uuuuuhhhh, yeah. we lost to wigan. i assume you know this. listen below or dl on itunes.
uuuuuhhhh, yeah. we lost to wigan. i assume you know this. listen below or dl on itunes.
Dear Pres. Mehmet Ali Aydinlar and Members of the Board:
I am writing to you in outrage after the Besiktas J.K. – Galatasaray incident in which fans threw objects at Emmanuel Eboue.
It is never acceptable to throw objects at players, regardless of personal feelings about the player, and regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. To do so undermines everything that FIFA have been working to achieve. This year has brought about numerous accusations of racist slurs and chants from both players and fans alike. Inaction is by far the worst option for the TFF to take, and only perpetuates racism and hatred in football, The Beautiful Game.
I call upon the board to show the world that Turkish football will no longer accept violent and racist behavior towards players, that TFF supports its players, and supports a policy of non-discrimination. I call upon the board to discipline Besiktas J.K., by means of fines and reparations. I call upon the board to instruct refereeing officials to take measures to ensure the safety of players and fans alike by making announcements to fans that racist behavior will not be tolerated, and by suspending matches if peace and respectful behavior is not maintained.
Finally, I call upon the board to investigate the individuals behind the abuse, and ban them from the stadiums. Make the stadiums safe for players and fans.
A bit of context, in case you hadn’t seen this already!
If you would like to email the Turkish Football Federation, here is the address to their International Department firstname.lastname@example.org and their Media Matters email@example.com At the moment, it’s the best that I could find but if you find the direct email address to the president or members of the Board, let me know so I can send a copy to them as well. Finally, I urge you to also write letters! The more people who send letters, the more likely they are to listen. We may be football fans from outside the area, but we can at least try!
I know I’m a day late with this blog post about the Champions League match against Olimpiacos, but I really couldn’t be bothered with thinking about how poor some of our football was last night. I was too busy celebrating and making up little songs about how we were the only English side in the CL to win their match this week. Sorry about that (not really). But I’m ready to sit down and really look at the way Arsenal played football last night.
To be honest, I wasn’t really impressed with last night’s game, nor was I overly impressed with Olimpiacos’s performance. They were stronger throughout the match, and created more scoring opportunities than we did. By the end of the first half, however, we had scored 2 simple goals against them.
I’ve heard a lot of mention about how our defense is cack and how we still need to revamp etc etc. But honestly, that’s not really our problem anymore. Our defense is getting on fairly well for a back line that suffered humiliation, countless injuries, and infinite rounds of musical back line. There were, and will always be a few cock-ups (like the one that led to the Olimpiacos goal) but what needs work now is our midfield.
Yes, we’ve got loads and loads of talent in our midfield, but what the boys lack right now is the ability to read each other. In the first half alone, Rosicky and Arteta had trouble communicating numerous times and missed each other’s passes, and even got in each other’s way. There was this hilarious and frustrating moment when a pass comes toward Arteta and all of a sudden, Rosicky comes in and steals it. Uh, what?
Those kinds of misunderstandings can’t happen against a tougher side, especially if Rosicky is fighting for to be a starter. It’s in Arsenal’s best interests to have a B side that is just as strong as the A side, and Rosicky (regardless of whether he’s A or B) needs to be able to play well with whoever he’s matched up with.
Deficiencies aside, Arsenal played a decent game against a much more experienced Olimpiacos and won. So we’ve got the three points we needed, and a confidence boost we’ll need heading into this weekend for the NLD. We’ve got a nice run going and things are really starting to look up for the Arsenal. We started the season with the most embarrassing loss in recent history, but since then, I’ve really noticed the squad’s improvement from week to week. What’s really important is that the boys keep possession and play the Arsenal way. The goals will come; RVP is fit, Chamakh’s form is starting to come back, THE OX, etc.
Up the Arsenal!
-follow me on twitter: @cyclechicster
Oh! By the way, this is technically my first actual blog post. Normally, I just stick to podcasting and translations, but since we no longer have a wanky Spaniard giving interviews about his dream club, I figure I should start writing again.
Want to see my older posts? Find my name in the staff sidebar and click on the links or click my category “Red-Eye to London” for my archive.
After discussing the importance of having the right type of players in our squad with Zara yesterday , I thought it would be important to talk about how the players are being utilized within in the squad. There have been a lot of comments that players like Bendtner and Arshavin have been played out of position, and today Steve is going to offer his thoughts on how a change in formation and tactics could be the key to solving our problems…
There has been some serious discussion around the problems at the club in recent seasons, this one in particular. One aspect that has seen attention is our tactics and the areas of weakness in our game. As I see it, our formation and ineffective crossing and corners are giving us the most trouble.
Formation: I think our formation works with our starting XI for the most part. Van Persie as a central striker is strong and both Walcott and Arshavin play well in their positions on the wings. There’s no question about our midfield as they all work well together and provide strength to our game.
I think our formation issues come when we bring on substitutes that are then played in positions with which they are not particularly comfortable. The big example here is Bendtner being played in Walcott’s role. He’s a big man, not as fast as other players and is better on the receiving end of a cross in front of the box. He’s better made to receive crosses than provide them. Wenger should be playing Bendtner in the centre to take advantage of his height and finishing if he wants to maintain our usual 4-2-3-1 formation. If he doesn’t want to do this, then why not try a 4-4-2 set up? This way we gain a more condensed midfield for defensive purposes and Bendtner can be paired with van Persie up front to provide a closer attacking partnership. Walcott and Nasri are still on the wings and can provide support/service to the strikers, as well as taking their own chances to score. This will increase the number of forwards we have in the box at any given time and should make our crosses more threatening.
Crosses: This is one area where we are rather weak (in recent games we’ve had over 30 crosses and no goals from them). As I said above, if we have one main striker in the box to receive crosses that lessens our accuracy and chances of scoring, especially when that striker isn’t particularly skilled with his head. Van Persie, though a tall guy, hasn’t scored many headed goals lately and it’s partly because it’s not as much a talent of his as, say, someone like Bendtner or one of the centre halves. When we have other attackers in the box they are usually rather short (Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin, Wilshere, Song…well actually nearly our entire team is short and less likely to win headers). You can’t always rely on striking for goal with your feet when an aerial ball is coming across the front of the net.
The other issue with crossing is the players providing the service. Clichy, as many know, is not the best crosser. He’s actually one of the worst we have. Sure, he provided that beautiful ball for Song to head home in the last minute of the West Ham game at the Emirates, but what else has he done? He’s much more likely to cross the ball awkwardly while Robin tries, awkwardly, to reach it. Clichy is not good at picking out players this way. He is good at moving the ball forward and providing a short pass to Arshavin, Nasri or the like, but that’s about it. Sagna is marginally better, Walcott is poor with the accuracy of his crosses, and Nasri is less likely to attempt crosses and would rather dance around defenders. Overall, in the attacking positions we are weak in this area. Poor accuracy of the cross and poor heading ability by our players.
Corners: If memory serves, we score more goals from corners than crosses and I would argue this is because we have our big boys – Squillaci, Koscielny, and Djourou – there to beat opponents to the ball. Squillaci and Koscielny have scored at least two each this season, while Djourou has scored one more recently. I realise it’s partly because at a corner we have more people in the box, but that means nothing if they can’t finish. Our outfield players have skill and ability, but not the height or physical presence to be effective this way.
The same problem comes when we try to defend corners. We’ve got our two bigger centre halves there plus van Persie, but everyone else is not physically imposing enough to dominate the space in front of goal. I believe a recent statistic has shown that we concede nearly 60% of our goals from set pieces like corners or free-kicks, which is a shocking amount, really. Part of this come down to the physical component, but there is an organisational element as well. Rarely do we see the players shouting orders at each other when lining up to defend a set piece, instead they stand around looking lost and hoping for the best. There needs to be more communication and players who want to take control of these parts of the game. I don’t know if this should be coming from the captain, since he’s really not much of a defender, but a hell of a playmaker instead. Tony Adams was not only a great defender, but he was forceful with his own team and able to motivate them to defend and perform as needed. He was also the captain of the side giving a strong personality and influence in that area and perhaps that’s what we need now (I’m not taking anything away from Cesc, he’s a great captain, but his strength is not in defence, which, if you look at some of the big blunders of this season, you will see this area has caused us more than a little stress). I think the calls for a new keeper and new centre halves could be nullified if we had one strong defender who captained the team and provided that needed element to the back four.
After the euphoria of the home win over Manchester United had subsided, I found myself wondering what exactly had gone wrong this season. Despite the odd blip we started so well, especially in the middle third of the season. And then everything just seemed to collapse. How is it possible that we had overcome the Mancs, Chelsea and Barcelona but failed against the likes of Newcastle, West Brom and Sunderland?
Is it our players? Do we not have a solid or deep enough squad? Did I put too much faith in the enigma that is Theo Van Nasregas? Maybe it’s our tactics? Should we adapt our formation to take into account the opposition? Is our defence really that bad? Could it be that we actually lack in Arsene’s fabled “mental strength”? And my greatest fear – are we really just a bunch of chokers?
Like any good blogger, when I don’t have the answers I turn to those with greater amounts of knowledge and wisdom. My fellow LPG blogger and podcaster extraordinaire Zara chose to tackle the issue of our squad and potential ins and outs this summer. The excellent author of http://www.gunnersrock.com Steve Rowe was kind enough to share his view on our tactics and – sometimes – lack thereof. And contributor to http://www.arsenalvision.co.uk/ and Twitter legend Sameer will discuss where and how we lost our mojo.
First up, here are Zara’s views on what additions we need to boost our squad and who needs to leave for the benefit of our club…
First of all, I just want to clarify that these are my views. Obviously I am not a premier league football manager or anywhere near as prolific or amazing as Arsene but it’s just based on my observations throughout the season and from recent transfer ‘rumblings’ which I am finding very entertaining right now but I’m sure I will tire of in a month or so. Mind you, I do not think a lot of Arsenal’s problems can be solved by buying a new player and much change has to be made in the development and training of our squad (particularly when it comes to team morale). I don’t believe making wholesale changes to our squad is an effective method to achieving our goals but I do think that we need to make several changes in our personnel to improve our overall performance next season.
It’s a widely known fact that Almunia’s days at the club are probably numbered. I cannot see Arsene going for a Buffon, Reina or a Stekelenberg this summer since I firmly believe that Szczesny will be our #1 for many years to come and Fabianski is a capable #2. It would be imperative to however sign an experienced goalkeeper to replace Almunia. Someone preferably with PL experience as well.
A proper #9
We’ve surely lacked one since that thug from Birmingham ripped Eduardo’s leg out (and just when he was gaining momentum as well) and if speculation of Bendtner wanting out, and the very real possibility of Vela being sold it is imperative that we get a proper striker. Robin’s been fantastic this season but imagine the heights we can achieve if he had a proper partner he could feed the ball to. One of the prominent names that have emerged so far has been Benzema from Real Madrid. Although he would be a perfect fit with the current team and gets along well with Nasri, the hefty 20 million price tag indicates it’s probably BS. Perhaps we don’t need to look beyond our own club for the new #9. Many have stated that Theo would be more suited to a forward position instead of being utilized in the wings. Although I can see Arsene’s reasoning for using him as a winger (his blistering pace), I’m not sure he has the confidence and no-nonsense nature of a proper fox in the box.
A Defensive Midfielder or a Centre Back
Koscielny and Djourou have done a great job this season despite a few individual errors here and there. Squillaci…not so much. *Insert stat of how many goals we let in this season*. With the imminent return of Vermaelen, hopefully this area will be considerably strengthened next season. Despite that, we are still missing a crucial piece in our defensive set up. Some might say it’s the English defender (Cahill! Jagielka!) but I think what we lack most is experience and someone who is not afraid to boss the rest of the team around. Verma did a decent job of it last season and this was one of the things we missed most from him. Another loudmouth addition would be ideal. Perhaps a Mark van Bommel? And since Vermaelen can also be a back up for Song when needed (he has played in defensive midfield before), I think either a DM or a CB signing would be ideal.
We have hardly seen Denilson play this calendar year and this leads me to believe that he is on his way out since we have also not heard about any injuries he may be incurring. Many are also not satisfied with the level of performances Diaby has put in this season and his overall temper. Although I believe that he has the potential to be an Arsenal legend one day, Arsene may decide that he has been taking a gamble with him for far too long and choose to cash in his chips in the summer. This opens up room in our midfield. It will be interesting to see if any of the reserves players make their way to fill the void next season. Perhaps we’ll see more of Frimpong or Lansbury or maybe even JET. There has been a lot of speculation that Arsenal may be making a move for Eden Hazard in the summer and if this is true it would a fantastic addition to a midfield that already boasts the likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin and Wilshere. He is arguably the player of the season in the Ligue 1 and it has been encouraging to hear that he would be keen on a move to Arsenal.
Overall, although there does need to be a change in personnel at the club this summer, and some may say even a drastic change looking at the ambitions of Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City, I believe that there also needs to be drastic changes made behind the scenes. The mentality of the players needs to be studied and much work needs to be done to build on their mental strength. Our season has been downhill ever since we lost the Carling Cup and most of the players seemed to have lost their sense of belief in themselves (except perhaps Robin and Jack). It’s a good thing there isn’t an international tournament this summer. I hope our players get the long rest they deserve and reflect on the past year in a fruitful manner. We can only learn from our mistakes and move forward.
The LPGCast short segment will now forever be known as Le Petit Back Heel. The first one was a discussion of the Don Balón interview, and now we’re back with our second in which we discuss the Wenger Out issue and potential coaching staff replacements. Oh and a bit of the EPL Cinderella, Liverpool FC, and how Piers Morgan is a ‘good times fan.’
This episode’s theme song is Caramelldansen by Caramell. You can find the full song on Youtube!
You can download the episode on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lpgcast/id434802340
and (please) subscribe, or listen below!
I am absolutely gutted after today’s results as I’m sure the rest of you are. I suppose all there is left to say is “there’s always next year.” But at the same time, it’s a bit more complicated. We still need to make sure we qualify for Champions League and we still need to have a strong finish to the season.
To all of you who are in the Wenger Out Brigade I say, fuck you.
Yes, this season has been a series of let-downs for all Gunners, but you are forgetting that this man has spent 15 years at the helm of Arsenal FC. He has always been celebrated for being one of the most intelligent managers in the world, and to suggest that he’s somehow thick or oblivious to what’s going on with our first team squad is not just ridiculous, it’s stupid. AW has never, ever made rash decisions in his career, and plotting out the future for our club is not going to be one of those moments to forget that. I would put money on the notion that Wenger is analyzing the entire season, looking for exactly where we went wrong and how to fix it.
Changing the entire dynamic of a squad is not something Wenger could even think of doing midway through the season. That’s why we went all of January without signing a new player and virtually no changes to our lineups. To have done so would’ve meant the end of our year sooner as players tried to get acclimated quickly to EPL and Arsenal. Had we signed anyone, you can be assured that it would not have been a current EPL player. They’re too expensive, and prices are always, ALWAYS ridiculously high (ahem, Torres?) in January. Buying someone from a different league would have been disastrous for the obvious reasons. Wenger has constructed a squad that depended on Fábregas being fit and this lineup was not exactly the most interchangeable.
My guess is that he’s going to try and build squads around all of our midfield stars and really use this preseason to play with the changes.
There are a million other things that can happen after this season, but it’s pretty clear to me that we need to invest in a sport psychologist. The squad are still incredibly young, and don’t really have a member of their squad who can really help them cope with what has happened. Losing the CC to a team that should have been cake, for one, is a tremendous blow to anyone’s ego. Losing FA right after, another huge blow. The fact that we are a Big 4 club just adds to the pressure of having to perform in the next match so then they blow the next one. Finally someone tells them, JUST MOVE ON FOR FUCK’S SAKE, and they have a moment of brilliance, but then the get complacent and blow a match. And the vicious cycle starts again.
In those blown matches, the boys always start out average or promising, based on the performance of the last match, but the second the referee starts making calls that are controversial or flat-out wrong, they start losing any momentum they had built. Basically, Arsenal’s coping mechanisms have started failing them and they need new strategies for dealing with bad calls and losses. A sports psychologist could help with that!
People have this horrible idea of psychology in general, but puh-leese, our boys need help and it’s not necessarily in the talent department. We don’t just need a certain player in order to start winning again, and we also don’t need a new manager. What we need is someone to come in and remind the boys what it was about Arsenal that made them excited. We need someone who can teach the boys how to cope with: shitty refs, hateful media, “supporters” that send hate tweets, losses, draws, AND wins. Saying “fuck ‘em” every time isn’t working anymore, arguing with the ref (no matter how polite) isn’t working, and AW’s public faith isn’t working.
It’s time to try something new, and try again.
The one thing that won’t change, at least for me, is my allegiance to Wenger and my love for this club.
Although I’m sure there are an abundance of translations of Don Balón’s interview with Cesc, I am happy to provide yet another one for your reading pleasure.
DB: As a kid of 16, what were your views on Arsenal?
CF: I knew they had a great manager, who put stock in youth players and played football stars like Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires. I didn’t follow the English league, I saw the highlights on Sundays. That was probably why it was so difficult to come here, since I wasn’t really aware of where I was going…
DB: Now, 8 years later, what has changed?
CF: Pff. Everything. I have also changed a lot, physically, and I’ve matured as a person. If I sit down and analyze it, I’ve learned so much during my time here, I have also made mistakes and now I am definitely a more complete person.
DB: Do you consider yourself a child prodigy?
CF: No. Well, maybe at the beginning, yes. But not anymore. I have already spent a couple of years with injuries that haven’t let me develop in the way that I would’ve liked. At 17, I played 51 games; then a year later, at 18, won the league and played in the Champions final; and I played in the World Cup at 19! I remember my beginnings perfectly, but many don’t. Those first three years, everything happened so quickly, it was amazing. I evolved the most during that time, it was the most drastic change I’ve made. Once I reached 21, starting after the Eurocup, I’ve had more injuries, less continuity, and it’s been harder for me to progress.
DB: Let’s split it up in parts: Your first season in first team, at 17 years, this isn’t just any team…
CF: It was a legendary team! The year of The Invincibles, who won the Premier without losing a single match. I started there and I was among the lineup between 15 and 18 during which we still hadn’t lost. That year, I played 51 games, and a lot of them as part of the starting lineup. The truth is that I feel like I was a part of that; in total, there were 49 league fixtures without losing.
DB: Is it the best team that you’ve played for?
CF: Without a doubt. Really, I don’t even need to think about it. It was a year in which I developed so much. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I was a better player at 17 years than I am now. But when you look at it, you see that that’s not true. What happens is that before, I played for a winning side and it was incredible. You felt like if you made a mistake in a game, nothing happened because your mates would fix it for you. Those legends made you better. I have always said this: there’s nobody like that team.
DB: Things have changed a lot [discussing twitter]. Do you feel pressured to always show a better performance?
CF: Yes, yes, of course! I completely understand that, if I miss even one pass, I know I’m the man that everyone in the world is watching. I don’t like to say that, but it’s the truth. If I play badly, I take responsibility and I shoulder the pressure from the fans. It’s something that had never happened to me, but since I became captain, it’s a reality. Only Van Persie and I are left from that generation and it means a lot of responsibility. It is what it is.
DB: But you won’t deny that you like it…
CF: Of course I like it! What happens is that there are times that Twitter is too much. WHy? Because football is a team sport. Nobody wins by themselves. You can win two or three in a season, but not a title. Sometimes, everything that surrounds me is too much, but that is part of the responsibilities of captaining a very young squad. The most important thing for me is that injuries respect me because otherwise, everything becomes really complicated. Continuity is what has gotten me where I am today.
DB: This Arsenal is a very young team, but from the outside, it gives the same feeling as always. Does that seem right?
CF: Look, I think that the key is having a good combination. That’s why I feel very, very fortunate to be playing at the same club where I started. Because I was alone, Van Persie too, and the two of us grew up with our idols. We learned from the best. Now it’s different because we’re all so young that we don’t have anyone to look up to and say, WOW!
DB: Well, now the young guys on the team look to you and want to learn from you…
CF: I don’t know about that. I’m only 23 and it’s important to remember that. I started so early that it looks like I am 27 or 28. Then you look again and you see that I’ve got a lot to go. That’s why I was really lucky. The kids learned from the adults. Now it’s a bit more complicated. If you put Wilshere in the team that I played with before… it’s different. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse, though. Before, we had references, winning players, who were strong. They were players you could learn from quickly, just by playing with them.
DB: Does it bother you that Wenger’s name is associated with you as someone that guides your steps, or decides for you?
CF: Hey, he’s the boss, I have a contract, and he has every right to decide. But truthfully? No, it doesn’t bother me. You could interpret it that way from the outside, but it’s not like that. I can always speak to him frankly and honestly, and he accepts a lot of what I tell him.
DB: It looks like we have to find a ‘culprit’ for your stay at Arsenal…
CF: I don’t know, but it looks like if I don’t take the next step, I’ll never take it. I’m 23 and if I leave this summer, I’ll be 24; if I leave next year, I’ll be 25; if I leave the year after, 27! Things have to happen with patience in mind, and you have to wait for the opportune moment. The day I leave Arsenal, I’ll do it with my head, not just because. Besides, who guarantees that you’ll play with the new team? Or what if I don’t develop further? Here I have the good fortune that, at a personal level, and despite not winning much [silverware], I’m becoming much stronger. I talk to Puyol a lot and he tells me that he didn’t win anything until he was 26! Puyol! A man who has won everything in the football world! Patience and perseverance are important in life.
DB: How do you explain that a manager like Wenger, who hasn’t won anything for many years, remains so little contested or questioned?
CF: It’s so much easier to understand now because I have been here [in London] for many years. But it’s clear to me that if you come from Spain, and you tell Emery, Guardiola, and Mourinho who have been here, say, three years without winning anything, it’s understood that they’re not going to continue. But it’s different here. The Boss is an intelligent person, and the club values other things as well: that the team always goes to Champions, that you fight until the end, that you support youth, that the club is economically stable. I suppose that for the directors, that’s important, although I imagine that there are moments when you would have to take that step: Either you win, or you don’t.
DB: That’s where I wanted to end up. The label that follows Arsenal is “They never win anything but… what practical football!”
CF: It’s true. When I started, we won the Cup, and eventually got to the final in Champions League, that, well, we didn’t win it but you think: “hang on… Barcelona has just beat you when you’re a man down, and in the final minute.” You don’t consider it a victory, but you think: “this is the first time that this team gets to a final in the Champions League, where millions of footballers have played and we’re [emphasis added] the ones who’ve achieved it. But starting from 2007, I began to say something like, “we didn’t win, but we played well.” And afterwards, you realize that it doesn’t work. You enjoy it, while you’re playing in a championship, like this year, for example, when we were in four separate competitions. You say: Yeah! Now I’ve got it all! But then you lack that final touch and here is where you have to make a decision: Either I play to win or I play to make players.
DB: Last year, after Adebayor’s departure, you exploded into the media as a goal scorer. What happened?
CF: Well, I changed my position. I’m playing more like an attacking midfielder, and last year was the first time I took it over. I noticed myself in good physical form, and the majority of goals came while I had Van Persie playing up front. We understand each other really well because of the way he interprets the game.
DB: Do you feel comfortable in the position?
CF: I still feel like my position is a little further back because you see football more in front of you, you assist, you move quickly… You definitely participate more. Now all of the teams know my style and they put a guy behind me. I’m not a player accustomed to turn and receive balls from behind. I have gotten more accustomed now, I have as many touches but I get more chances for the assist and a goal. If the team needs me here, well, I’m delighted.
DB: I don’t know if, in this situation, Wilshere’s presence has influenced. The guy is on everyone’s mind.
CF: It’s normal, he’s a great player. I love him, and you can tell he’s going to be amazing. He’s very strong for his age. I wish I had his leg strength. At the rate he’s maturing and improving, he’s destined to be a legend.
DB: There was a big commotion because Guardiola said that in the Barça family, there are many players like Wilshere. I don’t know if they are alike, but what’s become clear is that Thiago Alcántara will be on the first time for culés. What do you know about him?
CB: They say he’s a good player. I’ve only seen him play a couple of minutes on the first time. But with so little, you can already tell that he’s a player of incredible quality. He’s one of those footballers who don’t occupy a fixed position. He can play AM because he’s got a good feint and a good sensibility of the game, but he can also organize a play. We’ll see how he defines himself with time. To me, it looks like he’ll be good for Barcelona and for the national team.
DB: Fernando Torres to Chelsea…Did you see it coming?
CF: No! The truth is that the way it happened, in so few hours, was completely unexpected. I didn’t imagine that Torres would leave the Premiere League, but I also didn’t think he’d leave midseason. I will say this: I’m sure he made a good decision.
DB: And if Chelsea comes with the millions they paid for Torres, but asking for Cesc… what will you do?
CF: Me? I’ll take up painting… no, I wouldn’t do anything.
DB: Imagine that they try to entice you with a very ambitious project…
CF: You won’t see it. If I leave Arsenal one day, it will never be a switch to another English club. That’s certain.
DB: Did you hear about Jon Toral, another Barça youth player that recently joined Arsenal? Were you surprised by criticisms directed at your manager, due to the similarity between his case and yours?
CF: I think the whole world does it. I was the first, yeah, but there have been other cases that haven’t caused the commotion. Manchester United took Piqué. The only thing that’s obvious here, is that at Barcelona, there are great youth players that can reach the elite, maybe around 60%. But not all of them can do it at Barça and some players are aware of that.
DB: Were you?
CF: Look, in the Barcelona first team are the privileged: the Xavis, the Puyols. Then there are the superprivileged, the Busquets or Pedros, who have gotten lucky. They’ve worked hard, yes, but for them, a trainer came and said: “tomorrow, you play.” This doesn’t happen that often. Everybody has to find their own path.
As you can see, Cesc never actually starts to slag off Wenger, and what started this media shit storm was English media interpreting this as a sort of attack on his manager. I think what the English media is doing is absolute trash. They’re making a blatant effort to alienate Cesc even more from Arsenal supporters, because you can bet that if “Jacky boy” Wilshere had said the same things, he would not be criticized the way Cesc is. The way I see it, it’s established racism. The media have been slagging him off when really he’s consistently diplomatic but honest in all of his interviews.
To me, Wenger should never have started commenting on this interview. I’ve listened to the original audio (which has since been taken offline), and Balón quoted correctly, and a lot of the “official” translations you’re seeing are accurate where it counts. I would like to point out that Balón took out about a paragraph of content that added to Cesc’s appreciative tone, but that it wasn’t crucial to get the basic point across.
Living in Canada, the sports scene is a wasteland of hockey fans and – worst of all – golf watchers. Finding a fellow football fan is an exciting and often random process. If that fan happens to be a Gooner they immediately become your new best friend forever while the rest of the people present drift away or politely grimace and nod as you exclaim your love with your new forever friend. With such a bleak and often Manc-filled landscape, I, like so many an international fan, turned to the Internet.
At first I was amazed and excited by what I found: blogs aplenty, football communities and a vast amount of Arsenal supporters on Twitter where I could share in the joy of being a Gooner, and it was like the first glow of a new relationship. I found people who loved Arsenal, loved the players and loved Arsene just as much as I did; we basked in the wonderfulness of our team and each other, and my belief in the fellowship of The Gooner was never stronger. Then I made the rookie mistake of reading blogs and comments sections after a loss, and I was shocked by the amount of rage, anger and blame I found there. Sadly in the past four years not much has changed. I learned from those days it is better to avoid all media, blogs and especially Twitter after a loss – indeed, one of the few benefits of being an international fan is that I don’t have to see the results of all our games splashed across the television and newspapers, but now it seems negativity and disbelief has become en vogue for a large amount of supporters. I’ve spent a good part of the season frustrated at the anger and rage of fellow fans. I was disappointed in those who turned on our players and furious with the ones who have joined the “Wenger Out” brigade. Until recently, that is. Anger is an emotion of passion. It consumes you, fuels you, drives you and it is impossible to stay that angry at something you don’t care about.
So I try not to judge those fans anymore, I do my best to read, listen, and somehow learn from what they say. I may not often agree but that doesn’t afford their right to an opinion any less valid, There is no denying our team is going through a difficult time right now and no matter where you are in the world it is a painful yet exciting time to be caring about Arsenal. We need to find the ability to connect again as a fan base; Gooner on Gooner crime has got to stop. Lest we forget the club’s motto – Victoria Concordia Crescit – we all desperately want victory but I fear some of us are willing to sacrifice the harmony.
So I apologize if my eternal optimism and my love for our team and manager is grating to you, but if you can forgive me for my rose-tinted, Pollyanna outlook, I will in turn ignore your angry tweets and abusive blog comments and together we can rise above and support our team, The Arsenal. Maybe it’s time we dusted off the now immortal words of our little Russian: “it was very hard days for me, but now it doesn’t matter, Now I am Gooner, that is what is important.”