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The reverse Charles I
There’s a saying about Charles I that nothing became his life like his leaving of it.
The much maligned monarch’s reign resulted in England becoming a republic due to his delusions of an absolute monarchy, which ultimately led to civil war and his own beheading.
But his bravery at accepting his fate drew praise.
Arsene Wenger appears to have reversed Charles’ story.
Here we have a manager loved by the Arsenal faithful for the vast majority of his reign as the club’s most successful manager. He perhaps also doesn’t get enough praise for delivering Champions League football on a shoestring budget. But he has overstayed his welcome and what worries me is he won’t get the send off he deserves.
I can see us being humiliated at Old Trafford ahead of an inevitable exit in Madrid and then the club expects fans to give the Saturday afternoon of a bank holiday weekend to pay tribute to this man? I will because I remember the good times but will 60,000? I’m not so sure.
The monarchy was eventually restored under Charles’ son years after his death. I only hope Arsenal’s restoration doesn’t take quite so long.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Macro to micro
When Wenger announced his departure, I didn’t write anything in. I didn’t even check the mailbox. But now that I’m a few beers into the aftermath of another big game surrender I’m going to.
The problem with Wenger, and always has been, is discipline. Ironically, it’s the same lack of discipline that, when it works, makes his football so beautiful to watch.
When it doesn’t, its painful.
Last night it was painful. Koscielny will probably get the rap. The real fault lies with Monreal. Standing about a metre behind the rest of the line, with the ball in play, up against the best off-the-shoulder striker in Europe, in the biggest game of our season.
What Wenger leaving really represents is the end of the macro manager in football. In terms of their role in the day-to-day running of the club and on the pitch. The broad strokes of football ‘philosophies’ are now redundant. In their place comes the era of small details.
Football has always been a game of fine margins (see cliché), but today’s fitness, technique and speed have made them finer. Those who have succeeded in this climate micro manage; see Klopp, Guardiola and Mourinho (probably the trailblazer).
Transition football dictates that you can’t be an inch out of position in today’s climate, let alone a metre. For me, the blame for that goal is shared between Monreal and the bench. The fact that nobody noticed till it was too late is what sets arsenal apart from other clubs at the moment.
Someone needed to tell Monreal to hold the line. Hopefully next year it will be Jardim.
Liam Gabriel Hoskins (Here’s to a miracle in Madrid) AFC
2018’s George Graham
Diego Simone the George Graham of 2018
There is no disgrace in drawing 1-1 with Athletico Madrid at home. Sure they played with 10 men for the majority of the game and gifted us the ball but the reaction to the game is as if we have been hammered in the first leg 4-0 (as we did against Milan in 2012), 3-1 (Bayern 2013), 2-0 (Bayern 2014), 3-1 (Monaco 2015), 2-0 (Barca 2016) or 5-1 (Munich 2017).
For me I’m over the moon that we are at least still in the second leg. However, for the record I have no hope of us making the final. As everyone has already said the game has encompassed Arsenal for the last few years, pretty football, loads of passing, try to walk it into the net but eventually do something stupid and lose the game.
Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves for doing what we have done for the last decade I would prefer to look to the future and think about what we want. I am completely fed up of this rubbish that Arsenal need another manager who plays possession-based football. Of all Wenger’s achievements I think his greatest has been to remove nearly a century worth of history and memories. It’s like pre-1996 Arsenal did not exist. For the record before Wenger it was 1-0 to the Arsenal. I spent last night watching Diego Simone thinking he is the 2018 version of George Graham. Additionally, there’s all this rubbish being pedaled that our players can only play Wenger type football. Ozil’s best form was playing counter attack football for Mourinho’s Real Madrid, Ramsey looks twice the player playing direct football for Wales and wouldn’t it be nice to for once to attack quickly and use the pace of Aubameyang, Welbeck or Bellerin. But sure, I guess these people are right, the Ox has really struggled to adapt to Klopp’s pressing style.
Also, if the boot had been on the other foot and Arsenal were playing in Madrid and had a player sent off after 10 minutes what would the score have been? At least 3-0 I recon but based on some of the collapses listed above it could easily have been another 6-0 (a la Wenger’s 1000 game vs. Chelsea). So where does all this rubbish come from that in order to be Arsenal manager, fill a stadium or make supporters happy you need to play “beautiful” football? I watched the Athletico fan’s last night and they all seemed to be very happy at the end of the game, none of them seemed to worry about the fact they had 24% possession and zero corners. Football is about the glory and Simone has brought them glory. And that’s what Arsenal need glory.
Sure, Simone would be a great Wenger replacement but we all know he won’t come, so instead of looking for a Wenger v2 we should be looking for a Simone v2.
Paul K, London (and for the record I want Mancini)
1. Sarah writes article saying Harry Kane looks a little bit silly for claiming a goal that barely touched him (and which he certainly didn’t intend to score with).
2. Said article says that people have taken the piss out of Kane because, you know, when someone does something silly like swearing on their daughter’s life about claiming a goal that was, at best, marginal, people tend to rib that person a bit.
3. Sarah concludes article by saying this is all a bit silly and Kane could have handled it better by employing some self-deprecating humour.
4. Ross, THFC writes a 10 paragraph piece in which he argues: the PFA should not tell jokes about players, journalists should not joke about players, has a go at Sarah for not contacting the family of Harry Kane to corroborate whether they were furious or not (when her piece was about how to handle media storms rather than a investigation into the Kane family’s true feelings), states that journalists should not use quotes from a few years ago as insight into a player’s personality (I actually think one of Kane’s qualities is that he doesn’t seem changed by success, which is the point Sarah also made by arguing he hasn’t changed), draws a straw man saying no one thought Kane would be in the golden boot running this season, puts the attack on Kane over other players down to a “strong pro-Liverpool narrative” and concludes by saying this is a media plot to establish “a negative narrative about a star player ahead of a major tournament” so that they can scapegoat him for England’s WC failure (“the key man [Kane] will get the blame”).
5. Ross, THFC accuses Sarah of completely losing her head.
Glad we’re all clear.
It seems the martyrdom of Harry Kane continues apace. I thought Liverpool fans were supposed to be the touchy ones but I’ve never seen such an ode to victimhood as Ross’ thesis on why poor Harry is the most unfortunate, put-upon soul in the world.
I’ll start by saying I completely agree with him that the FA and PFA absolutely should not be getting involved in the sort of twitter land-grab bulls**t that seems to permeate the entire world these days; it’s unbecoming and unprofessional. For that matter, neither do I agree that Kane should have looked to involve himself in it. However, there’s nothing to stop anyone else, including 365.
It is, however, completely disingenuous (and borderline offensive, given the obvious undercurrent) to equate the ribbing of Kane with the concerted campaign being waged against Raheem Sterling. Come back when Harry has been labelled FOOTY IDIOT on the front page of a national newspaper, hounded for both spending money and not spending money, when having a house, having a car and eating food are all misrepresented as significant character faults.
The truth of the matter is that Kane is actually universally respected and admired by almost everyone – or was, at least – and the reason for this is precisely that despite being one of the best players in the world he’s always come across as humble, down to earth and a far cry from the preening, self-regarding prima donnas prominent across the game. We support teams, not individuals, and we want to believe, however unrealistically, that players will always prioritise the team, our team, over personal glory. Harry was one of the pinnacles around which this belief could be anchored, but that beacon has now been firmly extinguished. (Which makes it all the more ironic that Spurs fans seem to be the only ones that are finding this ‘treatment’ unfair).
This is no anti-Spurs conspiracy. Selfish players have always been ridiculed: for example if I say the name David Nugent, I guarantee no one is thinking of any of his man of the match performances, late winners or his selfless off the ball running, we’re all remembering that time he nicked an England goal from an inch out and ran off celebrating like a madman. And he didn’t even need to resort to raising a formal appeal to have a goal taken off his teammate and credited to him, metaphorically staking the life of his child as collateral, because it touched a fibre on his shirt.
Hopefully Kane has learned from this and will move on. But I for one can’t wait until the next post-match interview where he says it’s always nice to get on the scoresheet but really it’s all about the three points.
JG LFC (with apologies to Adam Hurrey for that last line)
Sarah’s article yesterday on Harry Kane’s entirely self-inflicted lurching reputation struck a chord with exactly what I was thinking when his, or his family’s, latest comments came about.
As a Spurs fan, it is frankly embarrassing for Harry Kane to behave in such a manner. Is it really so difficult for him to understand quite why it is amusing to everyone else for him to be claiming another teammate’s goal in a manner more akin to school children arguing who scored which goal during their daily game of football at lunch break.
Perhaps we expect too much of young, multi-millionaire sports persons to be able to put things they do in perspective, when their own is so narrow.
On the other hand, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s comments immediately following his season and World Cup ending injury shows that it is perhaps more of an issue of Harry Kane being Harry Kane.
In Oxlade-Chamberlain is a man who after very reasonably expressing his disappointment at not being able to help his team in the rest of their games, and country at the World Cup, shows the kind of maturity and empathy we often do not see from his peers to put the focus on the much bigger plight of a fellow human fighting for his life in hospital after being attacked by Roma ‘fans’ before the game. Sadly, that kind of behaviour is increasingly the exception rather than the rule leading fans to be surprised when a footballer cares about matters other than football or their own self-worth.
So perhaps we should insist on more from footballers when all they have to talk about is scoring goals and winning games. After all, we are increasingly reminded that footballers are human too and despite their massive pay checks, they are subject to a whole array of emotions including joy, sadness, depression, grief and everything else a non-Zuckerberg human being can ably express.
That goes both ways. If highly paid, insular, mollycoddled precious man-children want to be treated like anything more than such, perhaps they should start behaving as something more.
After having a mind numbing morning in work, and looking for easy distractions, I casually picked up the dictionary I keep at the corner of my desk.
Flipping the pages at random, I stopped at I. My eyes scrolled down the page, picking up the first word I see, Irony.
Under which I can confirm Ross’s 9 paragraph long, 1247 word humourless defence of Harry Snowflake Kane is printed in full.
I can only assume Ross’s e-mail is some kind of elaborate self-referential performance piece and he’s satirising the completely over the top reaction from Kane to a fairly innocuous joke.
Either that or I’m fully expecting Ross to leak how furious him and his family are about this email and how it’s tantamount to bullying.
Big MUFC Manchester (5 paragraphs, 127 words)
Its Friday afternoon and I just finished reading this mornings mailbox, and was completely blown away by Ross THFC’s epic whinge about the “treatment” (rolls eyes) of Harry Kane.
I honestly can’t wait to see what this afternoons mailbox has to say in response. I’d write my own but I don’t have the discipline to keep it short enough to be published.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
The man himself
I have been a bit of a knob
Anyway, I just saw an advert for claims direct, reckon I can get in on that
Koeman in hindsight
After reading Ian Watson’s somewhat back-handed attempt at a Big Sam defence, I started thinking whether Ronald Koeman got the short end of the stick.
Ian wrote “Big Sam and Everton is an uneasy marriage, a convenient one at the time it was consummated, but far less so in the absence of desperation,”
A mailbox entry (Yaru, Malaysia) stated “Back when he was hired, there was a very real danger that Everton were going to be relegated”.
Yet the truth is that Koeman was sacked a mere 9 matches into a season he had started with the most injury ravaged squad in the League.
And his Premier League points dropped to that point had come against teams that Everton were the betting underdogs for. Par for the course.
Chelsea (A) 0-2
Man City (A) 1-1
Man Utd (A) 0-4
Tottenham (H) 0-3
Leicester (A) 0-2
Arsenal (H) 2-5
2 Home, 4 away. 1 point, 3 goals, 17 against.
Now, I don’t watch many Everton matches, but surely Koeman would have them playing style of football no worse than Allardyce?
Allardyce’s record in the return fixtures was only a single win better, and he had twice-as-many stabs at Goodison Park.
Chelsea (H) 0-0
Man City (H) 1-3
Man Utd (H) 0-2
Tottenham (A) 0-4
Leicester (H) 2-1
Arsenal (A) 1-5
4 home, 2 away. 4 points, 4 goals, 15 against.
Evertonians, knowing what you know now, (That being, 12 points off a Europa League spot and a probable 9th-10th place finish,) would you still replace Koeman with Allardyce if you could rewind back to October?
Possibly a bit late to the party on this one but I’m struggling to see the problem with the FA selling Wembley.
For the reported bid, it really is a bit of a no brainer and frees up the FA from having the need to run and maintain a national stadium. It also gives them more flexibility on scheduled of both England and FA Cup games.
As it stands, the stadium is used for virtually every England game and FA Cup Semi Finals simply because the FA are still paying for it and need to make as much money as possible to cover the costs/service debt. I believe that currently they won’t finish paying for Wembley until 2024. By taking Kahn’s money they can cover the outstanding amounts immediately and reinvest the rest of the money in grassroots football. For example, there is a surfeit of coaches in the UK so the FA could finance free (or heavily subsidised) coaching courses to get more coaches working with kids or clubs at all levels. A higher level of coaching and simply a higher number of coaches will only benefit the game in England.
They could also help non-league clubs convert to 3G pitches, giving them the opportunity for the pitch to be used on a regular basis and given people access to facilities that would otherwise not have been available. Win/Win so far.
Then we come to the top levels of the game. The FA Cup semi finals no longer need to be at Wembley and can revert to netural venues across the country – off the top of my head Old Trafford, Emirates, Anfield, St James Park, Spurs new ground would all have capacities (50k +) that could more than easily handle these games and would return Wembley to being used for the final only.
England could also hit the road. It proved successful when Wembley was rebuilt, so makes sense to take say a home game v Slovenia to one of the stadiums mentioned above. Would a qualifier against Andorra be better played in a stadium like Villa Park rather than having 80k bored fans at Wembley. If an NFL team moves in during the autumn months there will still be scope to play big games at Wembley in the spring but I am sure as part of any deal it would be negotiated that England would get preferential access at all times. The NFL schedule would need to take in to account additional travel to the UK, so wouldn’t surprise me if the London Jaguars ended up playing away games in batches of 2 or 3, giving space for other events at Wembley.
Finally, there seems to be a concern that Wembley would have it’s name changes to The Taco Bell Doritos Bowl but isn’t already sponsored by EE, so there wouldn’t be much different and honestly, would anybody call it anything different than Wembley even if it officially had a sponsors name?
All in all, this is a good deal for the FA and for English football and I would be surprised if the deal doesn’t go through this summer.
Tomorrow is the final day of the season in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division. The title and the relegation place are decided but the playoffs are still up in the air. Awful weather earlier in the season made for a frantic end to season – everyone had a bit of a pile-up but some teams have played three times a week several times. Here’s how things shape up:
*Shaw Lane won twice in midweek and have tightened up the playoff race (NB 2nd-5th with Warrington guaranteed second). Those of us who like patterns will appreciate that third to sixth now reads:
Ashton United 79 points
Grantham Town 78
Farsley Celtic 77
Shaw Lane 76
As far as my shonky maths can tell, Shaw Lane’s hopes of crashing the playoff party rest on winning their game and hoping one of Grantham or Farsley loses. If Celtic lose, then a draw will be enough for the Ducks to overtake them on superior goal difference.
*Ashton United have theoretically the toughest fixture, away to Workington (11th), while Shaw Lane host Matlock Town (13th). Farsley are at home to Marine (19th), while Grantham are away to basement-dwellers Sutton Coldfield Town. They’ve had a bit of a dead cat bounce since relegation was confirmed, so will be in better form than the reverse fixture in September, when the Gingerbreads won 6-1.
Whatever happens, it looks set to be a tense final day around the league and making the playoffs will come down to staying calm and holding your nerve.
*Much like a grand prix where a lot of the bolder racing happens just below the points positions, where drivers have less to lose, there are still six teams in with a mathematical chance of finishing in the 8th spot currently occupied by Buxton. Two of those sides, Barwell and Mickleover Sports are set to meet at the Don Amott Arena.
*The league’s top scorer looks set to be Liam Hardy of Buxton. If he scores twice against Whitby Town and none of his teammates find the net, he will have scored exactly half of his team’s goals. Currently on 34 goals, Hardy is five ahead of Grantham’s Lee Shaw, though both are looking for their 30th from open play tomorrow (the league separates open play and penalties, for interest’s sake). Shaw is the only player from teams in the playoff positions to feature in the top scorers list. Witton Albion have the fourth and fifth top scorers (Steven Tames and Robert Topley).
Enjoy your weekend.
Stoke the fire
David (Stockholm Syndrome is a thing right?) London, says Atleti make Stoke look clean because of how horrible they are.
I think Stoke make Stoke look clean, on behalf of their position in 18th of the disciplinary table.
KC (we get it, shawcross broke a leg once, move on)
The missing piece?
I hear that Wanyama might be available. Could he do a Sol Campbell and finally join Arsenal (where he belongs)? Could be the missing piece.
Ten Friday things
Here we are at the end of another long week. How’s yours been? Ready for ten things to smile about in a slightly vacant way? Good.
1. The non-league ultras scene. And by that I mean actual support, not the d*ckheads that use ultras to mean an excuse for making trouble.
2. Non-athletic footballers. It makes the spirit soar to see Matt Rhead wind up centre-halves by just being massive. I don’t know if this is just the memory being the father of the truth here, but I also think of Neil Redfearn that way. Maybe it’s just ‘cos he was at Barnsley and that seems to fit.
3. Stuart McCall falling off that car.
4. The – literal – Corinthian spirit. One of my favourite quotes is from when a Corinthian Casuals player was so stunned that the penalty kick rule was introduced in 1891 that he called it: “A standing insult to sports men to have to play under a rule which assumes that players intend to tip, hack and push opponents and to behave like cads of the first kidney”. How times have changed. No-one says cad any more.
5. Imagining managers doing other jobs. Hodgson, clearly an East End gang boss in the style of Harry Grout from Porridge. I could see Danny Cowley doing for, say, archaeology what Brian Cox did for physics. Derek Adams is obviously a rep for a medium-sized printing company. Ian Holloway, irritatingly chirpy milkman.
6. Gabriel Batistuta.
7. Songs being inextricably linked to hearing them over the team line-ups on Match of the Day. Everton, Z-Cars. Newcastle, Local Hero. Chelsea, Liquidator. You’re immediately there.
8. That gradual increase in volume when the whole ground notices the keeper jogging up for a late corner. Love a keeper coming up for a corner.
9. Mediawatch. Continually doing the Lord’s work.
10. The fact that people take it upon themselves to be referees. The phrase “thankless task” is used a lot, but it really, really is. I got into reffing when I was a teenager because I loved the game but was utterly, stupendously crap at playing it. I just wanted to be involved. Chapeau to all those who stick it out. You’re better, stronger, people than I.
Have a great couple of days, everybody.
David (#PrayForZbrojovka) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.
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