Monday 25 September 2017

Arsenal & Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain

Some players leave Arsenal and you go absolutely ballistics due to the loss of their on – the football - field talents. Judas van Persie & Csnakes Fabregas comes to mind.

Some leave and you feel  - good riddance! William Gallas on my mind here.

Some leave and you shrug your shoulders knowing we will be fine. There have been many like these.

What I usually don’t like is when a player the club wants to keep ends up leaving.  Especially if they are in the first team, if they are a game changer or are very close to realizing their potential. In situations like these, it potentially results in the team and manager trying to rebuild which can hamper the team’s ability to compete or win titles.

Arsenal have suffered a lot from the last type of departure in the recent past. Principally because of money i.e. the financial constraints the club has had to deal with. A good technical player like Alexander Hleb left and left something of a hole to plug, even a barely above average player like Alex Song leaving had its impact.

Since the departure of Judas in 2012 and until the summer of 2017, Arsenal had not lost a single player it wanted to keep. That is very encouraging.

When the rumors started that Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (AOC) didn’t want to sign a new contract at Arsenal. I discounted the rumors. Surely not him!!! When the rumors got louder, I wanted the club & manager to make an example of him, dump him in the reserves and see how he feels with losing his England place.

While I admired his power and ability to take on defenders and his sometimes good crosses for some crucial goals, I didn’t think he was exceptional. Financially I assumed he was one player the club could afford to take a loss on as he signed for £15m in 2011.

I sort of kept my counsel when Arsene started to say these very nice things about him.  I had seen nothing to suggest that Oxlade Chamberlain is John the Baptist to Kylian Mbappe’s Jesus Christ.

Arsene sees him everyday in training so he knows what he is talking about. In retrospect seeing as Sir Alex Ferguson has unreservedly commended Arsene Wenger’s poker face during negotiations, I have come to believe that Wenger had the said poker face on when making those comments about AOC.

It would appear that Arsene Wenger & Arsenal ended up selling Liverpool a Custard Cream biscuit without the cream. Liverpool paid double the value Arsenal paid Southampton for AOC 6 years ago. And soon when Klopp gets to another final that he is fated to lose, they will pay Arsenal another £10m. In effect, Liverpool have paid Arsenal every single penny they paid AOC in wages and bonuses during his 6 year stay at Arsenal.  

On AOC taking a pay cut to go to Liverpool. This is not true. It is one of those urban legends. Here is David Ornstein, a man who appears to have top level access in Arsenal saying that AOC was offered a sum approaching £180k if Arsenal qualified for Champions League.

The base sum was comparable in my opinion to the salary he was offered at Liverpool. So AOC did not take a pay cut or forego any money to join Liverpool. This wasn’t some altruistic decision. He went for certainty, guaranteed money instead of ‘maybe’ money.

He appears to genuinely want to work with an expressive manager like Klopp. He has probably been regaled with stories by Adam Llallana & Nathaniel Clyne of how touchy feely Klopp is. Conte and Wenger although not outwardly alike are not the hugging / cuddling type.

I genuinely doubt it is anything to do with playing in the middle too. I dare say if Alex watched himself in the middle for England, he will never cling to the desire that he wants to play in the middle.

In terms of technical ability, he is nowhere near anything Arsenal has in the middle either as a screen for the back 4 or as the playmaker. I think he will need to cure himself of this harebrained scheme that he can pull the strings in the middle. Francis Coquelin has more football skills than AOC and needed to come to the realization in his own mind that his future in the Arsenal team lies in his ability to break opponents play up not ‘playmake’ for Arsenal before he got a decent run in the side.  If AOC thinks he is going to get in the Liverpool team ahead of Coutinho, Llallana, Emre Can & Henderson, I have some snake oil to sell to him.

With his departure to Liverpool, AOC has been jeered and derided by many including Arsenal fans. Nobody of note has stood up for him, or his move and his performance in the Liverpool shirt. These includes Klopp who made a glib remark about AOC needing a fresh start. I can’t imagine a 23 / 24 year old needing a fresh start! FFS! Leroy Sane is 21. Raheem Sterling is 23. They didn’t leave their club for a fresh start. They left to improve the club they are going to.

Emile Heskey, a Liverpool legend no less was very scathing about AOC’s performance in the League Cup loss to Leicester. See here When Emile starts to slam you, things must be really bad. I wonder if AOC’s dad had any input in this move. I will be staggered if he was supportive.

While AOC’s performance is new to the whole country and the big wild wide world,  it is regular fare for Arsenal fans who have tolerated his 6 years of injuries and stop start performance. Arsenal fans are not bitter at his departure, they are incredulous that a mug paid £40m for him and are determined that the mugs should not forget that fact.

People should stop making out that Arsenal fans are bitter with AOC leaving The Emirates. If there is any lingering bad feeling, it has to be down to AOC’s deceit. The word on the street is that he was committed to leaving way before the transfer window opened and already had his eyes on Anfield. He then changed his mind to Chelsea, changed it again to stay at Arsenal and changed a few more times before settling for Anfield on the eve of the closure of the transfer window. All of these while leaving a bitter present when he couldn’t even pretend he cared one bit during the Arsenal away game at Anfield.

Guess what Liverpool fans? The tongue that was used to emotionally abuse the ex is right in store for your lot.

I am disappointed with the deceit. I get the fact that club’s can generally dispense of players when they want but Arsenal don’t have this reputation. Be upfront with a manager who has stuck up for you for 6 years and tell him you want to leave not dropping rat poop all over the place by liking silly videos on the so called Arsenal Fan TV one minute and kissing the badge the next minute.

Last season, I watched an ill disciplined Oxlade Chamberlain flailing his arms all over the place during one of the Bayern matches. Also during the first league match this season, he was openly irritated with Theo at least twice.

While I feel somewhat chastened that a player has left Arsenal, I am happy to see the back of a player who didn’t want to play for the club.

I wish him well as long as he doesn’t turn out to be the next Kylian Mbappe. I am glad we have seen the back of him. The cheek of wanting to go to Liverpool and develop like Sturridge & Henderson and end up with Sweet FA.

On to West Brom tonight. Please. 3 points only. Even better if it goes in off the backside of Handsome Oli for his 100th Arsenal goal. A man deserving of all the plaudits and accolades for his consistent performance and loyalty to the badge.

Sunday 17 September 2017


I am sorry to disappoint you. I wasn’t born in N1 or anywhere near North London.

I haven’t owned an Arsenal season ticket since the days of Herbert Chapman.

Sadly I wasn’t at Anfield with the 500,000 Arsenal fans that were present when we famously won the League at The Mersey.

However, I have read a few things about Arsenal and I believe not many supporters understand what they have signed up to as Arsenal fans.

By way of background, I came across this advert (on Social Media as you do) published by Arsenal in their search for a manager in 1925. Please see what appears to be a copy of the advert itself  here

“Arsenal Football Club is open to receive applications for the position of TEAM MANAGER. He must be experienced and possess the highest qualifications for the post, both as to ability and personal character. Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply."

As you can see in the advert, Jose Mourinho will be immediately disqualified from applying for or getting this job.

So when you ask Arsenal to spend loads of money - Think Again!

You might think that advert was in 1925 and Arsenal has since changed. YOU WILL BE WRONG. You can read this and thank me later 

The club believes in a self-funding model and even if that is to change, will the 2 billionaires owners contribute proportionally to enable Arsenal go on a spending splurge like the drunkards at Everton? Or the Spendthrifts at Manchester United? While I sort of feel sorry for Usmanov for owning almost a 3rd of an organization and not even having a token seat on the board, I understand Kroenke not putting a dime of his money into the club while someone else enjoys a 3rd of the reward.

If you feel really strongly about this spending money stuff, ask Usmanov to sell his shares to Kroenke. And maybe just maybe Stan might feel more inclined to spend on the club.

On a similar note, I read an interview by Petr Cech during the last international break. Now, if you know Petr very well, you know he doesn’t fit into the ‘dumb footballer’ mold. He is a very smart cookie. If you want to read the interview, please see it here . 

Key words here are:




So if you are a fan and you are advocating for win at all costs mentality, do you truly understand or appreciate what you are supporting?  

If you think that’s just a player mouthing off, here  is Wenger in his own words 

I bet that sent a rocket up the arse of the English media & their punditry circus.

To be fair, Wenger has adapted. Notably that famous win at the Etihad. I have also attended many matches where we played pragmatically after heavy defeats. He can adapt if he wants but seeing as he is the manager of Arsenal Football Club, he alongside his team decides the technical approach to every match. I am afraid your job as a fan is to SUPPORT. It is up to you to support or not. If you decide not to support, can you truly be referred to as a fan?

Wenger has been very constant on his desire to play beautiful football. What we admirers refer to as Wengerball. The beautiful passes, the breathtaking team goals. There was one passage of play against Cologne last Thursday that should surely have been rewarded with a goal of the season contender but for some brilliant goalkeeping. If you genuinely love football, you must love Wengerball.  

Wenger also recently said during the International break that he won’t exchange any of his 3 EPL titles for One Champions League trophy. You can accuse him of cynicism. That’s up to you. But he is on record as saying it and I believe him. So please stop taking paracetamol for Wenger’s headache. And while you are chuckling at the back, try to take his Golden EPL Trophy away.

Manager’s philosophy or style of play matters to the truly great sides and great managers. Pep will die on the altar of his style. It has yielded him the square root of zero in England and with Otamendi and Stones in his backline, I expect him to end up with zero again this season. Yet you want the man who outthought him in the FA Cup semi finals to change his style. Take a ticket and wait; you will be served soon or never.

I want to believe Stan Kroenke buys into Wenger’s philosophy and the club’s approach to spending. Kroenke is a billionaire and a capitalist. They do nothing out of gratitude. If it's not working for them they do something about it. It will cost him nothing to erect a statute outside The Emirates Stadium for Wenger or name a stand after him, appoint him honorary Life President etc. and still get rid.

He had a chance to do all of this last May, as there would have been no pay off to Wenger. He could have appointed a cheaper pliable young man making his way in the trade who will give his right arm to have Arsenal on his CV. But Kroenke did none of these & reappointed Wenger. But I see you have more sense than Kroenke.

None of those moaning including Usmanov & the Nigerian billionaire who wants to buy Arsenal in a few years time feel the financial impact of negative results & poor outcomes more than Kroenke. If Arsenal's value depreciates by 1%, that is approximately $12m out of Kroenke's pocket. Yet you think the club is in shambles and is about to collapse potentially resulting in a $1.2b loss to Kroenke and he will do nothing.

Be patient if you are unhappy at the moment, only 2 possibly 4 seasons left till Wenger retires. You can save yourself the heartache by not supporting till Arsene leaves or you can adapt fully & SUPPORT THE CLUB.

Four years is a short period in the life of anybody or institution. Once Arsene leaves the good old days you yearn for or the new brighter days that are around the corner with the next rumored Arsene sacking will be here.  

Stop your insanity of asking for Arsene's departure over and over again as you keep getting the same result. Arsenal FC comprises of the real financial owner with the largest financial stake (Kroenke), the administrative management (Gazidis et al) the football management (Wenger et al) the football players and us the fans.

In terms of decision-making hierarchy, we the fans are on the lowest ladder. Everybody should play his or her part. As fans that will be cheering the boys to the rafters like the Cologne fans showed us on Thursday even when their boys were 3 – 1 down.

Yes it is difficult to cheer the recent performance at Anfield but like the majority of the stadium going fans at the Bournemouth & Cologne games a few days ago, we put the Anfield performance behind us and cheer whether it be the Carabao Cup or the Europa cup.

Ahead of the Chelsea game, don’t forget there can only be 3 results if the match goes ahead and is concluded. A win for Arsenal, a draw or a loss. None of these results will mean the world has ended.

Friday 1 September 2017

Talk of Arsenal’s Demise Is Unfounded

Arsenal is in trouble.

The club is finished.

The club is a shambles. Even Aaron Ramsey confirmed it!

The club is poorly run.

Arsene Wenger is finished

Arsenal is a banter club (what exactly does this mean?)

All the players are deserting the club

Training routines no longer exist

Wenger Out. Kroenke Out. Gazidis Out. Bould Out. Everybody Out.

It is all Wenger’s fault. He runs everything in the Club

Gazidis should fire Wenger (struggling with this one as Wenger runs everything in the club)

I am struggling to find something original to say this morning except the fact that all commentators including myself are talking, writing, postulating based on hot air. Nobody has details of what is going on.

Even those who are somewhat knowledgeable are only privy to a small snippet. Ramsey almost thumped Koscielny & laid into Alexis they said. Has that been happening for ages? Was ‘laying into’ the culture of a dressing room who have been encouraged to be transparently open and forthright with one another or is it evidence of a meltdown and breakdown in relationships?

Anybody apart from the manager and a majority of the players who tell you this confrontation is evidence of one thing or the other is not only a liar, they are fraudulent as well and are seeking to deceive people.

Commentators are constantly looking for the nearest molehill to turn into a mountain and those who hang on to their every word are willing to roll off the cliff in hysteria with the slightest of motivational push. When the super fans, uber bloggers, media pundits & low IQ former players say: JUMP, the sheeply fans go: HOW HIGH

What exactly do they say is wrong with Arsenal? What are the symptoms?

Is there a problem with the legal department not vetting agreements properly? Not seen any.

Are there issues with logistics? Hotel accommodation, transport between venues etc.? Nothing wrong there that we have heard of.

Is HMRC investigating Arsenal for not paying its taxes, national insurance etc. Has Arsenal been sighted for breaking any government regulations, corporate governance practices? None that I am aware of.

Are any young / academy players’ parents complaining about safeguarding issues? Not at all.

Are there financial problems? The club scrambling around to pay salaries? None that I know of.

Are there disagreements at Board level? The media have speculated on this. Ivan Gazidis said in April that poor results and fan revolts last season will be a catalyst for change or ensure that Arsene Wenger is a catalyst for change.

What he exactly meant nobody knows because none of speculators are mind readers. They read everything they wanted into his remarks and are sadly disappointed that Ivan Gazidis hasn’t made their wish come through.

This link gives a summary of Ivan Gazidis’ recent meeting with Arsenal fans. Gazidis seems to be saying that the changes are evident in the backroom – new contract negotiator, new fitness guru & Jens Lehmann. 

The evidence of the change stares you in the face. Arsenal were ready to sanction the departure of 2 players who have barely stayed a year at the Club. They were ready to keep 3 players whose contracts were going to run down within 12 months at a possible opportunity cost of £150m between them. They critically reviewed the position of the manager before renewing his contract. 2 players were brought in early in key areas where we needed reinforcements and both had active parts in pre season.

Wenger loves Giroud and it appears the love is mutual and still he opened the door for him to go. A large number of young players were let go and many promoted into the periphery of the senior squad.

I see change where you see nothing.

If the Board didn’t want Wenger, how come the same board gave him a contract? People talk about the influence of Kroenke. While I understand Gazidis not walking away as he is an employee, why have the other board members not walked away when this ‘bad’ Kroenke arm-twisted them in renewing Wenger’s contract?

Difference of opinion at Board level is a healthy thing as long as some are not trying to undermine the position of others which is what I believe is happening behind the scene at the moment.

I noticed a sly post by David Ornstein who appears well briefed by the Arsenal hierarchy.  He was using the Calum Chambers situation to negatively highlight a change of mind by Arsene. Clearly Executive management is most likely briefing David Ornstein.

With all respect, I don’t think Mr. Gazidis is happy with the situation at Arsenal. I believe he is the only football CEO in this peculiar situation where the manager retains significant soft power in the club. And now with Josh Kroenke (Stan’s son) increasingly becoming more influential in the affairs of the club, Stan is in for a harder / more challenging time and appears to be trying to cement his own position. While I understand human nature, I don’t think he has gone about things in the right way.   

The decision to appoint a director of football was an attempt to whittle down Arsene’s power. And It failed miserably. The role of the DOF is currently distributed amongst a number of people with Arsene having the final say on football matters and Gazidis having executive overview of  the decision making process while the board ultimately backs the decision with funds & support. Nothing was wrong with that format, seeking to change it was needless and divisive and has contributed to all the nonsense talk about Arsenal.

Based on our knowledge of Arsene, it is conceivable that he has stood firmly as a praetorian guard making sure there are no untoward ethical or transfer issues as we see elsewhere. Perhaps Arsene is preventing many from earning free money. These ethical stance has its repercussions and that’s potentially why many are pillorying Arsene in the public place.

Ex players who are not allowed to turn the club into a circus are vociferous on air and on social media in their baseless and negative comments about Arsene. Tony Pulis & Sam Allardyce are managers of the year material but Arsene is finished. Mauricio Pocchetino is the world’s greatest manager but Arsene is rubbish. Pep Guardiola will get it right in Season 3 after inhering a £1 billion toy project and spending £500m more. Mourinho has won the league after 3 matches. Jose has only gone and spend £2 billion to achieve this feat.

The FA Cup is not the biggest trophy any team in England can win but it is still a fantastic trophy to win. My 3-cup winning experience over the last 4 years will remain with me. My abiding memory of the joy Arsenal gives to me. Irrefutable evidence that Arsene is not finished and the club is not in disarray. After all when Pogba FC won it recently, it was a big trophy but when Arsenal and Arsene win it, it is nothing.

Beware Arsenal fans. Top 4 was nothing until Liverpool won it. It is now a trophy. Even Liverpool fans are proud of it. Whereas Arsenal fans disdain it.

Just wait till Klopp or Pochettino win the FA Cup. All the glory of that competition will return. Either of them might go on to be joint winners of the manager of the season award for getting to the final of the FA Cup let alone winning it.

The Arsene that is rubbish and has finished has defeated Tottenringham, Manchester United, Manchester City & Chelsea in winning its 3 FA Cups in last 3 years. Funny enough, it defeated Aston Villa too. That relegated team that comprehensively wiped the floor with Liverpool. The Scousers should thank Aston Villa from protecting them from an embarrassing thumping at Wembley on Slippy Gerrard’s birthday. But they are never grateful I know.  

Arsene’s team are 3rd on the composite premier league table over the last 2 seasons but he is rubbish. Yes he hasn’t won the premier league for 14 seasons but Liverpool haven’t won it for 28 years. But Liverpool have fired many managers in that time, yes and the latest one is worse than Brendan Rodgers. How can any manager who engenders the best hope of an historic club like Liverpool be worse than Brendan? How?

But contracts have been allowed to run down says many who think that handing out £15m 3-year contracts are like handing out sweets.

There was no way any sane person will hand out a contract renewal to Oxlade Chamberlain until he started showing what he was about week in week out towards the end of last season.

The club publicly wanted to renew Ozil & Alexis contract at the start of last season until the idiots who only think of their ego and pockets intervened and ensured the club went into a negativity spiral. Ozil & Alexis stalled on renewal and here we are but the club is to blame. No blame to the doom mongers, the bed - sheet protesters and the sheeply fan who failed miserably in their quest to get Arsene out and will continue to fail.

Pep Guardiola was embarrassed many times last season and same thing as started this season. He is no changing how he sets out his team. But Arsene should change his because Billy Blue Balls says so.

Despite their collective abject failure, Pep, Klopp & Pochettino are not finished. I actually think Pep will never win the Premier League but that doesn’t mean he is finished. But the manager who dumped him out of the FA Cup and ended the season 2 points behind him is rubbished.

How does that work? Where is the logic?

My advice to many who support the Arsenal is to please elevate your mind. Free your soul. Use some of your god given power of reason and stop letting agenda driven individuals think for you.