Keep those emails coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
This will be the month that Arsenal land marquee signings
Man Utd are (rightly) desperate to sign Alexis Sanchez. With Fellaini, Ibrahimovic and probably Mkhitaryan to be moved on by the end of the season, the squad is in dire need of major surgery in order to challenge City next term.
Mourinho is rightly moving heaven and earth to get the Arsenal man to Old Trafford – it’s a no brainer – he fills a gaping hole in the Utd squad that just doesn’t exist at Manchester City, who seem ambivalent at the prospect of destabilizing the delicate harmony of Pep’s beautifully balanced squad.
For Arsenal; something tells me that Wenger has a few tricks up his sleeve. If they ever needed a big transfer window, it was this one. With plenty of potential recruits looking for a move in a World Cup year, and with cash on hand from Ox (35m), Coquelin (12m), and now a probable 60m for Sanchez & Walcott deals, that’s over £100m to reinvest in the squad.
Would a couple of marquee signings convince Ozil to stay? Who knows. But if Arsenal are to remain a relevant force in the Premier League they are going to need either a) a miracle or b) for Wenger to shed his spendthrift mentality.
Call me foolish, but I think this may just be the month that Arsenal fans get both.
Wenger is merely operating within Arsenal’s brief
By the time this reaches you Alexis Sanchez might’ve joined United or Chelsea; maybe he’s still at Arsenal giving side-eye to the Emirates Stadium exit. But the speculation, endless though it may be, has me wondering: just how much of this current Arsenal malaise is Arsene’s fault? What percentage of blame should be apportioned to the Frenchman?
After some thought I’m close to confident it’s next to zero. He is managing to expectation, just as anyone in any job will perform to expectation to retain their job.
In recent times we’ve seen managers of Chelsea and City sacked for failing to retain the league. We’ve seen David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal removed for failing to qualify for the Champions League, ditto Brendan Rodgers. The expectation of those clubs exceeded the performance of their managers, hence they were removed and replaced.
The expectation of the Arsenal brass clearly isn’t any of that. The measurables for success obviously aren’t qualification for the Champions League, or progression beyond the last 16, or a title tilt.
Do you think Arsene Wenger wants to finish outside the Champions League places? Do you think he wants to be out of the title race by November? Do you think he wants to lose Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Van Persie, Sanchez, Ozil? No. Surely not.
I don’t believe this is a guy too pigheaded to adapt to the changing game. I don’t believe he still thinks he can compete with the same methods and means of 20 years ago. He is very simply operating within a brief, which is outlined and indulged by the board and chairman, as well as ownership.
If he’s replaced Arsenal will still have the same old problems; it’s the Club that needs to change top-down if they’re to improve.
Bad players, or good players playing badly?
So Adonis (And what Szczesny said about the goalkeeper coaching at Arsenal is even more damning) Stevenson, AFC, thinks that the Arsenal squad is full of bang average players. I disagree with that, Ozil and Sanchez are the stars but the rest are good players phoning it in safe in the knowledge that no matter how crap they play, they will start the following week.
Any pressure applied by the Europa League team is ignored, have a blinder midweek, doesn’t matter you’ll get dropped for the league so why even bother trying?
The squad is better than its current 6th position, certainly capable of challenging for a top 4 spot. However something is rotten to the core at the club, the whole place is riddled with apathy from top to bottom.
The Ox has always been great
I felt the need to write in after reading the praise for The Ox in the mailbox. I should add I’m an Arsenal fan
For years i have watched The Ox and thought what an amazing player he is, his early career was massively hampered by injuries, and his last season he was mostly playing as a full back.
Non-Arsenal fans used to mock him as not good enough and another of Wenger’s pets, based on youtube compilations of cock-ups (seriously, you could make one of these about Messi) and not scoring enough points for their fantasy football team (ie goals and assists). The one thing they didn’t base it on was regularly watching Arsenal play.
What’s the point of my email? A pre-emptive strike on those that are going to start suggesting Klopp has transformed him. No, he hasn’t, The Ox was that good for us. Just nobody notices if you don’t have the girls and assists. That typo is hilarious so it’s staying.
Documenting a Bundesliga trip
Always interested to read other Mailbox contributor’s experiences of watching football abroad, so I thought I’d add my own from this weekend.
If you like football, and aren’t one of those odd little urchins who only watches Premier League (and often only their team) and nothing else, the German match day experience is a treat. If you are one of those people, you can skip this mail.
I try to do at least one Bundesliga game a year – but not generally the bigger clubs – and this year, matching availability and reasonably intriguing fixtures, dictated a trip to see SV Werder Bremen face off against TSG Hoffenheim.
Basing ourselves in Hamburg, we got the train across to Bremen and made our way across from the station and along the River Weser to the impressive looking WeserStadion. I read somewhere this compared to the walk to Craven Cottage and I can see what they meant with that analogy. It would have been truely lovely in summer, but the biting, glacial January wind somewhat diminished the experience. Still a couple of beers (tremendous as always) to fortify ourselves and we were soon ready for the game – though maybe not for the re-worked Werder versions of 3 Lions and cheer up sleepy jean over the PA before the game. Weird.
As an aside, footy nerds might remember Brazilian striker, Ailton, from Bremen teams of yore. He made an appearance before the game, looking for all the world like the real Ronaldo’s brother. Decidedly portly in his old age.
Typically, in these situations, players get injured and you don’t always get to see the teams at their best – and that was the case here. Bremen were without the creativity of the missing Fin Bartels and defensive lynchpin Thomas Delaney. (Although results have not been great even when they have played this season) Hoffenheim similarly were deprived of the attacking incision of Kerem Demirbay.
The first half generally confirmed my misgivings as a pretty disjointed display from both teams saw Hoffenheim 0-1 ahead after a cross from Serge Gnabry (whose loan spell at Bremen last year sealed his transfer to Bayern and subsequent loan to TSG this, and the fans booed vociferously when he got the ball – bit harsh) was met by an unmarked Benjamin Hubner to head in.
Hoffenheim had comfortably been the better team in the first half, but seemed content not to put Bremen to the sword, and we’re punished for their nonchalance by a scrappy equaliser from Gebre Selassie who poked out a foot after the ball had deflected off two Hoffenheim defenders to score. It was one of those lucky finishes where the ball goes in off the bar rather than about 10 feet over – which should probably have been the end result 9 times out of 10. Still, it was nice to hear the ship’s horn sound effect used to celebrate a home goal in action. Kitsch, but I kinda like it.
Stung into action, Hoffenheim raced forward only 2 minutes later and a ball from the right found Kramaric (the former Leicester one) unmarked 6 yards out, but he could only blast straight at the keeper. An absolute golden opportunity. Despite looking a class above on the ball, TSG seemed strangely reluctant to make this tell and it was actually Werder who had the best chance with an effort deflected onto a post towards the end of the game.
As ever, the match day experience (cheap tickets, travel, beers, atmosphere) outweighed the actual quality of football on show, but it was still very much enjoyable. I cannot overstate the delights of holing up in one of the many pubs and restaurants with their own brewing facilities on-site and having copious amounts of food and beer after a game day.
Can’t recommend it enough.
Nick the Citeh fan (seen us lose a few games in my time), Chessington
Why is nobody talking about Paul Pogba?
I was thinking that with all the oxygen being sucked out of the room by Pep, Jose, Sanchez, etc some fairly notable performances are being missed.
Specifically, the following three seem to be ripping up the park.
Sane – Who’s the best left winger in the Premier League? You wouldn’t have guessed Sane at the beginning of the season, but despite getting less attention than the more surprising Sterling, he’s putting both Hazard and Sanchez in the shade.
Christiansen – This kid has to be a shout for the Young Player of the Year award. The calm assured rock in the centre of the current Chelsea maelstrom has made Luiz redundant and turned Cahill into his sidekick.
Pogba – Anyone else notice that behind Jose’s shadow, a world-class central midfielder is emerging fast? After all the hype, he’s finally delivering and is clearly irreplaceable to Mourinho’s plans. Soon it may well be that the two best midfielders in the world reside in Manchester.
Would you rather own your club, or it be successful?
As a brief intro I am an AFC Wimbledon supporter. I have a season ticket and go to about half of our away games a year. Now most people know ‘our’ story and if you don’t already, then you probably don’t care anyway. Fair enough.
My reason for writing in (and I’m sorry if this question has been posed on here before), I was talking to a Millwall supporting friend the other day and after a few choice South London digs at each other, he turned and said “your lot will never get in the Premiership, you’re a small club”. I told him he was probably right. I didn’t even really take it as an insult because the gap is so vast between divisions nowadays. I did however manage to silence him when I countered with “but us fans will always own our club and we won’t be waiting for external investment to carry on writing our own history”.
Now this leads me on to my question in a long winded way. I wondered, if you had a choice for your own club, would you rather a) Receive huge backing out of nowhere (Man City, PSG, Wolves etc) to propel your team to the very pinnacle in a matter of a few years with a genuine chance for titles, buying the best along the way or b) Have your own fans owning your club. Making decisions as a collective with no fear of traditions and heritage being trampled over in the hunt for glory, whilst having to accept that money for transfers ultimately comes from sponsors and fans pockets via donations ???
Some people will think this is a stupid/obvious question. Again, fair enough. But actually feeling like you’re part of your club is pretty unique in football and it made me think.
What would you choose???
What did Sterling do differently to Van Dijk?
Few things prompt me to write into the mailbox, but I’m frequently struck by how consistent Liverpool fans’ abuse of Sterling has been since he left the club. A campaign that ultimately lead to a ‘fan’ racially abusing him outside the training ground.
Here we have a player who wanted to further his career at a club that he felt gave him the best chance of winning trophies & increase his earning potential. A common occurrence in today’s game and a transfer that was only protracted because Liverpool (rightly) wanted to extract the most amount of funds from the deal.
If Liverpool fans’ do take issue with Sterling’s behavior, how is it different to how VVD has conducted himself in the past 6 months? Will you boo Suarez or Coutinho if they come back with Barca? It’s not like they made it a secret they wanted to leave.
What am I missing here?
Just know where to draw the banter line
I agree with almost all of John Nic’s article but I can’t help feeling that it would be easier to define banter properly rather than try to “culturally outlaw the banter mindset” whatever the hell that means.
the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.
“there was much good-natured banter”
verb: banter; 3rd person present: banters; past tense: bantered; past participle: bantered; gerund or present participle: bantering
exchange remarks in a good-humoured teasing way.
“the men bantered with the waitresses” (Wow, that’s a bad example)
The key words in both definitions are ‘exchange,’ and ‘teasing.’ Calling someone a f**** n***** or ‘feminazi c***s***g bitch,’ isn’t banter and never has been.
If Eni Aluko was to only answer Lee Kendall in a Welsh accent, call him taffy and tell jokes about him shagging sheep then what he did may possibly be considered banter (still probably not given the situation of coach and player). As it was, it sounds more like bullying or just that he was a twat.
Richard Keys and Andy Grey, that Sol Campbell song, the Arsene Wenger song, Hillsborough songs, songs about murderers, the Munich song, the hissing noises, 10 German bombers, no surrender… etc, none of them are banter.
You’re (we) are letting the idiots steal the word… we shouldn’t.
Hey, a fun game
Since Karius appears to be the first choice keeper for LFC I have decided to introduce a new drinking game. It’s called ‘will Karius move’. For every shot at net that Karius does not move you have to take a shot.
You’ll be p*ssed by half-time.
Jason Gallagher LFC, Montreal, Canada
Yes, this works as a gag
So, Giggsy says ” I’d like to think I’ll be the same kind of manager as I was a player” with regard to Wales.
Does that mean he isn’t going to turn up for any of their friendlies?