Is Mertesacker right ?

April 30, 2014

Per Mertesacker says Arsenal don’t deserve a place in the top three because of the horrible away days at the Middle Eastlands, Anfield, and Stamford Bridge. Speaking after the Newcastle game the other night,Pers said

The fans wanted us to finish further up, we were top of the league for a long time and everyone dreamt about getting the title, but it takes more than just staying at the top until the winter period. We could not afford those big games against big teams, so we did not deserve to be in the first three. That is something we have to manage much better next year.

And he said those trips have to provide lessons for next season:

We have to learn how to play and how to defend in the first 20 minutes. The games were all similar, we got caught on the break and that is something we have to look at.

This statement appears on a number of Arsenal sites today and it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a daily post.

Is he right or wrong so I will leave it to all and sundry to offer their opinions.

kelsey

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A Welcome Three Points.

April 29, 2014

Yet another “must win game” as we entertained a Newcastle side woefully out of form and quite frankly had nothing to play for. After a very cautious opening twenty minutes, something we have got used to seeing far too often this season, we got the breakthrough with a delightful deep ball over the visitor’s defence for Koscienly to poke it home.

Maybe the pressure of really having to win made the team a little nervous but personally I would like to see us stamp our authority on the opposition a little more frequently.

Our momentum increased with Ozil and Cazorla dictating our attacks and just before half time after a double save by Krul, the ball fell neatly into the path of Ozil to tap home.

One expected more from the Geordie’s after half time yet it didn’t materialise bar a single on target effort by Gouffran which was expertly dealt with by Szczesney.

Our momentum overall increased and Ramsey was performing better than he had done in the first half. He fed Ozil who crossed to the practically unmarked Giroud,to head home his first goal since The Battle of Hastings 😉

All in all it was a good performance and there is a case to nominate several players as Man of The Match, but more important it was three points which now puts us firmly in the driving seat for a CL place.

Ozil really is a masterclass, his intelligence on and off the ball is second to none and he will be hugely influential next season. A word on Podolski who had a fine game and seemed to be showing the boss that he should be a regular starter.

Giroud is always a bone of contention with me. Yes he can can hold the ball up but really we need a more clinical striker especially against better teams than Newcastle. Anyway that’s for another day.

If we add pace and power to the team, we could well be a real force next season but for now confidence is returning and hopefully we can wrap up forth next Sunday as it is quite feasible that the final game of the season against Norwich may determine their premier league status.

In conclusion ,although the season is not quite over generally we have done better than previous seasons against the teams we are expected to beat and if we can just improve our record against the mega rich clubs there is no real reason why we can’t be in the mix for all of next season. Perhaps FFP will have an influence, but I feel that we, as a club, are putting too much emphasis on the power of FFP, time will tell.

Over to you Mr.Wenger………..

kelsey


Newcastle: Pardew’s Return

April 28, 2014

Thanks to an unusually efficient Everton defensive display leading to a Southampton victory, if we win the next two home games the tricky trip to Norwich becomes irrelevant – what more could one want from an exciting weekends football?

Our season has been interesting from start to finish and with some good fortune, decent refereeing and the lads not titting about it can end on a high. Three wins and my summer holiday will be even better.

It starts tonight.

Newcastle have been “on the beach” since Xmas. – fans of the  Magpies must be fuming. They have lost their last 5 games and taken just 13 points from a possible 51. Mr Wenger’s nemesis has once again shown himself to be a total knob of a manager having flattered to deceive early in the season. Given the array of talent at his disposal even Tim but Dim Sherwood could have done better – even I could.

Just look at their squad – Cisse, Remy, Debuchy and Ben Arfa would probably get a place at THOF.  Sissoko is quality as are Gouffran and Collocini and then there is Tiote – Newcastle’s Flamini. Ameobi is better than Sanogo and Bendtner and  Krul is a fine keeper, plus they have some good youngsters coming through – so why are they struggling and unlikely to finish in the top 10?

Because Newcastle have an awful manager whose main ability is to look good in a suit (oh, and he does have good hair!). Can you imagine the media response to Mr Wenger head butting a player? The owner’s decision to grant Pardew an 8 year contract (until 2020) has proven to be a costly mistake. They just cannot afford to get rid of him.

Unknown-1

Another tonight please OG

Add into the mix an owner who is “unpredictable” and the brilliant Newcastle fans are getting poor return for their ticket price.

It is a shame because if Mr Wenger had Pardew’s squad I think they would be challenging for 5/6th with MU, Everton and the Neanderthals – instead they are 23 points behind Everton.

I like Newcastle. The Toon Army are passionate fans who love their football; they have a rich history and it is awful to see their club ruined by Johnny-Come-Lately’s. But tonight I fervently wish them to go home with further reason to detest the management.

Arsenal. We have a strong squad of players to choose from – just Gibbs and the long-term injured are unavailable. The return of Ozil and Ramsey is a massive boost for the run in and I believe they will push us into the CL spot.

Mr Wenger’s unusual problem is selection. Poldi or Santi, Arteta or Flamini etc?

My Team:

a v n

Might be a little light in defence but we are at home and really need to win, so I would attack from the first minute, retain possession and be very attentive of the counter attack. Newcastle have pace and power upfront and will be confident that Arsenal will push too many men forward. Plus potential summer target, Remy will be making a huge effort to show he is the man we need.

We have finally got a decent subs bench  (still lacking a game changer). If Ox is fit, I would love to see him get 30 minutes against a tiring Newcastle defence.

Newcastle Upon Tyne was first settled by the Romans in 2 century  A.D. Named Pons Aelius after the family name of Emperor Hadrian (the chap who built the wall). When the Romans left in 410 it became an Anglo-Saxon town and was called Monkchester. Then came those pesky Vikings who smashed the town and not long after a castle was built (around 1088) which became known as Novum Castellum or New Castle.  Throughout the Middle Ages this fortress was England’s northern border against raids from the Scots.

There is little doubt that with Pardew back on the touchline Newcastle will be looking to end their awful run of form, as such, this will be another tough and nervy evening. Or … we could score early, get another before half time and then coast the second half.

Which would you prefer?

 written by Big Raddy

 


Can you help cure our injuries?

April 27, 2014

Morning Gooners

Injuries have blighted us again this season, although we’re in fourth place with three games to play, which in a league of twenty that’s not a bad position at all, but injuries I am sure have robbed us of at least two or three  positions. I know this is not just this year as we all know we seem to suffer more than a lot of others.

What causes these seasonal injuries, we could say our players are just not robust enough, but we do have a fairly large squad and we do bring in the odd one or two in, but are we doing something wrong, or are we just unlucky. Do we encourage injury by the way we play, many’s the time I hear players and managers commenting that if they get in our faces and play physical we are easily turned over.

Now I am not sure that is the answer, as we seem to get our fair share of bookings. Are we easier in the tackle than the rest? I always remember in my playing days that it was said, that if you go into a tackle half-hearted you always come out worse off. Many would say that size may have some bearing on it. Our midfield are not the biggest around and after all it is the engine room of the team, so power must come from it, but I must admit I never really feel that we are that powerful. We have little Santi, Jack and Arteta and Rosicky isn’t so big either but then you have Aaron, who seems pretty sizeable, but he’s only just come back after quite a spell out and Koscienly too.

Diaby has been out for a season but he tops six feet so it appears size is not the reason. Diet and training has to be considered as it seemed to make a massive difference when Wenger first came, enough for other clubs to follow our lead so that seems out of the question. So what has changed that we now suffer so badly,

You would be justified to look at equipment, Football boots, shin guards, cycle shorts and now I see some players wearing under shielding. Football boots have changed over the years from ankle protective boots made out of natural leathers butwe now don the latest man made fibre low cut shoe type footwear, maybe that can account for some injuries.

Maybe even the footballs. They also have changed from lace up leather heavy balls, to lightweight man made  symmetrical shaped balls, that tend not to fly straight. Maybe stretching for a ball you feel should come straight to you, but at the last second it moves could cause a stretch, but then that would be for all teams so that is out of the question too.

Now I seem to be running out of possibilities, but I shouldn’t exclude the medical staff. They massage the players before, during and after the game , they nurse the players back to fitness, and their advice is also used in warm ups and warm downs, could that be a reason as all clubs must have different methods. In my day a hamstring was just a hamstring but today its Hamstring 1 2 or 3 that seems to denote how long it takes to repair. Metatarsal and cruciates and other injuries I have never heard of, also seem to be a modern thing, Maybe the equipment used today has brought some of those ailments to the fore, but others also would suffer the same, so maybe not.

I seem to have run out of options and haven’t cleared up this problem, so perhaps you have some suggestions that may solve this important fault, then maybe we’ll be the team at the top. instead of where we are.

Written by Steve Palmer1

A Blast from the Past No. 11 The birth of the FA and International Football

April 26, 2014

The early years 1872 – 1900

C. W. Alcock, one of the founder members of The Football Association in 1863, was one of football’s visionaries. He was the inspiration for both the FA Cup and the annual fixture between England and Scotland, these two events sparked a huge interest in the game and it spread quickly, firstly through Britain, followed by Europe, Africa and then to South America and beyond. Due to his imagination football quickly became a national obsession and by the early 1900’s numerous clubs had been formed in the heart of the country’s industrial communities. Prior to Alcock’s vision, football played outside of the country’s top public schools was considered to be no more than a loose and disorganised riot.

The England – Scotland fixture was drawing crowds of 100,000 and spawned debates over team selection and tactics both before and after the games. His idea for the annual fixture came after he witnessed the enormous interest aroused by rugby’s first international between the two countries in 1872 and he saw the publicity potential in a Football Association equivalent. However his announcement of the fixture, in the FA minutes of October 3rd 1872, did not indicate any real excitement – it read;

“In order to further the interests of the Association in Scotland, it was decided that a team should be sent to Glasgow to represent England”

England Scotland scrum 1878 001

Following the first international game football boomed in Scotland and many new clubs came into existence. The associations intention was for them to teach and for Scotland to learn but in the first ten matches England were humiliated by Scotland only winning twice in the first ten games including losing 6-1 in 1881 and 5-1 in 1882 – and to compound their dismay they only won four of the first twenty fixtures. The Scottish Football association secretary Robert Livingstone did not like the English dribbling game, he thought it was suicidal and instead he adopted the tactic of kicking the ball up the field and running after it and it proved to be very successful. The popularity of the annual fixture was encapsulated in an article which appeared in Bells Life prior to the 1878 match.

“All available conveyances were picked up long before two o’clock and a continuous stream of hansoms, dog carts and buses kept pouring their living freight to the foot of Hamden Hill…every inch of the locality was covered by spectators, In some places, it was packed like herrings in a barrel, but the majority bore it with Christian resignation”

English team -1890 001

The English Football Association Team, 1890

1900 – 1914

The dawn of the twentieth century did nothing to change England’s fortunes Scotland subjected them to a 4-1 pounding at Parkhead. The Football Sun reported;

“As soon as the gates were swung open people flocked in and the long wait was enlivened by patriotic songs, not to mention the whisky”

Two years later football suffered its first major crowd disaster during the England- Scotland game at Ibrox when a stand collapsed. It left 25 dead and hundreds injured but most of the crowd were unaware of the catastrophe in their midst. Early reports indicated that there were only a few injuries so the decision was made to continue with the game to avoid widespread panic. The stand was new and Ibrox had an official capacity of 80,000 but it was estimated that over 100,000 were in the ground – which led to the disaster. The original game ended in a 1-1 tie and was later downgraded to a “friendly”. It was replayed at Birmingham a month later and ended 2-2 with the gate proceeds going towards the disaster fund.

Between the turn of the century and the start of WW1 Scotland continued to be England’s only real competition of the 53 official internationals England lost just 7 games, 5 to Scotland and 2 to Ireland.  The 1909 Home Championship came within a whisker of being cancelled due to industrial unrest across England. The Players Union affiliated itself to the General Federation of Trade Unions and strike action in support of the miners threatened to bring the country to a standstill.

With just days left before the matches were due to begin the Players Union issued a statement announcing that “England would play and do their utmost to win” This was interpreted to mean that the team contemplated deliberately losing. The FA insisted that the players sign a statement declaring their determination to win. England went on to win the Championship without conceding a goal.

England players in 1911 001

England players conferring during a match in 1911

1919 – 1939

The 1920’s were an unsuccessful decade in England’s history. Following WW1 England, and other allied football associations, made the decision not to play against Germany, Austria or Hungary or any other country that agreed to play against their former enemies. This decision was shelved, two years later, when it became apparent that there was no reasonable opposition left to play against. But despite this change of heart England’s only foreign opponents were Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Sweden.

The 1930,s began promisingly with a triumph in the Victory International over Scotland; the game was played in appalling conditions and England’s team, nine of whom had seen service in WW1, found themselves 4-2 down at half time.  But in the second half, despite the continuous downpour, they turned the game around and won 5-4. Andrew Ducat, a member of the English team, died while batting at Lord’s during WW2. The win proved to be only a brief respite for England as they only won 6 of the next 17 games against Scotland during this period and had to wait until 1930 to win their first Home Championship since 1913.

Everton’s Dixie Dean played his first game for England against Wales on February 12th, 1927.  In the 1927/28 season he scored an astonishing 60 league goals, including a hat trick against Arsenal in the last match of the season, a record that is unlikely ever to be broken

Dixie Dean 001

England had a habit of stepping up their performances in important games and this showed in games against Italy and Germany. The match against Italy in 1934 was dubbed “The Battle of Highbury” it proved to be so violent that The FA seriously considered ending its participation in international football. Italy were the reigning World Champions and Italian newspapers called it the most important football game played anywhere in the World since the Great War.

An ankle injury to Italy’s Monti after just 3 minutes sparked a match of unrelenting violence. Centre- forward Ted Drake one of 7 Arsenal players in the line up, was punched on the chin early on and Captain Eddie Hapgood suffered a broken nose after a deliberate elbow flattened him. England went up 3-0 and after the game Hapgood recalled that the Italians started to hit everything in sight and fought back to 3-2. Arsenal’s Wilf Copping was in his element, he was considered to be the “hardest” man to ever pull on an England Shirt. His specialty was the, then legal, two footed lunge and he shoulder charged and tackled with ferocious enthusiasm. He more than any other player saved the day for England when their goal was under siege and they hung on for a famous, but ugly, victory.

England vs Italy 001

England’s Captain Eddie Hapgood wasn’t smiling after his nose was broken.

England faced Germany on May 15th, 1938 amidst a growing tension between the two nations, like Mussolini, Hitler’s Nazi re3gime understood the symbolic power of sport and the game against Engald provided an ideal arena for their propaganda machine.

110,000 spectators greeted the players in Berlin’s Olympic stadium amid a mass of red swastika flags with just the odd Union Jack.

Amid a storm of controversy back home English diplomats had agreed that the English team would give the Nazi raised arm salute. Captain Eddie Hapgood later reflected;

“I’ve been in a shipwreck, a train crash and inches short of a plane crash but the worst day of my life was giving the Nazi salute in Berlin”

Hitler was desperate for a symbolic victory over the mother country of football but the German team proved to be no match for Stanley Matthews and company and England ran out 6-3 winners.

England vs Germany 001

Action from the game in Olympic stadium May 15th, 1938

More to come………..

GunnerN5

 


May 1971 – A week in the life of a Veteran Gooner

April 25, 2014

Three weeks ago we heard of the sudden passing of one of our stalwart bloggers. Dandan had been a regular contributor and minder on the site for four years. His sage words were often a pick-me-up when Arsenal news was a bit gloomy. This is the first post he wrote for ArsenalArsenal back in March 2010 which tells us much of the man he was. It was an honour to have known him and we send his family our very best wishes at this sad time.

Monday 3rd May 1971.  Just one day in a 66 year long life. Five children, 10 grandchildren and a couple of wives ago. A working life, a happy life, a fulfilled life, yet in all that life, that day, that Monday 39 years ago stands out clearly, a milestone, a marker to excitement, expectation, pride and above all friendship, togetherness and achievement.

It began early, after working the morning and fidgeting away an hour of the afternoon it was time. I climbed into my car, picked up my mate, one of four of us that travelled to all Arsenal games together. The other two plus my brother were travelling in the Ford Escort that was our real communal football vehicle. Our plan was simple we would meet up inside the ground.

We travelled the back doubles avoiding main roads, but it was soon abundantly clear that something was up; mid afternoon and even the side roads were busy. Eventually at about  4 o’ clock we found a road full of parked cars, with a police no parking cone at the end, quickly we parked the car with it’s front against the cone, jumped out, moved the cone to the back of the car and walked off.

White Hart Lane was where all my family’s loyalties lay, only I was the rebel, a gooner among all those spuds. We were on enemy territory, god and what a sight a queue of people 5 or 6 deep all round the ground and into the distance. We knew immediately, absolutely no chance to get in there by normal means. What to do? We headed for the front of the queue, passing thousands of people, hundreds of coppers. A plan was needed this was serious. Finally the main iron gates into the ground were reached, luckily they were still closed, 50 yards beyond them the turnstiles stood mockingly empty, inviting, waiting for the hordes in the endless queue. A line of police stood turning away anyone trying to join the queue.

Right by the main gate stands the White Hart Pub from which the ground gets its name. It was open, we went in and got a couple of half’s (part of the plan –  couldn’t waste money) and then stood outside casually leaning against the pub wall right by the gates, sipping our beers. At 5.30 the gates are unlocked and pulled open inwards. Immediately the people at the front of the queue, who have waited there overnight, rush forward scattering the line of police. We drop our glasses literally, join the rush, and sprint to the turnstiles, pay our money and we are through and in. We must have been two of the first 50 in the ground, as the man says don’t you love it when a plan comes together.

Not only are we in the ground, but also in the enclosure, people were pouring in. We felt desperate for our mates, knowing they had no chance of getting in as they had intended leaving work a bit later.

Then amazingly there they were, pushing through the crowd to join us, I had reckoned they’d be without my brother, a spud, although he knew this ground like the back of his hand.  In those days there was a press gate in one of the side roads, he was a regular there, a few quid in the attendants hand and he and they were through. 52,000 thousand locked out and we had all made it. They had just abandoned the car in a traffic jam, if it got towed, tough. It wasn’t they found it after the match and drove home.

The game was a blur with chances at either end, gradually we got on top, a 0 – 0 draw would be enough to win the league. Then with 3 minutes to go, Geordie Armstrong centered, Ray Kennedy leaped and headed home. Pandemonium, the stadium muted with tension till then, erupted. White Hart became Red and White Hart, every Spud seemed to disappear under a sea of scarves, hats and frantic, cheering, hugging, jumping Gooners.  The Spurs team went berserk kicking all and sundry the intention seeming to be that we would not field a full team in Saturdays cup final to take their ‘double’ record away. The referee saw what was happening and sensibly blew the whistle early. Where and how all the spuds disappeared to has puzzled me over the years, but the stadium from the moment the goal went in belonged to The Arsenal.

We left deliriously happy, found the car. No ticket, moved the cone and moved off listening to the radio singing and laughing. The normal 1hr journey home took 2 hrs but we never really noticed, what a day, what a night and the cup final still to come just 5 days away.

I had intended to end this post right there, with the championship won and the first leg of the 1971 double secured. But the act of writing it down after all these years, set me to thinking just how immense the events surrounding The Arsenal of the double year and that week in particular were in my life. Enlightening me above all to the importance of friendship and loyalty in a changing world.

First some background, as I said earlier I came from a family of Spuds, my earliest football memories are of being taken to WHL by my father (I saw Stanley Mathews play there, for Stoke I think) and the cup finals on TV. In those far off days the Cup Final was the only game live on TV, although before that you could see short highlights of it on Pathe News at Saturday morning cinema.

We then moved from London to Hertfordshire about a mile from what is now Beckingham Palace the home of David and Posh. So a trip into London for a carless family was an expensive undertaking and not taken often. For this reason as we got older the annual BBC Cup Final broadcast became a big event in our house. My 2 mates from school both Gooners would come along together with a gaggle of friends and family of the Spud variety.

Mum would move back and forth recharging cups and glasses and topping up the buffet she had provided, whilst we huddled around the TV. Then came the 1961 final when Dads dreams came true and Spurs did the double and the family partied long into the night. Us three Gooners of course the butt of every joke going. We were 17 at the time, apprentices or trainees, just able to afford to go to the home games at Highbury by train. Later I got a car and all games became available. But always the Cup Final at my parents home for my mates and I was mandatory.

Fast forward to 1971 double year, my parents have moved to Southampton, as Dads progression through the company required him to relocate. Then a week before Christmas the world changed, whilst travelling the dual carriageway that predated the M3 my dad’s car was hit by a lorry that came through the trees that lined the central reservation, he and his passenger died instantly.

I was devastated, my Dad and great mate gone. But my three Arsenal mates took over and made sure that I was accompanied to every Arsenal game that season and as they moved inexorably towards the double the sadness and realisation of the leg pulling and verbal I was missing with Dad grew.

Came that final week in May, Spurs on the Monday a euphoric, poignant day safely negotiated. Now because we had saved our programme vouchers, we also had our cup final tickets. But as the five days past I realised that I could not go to Wembley leaving my Mum alone down in Southampton, I needed to go and watch it with her. I gave my ticket to my mates and told them to give them to a Arsenal fan outside the ground.

They said nothing until Friday, our snooker night, when we met up they dropped the bombshell, they too had given their tickets away, and the faithful Escort all ballooned and ribboned up was parked outside and  bound for Southampton in the morning.

Needless to say it was a marvelous day tinged with sadness of course, Liverpool were overcome. Willow missed one on  the near post, Charlie lay on his back and waited his adulation, GG claimed a goal he never touched, whilst Eddy the real scorer couldn’t give a monkeys at the time, Frank at the final whistle, told the world we had xxxxxxx done it. Whilst we in the smart bungalow in Southampton watched it all on the big new colour Television that Dad had brought for my mum just 6 months previously.

It helped a lovely lady start to come to terms with her loss, but it taught me the meaning of true friends, enriching my life beyond belief and now all these years later as retirees, we still meet and greet and talk about our Arsenal days.

So I owe the Arsenal a great deal. Remarkably just that one word conjures up memories, of triumphs and disasters, but most of all it reminds me, that a common interest cemented four young men into lifetime friends.

Finally, may I say, as a newcomer, that as I read your posts, I sense that same feeling of comradeship, and respect for each other. Great game football, great club the Arsenal.

By dandan


José Mourinho is right, Chelsea should be treated better.

April 24, 2014

There, I’ve said it.  I feel sick now, I shouldn’t have been forced to say such disgusting things.  But I blame the wonks at the Premier League, Sky and BT Sport.

The reason?  The Odious One was complaining about TV scheduling of this weekend’s big match against the scousers, which sees the Chavs having to play a massive league match on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the second leg of the CL semi final on Wednesday against Atlético Madrid.  Or as he put it:

“The fact that the match is on Sunday, I think that puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be Sunday, not Saturday or Friday. We represent English football and are the only [English] team in European competition.

“Spain have four and give them all the conditions to try to have success. So I know what I would do. I would play the players who are not going to play on Wednesday. My priority is the Champions League. But I’m not the club. I have to speak to them.”

 And then he made the stunning suggestion that he might field a weak side against Liverpool in order to preserve legs for the Atlético match.  The match against Liverpool is anything but a dead rubber, with three sides genuinely still able to win the title.  Sky will have scheduled this match on the basis that it would be one of the games of the season, a battle of two of the giants at the top of the table.  So, the thought that Mourinho might sabotage the match, and potentially the run-in for the title, will have upset the TV bigwigs.  Of course, it would also cause blood pressure to rise at Man City and the PL headquarters, with the culmination of the season, and the whole sporting contest, potentially tainted.

 But Mourinho is right.  Why the hell are the TV companies able to screw up clubs’ preparations for massive midweek European games by their scheduling choices at the weekend?  The fact that competitors in other countries get sympathetic scheduling only underlines how obnoxious the situation is in England.

 Of course, everyone involved in English football is complicit – the extravagant wages Mourinho receives and is able to offer to players comes in large part from the TV subscriptions we shell out.  As fans, we also enjoy the benefits, with the best players in the world considering our league as a place to play.  The PL revolution, that propelled English football to the elite level of the world game, is the creation of Sky.  So why shouldn’t they (or BT Sport) get to choose when such a big match is to be played?

 As Arsenal fans, we know why.  How many times have we lost out when crappy scheduling has seen us play at noon on a Saturday after an away game many miles away?  Or on Sunday before a CL game?  It has definitely affected our games, which is unacceptable, so it’s only right that Mourinho should complain when his team are affected too.

TV companies are entitled to make scheduling choices, that’s the deal, but there are limits and when it affects the sporting contest itself, it’s gone too far.  I hope Mourinho follows through on his threat this Sunday, perhaps the TV companies would realise they need to change their ways.

Written by 26may