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.
ARSENAL UNITED DAY.
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.