Sheriff Fatman, Dein, Wilshere & Bendtner – Silly Season Indeed

A day of denials yesterday, from within and without. Firstly, Alisher Usmanov is in denial if he thinks he is going to be the owner of Arsenal in the near future. Sheriff Fatman would need a collective insanity to break out amongst shareholders to give him anywhere near enough shares to succeed. Talk of a blocking stake is just that, as The Guardian points out.

Could it be that his nose was put out of joint by the rise of David Dein, a man whose Machivellian machinations were sorely missed by the England 2018 bid. Dein is expected to be named as the new boss of the FA today and has been observing that the organisation needs to change; if he believes he will be able to make the necessary “adjustments” quickly, he too is in denial. However, no-one can doubt his ability to glad hand with the best of them, something English football has not been able to do in the Gnome HQs since the departure of Sir Stanley Rous.

Onto the players. The rise of Jack Wilshere continues, abated only by the crowing of Mario Balotelli over the award of some ‘Golden Youngster’ by an Italian newspaper. Reading the list of previous winners and you see just how highly rated Wilshere is in world football. Except of course by Balotelli who did not know who Jack was but knew he played for Arsenal. Fair play to the Italian who is fast becoming a legend in his own mind, a record of four yellow cards and a red in eleven appearances shows he is a player on whom money was well spent.

The gulf in ego’s was highlighted by Wilshere’s response on twitter whilst he also received encouragement from Cesc, including a biting response in contrast to the Balotelli. Still, the Italian proved himself a valuable squad member by giving Arsenal supporters a different player to chastise in the forthcoming clash at The Emirates, diverting abuse no doubt from Adebayor to himself. If, of course, Adebayor has not managed to find himself a new club by then.

Talking of which, hot on the heels of Denilson to Barcelona rumours (denied, of course) comes Nicklas Bendtner to Lazio. Apparently it’s not going to happen – if it ever was – because Arsene has told the Dane to fight for his place. Alledgedly. More likely, if any such conversation took place it probably went along the lines of “No, you’re not going. I don’t have enough forwards to spare.

The world of Arsenal is quiet at the moment but will explode back into life in coming days as the clash with Chelsea gets closer.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 22, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 135 Comments.

  1. 1st 🙂

  2. Dein did not get it.

  3. Not too worried about Usmanov, just a bit of posturing. I think we have reached a bit of a stable equilibrium with the balance of power on the board, that is until someone buys Lady Nina’s slice.

    Balotelli’s comments are ill-advised. Not sure what he is thinknig, seems more likely he just wasn’t. Good to see Arsenal players rising above it!

  4. Any link to that Bob? Is it official?

  5. Wilshere is becoming one of my favourite players. So grounded it seems for someone of his age. Very gracious about this Balotelli nonsense. Just seems like a lovely guy… I can see him staying at Arsenal for a long time.

  6. David Dein Chairman of the FA.Dont think so

  7. Barca drew 0-0 with Bilbao last night. Quaking in my boots… Without Messi and Villa from the start, they’re not so dangerous. We’ve been without our equivalents for most of the season. They’ll be back and hopefully in form by the time we play them…

  8. Consolsbob,
    You have to admit it’s funny that an expressed desire for new signings is immediately greeted with arguments about how we can’t afford to spend £150 million on new players, and how, even if we could, we would not be guaranteed success. A quiet chuckle to oneself is the best response.

    We have one or perhaps two attacking or creative players who consistently seem to let us down in big games, and I thought there might be a change in the summer. The number of departures in defence, however, made it difficult to make alterations in other parts of the team, both because the sum of the changes could disrupt the squad, and because there would be too little time to identify and sign the right players. Even in defence, I believe we were unable to get exactly the players we wanted. I am convinced, however, that the defenders we did sign will now be given at least a season to prove themselves. In attack, I’m not sure. Wenger said some time ago that he would not make any signings in January, and that is also what I think will happen.

  9. Not really bothered about Usmanov/Kroenke, etc. In fact i would be happy for both of them to reach 29.9% and then a 3rd person come and buy up 29.9% as well, then hopefully the 3 of them can form some sort of coalition to take our great club forward, anything is possible in business and now that Dein has been overlooked how about him taking Wenger into the boardroom as Director of Football and bringing in Bergkamp, Henry and Adams to run the first team and reserves, with Brady and Bould continuing with the academy. Seaman for goalkeeping coach.

  10. I don’t understand where people have got this £150mil figure from. It’s laughable, not just worth a chuckle.

  11. Geo
    Who the fuck in Arsenal’s team compares with Messi and David Villa? get real you rose-tinted Muppet

  12. Glen Helder for the medical team? I’ve always thought Chris Kiwomya would make a top groundsman too..

  13. Calm down you retard. Jesus, i didn’t say we have a Messi or a Villa, i’m saying ‘our equivalents’ i.e our 2 best players RvP and Cesc. You should probably read a post before launching into an attack you fucking cock.

  14. I also watched Barcelona last night. They weren’t at their attacking best as they rested a few players, but what impressed me was how hard they worked as soon as they lost the ball to get it back. Our passing will need to be at its best to work around them as they close down the ball so well when out of possession.

  15. That’s what we need to do Block, you’re right. They aren’t invincible. We just need to go into the games with belief, and with the required workrate we can win this.

  16. Another straight post pz? You will soon be replacing Passenal as the voice of reason on here. I agree with all you say as it happens. I think there might have been a few more players leaving us last summer, your point as to why that didn’t happen makes good sense.

    Morning Limpar. Thanks for your response. Truth be told I was trying to ruffle a few feathers. There has been a risk of dieing of boredom on here if all we ever posted was a reaffirmation of how bloody brilliant we are. Plus there are a few posts that just irritate the hell out of me.

    “..a dead-serious professional who doesn’t really get on with anyone – just sits in the corner chanting ‘win, win, win, win’” That’s exactly the man I want at Arsenal. What’s his name and can we afford him if we sell Kos, Denilson and Bendy?

    I take your points and hope that you are correct, much more satisfying that way. I just think that we won’t find that change from within this squad. They haven’t so far managed it and I don’t think this squad is the finished article anyway. Still, as long as they wear the shirt.

    Oh, and Henristic? Frank and I both talked about signing Villa. Two reasons. First, he was, as Diese has pointed out, an ideal signing for us. Secondly, we were having a bit of fun with the more credulous among us.

  17. Geo! Never thought I’d see you using such language. I can’t express my thorough approval enough. Good lad!

  18. Do you think we can beat them Andy? Doubt it, as we don’t have Messi and we don’t have Villa. They are superhuman after all. Pique is probably the best defender in the world, Puyol is in his prime, Alves is amazing at defending, Valdes is outstanding… Yup, they’re definitely unbeatable. May as well not bother eh?

  19. Cheers Gadget lol… I’ve got it in me for sure, i just restrain myself most of the time!

  20. What posts have been irritating the hell out of you consols? Rose tinted muppets like me??

  21. I think some people just have pre-programmed responses in their brains to certain words or phrases. All those years of ‘fighting’ doomers have taking its toll I guess, and rendered some into zombie doomer fighting types.;)
    They get in their auto-pilot-ish anti-doomer mode at the mention of spending/signing etc, irrespective of the context its been used in, not realizing how time, and our financial circumstances have changed.

  22. No Geo. I am quite capable of wearing a pair of those myself.

    I even ignore that you live in Exeter.

  23. I have to say that I’m astonished that some Arsenal fans have allowed their irrational hatred of all things Wenger to see them embrace Usmanov in the hope that he’d sack Wenger or, at the very least, force him to spend money. The Arsenal blogosphere is baffling at the best of times but this Usmanov thing makes absolutely no sense. Why would anyone want a man with a reputation like Usmanov’s to get sole control of a club like Arsenal? The folks at some so-called arsenal sites just astound me with their “opinions” sometimes.

    I’m quite happy with things as they are… if Usmanov wants a blocking vote good on him but the idea of that guy in sole charge cannot be anything that a genuine gooner could possibly want… or am I wrong here? Do we really want an autocratic and dodgy character calling the shots at a club that we must all surely hope will be there for our children to follow just as we do now. may be it’s just me but Usmanov doesn’t fill me with confidence as a prospective owner.

    The Balotelli thing has been hyped by the media as usual. I don’t find it remotely unlikely that an Italian footballer who is completely new to England may not just know of Jack Wilshere. I don’t think that Balotelli was trying to diss Jack, as the media would have us believe… he probably just didn’t know of him as he said. If the guy doesn’t really bother with the English papers and doesn’t pay all that much attention to any other team other than Man City then it’s entirely possible that he can see this name as being second on the list and wonder who the hell Wilshere is… it’s not a comment on Wilshere’s quality but an example of how insular some footballers lives are…

    I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sucked into a media generated bashing of a foreign player for an imagined slight on a young and gifted English lad, most especially as that kind of xenophobic nonsense is the a staple of the Arsenal bashers in the media and elsewhere.

  24. Thought so consols! And I appreciate you ignoring that damning fact… 😉

  25. That may be true to some extent joshua, but he also said something about taking the award to the match and reminding Wilshere who’d won it. That’s just complete arrogance, not to mention hugely immature.

  26. One notion I have no time for is that if we have £50M sitting in the bank, then we HAVE to go and spend £50M. The way it usually works is that clubs end up buying 1 £30M player for £50M.

    Why must we spend just because the money is available?

  27. Is the 150m thing all that ridiculous really? I mean if the buy-buy-buy people believe that we are 3 world class players short of sweeping all before us then we are surely looking at a total outlay of close to that figure. Let’s say we pay a transfer fee 25m each and then factor in wages and bonuses over a 5 or 4 year contract what do you get? Hey Presto! you’re close to that magical figure of 150m, even a 20m transfer fee for each of the 3 we supposedly need doesn’t leave you far off that figure… Some fans forget that it is not only the headline transfer fee that is the expenditure involved when getting a player to a club

    My take on the Wenger thing in the interview is that he basically looked at a typical annual loss of a team liker Inter, who won everything last season, and used their losses of around the 150m as benchmark for his conversation. Now the question is was he right to do so… Well yes and no… it is true that no one has actually come out and said that Wenger should spend a 150m, that much is true.. but nevertheless if Wenger were a NORMAL manager then what the fans who want him to spend on 2 0r 3 world class players are asking for in effect is a very significant outlay. After all the spend spend folks really want us to finish ahead of Chelsea and united not to talk of City (as well as do) they are currently dissatisfied and 2nd won’t soothe them either I don’t imagine… The problem is that no 3 players, no matter how good. are guaranteed to win us anything.

    And the weirdest thing about the spend- spend brigade is this… they basically assume that Wenger’s talent in the transfer market would mean that if we spent a little bit more we would be unbeatable but they never acknowledge or understand that they actually NEED the person of Wenger to do the spending! Because no other manager has shown the ability to come close to getting the bang per buck that Wenger has…. It’s instructive that spending the kind of money that some of the spend, spend people SAY that they want spent would still leave us behind Villa, Spurs and Liverpool in the transfer table… and what have these clubs won? That why some of these anti_Wenger sites crack me up: they’d want Wenger sacked so that some one can come in and spend Spurs-like money on the team and they imagine that this will GUARANTEE them success. Delusional or what?

  28. I agree with that Ole.

  29. Tut, tut… such teases you both are Consol and Frank …

  30. Defense aside, what is more concerning is our inability to score against the bigger teams. That is what worries me more than the CB pairing, which I’ve been satisfied with. Arshavin, is not a big match player, and Rosicky seems to have lost it too(lack of games too). If anything we need a creative player, someone like Arshavin but who can also perform when it matters most. An established name might instill some confidence in the team.

    Aren’t there any new kids being dubbed as the new Iniesta? We could do with one right now.

  31. I agree with Ole. That’s what i’ve been saying the last couple of days…

  32. Ole,

    Do you think that there is no position in the team where £30m or £50m or whatever the amount actually in the bank wouldn’t make an improvement? If so, fine, don’t spend any money.

    If that improvement could be made for the money that is sitting in thebank then it should be done. If not, then reduce the ticket prices, money in the bank is useless.

    I think that’s what it all boils down to.

  33. I disagree with Ole.

  34. Ole,
    To be fair I think most of the people on this blog who want us to spend don’t want it just because the money is there. They genuinely believe the squad could use externally induced improvement in some areas…

  35. I agree with the reducing the ticket prices thing too. If we make so much profit currently which can only increase, why not reduce ticket prices. That will certainly get fans buzzing.

  36. Nasri can be that player Ateeb. He did seem to freeze-up a bit in the manu game but I hope thats a temporary blip.

  37. Block 4 has it absolutely right. If the money is available and there are gettable targets whom the manager believes will improve the team then by all means lets spend the money… if we have a serious surplus and it is sitting in an account then the fans, who let’s not forget, pay probably the highest ticket prices in Europe should have their ticket prices reduced or at least frozen. It makes no sense to have aload of cash that we could be using to do work for the club sitting fallow in an account. After all it was Wenger himself who said once upon a time that money in a bank is no use to him… he’d rather have good players!

  38. Block, that money in the bank wont just disappear. It’ll be there and will be growing for a time where we desperately need a top top quality player (maybe if Cesc leaves or RvP or Nasri) that we could justify spending big on. That’s how i’m looking at it anyway.

    Wenger is the king at surprising people with his signings. I keep using Sagna as an example, but that was about as astute as it gets. If he spends, it will, almost undoubtably, be a relatively unkown player who will fit into the team both on and off the field. He wont just buy someone on technical ability, they have to have the wengerball mentality.

    I agree about the ticket price thing though for sure.

    And I agree with Henristic about Nasri.

  39. The one player that has so far frustrated me this season is Arshavin. With the current squad as it is there are a number of players who for one reason or another can be moved on and traded. Would anyone argue if we traded Bendntner for example and bring Benzema, or perhaps Rosicky for a Gorcuff (sp). The £50 million palaver is clearly a nonsense but no one can argue the point that the squad can be improved by bringing in new players and letting others go.

  40. Geo,
    If Wenger can unearth more players for relative peanuts, or even for nothing through the academy, who prove to be as good as past purchases and improve the team then great, I’m not for spending vast sums just for the sake of it. The downside of not spending available money is that he will continue to take stick for not spending available money as long as the team are not winning trophies.

  41. Runebreaker – Benzema for Bendtner would be great from a football point of view, but for a wages and personality point of view, I’d keep it how it is. Wenger won’t like Benzema’s attitude, and after playing for Real, his wages will be at least double NB52’s. And Gourcuff is overrated, like a Van der Vaart but less experienced. The type that shoots from every set piece, and generally fluffs it.

    Obviously there are better players around the world that we could buy, but unless they have the right mindset and football style, Wenger won’t risk it. Especially if they don’t represent value for money.

    Block – the downside doesn’t bother Wenger and it doesn’t bother me. when the financial rules come in, we’ll be laughing at the people giving us stick.

  42. What I do not want us to become is a club where players come and go on a seasonal basis. Buy Robinho for 40+ mil €, give him no time to settle or anything, sell him two seasons later. That is not what I want Arsenal to be in the future. A club where we have a group of mercenaries that are replaced by different mercenaries every couple of seasons.

  43. I think one problem with these fantasy transfers (sorry Runebreaker) is that they never seem to me to look at team balance and playing time. If you replace Rosicky with Gourcuff for instance would Gourcuff be willing to spend as much time on the bench as Rosicky has recently. I only ask because if Cesc and Nasri are both fit then Gourcuff won’t play.. if you say OK we play him in Arshavin’s position then we basically have to acknowledge that we may have to let Arshavin go as we also have walcott to think about.

    My point here is that it’s not as easy as letting one player go and then bringing in another. Benzema arriving would mean a whole lot less playing time for Chamakh or Benzema sitting on the bench for a significant portion of the time (would he leave Madrid for more of the same) or Robin Van Persie making way. One way or the other someone’s gonna complain very, very loudly… I mean it’s not as if Bendtner’s been silent and he ain’t as good as Benzema!

    My own opinion is that a team needs a hierachy of players not a load of players of the same ability, level and standard all fighting like ferrets in a sack. That’s the Man City model and I honestly don’t think that it works. Bottom line for me is that bringing in Benzema will need more than Bendtner to move… it might be that bendtner and Robin move on and allow JET to become the back-up player. Does that make us better than we are now? who knows..

  44. And I really doubt that City even recouped half the money they spent on him from AC.

  45. Block4,

    Every SINGLE squad can do with injection of more quality.

    There’s always a balance to be struck between action and inaction. If action will yield results then it’d be the preference. If not, then inaction can be vastly superior.

    The transfer market is not a supermarket. You don’t just walk in and pick up the right player off the shelf. Timing matters a lot. Waiting 12 months till a player is in the last year of his contract could save you £15M for example. A player not available now can be available next season. Top quality players are generally not available in January given 1 week notice.

    What about the decision to make between buying or promoting from within?

    There are so many legitimate considerations for not buying.

    As it is right now, we have a big squad with 2 internationals in each position plus, a number of first team squad players, plus 5 or 6 extremely promising youths that the club has existed much in, who understand the club’s ethos and style of play.

    There are so many considerations….it’s not par for the course that you must spend just because you have money.

    If we do spend, I hope we do it well, and every single signing is the right one for the club, not just one bought because we have money and have a vague desire to add to the club.

  46. @Ole
    Exactly, even “the best club in the world”, Barca, could improve on at least 3 or 4 positions. Casillas for Valdes, Essien for Busquets, etc. But the money they would have to spend for relative minor improvements just would not be worth it in the end.

  47. Good points well made Ole.

  48. Ole,

    I think we are agreeing violently here, I don’t advocate spending the money for the sake of it and I do unserstand that patience can be a virtue. I do keep hoping that the manager’s words prove to be correct and that this is our year. The moaning can then start about how he hasn’t added to his squad after championship wins and fails to defend the title 😉

  49. I agree with Ole… transfers are exceptional complicated at the level Wenger has to operate at.. and very easy to get wrong too. A big signing is not guaranteed to improve your team much less win you things. And as much as individual ability matters in football team cohesion matter just as much.. if not more. I think that Ole is right.

  50. We need to spend to get in some experienced winners Ole. Help our gifted youngsters win something. we clearly suffer from a mental issue in big games , either that or we aint good enough.

  51. Busquets fits Barca much better than Essien.

  52. @joshua,

    I haven’t seen anyone on here who would guarantee a big signing would equal winning trophies. The question is, would signing the right player or two increase the likelihood of winning said trophies. It’s the manager’s job to make the call on whether he signs any player and who that player is and I’m sure after the numerous stories about Wenger wearing a fake moustache to scout Reyes etc. he wouldn’t make any signing lightly. Any signing is a gamble, it’s just that the cheaper duds hurt less.

  53. I remember a couple of years ago Wenger was asked what he saw in Emmanuel Eboue, and his answer was very telling – “Eboue provides balance to the team”.

    Not surprisingly, Wenger was laughed out of that interview and shown a level of contempt that would leave you scratching your head.

    The blunt truth is that Wenger was right. Eboue is perhaps the most versatile utility player in the EPL right now. Specializes in one position, but can competently play at least 5 more positions on the field – and more importantly, he is happy to sit on the bench and come in to do a job for the team whenever called upon. Yuu can’t buy Eboue’s versatility in the transfer market. And anyone who thinks buying players is as straight forward as turning up at Billingsgate market on Saturday morning is just plain unrealistic.

    It’s the same reason why Arsenal will not consider letting go of Denilson, because he has a functional role similar to Eboue’s. No glamour, no razzmatazz – his job is very specific and very simple – and it takes advantage of his ball retention skills. Someone once called it – Receive, pass, move – that’s what Denilson does best – receive, pass, move – and by doing that, he effectively relieves a significant amount of pressure from the team and opens up new spaces to get things going again.

    Every team needs balance, and every team needs players of different talents, characteristics and temprement.

    My take is that achieving this is a very difficult balancing act, and the notion that Arsenal doesn’t buy players is as far fetched as they come. I think for those who are most vocal, the issue is that Arsenal doesn’t buy the players that are touted by the plundits and hacks and perceived to be the perfect solution.

    Take the issue of goal keepers. I heard Henry Winter lamenting the typical Mantra of Arsenal must buy a keeper in January. It’s almost like no one has been watching Fabianski and Tech 9 in the last 3 months. It’s actually insulting to the effort these two have made to earn the right to play and unthinkable that Wenger is going to go out for a new keeper in January for the simple reason that the league table suggests that Arsenal doesn’t have a goal keeping problem. The table doesn’t lie.

    And what of the so called world class keepers like Reina, Hart, Gomez and all the other so called names thrown at Arsenal. If Fabianski had made as many howlers as these keepers have, some of them so diabolical, he’d be selling the big issue in down town Warsaw by now.

    Arsenal will however, not spend money above the odds even if that money is sitting in the bank. I think we live in an age where the media arrogantly feels they have the right to dictate which players a team buys. If these so called commentators were any good at buying players and building them into a team, they’d actually be football managers instead of hacks.

    What is more telling for me – season after season – is that Wenger seems to buy players critical to the team in the first week of July (most contracts flip over on 30th June). This was the case with Koscielny, Chamakh, Nasri, Vermaelen, Sagna, Rosicky et al – who were all being given enough time to settle in. For me, the players bought during this time are the ones who if we did spend ‘big money’ on, would represent a significant investment. Also, with each of the players brought in in early July, the scouting would have been going on for at least a year and it would never be an impulse buy.

    It is a real struggle to get the balance between supporting the team to see them through this final hurdle, or throwing in the towel on an investment that needs to be seen through. It’s never easy to make a decision to cut your losses, but we need to trust that those whose job it is to move things along will do the right thing.

    Don’t expect any big name signings in January – watch the first couple weeks of July next year. And they’re not going to cost £150 mil.

  54. I doubt that anyone would say that Chamakh, Squillaci or Koscielny are not “right signings”.

  55. Great post Darius. Spot on.

  56. I would mind swapping Bendtner. With JET…

  57. Darius, your posts which do not involve the AA media are usually brilliant, like the one above..

  58. wouldn’t*

  59. I think the boss and most of us believe that this squad has the technical quality to win the league this year and if we do not win the problem is most likely between the players ears and not in the skill of their feet. I agree completely with CBob and Yogi that a signing or 2 in January even if it does not bring a huge upgrade in technical skill might help the squad mentality and “shake up” the squad which would be a good thing. That said, I seriously doubt anything will happen.

    The opportunity to win this year is unprecedented in recent years. If the squad can not win this year I hope Wenger takes a long hard look at a lot of the core players and moves a few and brings in some new outside players at a few positions. It might not improve the technical quality but might change some attitudes and hoepfully rearrainge the squads mentality. Clearly we are not going to “blow up” the squad and start from stratch but rather some significant freshening. I keep bringing up Barca but they have clean sheets in 7 out of their last 8 games even though they lead most games by several goals. I realize that the 2 leagues are very different, but the pride and professionalism to maintain effort and concentration to keep those clean sheets long after the game has been won is something that this squad seems to lack at times and that may not improve without some personnel changes in our squad. Lets see what happens the rest of this year.

  60. @Block4

    Very true and very correct.

    Forgive me but I’ve been posting most recently on what someone rather appropriately described as the Fox News of Arsenal Blogs… a land of the some of the most clinically insane Arsenal fans (Ok that’s an exaggeration but not far off the truth) so I misread you meaning.

  61. The only player I would like in the team is Eto’o.

    Man, I cant wait until Monday!

    Have a blessed day all!

  62. @Bill

    I agree totally that skill is there to win the league this year… in fact I believe that we may well be the side best equipped to win it… the problem as you say is mental and it is a big, big problem. The media are basically telling the team that they can’t win and that Arsenal as a club and Wenger as a manager are going about it the wrong way and try as they might some of it must seep through to the consciousness, they won’t be human otherwise… for a team that has gone 5 years without a trophy, albeit 5 years in which an awful lot has been achieved, it can be tempting to stop believing in yourself and listen to the siren voices in the press and even the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal supporters and their blogs. The manager has got a tough, tough job on to convince these guys to believe that they really are good enough.

  63. Henristic @ 12:44:

    “I agree with the reducing the ticket prices thing too. If we make so much profit currently which can only increase, why not reduce ticket prices. That will certainly get fans buzzing.”

    The other benefit of dropping ticket prices would be to open up the opportunity for a younger, perhaps less well off and probably more vocal fan group. The other day you were talking about atmosphere at the Emirates and how it might affect the players. Could the wealthier patrons who by necessity hold the tickets partially account for the more sedate atmosphere at AFC home games?

  64. The sad thing about high ticket prices is it disregards that many of the great players we have the had the pleasure of watching were poor people initially.

  65. If I had to, I would buy Eto.
    (Over Ibrahimovic!
    Unless my name was Joan $ Laporta.)

    A tangental thought: The football journalist Dominique Auclair (spelling?),said that agents have eaten into the heart of the French clubs. In spite of churning out lots and lots and lots of players of high ability, few clubs there are doing well. A merry-go-round.

    £10 for the CC SF is a step in the right direction.

    I was hoping that the Chel$ki game will be snowed off, and re-scheduled for the end of the season…

  66. Evil…

    Believe me their are plenty out there who not only say that the players you mentioned are not the right signings… the see them as proof that the manager has completely lost it! There are some weird Arsenal sites in the blogosphere… to me they are like those sites that allege that the UN is satanist cult out to take over the world or that Obama was born in Kenya and smuggled to the US blah de blah… The Anti-Arsenal Arsenal blogs are a weird, weird bunch.

  67. Darius…

    I have been trying to say what you said in your post @1;47 for ages. Could never find the words. So reasonably and perfectly put…. I really enjoyed reading that. Thanks.

  68. Can whoever got to this site with the search term, “cleaning shit off sheets”, please contact me…

  69. You being serious Yogi???

  70. Probably to do with the clean sheets article t’other day…

  71. Joshua @ 2:56:

    The same problem would exist at any major club in any sport for all of time. Imagine Real, Barca, United or Chelsea going more then 1 or 2 years without a trophy. Chelsea fans are booing the team now despite all of their recent success. That is an inescapable part of being at a big club and if that is really what is holding the team back then the situation for this group of players is dire since the media spot light will not dim until we win a few trophies. Blaming the media and fans is just another part of the clubs culture of blaming outside influences for our troubles rather then the players and the manager looking in the mirror and asking what can I do differently? I think we have to give this group at least until the end of this year but at some point they have to be strong enough to overcome whatever obstacles that prevents them from winning and if they are not strong enough then we need to make some changes in our clubs players and its culture.

  72. LOL YW – WP Stats has got Bill’s number.

  73. Pray tell why Finsbury.

  74. Bill , did RM win anything of late?

    Chelsea, United and Barca have had dry spells quite recently. The world we now live in is used to everything being “instant”.

  75. “Blaming the media and fans is just another part of the clubs culture of blaming outside influences for our troubles rather then the players and the manager looking in the mirror and asking what can I do differently?”

    Bill man, ‘our troubles’? what, being 2nd in the league, in with a chance of winning every competition, without our best players featuring for much of the season (who are all coming back in the next month)…??

    Troubling times indeed.

    Well i’m glad you’re giving the current group until the end of the season before you’ll call for ‘significant freshening’. They’ll sleep easy at night now.

  76. Geo, ONLY 2nd place? we are in a dire situation.

  77. I know, I know, Rose-Tinted muppet again… Sorry Paul N.

  78. Darius

    Just curious as to why that particular phrase was used. A mess? Stains? Excrement? Surely they would all get more accurate answers…


  79. Geo, apologies accepted but please stop exaggerating this being in second place and having a chance at “winning” every competition.

  80. Geo or Paul N.

    I guess its a matter of expectations. If your happy with 2nd place then more power to you. What is frustrating is that looking at this group on paper they are clearly better then that. The club has been telling us how much quality we have for several year and we all believe that so when we have been coming up short of 1st place its frustrating and difficult to understand. Nothing gets fans more excited and positive then a club that works really hard and performs above expectations. The converse of that statement is also true. As I said earlier, this year offers us a huge opportunity to get the monkey off our back and this team hopefully can make the most of it. If not then there will be a lot more gnashing of teeth and complaining and calls for some changes in players and perhaps in tactics. Thats inevitable and probably reasonable.

  81. Oh yeah, there I go again… How could I forget that we’re going to be knocked out by Barca, and we’ll capitulate in our challenge for the EPL because we just cannot, for the life of us, keep a clean sheet, and we’re never going to get anywhere unless Mr Wenger (or whatever his name is) competes in the transfer market and buys the £30 mil DM we’ve all been pining for… Oh, and we’ll never beat one of the big teams (apart from 3rd place City of course) because we’ve got a huge mental block that can’t be fixed and can only be remedied by signing players.

    Sorry again Paul, my memory is like a seive sometimes!

  82. Bill, you know the saying about crying over spilk milk. Am I happy that we lost some silly matches, heck no! but I am happy we are in 2nd place, yep! Every club aside from United would like to be in our place and not only that every team has had regrets this season. What are we gonna do? keep revisiting the United, WBA and Spurs matches?

    What is the best course of action going forward? going forward or chasing the water that has already gone under the bridge?

    Thats depressing Bill

    Take 3 deeps breaths.

  83. Bill – chill out and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    As you say, it’s all about expectations, and its valid and right to say that fans have the responsibility to manage their own expectations.

    @YW – my educated guess is as follows: The post that was brought up from ACLF following that search had all those words in one shape or another from either the articles or comments. Google in its twisted way assumes that since your site is so popular and has this huge page and alexa ranking, then the fact that these words appear on that post must mean that it is an authority on that matter.

    Think of of it as a compliment and testament to the age old notion that computers will never be able to replace humans.

  84. spilt, deep

  85. Are you saying that, at the start of the season, you wouldn’t be happy being in 2nd place at this time? you might not have spotted on your bit of paper, that our best defender has only played one game, our best striker has played a few games, our best player and captain has played half the possible games, yet we’re still up there..?

    You said: “Nothing gets fans more excited and positive then a club that works really hard and performs above expectations.”

    I don’t understand your contradictory post (or your constant calls for changes), when you include a sentence like that one above. We were written off completely at the start of the season, so if this isn’t a club that has been ‘working hard and performing above expectations’, what is? Bolton maybe..? They could do with some extra support if that’s what you fancy, but beware Bill, they don’t have loads to spend…

  86. Anyone read the Guardian today? Aparantley squill is on the list for the worst “famous” CB in PL this year, Clichy and Kos is also seen as really unstable and generally crap compared to other players in their position in the PL.
    I feel like i must have missed something as i dont think they have played all that bad this year. I mean there are plenty of worse players in the PL in their positions. Like Evans has had a worse season than Squill, Konchenley has had a worse season than Clichy.
    I just find it weird to put 3 out of 4 arsenal defenders as suggestions to worste pl stars. They have not been perfect but neither have they been THAT bad…

  87. Sorry about that, Yogi. When the Champions League draw was made last week, I was still in bed. When we were drawn with Barcelona, I’m afraid the inevitable happened. I’ve tried a normal wash, but there is still a large, unwholesome stain. Before throwing the sheets away, I thought I’d check whether google could supply a means for returning them to their original crisp whiteness. To my surprise, ACLF was on the first page of results. To save myself having to do another search later, I simply opened ACLF in a new tab. Come to think of it, I should have just posted my query on here. Of the thousands of Arsenal fans whose bowels moved when the Champions League draw was announced, surely someone found himself in the same predicament as me.

  88. Bill (amongst others) may have been able to help you there PZ.

  89. PZ, your post reminds me of THAT scene in Trainspotting!
    Joshua, great posts. It is always nice to see another american gooner on here with a good take on the situation.
    I’m agreeing very much with CBob and others about a new signing. Not someone who will make a dramatic impact on the pitch but someone who can go about his business in the dressing room reminding the players that they are accountable for their performances. Cesc, for all his talents, is not the most vocal of captains and I really think we need someone with a bit of the Keown in them to give the lads a kick up the backside if they let their performance drop. I’m referring to what’s known over here as a “character guy.” Rosicky could be this guy but he’s too calm, there is nothing of the rabid dog hiding in the shadows about him; that’s what I would love to see in a new signing.

  90. Diaby is back. Best news I’ve heard in a while.

  91. Gris Gris, I hope more than anything that one of the current players would take that charge of being a vocal leader. I still believe we have that in both RVP and TV.

    Geez, it feels like we never had Diaby this season, its been a while.

  92. Thanks Geo… that’s the point I wanted to make… we’re second but the consensus amongst the Journalists and the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal blogs was that we’d struggle to make the top 4 because of the improvements made by Spurs and City and infallible superiority of Chelsea and ManU. So where’s the gratitude?

    I have to say that there’s something particularly ugly about what is going on some of these so-called Arsenal sites … it’s not just that they are against the club’s current direction, anyone has the right to oppose a particular administration or set of choices, it’s the ugliness of tone and just out and out intolerance of different opinions. It doesn’t seem to me to be at all normal. When Arsenal blogs start using the sort of xenophobic language you get from only the worst of the gutter press and members of the forum are allowed the call the manager a liar , a c–t and worse.. on a regular basis then something is very, very wrong. Anyone read Le Grove recently?

  93. The non-appointment of David Dein as FA Chairman has a good side. I still feel he has a part to play in the future of ArsenalFC.

  94. It’s no coincidence that since double D left we’ve fared less well on the pitch. AW could certainly do with him right now. But while Danny Fiszman is still calling the shots there’s no way back for Dein

  95. I do think that with the money being spent Arsenal had to change tactics. Chelsea came in with their foolish spending and made life difficult to get the bigger players.

    How much money would it cost to buy a Bergkamp in todays market? The shift to nurturing youth was a must if the club was to succeed. In that it will take more time to produce.

  96. Poodle @ 4:09…

    The Arsenal defence thingy is a well developed media narrative and as such any thing the media can do to reinforce their own narrative is what they’d do. It’s a bit like our Goalkeeper thingy too. Fabianski could compile the best stats for any keeper from now till the end of the season, make the most jaw dropping saves, we may well win the EPL with Fabianski playing a crucial role in it and the journos will still be talking about Arsene’s blind spot with keepers as if Jens Lehman never happened.

    I’ve basically come to conclusion that the media make up a story and look for bits to justify what they believe to be true… only a real paradigm shift can even begin to make them consider a different take on events. For instance the ten straight losses in 11 games against Chelsea and ManU is now the thing to hang around the team’s neck… prior to that there was some concocted thing that made City a top team but since we’ve beaten them recently that’s been dropped… the funny thing is that each of those matches we’ve lost have had different scenarios and particular issues… for instance we played Chelsea without Fabregas, Van Persie or Vermaelen but that doesn’t actually matter to the media because the chosen narrative vis-á-vis Arsenal is of weak -minded aesthetes who cannot win when the going gets tough. Chelsea on the other have a blip and the narrative is of how they are missing their CB’s and Essien and Lampard and whoever… What about us? We played United in that ECL semi with an 18y/o Kieran Gibbs at LB! We played Barca away without Gallas, Arshavin, Song, Fabregas or Van Persie and we took the lead but listening to the press discuss these things you’d never know it!
    I’m not saying for a minute that losing doesn’t matter or that everything is perfect but a string of losses doesn’t necessarily have to have a common cause… except that media loves a neat narrative.

  97. What a load of faecal matter from the Guardian.

    If we were to be anally retentive then how come we’re 2nd on the table if we are playing with 3 of the worst defenders in the EPL.

    I think the gullibility of some people is more shocking than what the papers actualy write or come up with.

    For one, we have a better goal difference than over 17 of the clubs in the EPL. Fabianski is vying toe to toe with Cech for the best save to shot ratio in the EPL. The league table actually suggest that our defense is more solid than the defenses of 18 other teams in the competition. YOu really have to be stupid to think that we actually have an insurmmountible problem.

    The way to look at the English sports media is that they’re anti-French and they’re anti-Arsenal. They hate Wenger, they hate Arsenal, they hate the fact that Arsenal is succeeding despite the conventional wisdom, they hate that we do things differently, they hate that Arsenal is a living and breathing symbol of what unites football lovers around the world – in our diversity, our values, and the fact that we live the very reality of victory through harmony.

    People might not think that this is a factor, but you do sometimes wonder whether people truly understand the ways in which prejudice and xenophobia manifests in every day life.m

    Arsenal is not in the position we’re in on the table by accident and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Of course we can perform better, but the fact that we’ve given ground yet we’re in such a strong position is remarkable.

    It’s nonsense to keep rolling over and be screwed by every misguided untruth, factual error or stupid cliche that ends up being fact by virtue of the law of the jungle.

    The other night punks like Collymore and Durham who were indulging in their regulation intellectual masturbation by accusing Wenger of signing a Japanese kid he had never seen when there were loads of talent in the UK. Do these f*ckers even know that the core of the Arsenal youth and reserve team is English? Not withstanding that it then became fact that Wenger has signed some Japanese misfit without watching him play.

    I think the most disappointing thing for me is the bile and weak arse and spineless support we get from those who can’t even stomach a fight. Nobody suggests that this will be easy, but it doesn’t get any easier by the lily livered support we get. The players know it, our opponents know it, the media know it – and they use it against us.

  98. GunFlash, how are you doing today? (gloves are off)

  99. or is that the gloves are on? I confused myself.

    Anyway, hope everything is well with you!

  100. Not too bad Paul, How about you? Just come back from the pub after an extened lunch and I’ll be off home in 20 minutes. So all is well with the world.

  101. Paul, right the second time

  102. Darius…

    Absolutely spot on! What kills them is that he continually confounds them, (after all we’re meant to be out of the top 4 this time) and refuses to budge from his principles or run and hide or resort to bullying and intimidation like Ferguson. It’s funny but these media types can’t stand Wenger and Arsenal… or to be fair a vast majority as I exclude Paddy Barclay and a few others, but the guy basically threats them with more respect than any other manager in the league. Collymore and Durham haven’t got enough intellect between the two of them to masturbate… as far as intellect goes they’re truly dick-less. They’re rank idiots.


    A simple & logical article, someone please paste it on Le Groan…

  104. ” When are Arsenal going to start winning over Manchester United?
    AA: That’s exactly the issue we discussed after the game. When? I hope that this will happen when we meet next time at the Emirates. ”

    Surely would have been a very interesting discussion..

  105. Geo:

    Lets see what happens this year. Its not just about where we are this year but about several years. Other big clubs have gone thru dry periods and they managed fan and media expectations by making major changes. Real recently spent more then the GNP of many small nations and brought in the special one to handle their own and the fans expectations. We clearly are not going to do anything like that but if you really believe that fan and media negativity are whats holding the team back then making an impact signing or 2 while not financially prudent would not cause any realistic long term risk and might make a huge difference in fan outlook and may be even fire up the players. It might be the tonic we need. I don’t know.

    This upcoming game vs. Chelsea takes on even more importance given whats happened so far this season. Losing at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford is understandable for any team but from a stand point of our mental state winning at home against a Chelsea team in horrible form is critical for the rest of this year.

  106. Geo @ 11:26am,

    Spot on. I watched the Barca game and couldn’t help noticing the accuracy of a poster on another reecent ACLF blog. It was noted that Barca play in a different league with different challenges to those faced by us (ACF) and the poster (it might even have been you but I can’t recall) noted that this factor and the demand to play without some of their leading players would reduce them to the same position as we now occupy amongst the bog standard English media and barely literate AAA blogs. Last night’s game gave proof to that view: if not to the noted responses.

    I have consistently said that we can beat Barca, IF WE ARE FIT AND PLAY TO OUR ABILITIES. This view will be tested soon enough

  107. I don’t know if anyone heard Fat Sam’s recent interview on Sky Sports in which he cogitates on his latest departure. Do we have any ideas who he found it necessary to indirectly attack when he argued (I paraphrase): “I play winning football. Pretty football has never won anything”?

    Barcelona 2009-2010, the Incincibles, Spain 2010, Brazil… ?

    Gine but not missed.

  108. Hear! Hear! Darius.

  109. Szczesny gave a great interview a couple of days ago on One of his references to “the best manager in the World” made me smile. I really like his attitude and potential. Worth a listen for those subscribing to ‘Arsenal on line’.

  110. Darius @ 5:00pm,


  111. Great post Darius!!!

  112. “Pray tell why…”
    So I wouldn’t have to read:

    “This upcoming game vs. Chelsea takes on even more importance…”
    No snow in the forecast.

    Every POV is different.
    Every game is important when you want to win the PL.

    Outside of the league, there is a prospective cup final (Ipswich first!), and a European tie against a club that tried to buy the Arsenal Captain on the cheap to look forward to.
    Exciting times.

  113. To be clear:

    The first time I had any respect for a Chelsea team was last season.
    For the effort put in by an aging squad, for the better football they played under their new manager.
    But now considering their summer sale, ignoring Drogba who at this moment does not resemble the same player as in the SB tie, winning or losing a game against this Chelsea side is no different to winning or losing against any other team in this league.

  114. Kool GunFlash, hope you have a merry Christmas!!

  115. Everyone must be doing Christmas shopping

  116. Dgob @6:22

    Just seen the Sczczeny interview. Quite fascinating bits about him growing up without his Dad and living in rough neighbourhood. I have to confess that I thought that his demanding of playing time was a result of him being a spoilt brat son of a top class goalkeeper who just felt ENTITLED to be No1because of his Dad.. it seems that nothing could be farther from the truth. That will teach me to jump to conclusions

    Interesting interview…

    BTW Allardyce is an ass. I remember years ago when he first complained that he got no respect because he wasn’t Italian or something, but a gruff Northerner… Wenger retorted that he should change his name to Sam Allardicio if that was all that was holding him back. For a supposedly manly man he doesn’t half bitch and whine. If he’s convinced he’s that good may be he should go abroad like McClaren and Hodgson did… surely that’s the thing for him to do… take his Neanderthal football abroad and see what others think. I bet the foreign press won’t give him such an easy ride.

  117. Oh, my picture did change after all!

  118. No way! Is that Little ‘N’, Paul?! What a happy soul…

  119. Reminds me… bought my nephew a bright green knitted woollen dinosaur for Christmas. Looks quite a lot like Gunnersaurus come to think of it (I wonder if that was subconscious)… though more classically T-Rex I suppose… against the sort of pan-Triassic Diplodocus effort the Arsenal marketing department plumped for. A 3 in the morning creation if ever I saw one…

    ‘Go Dinos!’
    ‘Go Docuses!’
    ‘Go Diplos!’



  120. Sam Allardicio ? tehe that would indeed be funny 🙂

  121. Well said, Darius. Collymore is an ass. Arsenal has always lead the way as far as playing youngsters. I believe that the England team that will play the Euros in 2016 will consist of a core group that includes Albrighton, Johnson, Walcott, Gibbs, Wilshere, JET, Henderson, Carroll, Rodwell, Young and Agbonglahor. None of whom play for Spuds, Chelski or MU . So why is Collymore giving them a pass and giving us a hard time? Chelski just gave Kakuta a five year contract while Wilshere, Gibbs and Walcott are on extended contracts with us.

  122. Sam Allardicio….takes it all up his Acio

  123. merry christmas fellow gunners

  124. What will folks say when we despatch Chelsea, ManU, ManC at home, Spurs away, and then Barca in the 2 legs. They will say the rubicon was crossed, as Cesc had said quite simply it should be. This is on my Santa list this year, if those reindeers can get an outbound flight. My wish for the return of Diaby to action seems to have been granted, so that’s one is crossed off. Are we still in with a shout. You bethcha! Don’t believe the elves down the road.

  125. Joshua,

    You’re not wrong. Now we just need to see Pulis and Hughes follow him on his footballing Odyssey and the EPL might improve in quality over night.

    Fingers crossed!

  126. @ZimPaul, they will say its lucky and that it is down to the decline of the big clubs not the quality of Arsena(arsenal is ofc not a big club but a “former” big club as big clubs win trophies every year). they will say that if this was 3 years ago arsenal would have no chace. Arsenal is not a good team, its only the otehrs that has poor days.

    They will also say that Tottenham is a big club and that Redknapp is gods gift to football, and if Arsenal had Redknapp or big sam managing they would bloddy well win the lot! especially if they threw in a couple of English players from their former clubs.

  127. Well that is the FA fucked for the next few years. Blatter and Platini must be rubbing their chubby little hands with glee.

  128. Quite agree Frank. Wasn’t it encouraging that his first ‘policy goal’ was to rebuild bridges with FIFA?


  129. Apparently Van der Saar is retiring this season. A massive loss for the Manks… Not many top quality GKs out there these days, not that will want to leave their clubs anyway.

  130. lets hope it end positive this year

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