Man City? Spuds? Villa? Who Should We Want To Finish Fourth?

April 30, 2010

By RockyLives

Barring disaster, Arsenal look set to finish third this year. The first and second spots remain to be contested between two equally odious outfits (frankly, who cares?), so that leaves the battle for fourth.

Spuds and Citeh are in the driving seat, but Villa are in their slipstream and even the Dippers have a chance, although if it’s a Formula One race for fourth place, they’re the ones on the bicycle (a stolen one, natch).

The only interest I have in this contest (apart from the usual visceral desire to see failure and humiliation heaped on Sh*te Hart Lane) is that I want the outcome to be the least damaging to Arsenal’s future prospects. So what is that outcome? I have heard different opinions expressed by fellow Gooners, the most popular being a late dash by Aston Villa. Others would take Citeh over Spuds. But some, through gritted teeth, even say they would rather it was the Spuds than Citeh.

Well, in truth, every right-thinking Gooner should be hoping against hope that the fourth spot is secured by those pikeys-who’ve-just-won-the-lottery, Manchester City FC. Here’s why:

Whoever gets fourth will get the chance to pre-qualify for the Champions League. Yes, it’s possible that any of them could drop out at this stage (and Citeh, Spuds and Villa all share low Uefa ratings, risking a tough draw), but we cannot rely on this. They are all teams with good squads and they will reinforce like billy-o if they get the chance of CL football.

It follows, therefore, that the fourth place team can expect to get to the group stages, where six guaranteed games bring in a lot of new revenue. Meanwhile, having qualified for the CL, they will have been able to attract significantly better players during the close season. They will be a stronger team in the EPL as well as in Europe, and more likely to be our competitors for the league title and the cups as well as the CL.

So who do we want to get this leg up? Not Spuds, that’s for sure. They already spend like drunken gamblers every year anyway. And if they can attract players with the carrot of Champions League football they will really splash the cash. Mystifying though it may be to us, there is no doubt that some world class players may actually want to go to N17 if it means playing in the CL.  We cannot have our historical enemy in this position. If they finish fifth again this year I think the blow to their morale will see them really struggle again next year and our dominance in North London will remain unthreatened.

What about Aston Villa? For those in favour of Villa for fourth, the reasoning is simple, and relies more on emotion than cold calculation. Martin O’Neill is deranged, Agbonlahor was obnoxious when they beat us at the Emms last season but, on the whole, we don’t hate Villa. In fact most of us probably think they’re a well run club. But so far they have not been at the ‘top table’ of English football – and we don’t want them joining it now. If they fail to secure fourth (and all the extra cash and top players that go with it) they will stay where they are – a good team who are not a long term serious threat.

As for the Dippers, well, unless something dramatic happens on the ownership front they are facing a period of decline – one that might only be halted if they get CL football next year. However, their chances of getting fourth are so slim it’s not worth wasting time on them.

Which brings us to Citeh – and here’s the rub. If they DO get fourth, they will spend a fortune and buy some of the best players in the world and be real contenders for all trophies next year.

If they DON’T get fourth, they will spend a fortune and buy some of the best players in the world and be real contenders for all trophies next year.

Fourth or fifth makes no difference to Citeh. In terms of being bankrolled they are the richest club in the world and nothing is going to stop them spending for success.

Sure, there will be some players who will not go to ManCity if they’re not in the CL, but many world class players will be prepared to join them because of the money and the near certainty of CL football the following year. They’ll seriously abuse the cheque book to recruit players like Torres.

If Citeh finish fourth, we have the new Big Four: ManUre, Chavs, Citeh and Arsenal.

If Villa, Spuds or the Dippers finish fourth, we risk the creation of a Big Five: the four CL qualifiers, plus Citeh.

From a selfish Arsenal perspective I want to be competing against only three other power-houses in the EPL, not four. It’s as simple as that.



Arsène’s Success – Fact or Fiction?

April 29, 2010

By dandan

Well what a frantic day you guys had on Tuesday chewing over Rasp’s super article. Sorry I missed it.

I will start by stating the blindingly obvious. I am an Arsenal supporter first, a Wenger fan second but do not believe in recent years the first would have been half as enjoyable without the super skills of the  second. I am not blind and am happy to concede he, like all of us, has faults

But having read the comments again on Wednesday including those questioning  Wengers integrity,  I thought a  view from a different perspective  might provide a cold shower of reality .


What then is Arsenal FC? It was a works football team that has grown into a multinational, multi million pound business, that manages and markets football teams of the same name, the most well known and important of which plays in the English Premier league, at a purpose built stadium in North London, but many other teams of all ages from 10 to 18, including the most successful woman’s team in the country play in the Arsenal shirt.

Arsène Wenger is employed to manage the playing side of the company under a contract agreed with the board of the Holding company. His brief, as with all senior managers of large companies, is to manage the budget agreed with and approved by the board and to meet the targets laid down by the same board. His remuneration in all probability is a basic salary, with bonuses for meeting the above criteria. Arsenal FC is first and last a business.

The above is not the fans view of Arsenal, too most of them it is not just a football club; it is their football club and in many cases the single most important thing in their life. They buy their expensive season tickets and believe this gives them a say in the running of the club The whole idea of business and profit is an anathema to them, compared to the real business of winning not just football matches, but trophies. Trophies have become the Holy Grail for these fans who see the club almost in terms of a religion and thus the Emirates as a Cathedral.

Like all companies, Arsenal FC’s board have a duty to their shareholders to maximise the return on capital and drive the share price, for this reason from time to time statements are made or issued by management or through marketing. It may well be that these are more a statement of intent than fact. Their purpose is to enhance the profile of the club and protect the share price. This does not make anyone a liar, intentions change as markets change.

They have no obligation whatsoever to inform the fans, unless they are shareholders, of the state of the budget and what is available for transfers, in fact from a business viewpoint it makes no sense at all to tell your potential suppliers the thickness of your wallet.

Of course fans, certainly corporate fans are very important to clubs as they provide the base to support the marketing efforts, buying products, shirts, programmes or hospitality often on Arsenal branded credit cards an increasingly important way of generating profit for clubs.

Fans are customers, whether they like it or not. Bums on seats. No different to a ticket holder at the cinema or theatre, they are there to watch an entertainment. The vast majority of fans have not and will not, ever visit the Stadium, but their spend is enormous. They are the future. The world-wide potential that is driven by television  is mind-blowing and makes the Arsenal season ticket holder pale into insignificance. Of course all that cash from 60 thousand fans every week is important and the atmosphere itself is a part of the package sold to TV.

So Wenger or No Wenger, you will be told what the club wants you to know or what the board feels is in the best interest of the share price. Don’t shoot the messenger, he is doing what is right for the Company, as well as producing some very attractive Product

It was 40 years ago today …..

April 27, 2010

It was 40 years ago today Arsenal won their first European trophy, a 4-3 victory over Anderlecht of Belgium. A few of our fellow bloggers were there that famous night and I would like to describe the evening for those who couldn’t attend.

At the time I was a fresh faced, long-haired lad, fully loaded with Arsenal fanaticism following a decade of dire football. I arrived at the ground at least 3 hours prior to kick-off having taken the trusty 210 bus to Finsbury Park. The walk down St Thomas Rd was, as always, a slow meander past the death-burger stalls, the guys selling rosettes, scarves and rattles, and the paper salesmen. The early evening air resonated to shouts of “Wear your colours” and “Matchday Programmes”. The aroma of dung from the police horses mingled with smell of hotdogs, beer and cigarettes. The Highbury area was packed with expectant, excited fans. I bought my programme from the Arsenal Supporters Club stall (very lucky), and then went into the sweet shop under the North Bank to buy a bag of lucky Everton Mints before joining the immense queue to get in the ground. I took my place midway up the North Bank as central as possible. And waited in one of the noisiest crowds I had ever experienced.

It was a typical early Spring English evening. My recollection is that there had been much rain that week and the pitch was heavy. As darkness fell the ground was illuminated by the cold glare of the spotlights, and the fog from 30,000 cigarettes lay a few feet above the players. In those days almost everyone smoked and the pall is one of my outstanding memories of those evening games at Highbury.

Over 51,000 packed into Highbury, which should be compared to the attendance limit of 39,000 when we left our wonderful old stadium. The ground was humming. The marching band came out to “entertain” the fans, some fat chap sang a couple of songs. The team came out to warm up in front of the North Bank. We chanted and the players responded with a wave and a smile. All 12 players had their own chants from Scotland’s Number One  to Big John Radford, all were sung with equal gusto, though the North Bank darling was of course Charlie George – one of our own.

We started with 7 English and 4 Scottish players and an English manager.

Having lost the first leg in Belgium 3-1, we were underdogs but I was very bullish about our chances. If I am honest, I cannot recall too much of the game apart from Sammels winner and the insanity of that moment. Words cannot explain the feeling – you all know what I mean, when the logical process gets left behind and the emotions take over. Time stops. It’s a type of petit mal. There is only one thing like it (wink wink).

People were praying for the final whistle (Sammels scored with 15mins to go). The noise at the end was ear shattering. Frank McLintock received the Cup and then all hell broke loose. The entire North Bank invaded the pitch, followed by everyone else – even the East Stand Upper! I stayed on the pitch dancing with strangers for what seemed like hours until we were shepherded out. I cannot recall another occasion when the pitch was invaded and it remains the only time my feet have touched the hallowed turf.

This was our first trophy for 17 years, yes, 17 years! It was the first trophy I was privileged to see us win. The joy was unbridled. In those far off days I was teetotal yet was persuaded to take pint or two, which accounts for my having little memory of the celebrations that followed!

The names of that team will go with me to my grave. It is THE Arsenal team to me, much as the Invincibles are to the current generation of young Gooners.

Thank you Messrs Wilson, Storey, McNab, Kelly, McLintock, Simpson, Armstrong, Sammels, Radford, George and Graham, and last but definitely not least, Mr Mee. Thank you.

One Gooner’s Hatred is Another Gooner’s Passion

April 27, 2010


Calling supporters ‘Arsenal Haters’ because they dare to question is simply absurd.

The puritanical denunciation of any view expressed that does not first acknowledge Arsène Wenger’s achievements before daring to question any aspect of his tenure is a form of censure that has long made me feel uncomfortable. As an admirer of Arsène, I find it doubly unsettling when my natural instinct to allow freedom of speech impels me to come to the defence of a blogger who is expressing a view that does not necessarily reflect my own simply because he is being vilified.

Certainly the centre ground only exists because of the extremes on either side, but I naively expect that the good guys (Arsène supporters) who generally inhabit the intellectual high ground should have the self confidence and humility to allow others to express their view without being labelled as bad supporters.

The way some Arsène supporters unerringly defend his every action has the feel of cult brainwashing …. believe, because belief alone is all that is necessary. It’s the footballing equivalent of the ‘Stepford Wives’.

This has led me to ask myself, who is the more passionate supporter? ….the one who really hurts when we lose and lets his emotions overtake his reasoning or the one who one who shrinks back behind the Arsène force field that repels all criticism? The answer is in the question.

All human advancement has been driven by those who challenge accepted beliefs, otherwise we’d still accept that the earth was flat and we’d have no understanding of gravity.

Will the Arsène supporters still support Arsenal when there is no Arsène? Those who dare to question his decisions or implore more passion and work-rate from the players are derided for not swallowing the ‘belief’. It’s as if the desire of these supporters is somewhat dimished by their wish for the team to improve.

While there is an awareness and an acceptance that Arsène has been performing  miracles for the past 5 years on a limited budget it would have been ‘good’ to have known how much the financial restraints were going to have an influence on the football. This is a valid point to question.

My argument is very simple. It is possible to question and support. Actually, it’s healthy to question and those who do so are not necessarily being disloyal. The majority of the time, they will be incorrect and responding from anger and possibly ignorance, but they have a right to express their views and those of us who disagree should always take the time to consider their view because once in a while, they may just have a point.

The Summer of Change

April 26, 2010

By dandan

Arsène Wenger, I believe, faces the toughest summer of his career, because on top of the obvious need to revitalise the squad with three or four new players he also has to wrestle with the new premier league rules limiting the squad size as follows.

All clubs will have a named a squad of up to 25 players of which only 17 can be over the age of 21 and not home grown.

A home-grown player will be defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the Season during which he turns 21).‪

Clubs will be able to supplement their squads with unlimited additional players under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences.

Changes to the squad list of 25 may be made during the period of a transfer window.

It is interesting to note that home grown does not just apply to players brought through the academy of the club he is playing for, thus Sol would qualify having come through the spuds system from an early age. We have 7 first team players in this category.

Campbell, Djouro, Bendtner, Fabregas, Clichy, Song and Denilson

Add to this the fact that we are allowed to add as many unregistered under twenty one year olds as we like and it would appear to make us well placed with our existing squad. However it does mean that any player reaching 21 has to be registered if he is to continue to play, thus needing an existing player to be deregistered. One wonders how long an unregistered 21 year old or deregistered older player would want to stay

This clause seems to me to make any players that Arsène sees as surplus to requirements  very saleable, given that many clubs will be scouring the country for players that will allow them to fill up there squads.

Could be that Arsène’s youth project will prove to be a real moneymaker for the club. Once again it seems Arsène has done it right.

Being able to loan players out will also be pivotal as to how squads are handled, given that additional young players can be added in January, promising players can be put out on loan for 6 months premiership experience prior to joining the squad as unregistered players.

So how would our squad look? My initial take would be

New GK, Fabianski, Mannone

Djourou                            Campbell

Clichy                                Eboue

Gibbs                                 Sagna

Traore                                Vemaelen                      2 new CB’s

Arshavin                              Denilson

Diaby                                    Fabregas

Nasri                                     Ramsey*

Rosicky                                 Song                               Wilshire*

Bendtner                               Chamakh

Van Persie                              Vela


* = Unregistered players, playing regularly

I expect Almunia, Gallas, Sylvestre, Merida, Senderos, and Eduardo to leave the club.  With a new Goalkeeper, 2 Centre backs and a Centre forward to join us. Arshavin is also very likely to go. So a new holding midfielder would be handy although Eastmond could be used in that role.

Perhaps some of our loan players will also be sold or indeed added to the squad, it gives you some idea of the decisions Wenger must make with so many of them approaching twenty one, which has become very much the cut off point career wise.

Interesting times ahead I think

Drawing Conclusions – ‘Turn Table-ism: The Arsenal Scratch Record’

April 25, 2010

By Guest Writer GhostFace

As the season comes to an end, I find myself being at the same stage I was this time last year for a couple consecutive seasons. I cant wait for the season to end and a new season to start. Allow me to play DJ Ghost Face here flexing my finger muscles ready to scratch you this match report with Dexterity.

FT: Arsenal 0 – 0 Manchester City

First of all what a bore that was.

The Italian manager stuck to what he knew best in big games. He played with 3 DM’s and stifled the midfield. I could care less about the sentiments during the game with certain ex-Arsenal players in a City shirt but it was great to see PV4 in the new stadium albeit weird that he wasn’t playing for us.

While I’m on the subject, I just want to quickly point out what an appalling ref Mike Dean is. Seriously, this guy has got to be a mixture of the exceptionally thick Collymore, Cascarino, Paul Parker and the ever disgraceful Graham Poll all in one human body, it’s incredible to believe but true!!! Some of those tackles Vieira had on Song and Nasri were a bit over the top in Vieira like fashion but the fact that he didn’t receive a card for any of them makes me wonder…would he have got as many red cards if he wasn’t wearing red and white? Anyways, despite Dean’s atrocious performance we were mindful of our duties defensively (no surprise given the collapse from the last game) but forgot what to do with the ball in the final third.

I do not necessarily agree that City came to get a draw . It has to be said though that Mancinni parked the bus with 3DM’s Italian football style. This was how he beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on the counter attack with Bellamy and Wright Phillips running the wings but fair play to our boys especially Song. We kept Bellamy and Johnson very quite. They came to get 3 points but Bellamy was having a poor game. Mancinni couldn’t use SWP because he had already made a sub to counter Walcotts pace with Richards for Bridge, He had to bring on Ade because Ade tore us a new one at City, and of coarse was shorthanded in the 68th minute when Given broke his shoulder. Historically SWP has tormented our fullbacks so I’m quite happy he was on the bench.

Scratch Record Mix Volume 1: Teams Park the Bus against Arsenal So… what do we do?

If we are going to improve as a football club we need to figure out what we should do when clubs play us only looking to sucker punch us on the counter by parking the bus or by long ball tactics. How many sucker punches have we suffered over the years? It’s absolutely gutting, the Birmingham one being the more completely unbearable game in recent memory. What do we do? What can we do? What we can do is different from what we actually do. What we actually do is pass for an eternity. Decide that we will let our worst crossers on the team deliver the final ball and then when that fails make substitutions that don’t make sense. This leads me to my second Scratch mix.

Scratch Record Mix Volume deux: Substitutions and Selections

What does Carlos Vela have to do to get a game? Why are we subbing off Rosicky for Eboue when clearly Eboue is our best attacking right back and Sagna surging forward is as potent as San Marino declaring Nuclear war against Russia? What is going on with Bendtner again on out there on the wings? With so many players out it is difficult to be too critical about the team selections, but who was going to stand up today and give us a very much needed lift for the red and white? Once again it just shows you how average we can be without Fab4 and Arshavin. Fabregas has had to have had the best form and season of his life for us to be title contenders and that is putting an unfair strain on the young man. I do not hold any delusions that we are like Barcelona. I am pretty sure I have seen Pique in the final 3rd acting as a striker or on the wings…linking up play very well in that Milan clash. All their players have ideas in the final 3rd and their final ball matches their ideas. So we can moan all we want about players being out injured but the reason why we train is to prepare and have a game plan to take down the opposition which leads me to my 3rd mix.

Scratch Record Mix Volume 2.5: We don’t need the talent of Barca to Win

I look at Utd’s team and I don’t see class. What they lack in talent they more than make up for with hard work. I look at the bottom of the table and I see a hard working pompey and it just beggars belief that our title chasing brigade cannot muster the same tenacity as relegated Portsmouth. Pompey are at the very bottom with a cup final to play for and have only lost once in their last 5 games. Players like Diaby with all the talent in the world are so frustrating because I doubt his ability to sustain the level that is required to challenge for the title for 90minutes not to talk of 38 games. Diaby is the player that epitomizes this Arsenal squad for me in more ways that one. Bundles of talent, injury prone, lazy to frustration and….

Scratch Record Mix Volume 3: Anti-ShootBall

Since when did it take millions to shoot a ball. Since when did the lack of signings affect our shooting. Does it take reducing the debt to fire from outside the 18? Since when does our financial difficulty with the new Stadium and the recession stop us from having a go at our opposition? You cant score if you don’t shoot. In 90 minutes we only managed 4 shots on target.

It’s a shame what happened to Given but what would’ve happened if Diaby didn’t take a shot. Not that it mattered in the end because we refused to shoot again but what is it with our incredible insistance to score tap-ins. I’m at a loss on this one.

We have the same problems that we’ve been having for a number of years and the same problems are very real in existence yet again today. These problems are basic footballing issues that have nothing to do with the finances and I doubt they will be resolved under Wenger. I would love to see my team take more risks, take more shots on goal, show more desire to win, put better crosses in the box and take their chances on set-pieces which I didn’t bother to discuss now because I’m tired of sounding like a scratch record.

City Preview …. cheers PV, jeers Ade

April 24, 2010

Strange to be playing a team one place below us and feel so ambivalent – it must be a response to the past couple of weeks. However, there is reason to look forward to today if only to vent some aggression and built up frustrations. Because today the comedy villain is coming to town.

Man City were always my second team. My allegiance came about through the wonders of Subbuteo. My set had red & white, and sky-blue & white players. Of course my team was The Arsenal, but I had many Gooner mates and needless to say (being an even handed sort of chap), I alternated colours with them. This was in City’s golden era, the days of Summerbee, Lee, Book, Bell and Doyle  – a team of power, imagination and skill. I can highly recommend “Manchester United ruined my Life” by Coiln Shindler to get a taste of that team, a book that could have been written by a Spurs fan about Arsenal over the past 30 years. I wonder if Subbuteo is still sold? So many winter hours of my youth were spent on it, but I guess it has been overtaken by computer games today

This afternoon brings the best City team since those far off days to THOF. The frisson of MC having three ex-Gunners will guarantee a lively encounter:

PV4: An Arsenal great and one of the finest MF’s to grace the Premiership. PV has yet to be effectively replaced in our team which shows the magnitude of his influence. A much loved  man who will receive a fine reception from the fans. It is said that he went to City to further his chances of going to the WC which highlights his ambition,  though I suspect it was to top up his pension fund. Nonetheless, PV remains a potent player and will enjoy his day in the sun.

Kolo Toure: Could have been an Arsenal great. His early career was so promising but when Sol left his form went into a tailspin. A top bloke, despite his bitching about AW earlier in the year, and a man who always gave 100% for The Arsenal. A member of the Invincibles. However, Toure never seemed to gel with Gallas and rumour has it that their relationship was non-existent in the dressing-room, as such it was no surprise when Toure was sold. I hope he gets a decent reception.

Which is more than I can say for the  other ex-Gunner lining up for MC. I will not be at THOF to welcome Adebayor home, but I wish I was. His reception could be less than polite! There is nothing like pouring scorn on a player from the safety of the stand, and we have been missing a villain since Shearer, Schmeichel and Sheringham retired. Not even a Spud or any MU player can provoke the antipathy that will be laid at Ade’s size 15 feet. And deservedly so, a more unpleasant player one is unlikely to see – from his cowardly stamp on RvP’s face to the insane celebration in front of the Arsenal fans, this man screams narcissus. What kind of egoist takes the decision not to play for his country following the tragic attack on the Togo bus – this by their Captain and the man most revered in a poverty stricken, football mad nation. Have any of the other members of the Togo side followed suit? I disliked Adebayor intensely when he wore the red and white, I hated his laissez-faire attitude, his patent lies about his love for the club, his dismissiveness of all the players around him, the preening and worst of all, the kissing of a badge that means so much to millions of fans and so little to him. €25m received for a man who I would have paid to leave was a superb piece of business from AW. Yes, he can score goals, the 30 in a season is a record that will not be broken for some time, but Ade was offside more times in one game than we have been all this season (very slight exaggeration). Perhaps we would have won the PL had he stayed, but I doubt it – this is not a man to lead the line, not someone to rely upon to inspire a team.

From the above you may correctly assume that my feelings towards TTT (The Togo T**t) are slighlty negative ……. To Pluto with him!

There are other players in the MC team! The odious but effective Bellamy, the quickly developing Adam Johnson who will give Theo much competition for an England shirt in years to come. I particularly like De Jong, who would have made a fine addition to our team when the Alonso purchase collapsed (I think the timing was wrong). Stephen Ireland is back from injury – a man with exemplary taste in cars – a fine player and one I would love to see us buy. And thinking of Alonso  ….  Gareth Barry,  the man who effectively stopped his arrival at THOF, which is reason enough on its own to dislike the rat faced Midlander. And of course there is Tevez., what a wonderful player this little chap is. If Adebayor had 50% of his passion and energy, he would be a world beater …….  but he hasn’t!  City, unlike us, have a goalkeeper, a man all Gooners would have liked to see us acquire 2 seasons ago. It wasn’t to be and a chance went begging to sign one of the World’s best GK’s, let’s hope he has a stinker today.

Injuries once again will determine who plays for Arsenal. Will Song be fit? His absence has been extremely costly. Sol and Silvestre are likely to continue as CB’s, though MC are a very fast team and I would play Sagna at CB with Eboue at RB. The rest almost pick themselves apart from upfront where we will hopefully see Van Persie start. Will we see Vela in the absence of Arshavin? It would be an interesting ploy but I expect AW to play safe and pack the midfield with Song/Eastmond, Nasri, Diaby and Rosicky.

A win or draw is important. We do not need to put further pressure on the team going into the last two games and as such have to secure 3rd. I believe we will get a result. The awful loss last week could be apported to lack of desire and discipline; those who played at the DW will want to show the faithful that the final 10 minutes was a blip.

….and we think its tough being a Gooner

April 23, 2010

The following post was forwarded by Chaf and is an actual rant from a Grimsby supporter. While there has been a lot of chest-beating, ranting and vitriol this week on the blogs it has been coupled with  passion, delusion and optimism and maybe thats what being a supporter is all about.  Although not successful in our quest for silverware we  have been competetive and putting things into perspective could you support any other team?

Subject: Grimsby fan bemoans potential life in the Blue Square

April 17, 2010, 9:54pm Report to Moderator
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Now I’m as optimistic as anyone when it comes to this twát of a football club, but after this afternoon’s latest capitulation it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee – we’re ****ed. Down. Goners. Non-league. To be honest I didn’t know how it would affect me, it’s not like it hasn’t been coming, but tonight I just feel absolutely deflated. Absolutely ****ing devastated.

I can’t get away from these emotions, I just want the whole world to just **** off and leave me alone. To help me come to terms with this whole mess, I’ve decided to compile a list of everyone and everything I want to **** off most of all.

For starters, work can **** off. If they think I’m going to be there on Monday morning they’ve got another thing coming. No way am I going in to spend time dealing with ****s that I can barely stand being with when I’m in a good mood, let alone this crushing feeling of anger, frustration and outright metaphorically-kicked-in-the-b*llocks .

Plastic Premier League fans can **** off. I just spoke to my Manchester United supporting neighbour (who incidentally, has been to Old Trafford before – twice) about Town’s predicament. You know what he said? “I know how you feel; it’s like when we failed to win a trophy in ‘95”. NO IT FCUKING WELL IS NOT.

He no longer has a face.

The girlfriend can definitely **** off. Her best attempt at consolation – “I don’t know why you’re bothered; you knew they were shít anyway”. Yes love, but they’re MY shít team. They’ve been MINE for pretty much as long as I’ve been able to wipe my own árse, and they’ll be MINE for as long as I’m alive (or at least, until I’m no longer able to wipe my own árse). Truth is, watching my team win does things for me that no woman can. If push comes to shove and I’m horny, I can always have a wánk.

Barrow can **** off. I’ve been all over the country and beyond to watch my team, but frankly I just don’t have the stomach to visit any town which makes S****horpe look like ****ing St. Tropez.

Dad, you can **** off. This is your fault. Your idea. You introduced me to this shower of shít. “Come with me to Blundell Park”, you said, “Come and support the boys”. What could I do? I was ****ing four, what choice did I have? Why not get me hooked on Heroin whilst you were at it? I could have gone with mum shopping for bras and knickers at British Home Stores, but no, you knew best.

Granted, I’d have probably grown up a homosexual but surely even being simultaneously búggered by two guys named Seth and Quentin couldn’t hurt like this.

Seeing as we’re on the subject of homosexuality, Gok Wan can **** off. No particular reason, I just plain don’t like the annoying, goggle-eyed ****.

The F.A. can **** off. Not for supplying us, week-in, week- out, with inept referee after inept referee, but for imposing sensible financial rules on all clubs in League Two. How many clubs in this division have been into administration this season? Not one. How many points deducted? Not one. How the **** else are we supposed to avoid relegation – footballing merit? We didn’t have to last season, so why spoil the fun now?

The World Cup can **** off – I don’t care anymore.

My local pizza shop can **** off. I ordered a 12” Pepperoni over an hour ago, and where the **** is it? Are they trying to ****ing fly it to me or something?

Sky Sports can **** off. Nothing personal, but there’ll be little need for me next season with no Town to be found anywhere. Ooh, Bolton versus Wolves, LIVE. I think I’ll pass…

The radio can **** off. On my way home from the match, whilst driving down the M180, I caught three completely separate stations playing ‘Down’ by Jay Sean at the exact same ****ing time. The song’s the best part of a year old, how the **** does that happen by coincidence!?

My nan’s old lucky Buddha that used to sit in her front room can **** off. When I was a kid I held it in my hands and wished for Town to be in the Premier League. I meant the proper one you fat ****, not the one occupied by Histon, Eastbourne and for ****’s sake, Ebbsfleet, wherever that is.

Tonight can **** off. I’ve had enough of trying to cope with my emotions; the time has come for oblivion. I haven’t kept any booze in the house since an occasion known only as ‘That Night’ by myself and the missus, but suffice to say that the toilet duck and luminous blue mouthwash are looking like stronger propositions by the minute.

Most of all though, the last 10 years can **** off. In that time I’ve watched my team fall from the top of the Championship into non-league nothingness. We’ve gone from one great big **** up to the next without even coming up for air, and today is just the big, **** off cherry on top.

One thing I’m sure of though is that we WILL be back. When it comes down to it, a football club is basically just a set of supporters, and frankly what I’ve learned in the last few years is that this one has some of the best. We’ve had to put up with some shít, haven’t we boys, but in spite of all of that the future is still bright – it’s ****ing black and white.

Grimsby ‘til I die…

Did Wenger purposely adopt “Project Youth” or was it forced on him?

April 22, 2010


Stringfellow Hawke’s view

AW knew as a club we could not compete with a mere 38,500 capacity stadium, so he encouraged the step up to the Emirates, knowing full well that a few seasons of hands tied on transfer side would ensue, but the overall long-term gain for club was secure.

He agreed to this, confident in his ability to breed a younger, cheaper side and remain competitive.

He succeeded without any shadow of a doubt; I think some struggle with the concept that competitive does not always mean picking up silverware.

AW had hoped the silverware would come as well, but the advent of the chav billions could not have come at a worse time in our history and development.

In the 4 years at the Emirates, we have challenged twice for the title, had a Carling Cup final, and CL and FA cup semis. Not bad at all on the budget.

So in summing up, I think project youth was not entirely forced on him, but it became the almost impossible job due to the 100’s of millions the chavs, the yanks at utd and pool, and the enic crew at spuds have been chucking around since we moved house.

Thankfully, the worst of our reliance on project youth is over and we can now fully compete for big signings, and blend these in with the youth.

The greatest indictment of project youth has obviously been the lack silverware; yet, the conveyor belt of talent that has been established within the football academy is now respectfully talked about all over the world.

Add to that the odd genius (Wilshire anyone) that the academy will produce from time to time and now with the fruits of the Emirates enabling Wenger to go out and add a 30M player to the mix and football utopia is closer than we think my fellow Gooners.

London’s view

I don’t want to throw cold water on all that optimism especially as I like to think myself an optimist as well. But I do differ, not by much but significantly enough. For example, I don’t believe that Wenger had anything to do with the decision to move to the Emirates. To make my point quickly, I use the crass example that this would be like a manager of McDonalds telling the corporation where they should open the next shop, as hard working as the managers of McDonalds are they have nothing to do with the expansion of that business. Wenger equally would have had nothing to do with the relocation of the ground; those decisions are made exclusively by the board on behalf of the shareholders.

I am equally critical of Wenger’s actual involvement in the construction of the training ground; an accolade credited to him by the board for reason that his elevation suited them at the time. If my memory serves correctly the old training facilities burnt down, naturally Wenger would have been asked by the architects what he would like included in the new build, although, no more than that. But to suggest that Wenger walked in and told the board that he wanted a new training ground and somehow designed it himself simply does not ring true?

If you believe, as I do, that Wenger reluctantly accepted project youth then to my knowledge there can only be two reasons for this decision: firstly as SFH suggests above that he agreed with the board to work on a much tighter budget for the first few years of the new stadium. Or, secondly that it was forced upon him by the arrival of Abramovich.  Prior to this it is worth remembering that by today’s standards Wenger used to spend money like a drunken sailor or shore leave – the arrival of the Russian billions changed everything.

The Tevez deal in Manchester will be pointed to in years to come as the symbol of when financial power shifted from one side of town to the other. In our case people will look back at the Wright Phillips deal as the point when financial power shifted in London.

Wright Phillips: playing for City at the time started making noises about wanting to come to London; we showed our usual interest but Abramovich sensing an opportunity to make the point trebled his wages and doubled the signing fee, I exaggerate but not by much; the Russian had made it clear that there was a new financial heavy weight on the block.

David Dein said at the time that it was like having a Russian tank land in your front garden and start firing fifty pound notes. There was simply no point in going after the top players because if we showed an interest Chelsea would go after them just to prove a point in the same way as they did with Wright Phillips. Radical change was required to combat this onslaught – and Project youth was formed.

But once this was started it had to be seen to fruition so for example when Wenger said he didn’t want to crush Alex Song’s confidence by bringing in someone more experienced I for one completely understood and still agree.

With the kind of financial imbalance that remains since the Russian’s arrival it is a miracle to me that Wenger has done as well as he has. Project Youth has been designed to outlast Abramovich’s financial strong arm tactics and by the noises he is making now we may just have done that…….the worm is turning again and we are better placed than most.


April 21, 2010

Written by dandan

I was brought up to believe in the free market, that the laws of supply and demand would regulate prices and a product was worth what someone would pay for it. Which is why the cost of oil and gold to name but two, are going through the roof in these uncertain times

Since time immemorial it has also been said, that the labourer is worthy of his hire, meaning that someone should always be paid the rate for the job.

But can we honestly say that footballers meet any of these criteria?

Is there a point when morally supply and demand outstrip the rate for the job?

It is reasonable to suppose that in the Premier League (where the average salary is £28k a week), that a run of the mill player earning say 25k who can be easily replaced if injured, is probably overpaid, whereas it is far more difficult to argue that a player like Rooney, Torres or Fabergas is overpaid when judged by the same criterion, i.e. ease of replacement.

The morality of such largesse must though be questionable. Should anyone be allowed to negotiate such contracts, maximising his or her income, irrespective of the clubs actual success, literally holding them to ransom, knowing those contracts are in all but the very wealthiest of clubs, redundant before they are even signed.

The players are secure in the knowledge that should they really want a move the clubs are generally powerless to stop them, unable to afford having such an expensive asset unsettled, uninterested and a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Or should all salaries, include a standard basic, appearance money and agreed bonuses providing they meet the criteria set out below? If so where would image rights appear in this?

Isn’t it also time UEFA stopped mouthing threats and actually set some rules to create an even playing field across Europe and give all clubs an equal chance?

Limit all clubs’ wage bills to a percentage of turnover.

Stop the rich owners from exceeding these limits and demand debt-ridden clubs reduce their debts, banning any activity that further increases that debt until they meet the criteria laid down.

Make all leagues share the TV revenue fairly and proportionately as in the Premier League.

Do UEFA have the power or the will to tackle the problems head on or will they hide behind the good old restraint of trade clause as an excuse to do nothing? Are they terrified that the really big clubs will take their ball and form a true European league, as the Premier League did to the football league, when the cash cow that was pay to view appeared on the horizon.