Why I’m angry about second chances and excited about UNITED today

by .



What a super massive amazing day of blog goodness yesterday was. Not only did I treat you to an article of my own, I also dropped a Q&A with the guys from Stretty Rant as well as an interview with DJ Superstar Otto Knows. I mean, digital blogging doesn’t get better than that. Do I regret not asking Otto Knows something about the Arsene Knows catch phrase? Sure. I really do. Definitely missed out there, but life goes on, as does the football calendar.


I’m damp with excitement and light incontinence from last nights booze session. The Garrison in London Bridge is sehr gut, ja?

Big games mean big moments. A chance to get one over the legendary Louis Van Gaal. A man who took the values of Cruyff and built on them. A man who has won 2 European Cups. A man who has done it all. Big budgets, small budgets, project galactico, project youth… you name it, LVG has done it.

Can he resurrect United? I have my doubts. If he was a pint of milk, he’d be spoiling, well, in my opinion he would, the sour old goat. He’s losing his touch. His squad is grossly imbalanced… and not in the way that Mourinho’s was last season. I still think he’s got two years to go before that team looks anything like a competitive one.

Their lack of a coherent transfer plan means today is going to be fun. They don’t have much of a midfield to boast of. I mean, if Carrick is starting, we should be taking advantage of his lack of pace. In defence, you’re playing ‘who the f*ck? when you’re rummaging through Google to pinpoint where the names have come from. In goal, they have De Gea… I mean, I’m just not a massive fan. I always feels he’s a second away from a seagull like flap. He’s a superb shot stopper, but he’s not convincing. He looks like a 12 year old boy who’s been asked to fill in for his dad’s Sunday league team of ex-convicts.

Where United have an advantage is that LVG will take his merry band of men and he’ll formulate a plan that is built around their strengths. He’ll have a tactical execution that will likely be centred around exploiting our lack of know how at the back. If Chambers is starting, he’ll be targeted as a weak point. If Di Maria is starting, we need to have an idea of how we’re going to deal with him. The Stretty Rant chaps are over the moon about him, because he can run with the ball in the same way Cristiano could. He has tight control, superb vision and pace to burn. If Chambers picks up a booking early doors, we could be in for a long afternoon.

I’d like to hope that whoever is sitting in front of him today has strict instructions to support. I mean, if Rosicky was fit, it’d be a good game for him to get involved in. I’d imagine it’ll be Chamberlain, which is a worry because discipline isn’t ever high up on a young boys agenda. Wenger doesn’t enforce his will either (if he even has will to shackle Di Maria). Stifle the flow might be a better strategy, play a hard pressing game on Carrick to stop those balls going into their main man… trouble is, their front line is incredibly potent, it’s not like they only have one outlet.

Our front three should tear their defence to shreds. McNair and Valencia at the back should an exciting prospect. I just hope we have the energy to play an intense game. One of my favourite games of the season was the first half we played against Benfica in the Emirates Cup (I know, right?!). Our front line wasn’t loaded with technically sound players, but it had blistering pace at its core… our finishing was pretty appalling, but we got in behind their backline so frequently, it was only a matter of time before Yaya Sanogo scored four. That’s what we need to do today… pressure them into mistakes, blitz them early on and drive hard even if we go a goal down.

My fear is Arsenal’s fear. If we go into the game feeling like second class citizens, like we normally do, it’ll be a miserable day. This team needs some belief. We need to see some proper leadership on and off the pitch. We need to see the real Arsenal, because I don’t think I’ve had the privilege this season.

Excuses are not acceptable today. We’re at home to a weak team and we have a very good line up of players. Three points please. Three points and an afternoon the be proud of.

P.S. I couldn’t help hone in on yet more football shame this week. Not only is it an utter disgrace that Malky Mackay has been given a new role in the game of second chances, but Dave Whelan pops up with some extremely embarrassing comments you have to read because they’re so unbelievable they could be something out of a sketch show. HERE

This line here being my favourite.

“If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying,”


I read an interesting article by Matthew Syed about second chances that was thought provoking. He was of the opinion that society is either for second chances, or it’s against them. It’s all in or nothing. I understand this. One of the biggest challenges we have is around rehabilitation post punishment. If you take a mans living away, what do you expect the outcome to be?

He also said that footballers being role models was a farcical notion. They’re footballers. They good at knocking a ball around, that’s as far as responsibility goes on that front.

Now, this is where I disagree. In fact, I disagree on both fronts.

Firstly, the attitude that footballers aren’t and shouldn’t be role models detracts from the honour that is becoming a footballer. It’s part of the job. Well, it should be part of the job. You’re being paid what you’re being paid because you’re a representative of an institution that is more than just an institution. I work in marketing, no one gives a f*ck what I do because it doesn’t matter. I don’t give a fuck what people do in banking either. I don’t give a f*ck what Betty does in her floristry.

Football? It matters. There’s a reason that football clubs don’t go bust despite generally having business models that are completely absurd. There’s a reason countries are prepared to bankrupt themselves for the honour of hosting a World Cup. There’s a reason we’ll happily accept a 20 year old taking £3m a year.

Community keeps them going. Nowadays, a global community. This idea that footballers don’t have a responsibility is a nonsense. If you don’t want to behave like a role model, go and be a bricklayer or work in a bank. If you asked a footballer, what would you rather be… a role model and a footballer… or a corporate scumbag in finance house… what do you think the answer would be? (maybe don’t answer that after watching Wolf of Wall Street)

The major difference between the UK and Europe is that this honour is driven home to young footballers earlier in their careers. German superstar kids drive VW Golf’s, not Maserati’s. They’re humble and educated. Spanish footballers are the same, they’re brought up in a culture of respect. English kids aren’t. It’s an acceptable mindset for footballers to wash their hands of their responsibilities. Clubs don’t take accoutability (generally speaking, and not about Arsenal) for how their players behave.

So that’s why when it comes to a second chance society, sure, I get it, but being a footballer is an honour. It’s a gift from the genetics gods. It should be treated as such. If you commit a deplorable crime, you’re clearly not capable of handling a role that matters to the public. Acceptance of racism and sex crimes by football clubs isn’t about second chance society, it’s about performance gain, so let’s get that straight right away. Dave Whelan isn’t being an upstanding citizen, he’s seeking an opportunity to snare a good manager who is disgraced and cheap. It’s also not about the individual. Decisions by Sheffield United and Wigan go deeper than Ched Evans and Malky Mackay because they affect supporters ability to believe in a community institution. They shake the moral foundations of a community focal point. For me, an individual should never be allowed to impact a club so negatively.

Football isn’t real. It doesn’t abide by standard rules. For some reason, it acts as a sort of strange barometer for society and where it’s at… that’s why the second chance rule can’t be so black and white. That’s why football has to be stronger, more upstanding, cleaner, stricter and thoughtful.

Shame it isn’t. Shame we have to have these debates. Shame you have people like Whelan running these proud institutions.

… but hey, whaddya gown do?!

Have a great day. x

P.S. I wrote some answers to some questions for a United blogger. Some call that blog treachery. I don’t, so read it.

1,223 Responses to “Why I’m angry about second chances and excited about UNITED today”

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  1. bennydevito


    Gladiator, great film, about the only decent one Russell crowe has done, well that and a beautiful mind.

    My missus is out shopping with the kids so I’ve had a free run at posting today. Usually I don’t get much chance as I’m either getting nagged or my youngest trying to snatch my phone. Years ago I had a 9 to 5 doing IT for the MoD so I would spend all day posting inbetween getting banned by Geoff (was a way different blog back then) but now as a self employed painter decorator I don’t get time plus I’m so slow at smart phone typing.

  2. london gunner

    Is it just ME?

    Or did we play very well?

    I think by all accounts the better team lost.

    We dominated them and had what over 21 shots on target.

    They got lucky with a very unfortunate deflection off Gibbs and Rooney finished it off with aplomb when we had no other choice but to all out attack…

    I’d say in this instance it wasn’t a managerial fault, but individual players aka Wilshere pathetic shot and Welbecks lack of efficiency in and around the box. To be fair you could add a list of other players such as Alexis and Cazorla. Alexis like the rest of the team shot straight at De Gea everytime.. Cazorla is just incapable of getting a shot away without it being blocked, as he always hesitates just for a moment because he seeks to place when sometimes he just needs to hit it straight away out of instinct.

    I would add though that the shambles of not buying an elite striker really fucked us over. Which is of course Wengers fault.

  3. Wallace

    taken in isolation it’s a very harsh result. but it’s been 5/6yrs of the bigger games following a similar pattern to yesterday’s. and we won’t come up against a defence as bad as that again for a very long time.

  4. Leedsgunner

    Wenger said: “It was one-way traffic and we lost the game, we have to take it on the chin. I know we’ll be criticised for it but you have to respect the energy levels we put in.”

    1. Respect is earned not given.

    2. If this result was our first defeat of the season I think I would be more understanding. However, we’ve won 5 games in 15 games.

    “At least we triiiiiiied.”

    What a complete muppet of a manager, team and a Board.

  5. moray

    london, we did outplay them, sure, but that says more about them than us. This is the worst Man Utd team I can remember, and we still lost. Generally, a shit team with tactics has a good chance of beating a better team with no tactics; and we are completely tactically clueless and have been for years.

    The thing is, you just have to look at patterns and sequences. Anyone who isn;t the blindest fan must have known we would lose that game. I won quite a bit of cash on it myself. These “big” games always end the same way, regardless of how we play. The only “big” games we have a chance in are the dead or nearly dead rubbers, like Bayern, where the pressure is off.

    Willshire scooping wide is no surprise, Wellbeck heading over is no surprise. Rooney scoring is no surprise. And nor is a defensive shambles by us that results in an own goal. Plus ca change…

  6. Bamford13

    I wouldn’t say we played well in the first half, but we didn’t play badly and we did create chances.

    That we looked decent in the first, however, was largely down to how poor and out of sorts United were in the 3-5-2. It was clear as day that they still don’t really know how to play in that formation and playing in it basically gave us the game.

    We couldn’t take advantage of that, though.

    We didn’t finisher chances, in part, because aside from Alexis we don’t have good finishers and, in part, because we’re useless on set pieces.

  7. Cesc Appeal

    Let’s not forget how woeful this United side was as well. People out there are using the phrase “well it was Manchester United” as if it has the same cache as before…it does not.

    People are asking fans to blame the players; but Arsenal have masses of possession and chances and still losing isn’t new. It’s Arsenal. So again, repeptition of failings suggests a deep rooted problem outside of “bad luck.”

    Our team isn’t good enough…well it is for fourth but…

    The manager isn’t good enough by a long shot.

    The club set up isn’t good enough. We’re muddling along, stumbling into fourth place year on year and hailing it as a great achievement when looking at the car wreck of a season we’ve just climbed through.

    I’m not getting any joy from Arsenal any more. I feel trapped by Arsene Wenger now. Because we’ve got 2 more seasons of this. We all know the script, it was only immensely naive fans or pro-Wenger fans who thought we’d be a different animal before the season.

    If you played Arsenal in 2007, you can use the same tactics in 2014.

  8. Reality check

    N5s always there, its not all talk you mongs.

    Keep your hands to yourselves wengers not worth fighting over at this point. We’ve already had it out with a few its pointless now.

  9. Cesc Appeal

    Sods law, every time I call the score right I never bet; when I do you bet your arse it doesn’t come in.

    Said 2-1 United.

    Watching yesterday with a mate I said if we go in at half time 0-0 then we’re in trouble. So, so Arsene-al.

  10. Leedsgunner

    Untold has spoken…

    “So just after after this painful defeat I asked myself and looking at the players we have: will all be fine again for Arsenal? And the only answer I can come up with and in which I believe is: Yes we will. I think this team is one good result away from a good run. The sooner that result will come, the sooner our run will start. And with some players coming back in a few weeks time I think that we then could be unstoppable.”

    Unbelievable isn’t?

  11. Wengers Plastic Bottle

    Look sorry our defence was a joke yesterday

    You cant play like that in prem

    Mertshiter does what he wants on the pitch the guy is getting on my nerves

    he has no leadership along with Arteta

    Mnreal as a centre back?


  12. moray

    Leeds, something tells me we won;t get fourth this year. This game was the only one I remember us playing well all season and even then we conspired to screw it up with poor finishing and keystone cop defending.

  13. Bamford13

    I think LVG played the 3-5-2 because he believed the formula to beat Arsenal was to sit and counter in numbers. In the end it worked, but he could’ve done it with the 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 more effectively.

    The wingbacks did little to nothing, they looked out of sorts as a whole, and Arsenal attack up the center anyways.

    In playing the 3-5-2, LVG actually gave us the game — and we still couldn’t win.


  14. wenker-wanger

    slowly but surely we are heading for the departure of the stubborn egotistical old fool. With or without the fanatical opposition to that departure from the followers of that absurd blog “untold”. Common sense tells you that arsenal being 8th and only able to beat teams in the bottom section of the league that they are an average team led by a manager that cannot even coach the basics into a team composed of top quality players and some very experienced players. Its a shambles and for some strange reason wankger avoids the justifiable criticism from the pundits and media. In wankgers mantra style….., ” WE HAVE BELIEF” (that he will walk)….or in the perceptive gooners style: “just fck off wenger”

  15. Nick

    sorry guys. I didn’t read your too long but worthy post. I have been following the team passionately for 5 years and I now believe in my heart that no matter which rumored player we buy to save us, it will not matter. As long as Arsene is the coach the team will never have a tactical approach to soccer. I know madness when I see it, and Arssene’s handling of the team is madness, and the ownership’s aquiescence reveals their cold-hearted greed and disregard for excellence. Bye.