Will the spirit of Wenger & Bergkamp always live on at Arsenal?

May 31, 2012

Micky’s post on Sunday: ‘Calling International Gooners’, in which he asked why ‘millions of bright eyed and highly intelligent young guns from around the globe discovered their spiritual homes at The Arsenal’, led to a fantastic collection of comments. It became very clear there is a great support for Arsenal across the world and that the passion, with which International Gooners (IGs) support the mighty Arsenal, is equal to that of those who are based on British soil.

It was also fantastic to read that Gooners across the globe state that the style of play and the philosophy of how the club is managed were, and still are, major reasons for supporting the Gunners.

The lack of recent successes, as in winning silverware, hardly seemed to bother many IGs, which should bin the belief held by some ‘cradle-Gooners’ that many newly acquired fans by the club are predominantly ‘glory hunters’ – who would start supporting another team as soon as it would become clear that future trophies are no longer a guarantee for Arsenal.

The majority of Arsenal’s worldwide supporters, who responded to Micky’s brilliant post, have become Gooners in the last 17 years, and this seems to be directly related to the arrival, and subsequent impact on the club, of/by Le Professeur, and especially, The Iceman.

A considerable number of IGs said that it was the discovery of the phenomenally talented Dennis Bergkamp and his beautiful skills that got them interested in Arsenal. Subsequently, the club’s history, the philosophy of how the football club is managed, the style, and the passion with which Arsenal play football drew them further in, never to look anywhere else again.

Exactly the same happened to me. Dennis Bergkamp had become the embodiment of all that was beautiful about football. Nobody in Holland thought the national football competition would fully recover from the departure of Van Basten to Milan, but on to the scene came a young Dennis Bergkamp, another great youth product from the Ajax academy, and Dutch football fans – including many of those who, like me, did not support the Ajacieden – rejoiced in the sheer beauty of his football.

It seemed, back then, that he simply had everything, both as a football player and human being. Not only was he technically gifted and had a great spatial awareness, he also had a great desire to do beautiful things with a ball – but always in an efficient, extremely deadly way. He was strong and aggressive but at the same time light-footed and nimble on the pitch, a total professional on and off the pitch, humble when interviewed, always focussed on his health and fitness, and constantly practicing to stay fit and get even better.

I was 20 years old when Dennis started his professional football career, and it was probably the first time I started to understand football a bit more (still learning every day though). Bergkamp lifted my appreciation of football to another level, and I became a huge fan, and a ‘follower’.

It was inevitable that Dennis would leave Ajax/Holland sooner or later, and he ended up at the inventors of catenaccio: Inter Milan. In the two years he was at the Italian club, he did not settle down at all, due to both cultural differences and a couple of significant managerial/ownership changes at the club.

Dennis needed to escape/ to be rescued, and the rest is well-known history.

I never forget the initial welcome and warmth Bergkamp was given by the Arsenal supporters, as well the adoration he received almost straight away from newspaper journalists and TV analysts. Dennis had finally arrived at his spiritual home and after a slightly difficult start – it took a while before he scored his first goal – he slowly but steadily grew into a modern-day legend.

It is hard to think about Bergkamp without thinking about Arsene Wenger at the same time, and visa versa. Wenger cleverly built his team around the Dutchman and through him he was perfectly able to translate his vision and tactical ideas onto the pitch. Of course, it did help that Arsene had been able to build up a fantastic team of international world beaters – in goal, defence, midfield and attack – around the Iceman.

Dennis was a loyal player, and the fact that he was willing to end his career at Arsenal was, in terms of continuing and safeguarding Wenger’s football philosophy on the pitch, of great value to Arsenal.

Many worried what would happen once DB10 would leave, but in Cesc Fabregas, Wenger had found another player around whom he could build a team, and continue his total football-esque philosophy. And occasionally, we were able to forget about DB10 a bit.

Although Bergkamp and Fabregas had different attributes to offer, what they had in common was the ability to conduct the game, to translate Wenger’s vision onto the pitch, and to lift our football to another level. The Spaniard, however, decided that Arsenal was not his spiritual home and left us, just as we were ready to start picking the fruits of his phenomenal development at the hands of Wenger and his staff.

This season, it became clear for all to see that Wenger has been struggling with putting his Wengerball stamp on this new Arsenal team. Due to a bad start, the departure of Fabregas, and the season-long injuries to Diaby, and especially Jack Wilshere, Arsene had nobody with both the qualities and the stamina to fill the conductor role. Both Ramsey and Rosicky had decent stints at it, but they either missed the experience, form, consistency, or stamina to really make Wenger’s most important position theirs.

So what will happen next season? Who will become Wenger’s conductor in charge? My view has always been that Jack Wilshere is the man around whom Arsène wants to build his next big team, but his long term injury combined with his inexperience, make it very hard to bank on him next season.

It will be interesting to see what will happen this summer, and I would like to invite you to share your views on this matter with us today.

But there is also a more long-term question to be answered.

What will happen once Arsène decides an oeuf is an oeuf and retires, or leaves us to manage another club? What will happen to the spirit of Bergkamp & Wenger; the culture and style of football that they have been able to establish over the last 16 years?

Do the Board of Directors want to continue with it, and if so, how will they achieve it?

And what do you think Arsenal should do once Arsène’s hangs up his boots? What sort of football should we play / what do you want to be the long-term, future football-identity of the club?


‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit’ – Aristotle.


When do we judge Arsène Wenger?

May 30, 2012

After 16 years at Arsenal, and what is now 7 years without a trophy, is Arsène Wenger still getting more right than he gets wrong?

Stubborn arguments rage amongst the Arsenal faithful, neither side willing to compromise their staunch ‘belief’, so they end up insulting each other.To make a thorough examination, we can only measure the good against the bad, which I shall attempt to do here, and allow people to reach their own conclusions.

Before Arsène Wenger arrived on October 1st, 1996, he had already instructed the club to purchase Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira, and with George Graham’s back five, Dennis Bergkamp’s creative genius, and Ian Wright’s goals, we finished level on points with runners-up Newcastle, qualifying for the Champions League. The first seeds were sewn on what would be a glorious period in Arsenal’s history.

From the period between 1997 and 2004 Arsenal’s football was taken to a peerless level. We were devastatingly brilliant. A class apart.

Chelsea’s Roubles overtook us in 2005, though we stole an undeserved, but welcome FA Cup from MU. 2006 brought the Champions Lge Final and the heart-breaking night in Paris, plus the heralding of an exciting new dawn, and a seizmic physical and psychological move from Highbury, our home of football for 93 years. And regardless of who the comment is attributed to, the Arsenal fans were told by the hierarchy at Arsenal that the move to The Emirates was essential to compete with Europe’s elite, the Real Madrids, Barcelona’s and MU’s. For those that argue we couldn’t compete with Chelsea’s money, the statement was made two years after Abramovich bought them, and they would have been fully aware of the potential for Billionaires to buy other clubs.

These are indisputable facts: Forbes’ Rich List has Arsenal as the 5th richest club in the world. Arsenal charge the highest ticket prices in the world. Arsenal have the second biggest stadium in the PL. Arsène Wenger is the highest paid manager in the PL.

At Highbury we watched Vieira, Petit, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Overmars, Ljungberg, Romford Pele, Wiltord, Pires, Henry, at The Emirates now it’s Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho, Walcott, Chamakh and RvP. With the exception of RvP, it is a huge drop in quality. Self-sustainability is all very noble and amicable, but it removes the teeth of competitiveness.

I don’t care whose idea or project it was, it is my humble opinion that Highbury could have been re-structured to accommodate 60,000 fans, and we needn’t have been crippled with a stadium debt. The exciting new dawn has all gone a bit flat, but at least we qualified for the cash-cow of the CL!

The next phase, 2006 to where we are now, has been more defining in examining Arsène Wenger’s managerial abilities, because he and his players have to justify the stadium move. Given how wide the gulf is between Arsenal and the top, at this moment in time, it has been an abject failure at every level.

Arsène Wenger’s transfer dealings have been nothing short of shocking in some instances. The Goalkeeping situation has been a constant source of embarrassment, and for some to say they would prefer Szczesny over Cech shows the level to which we have sunk. If your intentions are to compete and overtake the likes of MU, buying a player they no longer deem good enough is not going to close the gap. It is not an intelligent use of resources.

For all those that claim we had no money during this period, I don’t think Arsenal were ever in danger of going into administration. There was money available to waste on Walcott, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Adebayor, Gervinho and Park, and still plenty left over to buy Ramsey, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Hleb, Eduardo, and pay Chamakh’s wages. There was still more money to waste on bringing Sol Campbell back on loan, a retired Goalkeeper the following season, and Thierry Henry back this year. It probably cost Arsenal as much to bring Henry back as Everton paid for Jelavic. And lest we forget big-money flops such as Richard Wright, Francis Jeffers and Jose Antonio Reyes. So that dispels the myth that we had no money!

Tactically Arsène Wenger keeps getting sussed-out by any manager with half a brain, and yet he won’t change or modify them, even when the whole world is watching it horribly unravel. He allowed Drogba to terrorise us and ruin Senderos’ Arsenal career, without ever considering that something different might be required to counter Drogba’s threat. Changing nothing is either foolhardy, and accepting defeat, or gambling on the same principle that has failed you so many times before. And every time an opponent works us out, we have nothing and nobody that can swing the momentum back in our favour. It is the same reason we have failed every ‘acid’ test. We secure pleasing ‘little’ victories occasionally, against Barcelona and MU, but the war has been lost long before.

Two things have struck me over the last fortnight. The first was on the last Sunday of the season, the contrast between MU and Arsenal. MU were seething with rage at seeing the title go, whereas Arsenal were jubilant at finishing 19 points behind MU and securing third.

The second was watching Bayern v Chelsea. No-one has championed African Footballers more than Arsène Wenger, and Zinedine Zidane, Lillian Thuram, George Weah and Samuel Eto’o are up among the best. But none of Arsène Wenger’s buys, African or otherwise, have ever shown the passion, desire/hunger, and commitment that Didier Drogba showed for Chelsea. There’s not one player at Arsenal who is prepared to put the same sort of shift in that Drogba put in against Munich. The same sort of appetite Rooney shows for MU, but something over-looked or not considered important enough at Arsenal.

How will Arsenal respond to Chelsea winning the European Cup? The rest of Europe’s big guns will undoubtedly launch a response, but with many fans sharing the BoD’s delight at scraping through, Arsene Wenger remains the only manager at a major club with absolutely no pressure to deliver success.

Is it acceptable for any football club to have a manager who is under no pressure to succeed? Do Arsenal supporters deserve it?

Given how divided the fans are, is Arsène Wenger now doing more harm than good, and are we slipping further away from those at the very top?

If you are still satisfied with Arsène Wenger’s overall performance, and the BoD’s ambitions are mirroring your own, this Post is redundant. But it can never hurt to have a clean, open debate about matters that strike at the very heart of our club, even if sometimes I/we are wrong. We are students and teachers in equal measure and I have enough humility to concede I can sometimes be totally wrong.

Love and peace to everyone of the Arsenal family.

Written by Herb

Season Low Points Pt.1 Off-Pitch

May 29, 2012

Recently, we were treated to a fine post from Chas filled with vids of the highlights of the season. but what were the low points? I am not talking about on-pitch stuff (was Ewood worse than OT?), No, I mean the off-pitch drama – those things in football which are not the result of the bounce of a ball.

Fans:  One of Chas’s vids showed the superb support of the Dortmund fans, perhaps the best I have seen. Fervent, happy, funny, enjoying their day out at The Home of Football. Compare them to the Stoke fans. In all my years of football fanaticism I cannot recall being so disgusted by the actions a group of fans as when the whole of  the Britannia booed Ramsey’s every touch. Can you?

Yes, we joke about their team of Orcs and we actively dislike both the Orc Leader and his henchmen,they deserve it,  but for their fans to boo a young man who has been seriously damaged in front of them is beyond ignorant. These people deserved National castigation, instead on MOTD the fool Lineker imitated their aping of Wenger ( fairplay to Hansen who condemned their behavior).

Did the Head Orc (Pulis) say anything …. No, of course not. Did anyone at Stoke? No. They silently condone the booing. Have the FA said anything? No, of course not.  Redknapp or Rednose (SAF) get abuse and the media are up in arms – yet  there was nothing was in the press about the behavior of the Orcs, apart from laughing at Wenger.

Fans:  Over the years, my dislike of  The N15 Neanderthals has lessened due to their comedic ability to grab tiny seeds of hope and blow them into successes (“We’re going to win the the League, or Bale is World Class” ).  West Ham and then Chelsea became my most disliked opposition (thanks to their racist and fascist fans), but when T-Shirts are made with “MInd the Gap” on them and they are then displayed at THOF, things have gone too far….. HaHaHaHaHaHa.

Club Action: Can anything be less enlightened than a Club and manager supporting a player who has been judged to make a racist remark? And then to wear t-shirts in support of said player? Liverpool shamed their great tradition and for that alone Dalglish deserved his dismissal. For a club who are rightly so sensitive about their history, this wasn’t just  misjudged, it was an act of madness.  Whether Suareze is a racist or not was not the issue –  he was found guilty of making a racist remark not of being a racist. How could the management of Liverpool get it so wrong?

Management Action:  Capello and England. I come from a generation of fans to whom being Captain of England is the very pinnacle of achievement. To Captain your country at Cricket or Football was not just a job given to the most experienced player, it was a mark of the respect the sport had for the incumbent. The idea that love-cheat, bribe taker and now racist John Terry has worn the same armband as Bobby Moore and Billy Wright is just sad.  That it took the Ferdinand affair to remove him of the Captaincy speaks volumes for The FA’s lack of understanding of our footballing heritage. As to the CL Final appearance – words fail me.

What are your off-pitch low-points? How do you think the Press write about Arsenal, are they even-handed? Do we get worse press than any other club? Do you think the Board of Directors are finally getting their act together or are they ruining our club? And what of the fitness regime’s? How is it that our players were in the Red and Wigan’s weren’t?

Written by Big Raddy

Arsenal’s 2011-12 Season: The Movie

May 28, 2012

Panic ye not.

Our mighty and classy club has not taken a leaf out of Totteringham’s book and released a DVD celebrating our third place finish.

It’s just that a movie title caught my eye the other day and I thought: “That would be the perfect title if you made a movie of our season.”

The title was, of course, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (The good – Chelsea away, Spuds at home, Man City at home; the bad – Wigan and Norwich at home, all of January; the ugly – 8-2 at Man Utd, 4-3 at Blackburn and not forgetting Modric and Bale).

Then I got to thinking about other film titles that might work for aspects of our season – even if they need a bit of tweaking occasionally.

Here’s what I came up with. Please add your own suggestions below…

The Year of Living Dangerously: from botched transfer business to suicidal defending to catastrophic injuries to last day hiccups, this title says it all.

The Usual Suspects: when the going gets tough, we fans know there’s only one thing to do – blame the usual suspects. This year their ranks included Chamakh, Djourou, Arshavin, Walcott and Ramsey. With honourable mentions for both Almunia and Denilson, quite an achievement given that neither of them actually played.

Apocalypse Now: with the late departures of Fabregas and Na$ri, the aforementioned losses at Man Utd and Blackburn and a slump to 17th in the league, there was a period when plenty of fans were declaring that the End Times had come (well, for Arsene Wenger, at least). Instead Arsene put on his camouflage face paint, took a machete and swam upriver to slaughter the bloated madman who had got drunk on his own power. Twitchy – “we’re gonna win the fackin league, I’m gonna manage Engerlund” – was never the same again.

Robin’s Good – Prince of Goal Thieves: needs no explanation. (See also ‘A Clockwork Orange’).

Groundhog Day: as we approached the season run-in on the back of a string of great results, what could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, the traditional late-season slump. It may not have been as bad as the previous two years, but we didn’t make an easy job of clinching third, did we?

Twitchy and Rosie Get Paid: an unconventional London couple find themselves in a Swiss bank. One is a dumb animal unaware of its surroundings. The other is Rosie the dog.

Twelve Monkeys: Totteringham’s first 11, plus manager.

Let The Right One In: as the seconds ticked towards the slamming shut of the transfer window last August, who would Arsene let in? Well, most of them did OK… but we’re still baffled by the signing of that Park fellow. He could be a vampire, you know.

12 Angry Men: that was about right for the black scarf protest wasn’t it? Or were they in single figures?

Fantastic Mr Ox: “we don’t want another bloody kid – especially if he’s supposed to be Walcott Mark 2… oh, wait a bit, he’s not bad is he? Oy, Wenger, who do you think you are subbing our boy Oxo!”

Henry, Portrait of a Serial Thriller: come back any time, Thierry. Please?

The Silence of the Lambs: did you hear it? That silence that echoed silently round the Emirates from the silent away supporters’ end during a certain 5-2 victory? Poor lambs… but they all came to the slaughter.

Eternal Scumshine of the Potless Mind (the Gappers): what would we do without them? Bless.

Taxi Driver: ‘Arry’s next job.

Dirty Harry: alright, alright, no more Twitchy titles.

To Kill A Mockingspud: there’s no need to do it literally, all you have to do is wait for the end of the season, then they’ll do the job themselves.

Das Boot: when not being used for submarine warfare, this vessel is worn on Per Mertesacker’s foot.

Amadeus: finally our little Mozart flew again, like a pheasant from the ashes.

For A Few Dollars More: bye bye Samir.

Tango and Cash: Phil Brown to be appointed new manager at Man City. Na$ri to get a pay rise and more splinters.

That’s it. Your turn now – I’m sure you can do better than my lame efforts. The best suggestion wins a night out with Gareth Bale. Runner up wins two nights out with Gareth Bale. Boom boom.


Calling International Gooners

May 27, 2012

Lieutenant-Colonel Richard DidIt DSO and Bar, otherwise known as My Great Uncle Dick DidIt, was far from the hero his gongs would imply. The reality is that the man was simply a massive Con Artist, or what we refer to these days as a Salesman. History is littered with such rogues. Stan Flashman, Gerald Ratner and Harry Redknapp all spring to mind.

Now the reason I mention these unsavoury elements is that while some argue that what we at The Arsenal need is a defensive coach, a midfield thug or perhaps a spendy squillionaire owner, I would argue that what we need most of all is a Salesman. Here’s why.

Some talk of a recession and this will affect football. Utter claptrap. Every second that we sit here, up goes another satellite dish somewhere in the rapidly developing world.  Couple of points on this. The emerging industrial powerhouses of the world have a few things in common. One is, there are one hell of lot of people in them, and the other is many millions of them like their footie very much, and we are going to need them to stay at the top table.

However, in order to garner the support of future generations, we need to know what it is about The Arsenal that appeals.

Most domestic Arsenal Supporters were signed up as a result of emerging from the womb in the Borough of Islington, while some like myself simply followed a Gooner Father who I liked. Others may have had Spud Fathers who they didn’t like and simply did the obvious thing. Revenge.

However, what we know is that millions of bright eyed and highly intelligent young guns from around the globe discover their spiritual homes at The Arsenal. Why?

Whatever it is, we need to be at the top table in terms of desirability. Of course exposure on the world stage through Champions League Football is key, and I know that there are people who will suggest that trophies are the only measure of attracting new followers, but I wonder. What draws in new fans.  Do Utd have such a massive following in the Far East simply because of their Park? I don’t think so. David Beckingham got the shirts selling and the girls screaming. Ronaldo drew in homosexuals and lady boys. This was sensible and clever salesmanship.

Why do we have so many amazing fans in Nigeria? Is it just because of Kanu? Ditto Iceland with Siggi Jonsson? I don’t know but would love to find out. There are Gooners in every corner of the globe.  We are a global brand, a huge family, so what is the glue. What was the first seed? A game? A player?

So, International Gooners wherever you are, we all share the same Mistress. Why?

Written by MickyDidIt

Happy 26th May Gooners

May 26, 2012

The 26th May 1989 was an amazing night in Arsenal’s history.

Arsenal travelled to Liverpool for the final game of the season needing three points and 2 goals against the scousers to clinch the title. This game had been postponed following the tragedy at Hillborough where 96 Liverpool supporters had been crushed to death. It was a sad time for football.

Arsenal were the underdogs going into this game and they hadn’t won at Anfield in 15 attempts. In addition they had allowed a lead of 15 points to slip through their fingers since the start of the year.

Liverpool had the previous week, won the FA Cup and so they were going for a ‘Double’. It was a night for the footballing gods.

Here on AA we have celebrated the 26th May with posts in previous years. Big Raddy’s post titled A Belated Happy Birthday and the Renaissance of Football was included in a book containing Arsenal memories and remains an excellent read.

In addition we have two bloggers who have taken their blog names from that great occasion – MickyDidIt and 26may1989 remind us every day of that wonderful night at Anfield.

This video was unearthed this morning by chas, it had me in bits, so watch and enjoy ……….

There’s not much Arsenal news around but I have to say the comments from Vertonghen are rather strange considering he has Vermaelen to refer to. Do we want a player who says that the totts are his first choice but he’ll come to us if that doesn’t work out? Is he ‘avin a larf?

Enjoy the weather if you can and if you’re desperate for football there’s an England friendly against Norway tonight.

Written by peachesgooner

George Graham: A personal Retrospective.

May 25, 2012

There are moments in a football life that live forever. We all have them -Micky T at Anfield, TA6’s goal v Everton, TH14’s v MU, Dennis at Newcastle or Freddie in Cardiff. But it is the childhoood memories which really stand out and for me they are often connected to the ’70-’71 Double team. One of my favourite ever goals was scored by one of my early heroes – George Graham.  Nicknamed “Stroller” thanks to his languid style, Graham was a frustrating player, capable both of brilliance and walking through a game contributing nothing.

This goal was against Man Utd at a packed Highbury, 60+ thousand fans in a steamy, smoke filled stadium. I was in the North Bank, about half way up, just under the roof – I wasn’t big or brave enough to join the lads up the back. The Man Utd team included the brilliant George Best and Best scored one his goals in front of the North Bank. The signature arm raised salute was given a volley of abuse from the North Bank Gooners but we all knew we had seen something special. Then we got  a corner, or it could have come from a Geordie Armstrong cross – either way the ball came in from the wing at The Clock End, and in what seemed to be slow motion Stroller leapt into the air and scissor kicked the ball from the edge of the area leaving the keeper (Stepney?) groping for air. Highbury went wild – at least that is how it is in my current alcohol raddled head.

It doesn’t matter whether my memory is historically correct – we didn’t have the internet or Sky – what is important is the effect it had upon the young BR and his relationship to George Graham. GG went from being an ex-Chelsea Scottish striker into being The Man – and for some time he was. Imagine a taller Paul Merson, GG was the same type of player – infuriating and yet spectacular.

When he left to join MU I was upset but by then we had Charlie George and Big Raddy and had won the Double. It hurt as much as when Kolo went North.

Of course, as George was an ex-Gunner I followed his career and was delighted when he made a success of his first management job at “No-one likes us, we don’t care” Millwall. However, his management style was such a change from his playing – suddenly, the effete, artistic, Stroller had become a Sergeant Major. Gone were the King’s Rd dolly birds and the expensive suits, in their place was the 3 button Blazer and a club tie. Taking Millwall from the bottom of the then 3rd Division to the top of the Second in just 3 seasons, George was a manager to watch.

Then came the surprising news that Don Howe was to be replaced by GG!!  I was delighted to have another Arsenal man at the helm. The League Cup followed in his first season, then Anfield ´89, and the FA Cup,  and the one-loss Champions of ’91, and perhaps his greatest achievement, the classic 1-0 in Copenhagen.

GG brought all this to the Arsenal and yet we were greedy. We wanted to see the expansive football which he first brought to AFC. We were sick of seeing a midfield of shire-horses punting the ball up to the genius of Ian Wright; the time was ripe for change and when it came it was to be shocking. As shocking as anything I can remember in football. As the news leaked of the Bung Scandal, we couldn’t believe it – “Not our George. not The Stroller,. He doesn’t need the money living in his beautiful Hampstead mansion”. But we were wrong, you could take the man out of the Gorbals but not the Gorbals out of the man.  I am still in shock!

But on the terraces of the Clock End we were excited, we knew Arsenal had to move on and we knew that if George went “upstairs” his shadow would affect any new manager. This was the best for the future of the club –  certainly not for George but no-one made him dip his beak.

I was delighted to see George on the pitch for the 125th Anniversary. He is a huge part of Arsenal’s history and despite him tarnishing the reputation of the club, he remains an Arsenal great. Had he not been so bloody stupid there would be a statue of GG outside the Emirates. But he was, and despite 230 games as a player and 460+ games as manager, he remains a peripheral figure at Arsenal.

George Graham remains a massive Arsenal fan with a huge collection of Arsenal memorabilia. Let us not forget that this is a man who had a cannon mosaic in his garden whilst managing Spurs.

To me George Graham will always be the man who scored that goal against United, for that and 26/5/1989, I am eternally grateful.

When Arsenal finally wins the CL, we WILL do London proud

May 24, 2012

Johan Cruijff: “Chelsea winning the CL final is a defeat for proper football. I’d rather not win it than to have to play this way.”

Recently, I have been extremely grumpy and needed a bit of time to reflect on a bad week for honest, beautiful football, which started with the Northern Oilers succeeding in buying the title, and finished six days later, with the London Oilers getting their greasy hands on the ‘Cup with the big ears’.

Of course, these teams required incredible amounts of luck and it could easily have gone another way, but it happened nonetheless: sadly, Citeh and the Chavs have had a return on their £1bn investments this season.

In both events, the pain was somewhat mellowed through pleasant side-effects. Citeh’s win meant that Fergie and the red part of Manc-chester won nothing this season, and the chavs’ cashing in on the biggest ‘luck-cheque’ ever issued, meant the Spuds will not take part in next season’s Champions League, which could mean the beginning of the end, that never really began in the first place, for them. Dare I whisper it though: I feel it bit sorry for the Spuds having to miss out on CL footie, as the number six of the PL takes their spot despite their dismal domestic season.

It became clear to most, if not all of us, especially after such a difficult start, that we would not be challenging for the title this season. And although it hurts to see the Northern Oilers being successful in buying the PL title this season, with an incredible loss of £194m this year alone, it did not affect me anywhere near as much as seeing the Chavs take the CL-cup back to London – the first ‘local’ team to do so.

As a modern-era Gooner – I slowly but steadily converted to Goonerdom in the mid-nineties – I have build up a big loathing of the Chavs in recent years. The biggest reason for this is what they have done to football since the arrival of Abramovich and his brutal attempt to buy titles at any costs. Mourinho was brought in and his approach to the game, which is basically parasitical – they let others play entertaining football, whilst they grab as many cups as possible with boring, anti-football – did a lot of damage to the beautiful game in England.

Luckily, it was his ‘style’ of football combined with his loathsome, self-loving personality which did not meet with the long-term approval of the equally repulsive and egotistical Russian Oligarch, and he was sacked after only a few years in charge. After his departure, football in England was able to liberate itself again from the Portuguese Catenaccio-esque shackles, with which he was able to win a number of prizes whilst killing the beauty in the game with his uber-defensive, and therefore boring, football.

If every team would play the same football as Chelsea did under Mourinho nobody would watch football games anymore.

Now, the better part in me tells me to show some magnanimity – to congratulate our fellow Londoners with bringing the Cup back to the capital, but however hard I try I just cannot do it.

On Saturday, the chavs showed no desire to entertain their world audience, there was a total lack of adventure and courage, and although their game-plan might not have been written physically by Mourinho, it had all the hallmarks of that odious ex-Chav.

For the Southern Oilers to stick to such negative tactics in the final, I can only have disdain. They were exactly the same as in the semi-finals against Barcelona, and although it was not anything to sing high praises about, you can understand why RDM chose this strategy against the Catalans: it was their only chance and it fitted perfectly with their culture and style of players.

They still needed to cash-in a big part of this season’s enormous ‘luck-cheque’ though, and this combined with relentlessly and shamelessly parking the bus for 180 minutes paid-off for them handsomely. However, football died a little in those semi-final legs last month, as we witnessed a gross case of injustice. But that’s football.

Arsène Wenger would rather have quit football altogether if he was forced to play with such a philosophy and strategy. In our games with Barcelona, we always tried to escape their suffocation; we always wanted to play our game of football, even though the Catalans were successful for large parts in both encounters to force-feed their style of football to us. We never surrendered, we did not let them bully us, and we showed the rest of the world how Barcelona can be beaten in style.

The Chavs never had such desires, never tried to play attacking football, and the main reason is they lack the class of Arsenal, as almost always is the case with the nouveau -riche.

Bayern had been humiliated by Dortmund in the German cup final, only a week ago, and are nowhere near as strong as Barcelona. Yet, Chelsea chose not to play football, to let Bayern look after the entertainment side of things, to just wait and sit back – like a spider in the web: in order to pounce and kill off Bayern from a set-piece, or a risk-free counter-attack.

This was the football of cowards, of parasites, of the shameless – of those who have no pride, and of those who do not love the game for the beauty it ought to bring to people around the world.

They succeeded and (for this occasion only) the good guys lost. There is nothing for us to be magnanimous about: a team that approaches a final with such negativity deserves nothing but contempt. On top of this approach, they also enjoyed another dose of incredible luck, and it just seemed that whatever happened, and whoever they would play against, they would somehow always end up collecting this year’s CL-cup.

But what will the world remember from this game say in 24/25 years time? Well, let’s go back 24/25 years to illustrate how utterly empty and mortal the chavs’ capture of this year’s CL-cup soon will become.

On 25 May 1988, PSV Eindhoven won its only ever Europacup 1 (now CL) title, beating Benfica in the final on penalties (6-5), after a boring, goalless draw for 120 minutes. How many of us can still remember anything of this?

After relatively easy rounds against Galatasaray and Rapid Wien, PSV beat Bordeaux with the advantage of having scored the away-goal (1-1, 0-0), only to repeat exactly the same feat in the semi-final against the hot favourite, Real Madrid (1-1, 0-0). PSV were the first Dutch team to win the EC1 after the incredible successes of the total football machine of Ajax in the early seventies.

The contrast could not have been any bigger as Hiddink’s PSV were totally happy to sit back and defend solidly, hoping to pounce on any mistakes of the opponents via breaks and set-pieces – so very similar to the chavs, 24 years on.

Although PSV and their fans will always be able to claim they have won the biggest club competition in Europe, the rest of the world has long forgotten about it. The final and the previous rounds have almost totally been forgotten, and PSV’s winning of the cup has simply been reduced to a statistic – a written fact.

I have no doubt there will be plenty of Chavs saying they simply don’t care how they won the CL – that all that matters is they did it, and that Arsenal have never won it.

But I agree with Cruijff: Chelsea’s victory was a defeat for proper football.

And one thing I know for sure: as long as Arsene Wenger is our manager, we will always aim to do anything that we do with style, with respect to our opponents, with loyalty to our philosophy of playing the beautiful game, and with the sheer desire to play the sort of football that sets hearts on fire, and entertains a crowd, whether it’s a small or XXX-Large one. Wenger is not perfect, but you cannot fail him for his desire to play beautiful football.

One day, hopefully soon, Arsenal will win the CL and when we do so, it will be unforgettable, and just like we did with the Invincibles, Arsenal is likely to leave something behind for eternity, something utterly immortal, something to talk about for generations.

We will show the chavs how it should be done. Arsenal would aim to play proper, beautiful, entertaining football and do London proud across the globe. And that’s why there is nothing better in the world than to be a Gooner.

Written by TotalArsenal.

Van Persie, Van Mystery

May 23, 2012

I am not unrealistic.

I certainly never assumed RVP would extend his contract with us. At best, I thought we had a chance, but with the odds and the world against us slightly. I was sure though, that if our captain left us, it would be in a respectful way, and his legacy with true fans would be a good one, because we really do appreciate our great players and what they have done for us. In this case, we have been blessed with a sublime performance for almost two seasons, and led back into an all important champions league spot.

I say his legacy would be intact, because, like most thoughtful people, true fans try to consider the decision he has to make, all the options he needs to weigh. I have already heard many Gunners express their understanding that he wants to be at a competitive club, with a chance of trophies, especially entering into his last big contract. Many even understanding that he should not have to ignore superior financial offers, no matter where they come from.

But, some things have occurred recently that just don’t seem to add up. I am aware that so much is rumour, speculation, and many, simply lies.

Maybe some disinformation? This is what is giving me some hope after a doom filled week on the subject of Robin’s future.

You see, I also understand the many reasons that he might want or need to leave us. But some of the reports we are getting just don’t add up, at least with the people we know that are involved. We heard about a very important meeting to take place with Robin, Arsène, and Ivan. I hope no one expected smiling and handshakes as they all emerged from the house. But, we might have expected a positive, hopeful, or respectful statement crafted by public relations people at Arsenal, to try and ease our worries, and/or pain.

Instead, all we received was silence, and ugly stories of a cold confrontation with specific numbers thrown around, as if there were reporters in the room.  Now, if that were the case, and if indeed it is true, that’s just the sad truth about modern football and economics. And we will all have to be mature and accept it. Our club will have to make the best deal they can to improve our situation if we can’t go forward with our season saving leader.

But, as I said, there are things that just don’t make much sense, according to what we know about the parties involved. Do we really think that Wenger and Gazidis walked in and insulted Robin with a shockingly low offer? You know that through back channels, all parties had a general idea of what was coming and expected. Do we really believe that Van Persie basically demanded the huge numbers being thrown around in the media, and that everything fell apart immediately?

Of course that’s all possible.  It seems the way the sport is going, and the plight Gunners seem destined to endure from now on.

But I choose to be skeptical of most of these negative reports. Firstly, of course, because I don’t want it to be true. But more importantly, something just doesn’t seem right at all. The stories were so numerous and negative, it almost felt like a punch in the stomach. The feeling you get when you have been betrayed by a friend. I’m not comparing the possible situation to betrayal, just personalizing the feeling of when someone that you think you know fairly well, really smacks you with something you never expected. By that, I’m referring to stories of a tense meeting, with large salary demands,and the club saying “take it or you’re staying for another year anyway”.

It’s a little hard to fathom because of the obvious respect and affection Arsène and Robin have built over the years. This includes sticking with him through many injuries, and the faith that Wenger has shown in him, and of course the skills he has helped him develop in a system that contributed to him becoming the player of the year, not to mention fair wages for most of the years.

Instead, my view is this :

1 Robin van Persie is not completely motivated by money ( of course it’s a big issue, but not the only one )

2 The numbers are not as far apart as reported by the media, or leaked by rivals trying to sow discontent. Especially when you add the loyalty bonuses into the weekly wages, making the disparity smaller. Also the fact that the club owns the player for another full year, in which he would stay on his smaller salary, no loyalty bonus, and threat of injury which could hurt his value going into his last lucrative contract later. Although I doubt it was threatened in a sinister manner.

3 Robin made plain his demand for serious improvements to the squad, as well as retaining with raises, Song and Walcott, who he constantly praises, especially regarding their assists.

The club laid out some details on plans for improvements to the squad, and asked for some time to accomplish some signings other than Podolski, which is a good start. Time will be needed to unload some contracts also.

5 Mutual agreement not to talk to the press, to facilitate and protect deals in the works. In, or out.

6 Lastly, I just can’t see RVP demanding a salary so large from any team, that would really weaken the amount of any transfer fee that we could receive. That would be a little disloyal, and would also be a dis-incentive to sell him now, if that really is his preference.

So, with all the mysterious silence, and all the rumours, where will the truth end up?

As always, probably somewhere in between… But I hope for all of us, it’s closer to my bright estimation.

Written by JNYC

Who is our Best Youth Player over the last 20 years?

May 22, 2012

Who is the best player to come through the Arsenal Youth Programme? Not signed as kids like Theo, Cesc and Kolo from other clubs but actually raised at THOF

We have seen some wonderful players come through in the last 20+ years (which is my time frame). On a quiet day why don’t we have a little reminisce?

First up has to be Mr Arsenal. Tony Adams: TA joined AFC as at 15 and played in the first team at 17. He was captain at 21 having already won a trophy (the League Cup ’87). He then went on to Captain the club for 14 seasons, have a statue outside the Emirates and become a true AFC hero. Was he our best homegrown?

My 2nd Fave TA goal v THFC at Wembley

Or was it Rocky Rocastle? How many players are still sung about 20 years after he left the club? Rocky joined us at 16. Played in the Double team of ’89.  Sold when GG got sick of players with any flair, but left behind unforgettable memories to those lucky enough to see him in the jersey.

My Fave Rocky Goal (WHL 1987)

Or The Merse? Paul Merson was a special talent, capable of the most delightful lob I have seen. Not pray, not strong in the tackle but graceful and intelligent. It must be said that thanks to his off-filed activities he could be frustrating as well.  Injuries, off-field problems, lack of form all hindered him yetThe Merse remained a fan’s favourite.  AFter 12 years at AFC, Mr Wenger offered Paul a 2 year contract but The Merse went to *Boro who offered twice the wages (history repeats!).

A couple of years later and Ashley Cole forced his way into the first team, taking over from club legend, Nigel Winterburn. So much has been written about Cashley but whatever your standpoint on the man’s morality and general demeanor, he is without doubt a fantastic footballer. At 31 he remains the best LB in the PL if not the World, and I wish AW had paid him the extra money -he is that good.  3 PL medals, 7 FA Cup winners medals CL winner, 93 Caps, 5 times PFA team of the Year, twice UEFA LB of the year – a wonderful career, which shows that it is not always the nice guys who come first!

Wilshere. The Great Arsenal Hope. the player future England teams will be built around, let alone  The Arsenal. Who knows what would have happened had JW not missed the season?  The future midfield squad of O-C, Wilshere, Ramsey, Song, Coquelin and Frimpong (+ any signings) is frightening. Those early YouTube clips of JW controlling games at the age of 15 were so exciting. Jack is the Real Deal. Can he keep his feet on the ground and not become another Merse? Can he fully recover from his ankle injury and not become a Diaby? If the answer is Yes, then Jack Wilshere is very likely to be cast in bronze.

I have missed out some great homegrown Youth players: Parlour, Keown, Micky T etc ( I am sure there are others). For that I apologise.

Roll me down Coopers Hill and cover me in pig fat but in my opinion our greatest Youth player over the past 20 years has been Ashley. Odious man but top quality player.

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy