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Giddy about football again
Alay’s e-mail this morning resonated with me. I am a Spurs fan so it’s not often I agree with an Arsenal supporter. However, football is a lovely thing right now.
For the past 7-8 years my beloved team have gone from mid-table mediocrity to a top 4/5/6 team. We play good football, have a genuinely likeable manager and players (for the most part….. Lamela) and while we aren’t winning trophies, our progress is clear and you can see what we are trying to achieve long term. Which, as it happens, appears to be the exact opposite to what Jose’s doing to Utd. I digress.
This season started poorly, no home, no players, a few injuries and we genuinely have only play well on a handful of occasions. YET, we’re in all cups, third in the league and somehow in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
I’m off to Wembley tomorrow – and I can’t wait!
AMN catching the eye
My first time watching a match at the Emirates last night, I couldn’t help but be overawed at the grandeur of the stadium and infrastructure the club has built since the last Gunners game I saw (Highbury, 10+ yrs ago?). Despite it being against Qarabag/carrier bag, I couldn’t help but be impressed by one player and one player only in what was, let’s be honest, a rather drab game.
Maitland-Niles stood out for me with poise and confidence on the ball. I can’t say if this transferred well on to the screen for those who made the wise decision to watch at home in the warm, but he really really impressed me.
Sitting only a few rows back from the touchline, I saw up close what he can do and this was summed up in one beautiful touch where he took the ball down from a cross field pass with what can only be described as a Zidane-like touch.
What is a shame is that he rarely took advantage of the opposition weaknesses and didn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck and drive his team forward, something Arsenal really needed last night. He’s clearly got the talent but does he have the mentality to win a place in Emery’s first eleven?
Please Arsenal fans, enlighten me as this is the first time I’ve seen him in person. What is the general feeling about his future?
P.S. A note for the great away support from the carrier bag supporters.. all 14 of them.
Roland, MUFC, London (because of course)
Lovren? Not a problem…
A quick response to Phil W (can VVD play centre-back on his tod?) LFC, saying that Klopp has failed to address the Lovren situation. This year Lovren has effectively become our fourth choice centre back option. He may not be the world beater he thinks he is but he’s not bad for fourth choice. And Klopp let Klavan go because he quite rightly recognised he had now become firth or even sixth choice (Fabinho as fifth?).
By the way, not many teams have a World Cup finalist as their fourth choice centre-back. No team has conceded less goals in Europe. I think Klopp’s doing okay with his defensive choices.
…I get tired of Phil W and his ilk’s constant unwarranted flapping over Lovren.
May I remind him that Lovren was every present in our excellent defensive upturn last season , even before VVD came in. Why not look at Matip’s stats for last season? he was far worse.
May I remind him that Lovren reached the World Cup final and was in FIFA’s team of the tournament.
May I remind him that Lovren was our nailed on first-choice partner for VVD before the season kicked off, people would have said you were mad if you suggested Gomez or Matip.
May I remind him that Lovren was our best player against Real Madrid, not at fault for any of the goals conceded and kept Ronaldo in his pocket all game.
May I remind him that we have conceded one goal in the four league games he has played this season, including a clean sheet against City where he was, again, arguably our best defender.
We all know that Lovren has a bad game in him, but what a surprise that Phil mentions the Spurs game over a year ago! I wonder why that is considering he’s been such a calamity in the 14 months of Champions league, premier league and World cup games since!
The problem is the perception of Lovren means every mistake is seen as proof that he’s a calamity but in reality VVD has as long a list of errors since he has been here. That’s not to denigrate VVD, he’s the absolute best, but is proof that every defender makes mistakes.
Lovren is a very good defender, time to lay off him.
(Lovren, if you read this, please don’t now make me look stupid against Man United)
There are times when it is reassuring to know that it is not just yourself seeing things unfold, and that others are undergoing similar experiences. So kudos to Howard (and that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s done FA this season!) Jones for invoking Torben Piechnik as a sanity check on any giddiness we Liverpool fans may be (are) currently feeling. I go back as far as watching Barney Rubble get the winner in the ’81 European Cup final, so I was witness to the great teams of the 80s and the very steep decline thereafter. And in fairness you could navigate a whole canon of Careful-what-you-wish-for fables just from dodgy Scandi defenders that we got through in the 90s. Glenn Hysen, anyone? Bjorn Tore bloody Kvarme???
However we have managed to give homes to an awful lot of different types of dross in the time I have been watching – again, hat tip to Howard for citing Voronin, he was truly dire, but is best viewed sat in a panorama of nonsense ranging from idiot thugs brought in by Souness (Ruddock, Dicks), local lads who were never good enough (Nicky Tanner (albeit unfortunate), Mike Marsh, through to Neil Mellor), random French chancers and/or kids (Le Tallec, Sinama-Pongolle, Cheyrou etc etc, there were hundreds of the buggers), random Spaniards who were only ever any good in Europe (looking at you, lovely man Luis Garcia), people who became very good elsewhere (all the keepers we signed for about 15 years, plus Iago Aspas), and the bizarre but undeniably lovable phenomenon that was Maxi.
So sod it. This is a good side and we will enjoy it.
We don’t want Mourinho out…yet
Ya it’s the big weekend for Man U and Liverpool. Ya it’s the derby. Ya it’s bragging rights. Ya it’s etc etc.
But as much as I want Liverpool to absolutely hockey Man U, please don’t make it the reason Jose gets the sack. He needs to stay until the walls come crumbling down. We’re enjoying the shit show way too much.
An interesting mail about racism, colour etc
Some interesting emails on skin colour bias in recent mailboxes. I can sympathise with both sides of the discussion (stay with me). The issue is that it is hard to discuss the topic straight up because it’s so sensitive and messy.
After reading Doug’s mail suggesting that there is no connection between skin colour and physicality, I’ll admit that my first thought was the 100m sprint and other athletics events such as the 10,000m. When no amount of sports funding from other ambitious/wealthy nations can address the skin colour unbalance, there’s a question to be asked? So I tentatively performed a Google search, half expecting to come across some unsavoury website or another.
However, somewhat refreshingly, there was a good article from BBC news shedding light on the connection. TL;DR – The genetic traits seem to be specific to particular regions rather than to colour or even continent. So for example the small region of Nandi within Kenya has produced the most distance running medals. Jamaica has a similar dominance for sprinting. These regions just happen to be dominantly black. There are plenty of other African nations for example that don’t possess these traits at all.
It’s so easy to get sucked into stereotyping. Skin colour and racial features are things people naturally note instantly from a young age. So as we all watch the athletics we see lots of black people running ridiculously fast. The connection can be instant and perhaps as we watch the athletics as children we don’t have the insight to look deeper and so the stereotype is enforced before education even gets a good look in.
It may sound like I am just making excuses for racism, but that’s not my intention. I just think it’s important to note how skin colour stereotypes can develop quickly and often without any intended malice. The response to people who still hold them is often to call them a ‘dirty racist’ or insult then in a condescending manner, which rather than clearing up misconceptions, tends to just encourage people to simply disengage from discussions and feel targeted. Nobody wins. I have a friend who recently has expressed some views that a lot of people would cringe at, but instead of disowning him, I have been talking through it with him. I am starting to see where the connections are being made and can challenge him on certain points he hasn’t considered. I would rather that let him feel he can only talk to others with similar views. I guess what I am saying is that a lot of the battle is working through misconceptions rather than judging the holder.
Bringing the discussion back round to actual footballing matters, the Sterling abuse was disgusting, a concoction of racism and verbal abuse fueled by a vitriolic anger that likely is to do with their own personal lives rather than their targets. Whether you consider racism or general abuse to be the bigger problem or not, surely we can see if you deal with the latter, you significant neuter the former in football crowds. I personally cannot accept verbal abuse of the opposition players as a good thing in any format. Firstly because it facilitates the more aggressive fans to go too far, and secondly, it normalises a behavior that you would never want to see in any other context. That is to insult and abuse people (banter) when that person hates it. They are not your mates who give it back and have a laugh. The
It’s gotten to the point where we look down on the players who can’t ‘take’ it, and by take it we also mean don’t give it back or lose their temper. Just imagine if the player took some of the things you shouted down at them from the safety of the crowd, and somehow posted equivalent messages on your public facebook feed – Insulting your ability to do your job, your weight, your mum’s ‘hobbies’. Maybe they would post an accompanying mocking face to augment the effect, get a bunch of his mates to join in, or more realistically hide behind a troll account so they can’t be reprimanded. That’s basically what crowd abuse is – trolling. That’s why players are lauded for ‘keeping their cool’, because feeding the troll rarely benefits the player or the team. Not because it’s football culture and they should take it or because they are paid however many millions.
Sorry that went on.
Probably a better idea than Tennis365 to be fair…
Over in the comments, in between discussing which is the biggest club, and deciding if Mourinho is any good or not (he’s not, but that somehow doesn’t stop the discussion), talk occasionally turns to cheese. In part due to the entirely fictitious employer I showed on the old facebook comments account. Anyway, it turns out that loads of people like cheese – not just me. I’d say cheese is as popular, if not more so, than football (science has already proved that the lactose intolerant are all Rugby fans). I have therefore decided to make my internet fortune by partnering with the 365 group stable of sites to launch Cheese365.com.
Ideas for crossover content include:
Tim Sherwood’s top 10 brands of mild cheddar with F365
Footballers with cheese names (Peter Stilton etc..we can further drive engagement by including former Middlesborough star Christian Karembert, which doesn’t quite work therefore driving comments traffic)
A photo gallery of Benoit Paire eating a variety of French cheeses and looking dreamy over on Tennis365
A nostalgic look back on the Newcastle United team of 1971 who did a cheese marketing board advert, over on Planet Football. Followed by a quiz probably.
Our hundreds of thousands of readers will of course be able to write in daily to the CheeseBox on all matters cheese.
Please send the IP address and my one million pounds internet fortune by return.
Thanks & regards,
Jeremy (internet cheese magnate) Aves