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?

Arsenal-Supporters.png

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

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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


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 12 …… Players with the most club appearances. No. 1

May 2, 2014

Lets have a look at the only four players who have each made over Six Hundred appearances for Arsenal.

We start off with the only player to have played in over Seven Hundred games, David O’Leary; he is also the only player to have played for Arsenal in Twenty consecutive seasons. He appeared in an amazing Seven Hundred and Twenty Two games, from 1973 to 1993, a record that will be extremely difficult to exceed.

o leary

He was born in Stoke Newington, London on 2 May 1958 and moved to live in Dublin at the age of three. David played for Shelbourne as a schoolboy and signed for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1973. He quickly progressed through the ranks at Highbury, playing in the reserves at the age of 16. He made his first team debut  against Burnley on 16 August 1975, and despite being only 17, went on to make 30 appearances that season. For the next ten years he was ever-present in the Arsenal side, playing more than 40 matches a season (except for 1980–81, where he was injured and only played 27). When the former Arsenal manager George Graham was put in charge at Leeds United in September 1996, O’Leary was installed as his assistant. He remained in this position for two years until Graham moved to Tottenham.

David was voted into 21st position in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players list.

Honours with Arsenal

Football League First Division

Winner: 1988–89, 1990–91

FA Cup

Winner: 1979, 1993

Runner-up: 1978, 1980

Football League Cup

Winner: 1987, 1993

European Cup Winners’ Cup

Runner-up: 1980

Records with Arsenal

Most appearances: 722

Most consecutive seasons 20

Youngest player to reach 100 and 200 games

400 appearances under the age of 26

These are some of his thoughts after Arsenal won the FA Cup replay in 1993.

“We did a lap of honour with the trophy and before I got to the tunnel I thought to myself “‘this is the last time I’ll ever wear the Arsenal jersey again”. It was an amazing night, a brilliant way to end 20 years, but it was such a sad night for me as well.”

It was a night that stretched well into the early hours as the players let off steam after making history. And O’Leary went home with an extra companion when the celebrations finally died down.

“That night – I’ll always remember this – I took the FA Cup home. No one else seemed to be responsible for it so I took it with me.

“My wife drove us home and I remember sitting in the front with the FA Cup in my lap and somebody pulled up at the lights, seconds before it went green, and he looked over and then looked over again, thinking ‘is that David O’Leary with the FA Cup?!’ We pulled away and I still don’t know if that guy thought he was imagining things.

“I remember getting home that night and I thought, if my house gets robbed they are not going to take the FA Cup, so I took the cup up to my bedroom. My kids were young then and the following morning they came in and saw the FA Cup there on the side of the bed.

“That morning I took it to the club and gave it to Ken Friar. I said goodbye to Ken, I actually went to the steps of the old directors’ box at Highbury, had a look out there for the last time, and said to myself ‘hey, it’s been a fantastic 20 years, I’ve been so proud to play here, thanks for putting up with me’.

“Then I walked away, and that was that.”

(Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc.)

The player with the second most appearances at Six Hundred and Sixty Nine is Tony Adams, he played for a total of 19 seasons from 1983 to 2002.

tony-adams 1
Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham, signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

Tony placed 3rd in the Arsenal Arsenal best all time player poll.

Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League

Honours with Arsenal

First Division/Premier League: 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02

FA Cup: 1992–93, 1997–98, 2001–02

Football League Cup: 1986–87, 1992–93

FA Community Shield: 1991 (shared), 1998, 1999

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1993–94

Runner-up:

Premier League: 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01

FA Cup: 2000–01

Football League Cup: 1987–88

FA Community Shield: 1989, 1993

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994–95

UEFA Cup: 1999–2000

UEFA Super Cup: 1994

Individual Honours

PFA Young Player of the Year: 1987

PFA Team of the Year: 1994, 1996, 1997

Member in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE): (1999 Birthday Honours)

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

Fantasy Teams of the 20 Seasons – Premier League 20 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2011-12)

The player with the 3rd most appearances is George Armstrong, he played in Six Hundred and Twenty One games, in 16 seasons from 1961 to1977.

george-armstrong

Born in Hebburn, County Durham, George joined Arsenal as a youth player in August 1961. He made his debut against Blackpool in 1962 while he was still 17 and by the 1963-64 season he had become a regular in the side.

Over his long career with the Gunners, George became one of Arsenal’s most consistent players, and was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing; he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right. As he matured, he became one of the few players of the Billy Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright’s successor Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side, which ended the club’s long trophy drought.

After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967-68 and 1968-69, George helped the Gunners win the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970-71 League and FA Cup double; he was a regular in the Double-winning team that season, setting up a number of goals for his team-mates, which included teeing up Ray Kennedy’s winning header against Tottenham Hotspur, in the match that won Arsenal the League title. He was also voted Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1970.

In 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England and joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he remained at for the remainder of his life, despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent.  On 31 October 2000, while conducting a club training session he collapsed after an unexpected brain haemorrhage; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

George had a pitch named after him at the Arsenal F.C. training ground, in London Colney

The player with the 4th most appearances is Lee Dixon, Lee appeared in Six Hundred and Nineteen matches in 14 seasons from 1988 to 2002 .

Lee Dixon of Arsenal

Born in Manchester, he was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, to Manchester United. This was the first time that he had played in the First Division and it took a while for him to be given a first team role at Highbury. Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar role of right back, though Lee did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years.

He and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while Captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O’Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together and were the foundation stones of much of Arsenal’s success.

His career at Arsenal saw him collect four league champion’s medals, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91.

His retirement came at the end of Arsenal’s domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club.

Lee came in 18th place in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players poll.

GunnerN5

 

 


Quotes of the Year: Arsenal New Year(ish) Quiz

January 6, 2014

What a fine year 2013 was. We were the best team in England during the past twelvemonth, confounding the doom sayers and the “experts” who make a living from sitting on TV studio couches with too-tight trousers and bad haircuts. Now 2014 is a few days old and Gunners everywhere will be hoping for more of the same. Today, for a bit of a diversion, I thought we all might like a bit of fun. Below is a list of quotations relating to The Arsenal, all made during 2013. All you need to do is match the quotes to this list of fine (and not-so-fine) folk: Arsene Wenger, Piers Morgan, Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Sugar, Andrei Arshavin, Per Mertesacker, Ivan Gazidis, Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Santi Cazorla, Andre Villas-Boas, Harry Redknapp.: All answers are at the end. Good luck. Arsenal Related Quotes of 2013

  1. No mobile signal in directors box, assumed was correct. Composed tweet in stand, got sent after game.”
  2. Arsenal cannot win the league this season, no way, they haven’t proved anything yet.”
  3. I promised myself I would make sure I did things well and, considering the money that Arsenal spent on me, I didn’t want to let anyone down.”
  4. What does Wenger see in Ramsey? A complete and utter liability.” (January 2013).
  5. We are on an upward spiral in terms of confidence and they (Arsenal) are on a negative spiral in terms of results. To get out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”
  6. I wouldn’t compare the two squads (Arsenal and Tottenham). Tottenham are much stronger, no doubt.” (August 2013).
  7. It felt like the crowd (at Arsenal) was at the theatre – good seats, expensive tickets and they wanted to see a show, not to support the team.”
  8. It can’t just be all happiness, peace and pancakes.”
  9. Don’t mind and don’t care.” (On being asked by journalists for a reaction to Tottenham being knocked out of the Europa Cup by Basle).
  10. “Yes there is a poster of Gareth Bale in Times Square, but he no longer plays for Tottenham – he now plays for one of our rivals!‘”
  11. “I am greatly honoured to have been appointed _______  of Arsenal Football Club. This is one of the great clubs in the game, recognised and loved by millions. I am looking forward to leading the Club to future success.”
  12. “If they just wanted a figurehead, they should have gone for me. It would have been a better visionary decision.”

RockyLives

Scroll down the page to find the answers ………….

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Answers to Quiz:

1. Lord Alan Sugar, after getting Spuds fans all excited about a non-existent Newcastle goal against Arsenal on the final day of the season)

2. Alan Shearer

3. Santi Cazorla

4. Piers Morgan.

5. Andre Villas-Boas

6. Harry Redknapp

7. Andrei Arshavin

8. Per Mertesacker (explaining why he roasted Ozil for not saluting the away fans)

9. Arsene Wenger

10.  Ivan Gazidis

11. Sir Chips Keswick on being announced as Peter Hill Wood’s successor as Chairman

12. Tony Adams, responding to the appointment of Sir Chips.

RockyLives


The return of the prodigal son… yeah, but which one ?

December 19, 2013

While we (still) sit pretty on top of the league, between two fixtures against sides that more than one Nostradamus-wanna-be pundit would have seen ahead of us by the end of the year, many attribute this success to the managerial consistency/continuity. But if the recent rumors of Arsène Wenger finally putting pen to a new three year contract in January will have fans rejoice about the stability ahead, the fact that Le Professeur will be 67 by the end of it has people start to consider a successor to the Frenchman (some started a while ago but they obviously have poor judgement so we won’t pay attention to them).

There’s a plethora of great coaches around, people with impressive careers and their bags full of trophies. But with The Arsenal’s tradition of welcoming back its former legends to see them work for the glory of the club, it is tempting to put the spotlight on these once top, top quality players and choose among them the One that is to lead us upon to the next chapter of our history.

Doing so would also ensure a relative continuity and is especially tempting due to the recent actuality seeing a lot of these aforementioned legends coming out, One about his hopes towards club and board, One about his views on the British coaching community and its segregation problem, One with a book, One with a documentary, and so On, I mean on.

I chose from the squads up until the Invicibles, considering most of those who came after are still playing. And with the idea of continuity in mind, I decided to choose only among the players that played under Arsène Wenger. So here you have it, among the players that graced the red and white shirt from 1996 to 2004 is the One. Pretty limited you will say, also considering that not every player, not even every great player, is coach material (that’s what club ambassador posts are for), and yet there is still quiet a few noticeable names that come out. So without further ado, here are the contenders.

Patrick Vieira (37) – The “Demolition” One

I will start with the One at the origin of this poll idea. Paddy’s declaration, though probably taken out of context by the media, about Arsenal’s lack of leadership threw discord among fans with some of them stating he was dead to them while others affirming their love for him, adding that they would be glad to welcome him back at the Arsenal, possibly as a coach.

Considering Patrick Vieira was only appointed as Manchester Shitty’s new reserve team and “Elite Development” (*Cough* what a load of crap) squad manager in May, it is still early to judge his managerial credentials. But, eager to find more so that you have all the information you need to make your judgement, I crossed the enemy lines to gather some intel. Yes, I went on the Shitty web site, looked through their video archives and finally got my hands on the Inspector Gadget’s post nomination interview. What I wouldn’t do for you guys. Paddy, it’s all on you !

To make it short, a few things popped out. The love of collective football he says he retains from his early age, playing with friends. The sense of responsibility he wants to instill in the young players as well as a winning mentality. For that last One, reflecting on Paddy’s declaration that he thought “Arsenal lacked what it takes to win dirty”, we all know what he means. And I for One am a little worried someone like him could coach the team, because that is so not Arsenal.

Dennis Bergkamp (44) – The “Godly” One

Here again it is hard to gauge Dennis Bergkamp’s managerial career. Slightly ahead of Vieira for he has already been in charge of a youth team and is now assistant manager of a team of the importance of Ajax Amsterdam, it is also good to note that the head coach under whom he is working, Frank DeBoer, is considered as One of the ascending talents of European football management. Undertaking the rebuilding of the mythical Dutch club, DeBoer has won three league titles in two and a half years at the helm. Learning from the mistakes that saw Ajax disappear from the European scene for a while, he is betting on youth and has revolutionized their academy. No doubt, seeing these methods baring fruit, Bergkamp could be tempted to consider them for his yet in gestation managerial style. That plus his Total Football education, Stillness, Speed, and the love for Attack he shared with Wenger and you might get a glimpse at what Iceman as a manager could look like.

Unfortunately, Bergkamp could have also been named the “Non-flying” One. And as long as his aerophobia problem isn’t solved, it is hard to see him appointed head coach of a team playing European football year in year out.

Tony Adams (47) – The “There’s only One Tony Adams” One

Mr Arsenal had an amazing career as an Arsenal player. He is the only One to have captained a major club in three different decades, and to the first League Cup and FA Cup double in England. He is One of the “Famous Four”, the back four that made the fame of the Arsenal offside trap. On his way to redemption after alcoholism blighted his career, Big Tone is a deep an attaching character. “In March 2003, BBC Sport named Adams as the former Arsenal player that the club would most benefit from returning” (Wikipedia). And he wants to return ! In June of this year, Adams said he had postulated to enter the board only to be snubbed and see Chips nominated. Now a board position isn’t exactly a coach position (not even close actually) but Tony clearly stated he would do anything at the club, even the tea, so I guess that also means head coach. At the same time he suggested Arsenal was ill prepared in case Arsène Wenger decided to leave. Very subtle.

Unfortunately, like mentioned above, not every great player makes a great coach. And with an average record of 27.73% wins in his three different spells as a manager, and a habit of quitting or being laid off within a year, Adams isn’t exactly in the league of an Arsenal coach contender.

Steve Bould (51) – The “Baldy” One

“He has no hair, but we don’t care ! ” Another of the “Famous Four”, Steve Bould has already an interesting managerial career to show off. Appointed head coach of the Academy team, he won two Premier Academy League and a FA Youth Cup. He knows the young guns and they know he can lead them to victory. How’s that for continuity ? Assistant Manager since last season, Bould bolstered our defense. His style might be very different from Arsène’s attacking style, but the same way, as an assistant, he complemented the Frenchman’s style, the appointment at his side of a Dennis Bergkamp could do the trick. Steve Bould would also undoubtedly provide the most seamless transition but One might argue that Arsenal needs to evolve.

For all of these reasons, Bould may look like the ideal candidate, and yet there might be another One…

Arsène Wenger (64) – The “Invicible” One

Who said 67 is too old for a manager ? Especially One gifted with such cunning intelligence, meaning that even if his body couldn’t move anymore, his head would still be able to win a few league titles and the Holy Champions League Grail.

Another thing, Arsène is nothing like Ferguson and he would certainly not quit while the club is still under reconstruction. Because the record signing of this summer was only the start. The “German speaking” Öne, as we could also have named him, is the reason why Mesut signed and, let’s face it, this Bizarre Sex Appeal is his and his only. If he keeps signing top, top quality players during the next three years, will he then leave like Red Nose after BSR followed his siren chant up north ? I believe not, because Arsène isn’t after legend, he is after Legacy.

Here are the candidates.

SO FELLOW GOONERS, WHO AMONG THE FORMER GUNNERS WOULD YOU SEE AS BEST FIT TO BE THE NEXT ARSENAL COACH ?

You can vote for up to 3 choices in the poll

I apologize to those of you who were hoping for more nostalgic faces, but feel free to add any suggestion in your comments. Same thing for any player you feel should have been on this list. I also apologize for the post kind of answers to itself but I look forward to standing corrected in the comments. Let the debate begin !

Written by Benjamin Rochet


Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture


Do Players Need To Like Each Other?

November 4, 2013

Bear with me… this is, indeed, a Post about the current Arsenal team (it will get there eventually).

Way back in the early 1990s an ex Arsenal lad who had moved to pastures new was tearing up the Premier League, scoring goals for fun.

I refer to one Andrew Cole, who had two great seasons at Newcastle from 1993 to 1995.

Such was his form and prowess at the Barcodes that he earned an England call-up under Terry Venables. He made his debut as a late substitute against Uruguay – replacing a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. As Sheringham left the pitch he offered nary a glance towards the debuant; not a handshake; nor even a quick word of encouragement, far less a pat on the back. He just acted as if Cole did not exist.

The perceived insult wounded the tender soul of young Andy and he vowed never to forget it.

Fast forward a year or so and Cole signed for Manchester United where, playing alongside Eric Cantona, he continued to thrive.

But in football, as in life, fate often has a way of putting chewing gum on your bus seat and, sure enough, in 1997 Eric Cantona left United and they replaced him with Mr Edward Sheringham.

As Cole put it some years later: “In the summer of 1997, after Eric Cantona left Manchester United, Sheringham arrived. We played together for years. We scored a lot of goals. I never spoke a single word to him.”

And during that period United were certainly successful.

So does it mean that relationships between players don’t matter? That team mates can hate each other with the sort of loathing that a Totteringham fan has for bathwater?

Well, there are certainly other examples beyond Cole and Sheringham (who, let’s not forget, went to Man United but was still a runt). The Bayern Munich and Germany midfielders Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg would each have happily seen the other fed slowly into a wood chipper; and in the days of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang (younger readers, be thankful you don’t know what I’m talking about) John “Fash the Bash” Fashanu shared mutual antipathy with Lawrie Sanchez.

In fact it got so bad that Fashanu and Sanchez decided to “sort it out” during a training session. As a black belt in karate, Fashanu was expecting to teach Sanchez a lesson – but I remember Tony Adams once described Sanchez as the hardest man in football (a bit like the Pope describing someone as the holiest person on earth).

Fash’s memoirs take up the story: “Sanch gave me a shot and, give him credit, it wasn’t a bad shot. But I thought, don’t hit Sanch, don’t mark his face, and my mind went back to when Muhammed Ali fought against the martial artist in New York, and the martial artist just kicked the back of his legs until it broke the tissues in his calves and he submitted. So I thought I’d teach Sanch a lesson and gave a sweep of the legs, but Sanch has calves like most people have thighs and he didn’t move. So I gave him another couple, but Sanch came back at me. So I thought, I’m gonna take this guy out, and I hit him with one of the best shots I’d been training with – BAM! Take that, Sanch! – right in the solar plexus, a shot that would supposedly knock a horse down. And still he stood there. Then Terry Burton came over to break us up.”

Happy days.

Anyway, this question of whether it’s better for players to like their team mates occurred to me while watching our game against Liverpool on Saturday.

You will remember the chance that Luis Suarez had towards the end of the match, as Liverpool were struggling to fight their way back from the firm slapping-down which we had been administering.

Suarez profited from a mistake by the BFG and bore down on goal from Liverpool’s left side. He tried a shot which went across the face of goal and wide, not troubling Szczesny. Daniel Sturridge had been racing into the right hand side of the box and felt that Suarez should have passed to him rather than shooting. Whether or not Suarez should have passed is neither here nor there. What happened next was fascinating: Sturridge threw his arms out and back, like a child trying to be a superhero; he jutted out his chin, his eyes bulged and he donned the time-honoured countenance of the mortally outraged (think Stephen Fry being told that – no thanks – no-one was interested in his latest anecdote).

All this was directed at his team mate, Suarez. It was not a brief, understandable moment of frustration of the kind any player can be prone to: Sturridge held this tortured pose for many long seconds. His suffering began to take on Jesus-like dimensions. Poor old Suarez glanced his way but chose not to engage.

At the time I thought: “these are two players who don’t like each other: two selfish goal-grabbers who are in this only for personal glory.”  If you feel your colleague should have passed, you talk about it later – you don’t try to humiliate him in front of millions

And despite the examples mentioned above – of bitter feuds festering in successful teams – it cannot, as a general rule, be good to have disharmony within a team.

Look at Arsenal in recent years.

There is no question that we’ve had some troublesome individuals in the dressing room: Samir Nasri, who could probably make the Dalai Lama swear; Emmanuel “all about me” Adebayor; William “Slightly Deranged” Gallas.

And one of the factors in our gradual improvement has been the clearing out of the disputatious types and the forging of strong bonds between the players who remain.

There seems to be a good, mutually supportive vibe among the YBCs (the Young British Core), but experienced, level-headed foreigners like Arteta, Giroud and Mertesacker have also clearly been instrumental in creating unity and fellow-purpose.

It may be easier to say during the sort of successful period we are currently enjoying, but I really feel our squad of players like each other and are playing for each other rather than for their next big money move elsewhere. No-one exemplifies this selflessness better than Olivier Giroud, who seems as happy when he assists as when he scores.

So, to sum up, Sturridge and Suarez will continue to score goals, but football success is often down to fine margins – and not being united on the field is one of those things that can have a slight, but significant, negative impact.

Over the course of the season I would back our Harmonious Heroes to do better than ‘Pool’s Fractious Forwards. We will see.

RockyLives