Did Arsene and Arsenal waste the Club’s footballing talent of 1998-2006, coaching-wise?

March 12, 2019

My brothers will tell you I am a glutton for punishment. All my life I have been sports mad (I taught it in schools for 23 years!). I read anything and everything on almost every sport imaginable – good, bad and indifferent material.

Although football, rugby and cricket are the very top of my interest, I will find myself studying the intricacies of free climbing, or bias in curling, the mechanics of the sand wedge or transference of force in a boxing jab. (I say “almost every” – I have little regard for F1 and American Football).

Jimmy Chin – National Geographic

In addition to reading much, I listen to sport, live commentary, and the opinions of ex sportsmen, “pundits”, and those somehow (unbelievably)  provided with money to talk bowlocks about sport with little or no significant experience to justify their existence in the role.

And so (eventually) to the point of my post…….

Listening to Georgie Bingham and the fake Irishman Cascarino recently, I heard, following copious praise for how well the wonderful Man Utd had used so many of its ” golden generation” in Club coaching and managing roles, with Solskjaer being the crowning glory, that ARSENAL and WENGER had not only wasted theirs from the 1998-2006 period, but, in the case of Arsene, had a definite policy to NOT involve them in Club.

Hackles up, I started to analyse this comment.

Firstly there is Steve Bould. (Although given his “staticness” on the bench during the Wenger era, perhaps he’s more evidence for Ms Bingham’s case than anyone else!) I am fairly certain that Keown, Dixon, and Winterburn, play some part in the daily running of the Club, if not as much in the coaching of defenders role that I would like to see!

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Freddie and the BFG are now in charge of the Academy and U23s, and at that point I asked myself a question. How many of those missing do I think COULD have been usefully involved. My answer was reduced to two! I have always believed Patrick V. should have been incorporated into our set-up. ( I would still like him to be an Arsenal manager someday). And I would now have to add Marc Overmars for what seems to have been a silent but excellent role behind the scenes at Ajax.

Of the rest, TA has always been clueless to me in terms of coaching, and I believe the same might (perhaps unfairly) be said of Thierry. Sol might prove me wrong, but I doubt it. DB10 never really wanted a coaching role, and has now fallen out even with his Dutch love. Ray Parlour, Gilberto, Lauren, Manu P, Merson, Smith, Ian Wright…….COULD any of them have made it in coaching/managing at our Club? Doubtful IMO.

So have we wasted talent? Have I forgotten anyone important? What do you think?

LBG

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Dreams Can Come True

September 11, 2018

Sport is fantastic, it can infuriate, inspire, thrill, and every now and again, bring a tear to the eye. Sometimes it can get an old man out of his chair cheering when everything he wishes for comes together in a magical moment. These moments are few and far between and yesterday was one of those moments, it seems like destiny.

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I know this is a football blog but bear with me – Alistair Cook’s hundred in his final Test innings was a truly magical moment. I, and millions of other cricket fans, spent a tense morning with crossed fingers as he approached his milestone.

Cook is the highest scoring English batsman of all-time. He deserved the wonderful ovation he received and it reminded me of another occasion when a Great Man fulfilled his destiny- it was when TH14 scored in an FA Cup game at The Emirates against Leeds. Those who were there will never forget it – neither will I

Football has given us some incredible emotional occasions, Other sports do the same, for example …

Mo Farah at the London Olympics

Or Tom Brady winning the Superbowl and MVP award at the age of 40.

Or Jack Nicklaus winning The Masters at 46 y.o.

Or Mohammed Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle

Or Boycott’s 100th 100 at Headingley.

Or Lester Piggott winning the Guineas at 57 (!)

Or Tony Adams scoring vs Everton to win the title  (my favourite)

Great players create great moments.

What sticks in your mind?

written by Big Raddy


Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

April 10, 2018

2001- 02 was a very competitive season with several teams challenging for the top spot in the league. For the first 11 games an unbeaten Leeds team were the early leaders and in November they were top of the table. At the start of December Liverpool was three points clear with a game in hand, Newcastle took over as leaders at Christmas but by February Manchester United was in first place, looking to make it four titles in a row.  Arsenal was never far off the pace but they suffered their lowest point of the season during October and November taking only three points from four games. They responded to that four-game winless run in style with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United which was memorable for Freddie Ljungberg’s lob and two gift wrapped presents from Fabian Barthez which Thierry Henry happily accepted.

Notably, on the player front David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour were still going strong, while both Tony Adams and Lee Dixons careers were winding down.

Arsene Wenger brought in Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kole Toure while John Lukic. Sylvinho and Nelson Vivas left the club.

The Arsenal 2001- 02 Squad.

Seaman (17), Dixon (13), A. Cole (29), Vieira (36), Keown ( 21), Adams (10), Pires (28),Ljungberg (25), Bergkamp ( 33), Wiltord (33), Lauren (27), Taylor (10), Henry (33), van Bronckhorst (21), Edu (14), Grimandi (16), Upson (14), Luzhny (18) Campbell (31), Wright (12), Kanu (23), Stepanvos (8).

Four games after beating Manchester United we suffered our third defeat, at home to Newcastle but it proved to be the final loss of the season. (ed: this was the game  in which Graham Poll came close to being lynched after sending off Ray Parlour for two bookables and handing the game to Newcastle late on with a disgraceful penalty decision; it still makes my blood boil thinking about it). 

In the next two games we defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield with only 10 men and followed that with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day with Sol Campbell scoring his first goal for Arsenal. The next six games saw us win 3 and draw 3 ending in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Highbury on February 2 which left us toiling in 3rd position.

It would take a special effort to beat off the many competitors to the title and the draw against Southampton proved to be the game that spurred us on – it would be the last time we dropped points all season. In the final 13 games we went unbeaten, including a 2-0 win at title rivals Newcastle which will be forever remembered by Denis Bergkamp’s stunning goal. He made it look so simple, pirouetting within a split second of his flick to score the goal and leaving no doubt as to whether it was intended. Nobody has pulled off anything as special since, suggesting it was a more remarkable piece of skill than he made it appear. The fact that we all talk about it 17 years later is an indication of just how wonderful Bergkamp’s touch and intelligence was to create such an incredible goal.

Five games later we beat Tottenham 2-1 at Highbury with Lauren scoring the winning goal from a late penalty. With 2 games left in the season we met Manchester United at Old Trafford, to have any hopes of retaining their crown United had to beat Arsenal, but Sylvain Wiltord’s 55th minute winner sealed a second Premier League title for Arsene Wenger’s side. We ended the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who sneaked ahead of United on the final day.

We finished the season off in style with a 4-3 win over Everton on the final day that saw Tony Adams lift the title trophy in front of the home fans as he bowed out alongside Lee Dixon.

Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Henry, Pires and Ljungberg  all made huge contributions to our season. Henry finished the season with 24 goals in the Premier League and the Golden Boot, Pires recorded a league-high 15 assists and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award, Pires was so good that when he took his turn to lift the Premier League trophy on the last day, his team-mates bowed down in front of him.

Freddie Ljungberg scored 12 times in just 25 games and claimed the official Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Season honour.

We lost only three games, all at Highbury and went the full season unbeaten away from home in the league, scored in every game and finished the season with 13 consecutive wins.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that a week before the season ended we won the FA Cup Final beating Chelsea 2-0 with stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger was named as the Manager of the Season after winning his second double in five seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


Arsenals Top Seasons 1990-91 – Our 5th Best

March 27, 2018

On 6 May 1990, the day he was expected at Heathrow to join his team-mates on an end-of-season tour of Singapore, Tony Adams was uninjured when he crashed his car, but after subsequent breath tests he was charged with reckless driving and driving with excess alcohol, but despite the ruling was told he was free to leave the station. A trial would be arranged and he would be required in court at a later date.

 After the heights and dramatic finish in the 1988-89 season Arsenal were disappointing in 1989-90 finishing just fourth. However in Graham’s mind Arsenal were edging closer to being ready to compete with the best throughout the coming year. In the weeks leading up to the 1990-91 season he added three new players to a squad he believed needed updating. He spent £4 million and purchased QPR goalkeeper David Seaman, Norwich City defender Andy Linighan and Swedish winger Anders Limpar from Cremonese.

Arsenal, were able to kick off their season in style, away at Wimbledon’s Plough Lane, they sauntered to a 3-0 victory, soon to be followed by a 2-0 win at home to Luton. Concerns were raised with successive draws at home to Tottenham and then away at Everton, but they bounced back emphatically when Chelsea arrived at Highbury only to be sent back to South West London on the wrong end of an assertive 4-1 loss. Two more wins were quickly earned, away to Leeds and at home to Norwich, before the unbeaten Arsenal team travelled to Old Trafford.

Arsenal fans had high hopes and confident that their squad, with their very stubborn defence (just four goals against in their opening eight league fixtures) could come away victorious. They did just that but the game had an intensity that was typical of encounters between Manchester United and Arsenal and as the hour mark approached it spilled over into an all out brawl.

Despite both clubs openly admitting their wrongdoing and fining a selection of the players involved, three days after the game the FA fined both teams £50,000 for their misconduct and for their roles in bringing the game into disrepute and both clubs had points deducted. Manchester United was deducted one point while Arsenal were handed a more severe two-point deduction.

Moving on from their success at Old Trafford Arsenal remained unbeaten with 5 wins and 3 draws including the December 15th draw against Wimbledon. Tony Adams drunken driving trial took place at Southend County Court on 19 December 1990.

He was fined £500, had his driving licence revoked for two years, and was sentenced to nine months at Chelmsford Prison; five months suspended for reckless driving and a concurrent three-month sentence for driving with excess alcohol. He was stunned by the verdict. Not once had he actually considered he could end up going to prison. On 18 February Adams’ absence came to an end as he was released from prison, his initial sentence commuted due in large part to his good behaviour while inside.

 In total he missed eight fixtures; draws against Villa and Tottenham, imposing wins against Derby, Sheffield United, Manchester City, Everton, Crystal Palace, and his side’s only loss of the entire league campaign: a tragic 2-1 defeat away at Chelsea.

He made his return to action in front of 7,000 fans at Highbury during a reserve team game against Reading the reception he received from the home fans almost reduced him to tears. After a handful more fitness-finding run-outs he made the team sheet once again, just in time for his team’s trip to Liverpool which ended in a 3 -0 win.

Arsenal’s league title triumph finally came in their penultimate game of the season, on 6 May, when they triumphed 3-1 at home to Manchester United in a match where top scorer Alan Smith scored a hat-trick. Anders Limpar then scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s final fixture, a 6-1 victory over Coventry City at Highbury.

This was a season that was personified by our obdurate defense who only gave up eighteen goals, the lowest against in our history until our 1998/99 team let in only seventeen.

Division One appearances

Seaman 38, Dixon 38, Bould 38, Winterburn 38, Davis 36+1, Merson 36+1, Smith 35+2, Limpar 32+2, Adams 30, Thomas 27+4, Campbell 15+7, Groves 13+19, O’Leary 13+19, Rocastle 13+3, Hillier 9+7, Linighan 7+3, Jonsson 2, Cole +1, Pates +1.

Division One goals

Smith 22, Merson 13, Limpar 11, Campbell 9, Dixon 5, Davis 3, Groves 3, Rocastle 2, Thomas 2, Adams 1, O’Leary 1, own goals 2.

Also that season…

English sides were readmitted to European competition after serving a five-year ban, following the crowd disturbances at Heysel Stadium during the 1985 European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool.

And… John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in November 1990, bringing to an end her 11 years in office.

Written by GunnerN5


Number 6 – Mr. Arsenal

October 26, 2017

Whenever I look back on my 70 years of supporting Arsenal and the hundreds of players that I’ve watched one name always stands out in my memory – Number 6, Tony Adams who is rightfully known as Mr. Arsenal. He was born in Romford on October 10th 1966 and grew up in Dagenham. From 1971 to 1978 he was a pupil at Hunters Hall Primary School and from 1978 to 1983 at Eastbrook Comprehensive School.

He was still a 15 year old schoolboy when he signed for Arsenal in 1980 and one of his tasks was to clean the players’ boots after games.

He made his first team debut just four weeks after his 17th birthday. Along with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould he was part of the “famous back four” that formed Arsenal’s formidable defence; he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as club captain until his retirement – 14 years later.

Adams’s strong discipline of the defence was considered a factor in Arsenal winning the League Cup in 1986–87.

For Arsenal fans, there has arguably been no other player in the Club’s history who has encapsulated the spirit and quality of the club more than Tony Adams, a colossus of a defender who is considered by many as one of the finest to have played for England and Arsenal.

Sir Alex Ferguson often attempted to sign him, and at his testimonial stated, “I would love to have had him in my side, and I don’t think it’s any secret that there were inquiries made at one time from Old Trafford.”

Pat Rice, Arsenal assistant manager, stated, “what a leader, what a player, what a man.”

His successes on the field were challenged by a decade long (1980-1990) battle with alcohol. On 6 May 1990 he crashed his Ford Sierra into a wall and his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit. He was imprisoned for four months and freed after serving half of his sentence. He became one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK and his battle with alcohol is detailed in his autobiography, Addicted, which was released to critical acclaim in May 1998.

He won the First Division championship twice; the first being after our famous Friday night victory over Liverpool at Anfield which secured the 1988–89 Championship. The second was in 1990–91, after losing only once all season – (W24, D13, L1, GF74, GA18).

In 1992–93 he gained the distinction of being the captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double. Then in 1993-94 he was captain when we won the European Cup Winners Cup.

ClubArsenalFootball League First Division / Premier League (4): 1988–89, 1990–91. 1997–98, 2001–02

FA Cup (3): 1993, 1998, 2002

Football League Cup (2): 1987, 1993

Football League Centenary Trophy: 1988

European Cup Winners Cup: 1994

FA Charity Shield (2): 1991 (Shared), 1998

PFA Young Player of the Year: 1987

PFA First Division/Premier League Team of the Year (4): 1987, 1994, 1996, 1997

PFA Team of the Century (1907–2007): Team of the Century 1997-2007

Premier League 10 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2001-02) Overseas Team of the Decade

English Football Hall of Fame: 2004

Football League 100 Legends

Number 3 on Arsenal.com top 50 players.

Number 3 on Arsenal Arsenal top 50 players.

 

Member in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)

A statue honouring Adams was unveiled at Emirates stadium on 9 December 2011.

Written by GunnerN5


Better Days?

January 11, 2017

 

The Old Days. We always think they were better …

Would you exchange the better standard of football we see every season at The Emirates for the mud and passion of Highbury?

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Why do I long for a TA/Steve Bould  tackle which would “let the player know you are there” as opposed to the Guardiola idea of staying on your feet?

Some of the intricacy of our current teams passing football is beyond ken but I yearn for a Radford bullet header from a hopeful punt from George Armstrong. Why is hoofball so looked down upon as a short-term tactic?

Why did the architects of The Emirates build the stands so far from the pitch? It makes the paying punter spectators as opposed to being fans involved in  the play as we were at Highbury. Why can’t PL stadiums have a standing section?

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Football has become sanitised (IMO). Is the sport better for it?

p.s. This post was inspired by a photo of the tunnel at Arsenal Tube Station published by Chas.

written by Big Raddy


New Years Day

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year to all Gooners. May your 2015 be filled with joy and silverware and may your enemies be smitten by a plague of locusts followed by an eruption of boils.

Not easy playing on NYD. I am sure Adams, Parlour and the other members of the Tuesday Club would have struggled – a night on the sauce followed by a chilly trip to Southampton would have a severe test but they would have overcome both the Saints and a long night of fags and ale.

However, the Saints of Adams day are a far cry from the excellent teams of Pocchetino and Koeman, I remember a trip down to St. Mary’s as one to savour and an easy 3 points – it won’t be so this afternoon. Even without Schneiderlin and (possibly) Clyne, the Saints are formidable opponents.

I am full of admiration for Southampton. They play good football, develop players, buy in cheap but quality replacements for their sold stars and run a tight ship.

We scraped past them at the Emirates (Sanchez tap in from a Ramsey pass) and a little One-Nil to the Arsenal would be a very pleasant way to start the year.

We have selection difficulties (as ever), particularly upfront but this also gives opportunities, Campbell may start today or perhaps we will finally see the return of Theo Walcott. IMO Walcott is a vital cog in this team  – we have missed him. Thankfully the defence are all available for selection. Midfield? No Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Ozil – surely Rosicky will start or will be see the Coq/Flamini axis?

No tactics today. No in-depth study of the opposition, no look at the referee bias. Sorry about that! But I will take a little peek at their food stuffs – unsurprisingly they eat a lot of ice cream – nothing to get too excited about – but in my research I discovered one of my childhood heroes was born here. See below.

Can we win? It will be tough and we are the underdogs. Given all the injuries and lack of firepower I would take a point.

written by a worse for wear Big Raddy