Football, Sexism or Naked Politics

March 13, 2018

Written by dandan on January 29th 2011, this post is still bang up to date with its topics of the changing face of football, getting sacked by Sky and media hypocrisy. Super stuff.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am a long time Arsenal supporter, having first stood on the Highbury terraces  over 50 years ago, a time when seats were basically for the well to do and, as they would have it in those far off days, the bosses.

The workingman stood on the terraces; this was his place, and his fiefdom. Here he exorcised the frustrations of having to kowtow to those same bosses all week. Probably also working Saturday morning, before clocking out on the stroke of midday and rushing off to the North bank at Highbury, the Kop at Anfield or any of hundreds of other league and non league grounds scattered around the country for the statutory 3 O’clock kick off.

There to shout, swear, curse, cheer, sing and bond with mates who stood shoulder to shoulder with him at the same place on the terraces every week, watching their heroes, who had quite likely travelled to the game on the same bus or tube as the fan himself, before running out to perform on the hallowed turf which, if the truth were told, was the ultimate dream of the vast majority of fans massed in swaying ranks above them.

Dads took sons, who as the grounds filled and took on a swaying surging dangerous life of their own were lifted and passed hand to hand overhead by the adults and placed in a prime position close to the pitch.

What, you might well ask, has all this to do with today’s sanitised game?

Well for a start, women were generally conspicuous by their absence from these gatherings.  Yet, it is from this point that despite disasters, violence and hooliganism over the years, football has evolved into the all seater, health and safety obsessed, politically correct, female inclusive game that exists today. All brought about by massive investment as the game has grown and become the number one TV sport worldwide. Despite this  investment, somehow tribalism and bigotry have survived, and although women have joined the brotherhood, some brothers have not yet cottoned on.

It is this fact that has led inexorably to what will undoubtedly become known as the Keys and Gray affair, as the unsuspecting broadcasters were cast on the altar of political correctness, with the usual suspects and rent-a-gobs queuing to gleefully castrate the hapless pair.

For what, you may ask?  An unfortunate conversation deemed sexist and broadcast across a microphone left open unknown to the smug Keys and his footballing Guru by some careless engineer. A conversation in which they suggested the female referee’s assistant was unlikely to understand the intricacies of the offside law and followed by a disparaging remark concerning a newspaper article about sexism penned by Ms Brady of Birmingham and West Ham fame, these comments were made in what they believed to be a private conversation.

Of course, given the animosity between the various arms of the media, it was seized upon by a rival in the printed press who obtained a recording from a willing punter and triumphantly trumpeted its existence in large type across their pages before, in a fit of splendid self-indulgence, despatching a copy in righteous disgust to Sky TV asking for answers.

Do we believe that this mass outpouring from the purveyors of the written word, was solely driven by a genuine distaste of the boundaries they alleged had been crossed? Could it be that after years of dealing with yesterday’s news on the back pages, whilst trying to compete with the immediacy of sky they had finally been handed a scoop of sorts or at least a chance to get even? The paper concerned is, of course, famous in its own right among football fans for its accuracy and impartiality. (I wish)

Who was it then waiting in the wings, who had access to this material as well as other previously recorded salacious titbits ready to be  uploaded to Utube, thus ensuring the twenty-year reign of the unfortunate pair would be terminated. The old cliché Careful who you damage on the way up, less they get you on the way down seems relevant and points perhaps to a crew member, probably emboldened by the whistle blowing antics on-line and in print of recent times.

From Sky’s point of view a combined salary of £2.2 million will undoubtedly entice whatever pairing they consider appropriate. A revamp after twenty years is probably seen as a gift from heaven in this fast changing technical world. Whilst at the same time enabling them to come out as White knights in the cause of Political Correctness just as they did with Ron Atkinson’s demise.

Now I have no love for the long-term red top TV front men, in fact I can think of many good football based reasons to replace the gruesome twosome, not least among them the deliberate and constant striving to create controversy rather than celebrate excellence.

Their treatment of our own Eduardo is a case in point. A gifted striker who had his leg so savagely broken that he will never be the same player again. Indeed so horrific was the incident that Sky themselves decided the tackle should not be broadcast again. Notwithstanding that decision, had poor Eduardo been in any condition to listen to the end of the match discussion, he would have heard the deadly duo blithely passing it off as an accident, as the player whose flying tackle caused the damage, ”wasn’t that kind of player”. I suspect some would dispute that.

A year later on his return, Eduardo then finds himself being crucified for supposedly diving, which whether true or not on that occasion, is universally acknowledged as being rife among most premier league players. Witness Rooney’s double somersault with twist against Sol Campbell to end the Invincibles’ unbeaten run, which was again watched, replayed and then forgotten.

So perhaps the result can be perceived as a kind of poetic justice for football. But for me there is the smell of hypocrisy in the air, an unholy alliance of expediency within sky, coupled to the frenzied baying of the press hounds both in the written word and in their headlong rush for guest appearances on air. thereby swelling their bank balances at the table of opportunity and who knows, maybe convincing the powers that be, that a journalist and not an ex-player should get the pundits job

Written by dandan


Truly, Ugly, Deeney – Watford Ratings

March 12, 2018

Troy Deeney being fit to play (when I say fit, I mean breathing and able to walk as long as it’s not uphill and too fast) was the best news this game could have had. With Watford in the relative safety of mid-table obscurity and ourselves being so far off the title pace, meant that there was little to play for except a few points and some comparisons of testes size. Deeney was the vital ingredient in the latter and he didn’t disappoint.

 First Half

Shkodran scoring a carbon copy of his goal against the spuds after 8 minutes calmed any supporter fears that Watford might spawn a couple of early goals as they did at the Emirates last season. It was a perfect delivery from Mesut with which he smashed Cantona’s first to 50 assists record. How the first half finished 1-0 is anybody’s guess. There really were some great chances. 4-2 was Ant and mine’s assessment of the possible goal score.

Amongst our better chances, Auba missed a one on one right at the start of the game, The Beast battered one across the penalty area so quickly that Auba could only get a toe on it and then Mesut got into a magnificent position with a glorious first touch only to lose his composure with the keeper floundering on the deck. Pereyra missed Watford’s best chance skying over after Petr had ended up behind his goal line blocking a free kick.

Second half

The cones did not do their job at the start of the second half. The Arsenal crowd and players all looked as though they wished they could be at home (along with the many who didn’t bother attend). Watford, on the other hand, had their best spell, pressing Arsenal back towards the Clock but without giving us too many heart flutters.

Our first attack of note in the second period resulted in the BVB connection putting us two up. Micki slipped the ball through to Auba with perfect weight, stranding the keeper in no man’s land.

Then came the moments everyone had come to see. A Watford striker went over Maitland-Niles’ knee (in live time it looked to me as if our young Tory had got himself in a position to field a cricket ball rather than make a tackle) and the ref had no option but to give a pen. The pantomime villain stepped up to take the kick, only to allow Cech to make a one handed block which went away from the goal rather than back towards fatty. Cue wild celebrations – it was just like scoring a goal. Two one and things could have gone tits up quickly, but with a two goal lead we were still cruising. Great fun.

Conceding and then saving the penalty woke up both the crowd and the team. We looked comfortable from that moment onward, even with Calum having to deputise for Shkod. The third goal came with a quarter of an hour to go when Micki and Auba reversed roles allowing the Armenian to notch another Arsenal goal so quickly after his crucial effort against Milan. The Emirates crowd even produced a little volume, asking Mr Deeney if he knew what the score was. To his credit, he did seem to be smiling, the hideous gargoyle.

Ratings

(Ratings are always subjective and always likely to be swayed by confirmation bias. Some like them, others don’t – perhaps it’s worth remembering that they’re there to give you something to bounce off.)

Cech – A save from a penalty against our Troy, no flapping and 200 clean sheets, lovely … 9

Maitland-Niles – a few sloppy passes didn’t detract from a quality performance, defended well with both interceptions and tackles, while looking smooth with the ball at his feet  … 7

Mustafi – Excellent early header, drove the defence and looked more like the leader he could be. Hope his groin isn’t too sore this morning  …7

Holding – All of our defenders struggle against the high press when the rest of the team do not give enough options for a pass, Rob was no exception. Made some fine tackles and blocks, and was even making better decisions about when to just get rid, TA6 style as the game progressed  … 7

Kolasinac – Improving as an Arsenal player, whether that’s partly down to the standard of opposition or down to eating less fish and chips, we’ll find out later  … 7

Elneny – Had a fine game in the centre. Chosen to start alongside Xhaka we might have thought that the midfield would look a bit static and lacking forward drive, but Mo provided plenty of thrust and no small measure of forward attacking passes, too … 8

Xhaka – Granit’s form is improving game by game, his defensive positioning is better and I still love his left foot  … 7

Ozil – No subjective rating is ever possible for Mesut, he oozes class and the number of goals and great chances he creates is testament to that  … 8

Mkhitaryan – Looking more like an Arsenal player with each game, should have had a penalty which Atkinson (Fifa referee, yeah right) chose to ignore to add to his goal and assist … 8

Iwobi – Watching Alex from the upper tier, you can see that he’s seeing great passes all the time, it’s just that, at the moment, his execution is lacking somewhat. It’ll come, keep working hard BIG17  – 6

Aubameyang – Settling in nicely, once he gets his razor-sharp finishing back up to scratch, his partnerships with Mesut and Micky could be most productive  – 7

Subs – Chambers slotted in well, Danny produced a rasper and Jack came on for no good reason.

chas     

 


Revenge – A Prayer for Owing Deeney – Watford Preview

March 11, 2018

And so we’re back to the League, 13 points from top 4, 8 behind 5th, Burnley only 2 behind over our shoulder, what sort of team do we put out? Thursday’s return leg against Milan has to be our overriding priority, but team confidence and momentum are important, too. I certainly wouldn’t go as far as Micky suggested on Friday and rest the whole team!

Chubster Troy Deeney has featured in much of the build-up during the week with the media absolutely loving being able to drag up his ‘lack of cojones’ comments made after our defeat in October. My overriding memory of that game was the ridiculous penalty awarded for a Richarlison dive which got Watford back in the game when they were dead and buried.

Arsenal were stunned to be on the wrong end of yet another appalling refereeing decision but that’s still no excuse for the abject capitulation which occurred from that moment onwards in the game. The execrable Deeney crashing into Cech just before the winner was scored, was also vital. Watford had two shots on target in the whole game. We owe Bellend of Troy some retribution.

Team news

Our two replacement fullbacks in Milan both left the pitch with injuries apparently (the Chambers knock is a surprise to me, though it seems he is in the squad). Maitland-Niles has to play in that case and I’d imagine we’ll also see an outing for Rob Holding. Maybe a back three might make best use of available resources.

Aubameyang will be raring to go after missing our Europa win and it will be great to see Micki and Mesut supporting him while continuing to build their own budding understanding. Maybe give Xhaka and Rambo a rest?

Team

We have to build on that magnificent performance in Milan. I’d love to see us come out all guns blazing, closing down, shifting the ball quickly and nabbing a few sharp goals early on.

Post Mr Deeney’s photo plus quote from October up in the dressing room as a teamtalk.

Should be all that’s required, surely?

chas   


Losing Faith In Arsène

March 10, 2018

This post was written by the inimitable RockyLives on October 23rd 2012. It’s worth another look, not only for the superlative nature of the writing but also the sentiment. Read until the end else you’ll miss something. Ah, Rocky. 

Saturday’s defeat at Norwich affected me much more than is normally the case with our setbacks and I have spent the last couple of days trying to figure out why.

Usually in the wake of a bad defeat (or even a depressing draw, like the 4-4s against Newcastle and Totteringham) I am able to keep things in perspective.

But on Saturday evening perspective was nowhere to be found: it was off cavorting somewhere with Lord Lucan and the Loch Ness Monster.

In yesterday’s Post Kelsey said: “That was one of the worst team performances I have seen for many a season.”

I would go further: it was the worst performance I can remember from Arsenal since Arsène Wenger took charge.

Casting my mind back to earlier horrors, there was always either an extenuating circumstance or something positive to grab hold of.

Collapsing 8-2 at Old Trafford? Well, we were a club in turmoil with a team comprising mostly youths and reserves.

Drawing 3-3 at home to Norwich during the run-in last season? The defence may have gone missing but at least we scored three.

Going from 4-0 up to finish 4-4 in the debacle at Newcastle? Again, we scored goals. Plus Joey Barton behaved despicably to get one of our players sent off and Phil Dowd gave the worst refereeing performance that this spectator has witnessed in more than 40 years.

I could go through many more examples (sadly) and there would always be some crumb of comfort to take away from the mess. But not on Saturday.

On Saturday we were so poor that the only crumbs were little bits of broken dream, dissolving dismally into the East Anglian turf.

Going forward, we were as toothless as a granny with gingivitis. At the back, we were as impregnable as an Essex girl on a Saturday night. And in midfield we made so many backwards passes we might as well have been playing rugby.

The three pillars of successful football – Skill, Passion and Determination – were absent without leave, away with Lucan and Nessie.

Of course, as you probably know, the disappointment hit me harder this time because I truly believed that we had put those sorts of performances behind us. Not that we would never again have bad results – that happens to everyone – but that there would be no more examples of just not turning up for a game that was  there for the taking.

In recent seasons I have felt that these kinds of showing were down to an inherent psychological weakness in the squad – one that also always manifested itself in our traditional late-season collapses.

And the weakness I blamed on the fact that the balance of the squad was wrong: too many young players who did not know what it took to win the big prizes. And that we also had players who were disruptive to good team spirit (like Nasri and Adebayor).

This season no-one can say we don’t have experienced, mature players throughout the squad: Mertesacker, Arteta, Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla for starters. And there seems to have been a good sense of camaraderie among the players so far. The only potentially disruptive factor has been the on-going saga of Theo’s contract, but you just don’t get the sense that he is someone who would cause trouble in the dressing room.

I know we have a lot of injuries, but when I saw the starting 11 for Saturday’s game I was happy we had a team capable of bringing home the points.

So when we lost in such a timid fashion, my train of logic went like this: here we are again with another abject surrender; but we now have mature players; we no longer have the disruptive elements… so it must be down to the manager and his team.

I do not for one second believe we lost because we were tired from international travel; or that we were complacent. Other teams also had many players on international duty and they did just fine. And we have had so many bad results to lower placed teams in recent seasons that the complacency thing doesn’t wash.

What was lacking, I felt, was any sense of motivation from the team. And the man ultimately responsible for motivating them is the manager.

If you look for a link between all the bad performances of the past five or six years, it’s not the players: the personnel have changed so much that our current team is barely recognisable from even two season ago; it’s not even the silent whipping boy of some supporters, Pat Rice. Pat has left and the man everyone wants to replace him is now in his position; the only link is Arsène Wenger.

In my post-Norwich doldrums I started to realise I was losing faith in Arsène. And that’s why this defeat hit me harder than any previous one.

Losing faith in Arsène is like falling out of love with your wife. It can creep up on you and before you know it, you’re looking at someone you have known for years as if they are a stranger.

The things that were so appealing, so charming – the windmilling arms, that way of drawling “weeellll…” at the start of every answer, the silly knee length puffer jacket – suddenly look silly. Unattractive even. But that’s enough about my wife. A similar effect was starting to happen with my view of Arsène.

In a marriage you can go to a relationship counselor who might just make you realise that the woman you always loved is still there, it’s just that current circumstances have got in the way of you seeing her properly.

In a football relationships, there are no counselors but there is good counsel to be found. And I found it here in the comments of Arsenal Arsenal. I read a litany of disappointment and disbelief. But, as the shock of that awful performance wore off, I also read many comments putting it down to “a bad day at the office.”

And while there has, perhaps, been a reassessing of expectations for this season, many commenters also pointed to the optimism we felt after the West Ham and Liverpool wins; to the quality of our performance against Man City. Surely the team that did so well in those games can not have vanished overnight?

There IS a link connecting all our poor performances of recent years. But it’s not Arsène (or at least, not a failure on his part to motivate players). The link is the changing economics of football.

This link forced us (rightly) to build a bigger stadium, with the period of austerity that it inevitably brought; it meant that when sugar daddy owners came on the scene they could skew the market for players to such a degree that even a club like Manchester United can no longer compete equally; and it meant a club like Arsenal, running itself sustainably, would suffer defections of key players at bad moments.

That’s the link that has left us now with a team in which several regular starters have only been with the club a few months; a team, therefore, that will inevitably stutter occasionally as it gels together; a team that has lost the EPL’s top goal scorer and player of the season; a team that gets lambasted by the ignorant press for not adopting the sort of Gordon Gekko economics that have bankrupted the entire nation.

No manager could have produced a title winning team during that period. In fact, no manager could have kept a team in the top four throughout all those crazy years.

Except that one man did: Arsène Wenger.

My faith wobbled, but it has come back stronger. We may win nothing this year. We may not even finish in the top four. But Arsène is still the right man at the helm and the tide in football finances is turning ever so slowly in our favour.

And I have a funny feeling that this version of Arsène’s Arsenal is going to surprise us all.

Written by RockyLives


Milan 0 Arsenal 2 – Witnessing A Miracle in Milan – Player Ratings

March 9, 2018

The psychology of the human, or is it the human psychology? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it is a funny old thing. Bit like football.

I have just scanned down the list of the remaining 720 sides left in the Europa, and Milan are, by some considerable margin, what we would call the historically ‘biggest’ named team remaining.

Of course they are nowhere near the Milan of old, but an away win in their home town at the legendary San Siro must feed the psychology of the Arsenal footballer a huge dose of positive vibrations.

Those select, nay elite, few of us who actually managed to watch the entire second half unaided, may have missed the two goals that knocked the stuffing out of the Italians, I wouldn’t know, but not only will our players take confidence into the second leg but into the rest of the competition.

I’m sure we’d all rate Atletico as the biggest threat, but come on, beating them is certainly not beyond us, and I believe our chances would be improved by meeting them in a one off game like the final as opposed to an earlier round two-legger.

Ok, the game itself. For previously mentioned reasons, I might not be best placed with the detail, in any case, I don’t like detail so I’m very much in my comfy zone here.

The team pretty much picks itself which is a real positive. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I think Granit is a fine player, just not best suited to our own team’s needs in the more frantic English League, however he looked way more comfortable on a pitch with our continental neighbours. You may think it strange that I pick out this particular individual, but this defensive midfield spot is our Achilles heel in the league.

Not sure how serious The Beast’s injury is, but M-N looked absolutely superb. Confident, composed and very very capable.

That’s it. Me done. Over to you Arsene. Rest the whole lot against Watford I say.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Ratings (chas)

Ospina – Another clean sheet, his pace off the line is both his strength and also his weakness, made some excellent interceptions though, so gets a deserved pass – 7

Chambers – Calum must have found playing in a team running its nuts off to support one another so much easier than playing during Sunday’s debacle, nearly scored with a left foot half volley belter  – 7

Koscielny – Really focused and oozing assurance, watching those scary Gattuso videos must have helped get him ‘in the zone’ – 8

Mustafi – another who grew in confidence as the team began to play football again, a warrior when he’s not acting like a tart – 7

Kolasinac – gained in confidence along with the team until he got injured, needs to work on his final ball, though has probably forgotten what you do when you reach the byline – 7

Ramsey – he covers so much ground trying to find space and his ability to pop up in support of the striker is crucial to our style of play, I so love it when you see an Arsenal player round the keeper, it’s as if you can start celebrating a whole half second before the ball is over the line – 8

Xhaka – playing in Europe you could see Granit’s class, his passing and defending were excellent away from the frantic white noise of the Premiership – 8

Wilshere – Jack seemed to be playing further forward than expected, linked very well with his midfield partners, a competent display   – 7

Ozil – two assists, you could visibly see him enjoying playing in a team that was playing football once more and he ran his legs off   – 7

Mkhitaryan – his quality shone through, crucial goal to cement the team’s fine start, a proper footballer, that’s why he didn’t get on with Mourinho – 8

Welbeck – Vast improvement from the MTH, constantly closing down, finding space and holding the ball up well. Much talk about his mishit but I thought the Milan player running behind just clipped his heel, anyway, everyone catches one fat every now and then – 8

Subs

Maitland-Niles – so cool on the ball, his pace is a wonderful asset – 7

Holding and Elneny – slotted in and did what was asked of them – 7

Manager

Big Weng – got everything right, Gennaro who? – 9


Time to Stand Up and Be Counted, Arsenal

March 8, 2018

So, who’s feeling confident about tonight? Are you thinking that a win might be too much to ask for? Or a draw, especially with an away goal or two, something to celebrate wildly? Perhaps a narrow defeat leaving all to play for in the second leg?

Expectations in the classier side of North London are so low after our current run of form that it really is anybody’s guess as to the outcome. Which Arsenal side will turn up?

As for Milan, well they were covered in yesterday’s post. Their current run of form has coincided with an easier run of fixtures so, perhaps, exaggerates how well they are actually playing. One thing’s for sure, the Milanese packing the Giuseppe Meazza stadium this evening will be confident and fiercely partisan.

Team news

Without Bellerin and Monreal available, it is essential that Calum and The Beast play to the best of their abilities. Remember, we reached the CL Final in 2006 with a record-breaking back four of Flamini, Toure, Senderos and Eboue, so all things are possible. Up front Danny must make a real nuisance of himself – perhaps a goal in Milan will give him the boost in confidence he needs to burst out of his shell with fire and passion.

Discipline both in midfield and defence is a must. The referee will have to be strong to resist being swayed by the crowd at every half tackle and dive.

 Team

Team talk from Al Pacino and Winston Churchill 

“I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional season all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Heal inch by inch, play by play till we’re finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me and we can stay here and get the sh*t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or too early you don’t quite make the tackle. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite get a shot in. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

I’ll tell you this, in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you are gonna do the same thing for him.

That’s a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is.
Now, whattaya gonna do?”

“We shall defend our Club, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the wings, we shall fight in the penalty areas, we shall fight in attack and in midfield, we shall fight the barbarian hordes of Milan; we shall never surrender.”

chas


Raging Bull – Gattuso Promises Arsenal an Ugly Night

March 7, 2018

Gennaro Gattuso was born in Corigliano Calabro a picturesque but relatively poor town in Calabria, Southern Italy. He’s married to a Scottish woman of Italian descent (an explosive combination if ever there was one) and his reputation of being a man with a short fuse has added fuel to the fire of their tempestuous relationship.

Beginning his career at Perugia, he was signed by Walter Smith at Glasgow Rangers when only 19 years old. He quickly became a cult hero on the banks of the Clyde with his ‘mad dog’ careering style – the Glaswegians were unused to Italians who didn’t cruise about in expensive suits. Paul Gascoigne at Rangers at the same time must have produced a rather volatile dressing room atmosphere.

Gattuso’s playing career really took off when he was signed by AC Milan in 1999. He enjoyed 12 productive years at Milan before an eyesight problem forced his early retirement in 2013. When playing colleague, Andrea Pirlo was dropped into a deep-lying  “trequartista”role, ‘Rino’ became the perfect foil for the cultured playmaker. Complimented by the close presence of Clarence Seedorf, with Inzaghi and Shevchenko up front and Rui Costa in behind, a formidable Milan emerged. Kaká, Rivaldo, Hernán Crespo, Christian Vieri all played in front of the twin engine midfield of Gattuso and Pirlo. Unsurprisingly, Milan won the Champions League twice in 2003 and 2007.

One of Gattuso’s most appealing moments from the point of view of an Arsenal supporter came in 2011 when he grabbed Joe Jordan of Tottnumb Hotspurs by the throat during a CL game. There was also a reported headbutt after the match.  Joe Jordan had played for AC Milan himself after his succesful time with Leeds and the red mancs in England.  Gattuso’s agent’s statement that Jordan called the player “a f****** Italian bastard” seems unlikely. Gattuso was reported to have said that the verbal exchanges were “in Scottish”.

In January 2010, Gattuso opened a fish shop in his home town, presumably as some form of insurance for the end of  his playing career, but the lure of the game saw him immediately launch into various managerial exploits with differing degrees of success.

Stints at Sion (as player manager), Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa, eventually saw him return to Milan in the summer of 2017, equipped with a full coaching licence, to manage the Milan Primavera Under 19s.

Vincenzo Montella’s sacking last November, catapulted Gattuso to the head chair at the club and although Milan are currently 7th in Serie A, their form is good with 6 wins and two draws out of their last 8 games. The Milan derby last Sunday was postponed due to the untimely death of Davide Astori, so they’re relatively rested, with their last game over a week ago (they scraped past Lazio in the Coppa Italia on penalties).

Apparently 67,000 tickets have been sold by Milan for Thursday’s home leg which goes to show that North London’s finest still prove to be an immense draw. One things for sure, Gattuso will lack nothing in motivating his team to ensure Arsenal receive a very warm reception indeed.

chas

 

 

 


Arsenal Supporters – disillusioned or pathetic?

March 6, 2018

How things have changed? This is a post from dandan, our much missed and respected blogger, dated 27th January 2012.  Over six years old, yet it still resonates in an up-to-the-minute way with the current profusion of ‘fans’ who monetise Arsenal failure. Take it away, big man.

Witch hunts, apathy, delusion and greed, all pathetically wrapped up in an unshakable belief in a divine right to win. Recognise it? Of course you do. Unfortunately it describes many so-called Arsenal supporters, who today stand supreme amongst football folk in their ability irrespective of the injury situation and short of any real knowledge of the internal politics or financial situation facing the club, to defame our great club’s name just by confessing their poisonous support.

They twitter and blog in expletive enhanced anonymity, hiding behind a nom de plume often itself of a sarcastic nature, whilst venting their vile ranting’s. Should you bother to look behind the façade of these ne’er-do-well’s then you will often find the courage of their conviction is underwritten by an email address as ‘Mickey Mouse’ as the support and comments they dispense.

Of course all is not well with the club and anyone who denies that has his head in the sand, but how is it helped by Boo boys and derision.

A gaggle of players are approaching fitness again too late probably to rescue our season. So for once, perhaps, we will have to live with finishing behind the spuds and out of the top four. Big deal, if it happens we will take some stick, a mere smattering I guess compared to that we have inflicted over other supporters over the years. Let’s at least accept our fall from grace should it happen with equanimity, calm and a touch of class, secure in the knowledge that we will be back to full strength by season end, when in every likelihood there will be a clear-out, with new faces joining the first team squad.

Do I think AW will have walked away? No! I dont for a moment believe he will and nor should he. The man’s record is phenomenal and no-doubt will continue to grow in years to come, much to the chagrin of the Tony Cascarino’s and Brian Woolnough’s of this world, and the anti-brigade who follow  them. He could of course walk to a better paid job of his chosing anywhere in Europe, and given the dogs abuse he is receiving at present who could blame him. The French national team or indeed our own would be his for the asking should he wish it.  No doubt SparkyHughes or  Sam the Hammer would love the chance to take over at the THOF, much to the relief of the respective fans who have to watch their efforts at present.

Season ticket holders, many of them of long-standing are unhappy. A season ticket is a major investment in households where for many, disposable income has substantially diminished in recent years and this season’s price increase has just exacerbated the problem, leaving difficult choices to be made. No doubt for many, guilt at such expenditure creeps into the equation and when faced by lack lustre displays, perceived lack of ambition, underlined by the supposed reluctance of  the club itself, it would seem, to make reciprocal investment it is not surprising that resentment leads to a wider discontentment.

But does that give genuine supporters Carte Blanche to act in a manner that if it were directed at them or their families would undoubtedly escalate into something more serious. Or should we as Arsenal fans uphold the traditions of our great club, display a little class, weather the storm with dignity and await the cyclical turn around that is surely not far away?

Written by dandan


Tumbling into the Void – Brighton Player Ratings

March 5, 2018

Well, if that performance was the result of crisis meetings and players being asked by their children why the team is so poor, then there really is very little hope.

First Half

How is it possible that Petr Cech at 6’5″ and with the advantage of being able to use his arms cannot get to a ball above an opponent’s head? The keeper flaps 3 yards from the goal line, no defenders give him support – shambolic, 1-0.

Koscielny passes to a Brighton midfielder. Big, arching cross to a striker with two defenders in attendance, no danger. Hang on, first defender caught under the ball, second stood behind admiring the forward’s leap, goalkeeper allows the ball to bounce virtually under his creaking body, 2-0.

After 40 minutes Brighton could have been further ahead. They were first to every ball, fought like tigers and ran as if their Premiership survival depended on it. Oh, and they created all of the decent attempts on goal.

Forty three minutes gone, Auba diverts a Xhaka pass into the net. Suddenly we don’t want half time to come. Kos hits the post with a header with the keeper a bystander. Maybe if that had gone in……..

Second Half  

There was some hope of an equaliser after the break. The tempo from Arsenal increased and with that came more attempts at goal. Mesut forced the Brighton keeper into a decent save with a swerving drive. Auba had a couple of half-chances including rounding the keeper but being too wide to score.

The Beast clubbing a baby seal to death in the 65th minute and subsequent delay, killed any Arsenal momentum in its tracks. Not much of note happened in the Brighton half for the rest of the ninety. The 7 minutes of injury time were a damp squib, too. Holding on to the ball in deep midfield or defence was not what was required.

Assessment

There has been some talk that the players might as well have been publicly stabbing the manager in the back with that colossally inept display. I struggle to believe that it could have been a deliberate act but see it more a case of a bunch of frightened sailors adrift at sea with no engine, masts torn down by the storm, no rudder and without a clue how to get back to port.  Clueless.

Ratings

Cech – Clean sheets are a thing of the past – 2

Chambers – Meh – 4

Koscielny – forced by our midfield support into suicidal passes forward, may as well just hoof it – 3

Mustafi – headless chicken – 3

Kolasinac – clips of him playing for Schalke were of a dynamic attacking full back – now he’s more likely to just pass the ball back from whence it came – 4

Xhaka – an assist with a pass into the penalty area – can’t understand how he raises his arm to signal where a corner is going, the ball lands in a great spot and yet not one Arsenal player is anywhere to be seen in the landing area  – 4

Wilshere – Looks as though he wished he was still at Bournemouth – 4

Ozil – Tried to get things moving but efforts were largely futile – 5

Iwobi – Doesn’t look like a first team player anymore – even his running style looks nervous – 3

Mkhitaryan – I’d imagine he’d be very good in a team that was playing well – 4

Aubameyang – a goal at least, shame a second didn’t come – 5

Manager assessment

LBG says
If you want (really really want) to turn it round, Arsene, you have got to ‘input’ significantly. Input loud and positive change on the training ground. Input minute by minute from the bench in response to the ebb and flow. YOUR/OUR players are lost!! They repeat, repeat the method even though it isn’t working. They do not believe, and we watch you shaking your head equally not believing. Break the circle.

chas


A Flock of Seagulls – Dodging Guano

March 4, 2018

Brighton away this season seems more about building a little confidence and momentum going into the Europa round of 16 tie against AC Milan, than about a desperate search for 3 points. However, the two go hand-in-hand – a victory seems essential to restore some pride in performance after two fairly predictable defeats this week to the country’s top side.

Currently 12th, Brighton have had a good season but their League position hides the fact that they are only 4 points above a relegation spot. They will be fighting tooth and nail to ensure their survival, thus consolidating a position in the Premier League.

The Seagulls’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve been reading good things about their Australian keeper Maty Ryan, who is similar in build to David Ospina but makes up for his relative lack of height with speed, agility and great positioning. Propper, Dunk, Bong and Knockaert sounds more like a great Saturday night out to me, though I’m sure they’re all very fine professionals.

Manager Chris Hughton seems largely untainted by his seedy past association with the more excremental parts of North London. His stay at the Amex has seen a successful battle to avoid relegation in the latter half of the 2014/5 season, a creditable narrow miss for promotion the season after and last season’s march to an automatic promotion spot.

Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? As far as I can tell, only Nacho and Laca are definitely out, with Jack available again after a slight knock (or temporary withdrawal from the frontline due to his disgust at his contract offer – you choose).

Let’s see a positive response from the reported ‘inquest’ after Thursday’s game. It really is time the players performed to their abilities and gave us all some hope rather than continually letting down both the fans and our beleaguered manager.

Team

I’m going for a couple of goals for Auba. It seems harsh and hasty to judge him in any way on his Arsenal career so far. Yes, he has missed chances against the spuds, in the Final last Sunday and Thursday’s pen but he really has come into a team running at an extremely low ebb. That whole feeling of drifting towards mid-table mediocrity needs to change today on the South coast with a quality team performance featuring solid defence, sparkling creation and cold-blooded finishing.

As BR would say, “Let it be so”.

chas