Remembering the day Didier Drogba destroyed Arsenal

Joe Williams

Have yourself a lovely afternoon and send us some mails:


The day that Drogba destroyed Arsenal
Nine years ago, we played Chelsea at home.

It was pouring down with the rain and I paid way more than I wanted to as the only ticket I could get was in the upper tier.

That day Didier Drogba destroyed us in a 3-0 reverse.

A lot of our fans made for the turnstiles but having paid that much money for my ticket, I wasn’t going to leave early despite the Chelsea fans serenading us with ‘It’s so easy, Emirates.’

I cheered my team on relentlessly and in vain but when Drogba left the field, I stood up and applauded him.

I have never done that with any other player before or since – that’s about the biggest tribute I can give to Drogba.

I certainly don’t miss him but sometimes you have to stand up and acknowledge greatness when you see it.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

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Sticking up for footy fans
A bit late to the party, but thought I’d add my tuppence worth as I actually have something positive to say.

About six years ago, when my eldest lad would’ve been eight, I got two tickets to the Kop for a cup game. He’d been to Anfield quite a few times before but never the Kop, so it was a bit of a special event.

One of the things he knew about, and was quite excited about, was the massive banner that gets passed along the Kop but as it started making its way towards us he realised we were too many seats along and he wouldn’t get to touch it. The guys sitting next to us heard this, and everyone moved out of his way so he can shuffle along a few seats and get his hands on it. Just a small gesture, but it meant a lot to a little lad.

Next thing, the steward near us passes us the official teamsheet for the game which my boy still proudly has in his possession. And, as the infamous Stevie G song starts up, all the fellas around us adjust the lyrics – “He’s big and he’s *very* hard, Steve Gerrard Gerrard”. To their eternal credit, throughout the game they kept up, as best they could, this (non-asked for) non-swearing in the presence of my lad. I guess the fact we won 7-1 or some such probably helps cut out the swearing but still.

It all just shows that even us vilified footy fans can be decent, upstanding citizens every now and again. In fact, pretty much every time I’ve taken either of my boys outside of the designated adult/child seats, everybody has always gone out of their way to make sure they have a good experience. So much so, I’d say the fans know better how to look after the kids than the clubs…
Al, from the Wirral Peninsular


Objectivity is important
Today I read the article from 365 which spoke about how Man City would suffer impact to its image from the recent articles from Speigel.

I agree with this as in similar to a rape case, the consensus lies with the public opinion of those charged, people couldn’t believe Bill Cosby committed rape he was your favourite TV uncle, but Ronalod the almost billionaire diversive sports star ? very likely I guess because he a bit of a knob. In the same way the predisposition to City will make sure this damages.

If I am honest it should.

Anyone with two cents in hand could realise City and PSG have been massivley circumventing FFP. Sponsorship money is all from companies related to their own individual holdings, a vast majority of it is inherently write off money from the Saudi families, the vast transfer fees year on year ( one transfer window of city only buying a singular 70 million pound player doesnt mean they are all of a sudden not a side bought with money ), the constant trips to Dubai to be shown off like the rich toys that their players are.

The problem with this article is that it seems to ignore these facts, City have numerous times barely escaped severe FFP rulings and penalties since 2008. The author compares it to the Patriots for 4 paragraphs only to then say ” the lines aren’t perfectly parallell but there is a similarity in themes ” ( I am paraphrasing). There is significant difference between illegal coaching maneuvers ( the deflating of the ball would also be something to bring up ) and committing fraud as an organisation. Bellichek and his numerous questionable tactics are more akin to Mourinho and his handing out of notes to keepers, yellow carding players purposefully and the like. This is not new to any sporting scene but financial fraud by a football club or any organisation should not be excused.

I dont have sympathy for this, same as how if my football club ( Liverpool) committed fraud to circumvent FFP I wouldn’t defend them. People will say who does it harm but it harms the game, we all get together to belittle tottenham and Arsenal when we can but we forget City wouldnt have Pep if they hadn’t been bought on that fateful day. Their success is warranted and if you want to remove the asterisk or the phrase of ‘buying the title’ you could at least first make it ‘bought the title fairly’,

I agree with the sentiments of the article but I believe its comparison tries to generate an understanding and sympathy for city. Ergonomic chairs and colourful presentation hide Google and Apple’s sins from the worlds view lets not let an Ergonomic Manager and some lovely football help hide it in football.

P.S. saying that other clubs do it is a weak argument glad we could agree, overall a good article just that comparison is genuinely terrible.


A proposition
FFP is easy to circumvent (sponsorship), easy to deal with the sanctions (fines) and keeps the biggest clubs at the top.
Financial stability should be encouraged, but maybe there could be a better way.

Maybe a better way would be an open fine with redistribution. For example, any time a club spends a lot of money on a player they’re taxed and the money is donated further down the pyramid. This will help bring poorer clubs forward, and slow bigger clubs, without equalising the clubs. Maybe a charge of anything above the average transfer cost of the previous season? For example Pogba, at £90m, with a previous average transfer value of £15m (for example) would mean an excess of £75m, with perhaps a 10/20% tax on that. The big clubs can continue to spend how they like, but might be a little dissuaded from going all out on £200m+ Neymar-esque transfers. Clubs looking to break through might be more careful about spending beyond their means and the ones further down would have further means to catch up.
Considering FFP is a UEFA rule, maybe the redistribution could be to clubs outside of Europe, perhaps all the funds raised from English clubs in Europe could go to English clubs not in Europe (maybe just top division)? Or maybe there could be a full pot and it redistributed differently.

My proposal comes with lots of flaws I’m sure, and no doubt those smarter than I who work in the clubs could find loopholes around it, but I think the aims should be to stop irresponsible club management, not financed club growth, encourage competition, not discourage it, and to promote financial transparency, rather than adding layers of shrouding.
KC (Man City have transformed the League for the better) 


Ross Barkley
Sarah Winterburn’s piece about Ross Barkley is interesting, but as an Everton fan I think it should have been targeted elsewhere – or at the very least, elsewhere as well.

I know that F365 dislikes Martinez, and he certainly had/has faults. But Barkley’s best season – by far – for Everton (and therefore in his career to date, as this Premier League season is only 12 matches old and he hasn’t played in every game) was under Martinez.

The trouble really started when Martinez ‘lost the dressing room’ and in effect, four players refused to play for him any longer. All four – including Barkley who was one of the group – are now gone.

We could argue that Martinez played a part, by bigging Barkley up so he believed he was the greatest player ever to appear at Goodison, but this was, in the end, Barkley’s choice and no-one forced him to make it or follow through with it.

Having forced Martinez out, he then had 16 months under Koeman. Now, Koeman was not a success at Everton, but one thing he did do was try to make everyone work harder. The fact that Barkley actually went backwards during this period kinda suggests, however, that Martinez – who is the only Everton manager named in the piece – might not have been entirely to blame for his failings.

Then Everton had Allardyce. That’s a free pass for Barkley, and everyone else, as Allardyce is an idiot.

The point is that the piece is flawed: Martinez loved Barkley, yes, but he also got the best out of him in that season. Barkley, with help from Koeman and Allardyce, brought everything that followed upon himself.

Now, at Chelsea, perhaps he has found a place where he is happier and perhaps he has a manager more suited to his temprament (though it will be interesting to see what happens when Barkley decides he doesn’t like him any more). As much as it hurts me to say it, perhaps being surrounded by players who are better than him has finally made him knuckle down and work harder (though he hardly walked into a first-team spot at Everton, post-Martinez. Who left Everton in June 2016).

Sure, Martinez had flaws, but the narrative doesn’t fit the facts: Barkley was good under Martinez, then helped force him out of the club, and then went backwards under two successive managers. Martinez may not be blameless, but the problem with Ross Barkley was not that we loved what he might be so much we didn’t help him deliver it, it’s that he became so convinced by the hype surrounding him that he refused to accept he had to work. Most Everton fans agree that he was extraordinarily lucky – given his previous two years – to get a move to Chelsea at all.

Even so, great site and good idea for a piece,
Rory O’Keeffe, Thessaloniki


Importance of the right loan
FFP, yawn.

Much more interesting has been the progress of Reiss Nelson at Hoffenheim. Did I just mention a young English player in Germany who isn’t Sancho? Yes I did.

Reiss Nelson has bags of potential and had a couple of appearances but spent most of his time in the U21. Everyone knew he could be something great but staying at Arsenal was stagnating him and the wealth of players ahead of him meant minutes would be at a premium. So he went off to Germany on a loan.

He went to Hoffenheim. They had done well the season before, coming 3rd in the Bundesliga but more importantly, had an exciting young manager who aims for attacking football. They scored the second most goals behind Bayern. Reiss Nelson has pace, trickery and wants to drive forwards. Hoffenheim could potentially have been a perfect fit. And hasn’t it just. 13 appearances, 7 goals, 1 assist. Brilliant for an 18 year old in a top Bundesliga team. Much like Sancho, he is thriving in the right environment.

Surely more players will start going on loan abroad? How many young english players get loaned to the Championship only to stagnate? Going on loan between 18-20 are probably the most important years for progress and the right club and league has to be in the best interest of the players development, not just minutes. Hoffenheim brought in 3 attacking players on top of Reiss Nelson but he is taking the opportunity with both hands, I think because it was the right team at the right time for his development, and obviously his own effort.

Maybe Reiss Nelson is the only young english player who was sought after, which I doubt. Sancho and Reiss are hopefully the start of something great. Fingers crossed they go the Nelson route of going on loan rather than giving up on a Premier League role so we get to see them in all their glory when they come back as better players.
Rob A (Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah for starters…) AFC


Poor poor West Ham…
Paul – Disenfranchised Hammer (is here any other type?) … yes Paul, [t]here is another type. There is the type that have absolutely no self-awareness at all, the blinkered woe-be-me and my club type. God all mighty, of all the fans (clubs) to moan about the unfair advantage the elite clubs get from their billionaire owners,  West Ham really should be the last on the list. How about this as an idea Paul … for starters your club could gain a huge advantage by inheriting a massive modern stadium worth tens/hundreds of millions of pounds, for absolute peanuts, at the cost of the tax payer … that would seem like a good place to start playing catch up wouldn’t it?  Poor poor West Ham, so disadvantaged, it so unfair, you only got an enormous boost over the other 13 clubs (those outside the top6) in the premier league.

Cry me a river mate.
David Moore


Quoting on quotas
There’s much talk of introducing quotas into the upper league or leagues, in an attempt to force teams into playing more Englishmen.  This will never be accepted, especially by the richer clubs.  However that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea and could be introduced, but on a voluntary basis.  If you link the number of England qualified or ‘home grown’ players in a squad, or even better turning out for the team, with a payment, then it becomes more appealing.  If the level of payment makes it worthwhile to smaller clubs then they will consider it, but it will have little effect on the top teams, for whom a few million quid, or even tens of millions, here and there barely makes a difference to the quality of caviar they serve the directors.  So the bigger teams can continue in their FFP – abiding ways, playing who they like, while the rest of the league can look for up and coming youngsters and financially neutral loanees to bolster their bank balances.  I mean, it’s not as if there isn’t enough money sloshing about to fund it, is it?
Al McBoro


Room for manoeuvre
I used to get a little peaved at the obfuscation in the ‘Liverpool legend’ say this or that etc headlines that you have, but I’m over it. And seeing as these are usually confined to the odd piece and kept away from your more meaty articles, I think that leaves it fine to go to town on these headlines with a move towards the satirical. Just ham it up to fuck with some bullshit: ‘recently knighted Liverpool legend’ – Robbie Fowler, or Aspas maybe. Or ‘football god returns from failed overseas sojourn’ – Mark Clattenberg



Underage Soccer in Ireland
Pricelist for U11/U12 sports in a town (population 15K) an hour’s drive from Dublin.

Rugby: €60 registration including insurance, no extra training fees and you buy your own jersey. One midweek training session with training or match/blitz at weekend.

GAA: Includes both hurling and football, Registration €50. No extra training fees and Jersey is included. 4 training sessions midweek with match/blitz weekend.

Soccer: €125 registration fee. €2 per training session. No jersey provided. 2 training sessions midweek , match/blitz weekend.

I have two boys who play Rugby for the winter and GAA during the summer. The Rugby and GAA nurture the players with an “everybody gets a game” ethos and all players develop at different stages. The soccer club takes players to matches every week and leaves kids on the side-lines looking on for these games. To leave 10/11 year olds as unused substitutes is something I cannot agree with. Unfortunately the future of soccer in Ireland is grim.