and wigan’s win simply shows that a team with heart and desire can beat any team full of mercenaries, anytime. The real question to ask is, why haven’t Chelsea or City won the league this season or for that matter, every season since their sugardaddy’s showed up? My feeling is that even if they found a sugardaddy willing to throw away millions of Euro, they’d need a coach of Wenger or SAF’s calibre to win anything….Pulis is a clown and wouldn’t last a week under Abramovich’s jaundiced eye.

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