Archive for the ‘Red-Eye to London’ Category

Open Letter to the President of TFF

Posted: November 20, 2011 by cyclechicster in Red-Eye to London
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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.


Jennifer Rivera

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  and their Media Matters 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.

The truth is that I came here to present this fragrance, not talk about either team. At the moment, there’s nothing to be said or discussed.

And after 8 years, after all my hard work, after everything I’ve felt, after all I’ve experienced with the club, with the fans, with my teammates; I can’t just throw it all away now with a word.

After saying it both actively and passively, Cesc Fabregas has taken a couple of days vacation, the current Arsenal player is one of the most sought after ‘pearls’ by La Liga, but while his future is being decided he takes advantage of the break with his family on the beaches of Ibiza. There have been a lot of Premier League games and lots of attention as to whether he’ll be wearing blaugrana, white, and if he will finally return to the best league in the world to show off his talent. The Arenis de Mar native, in spite of everything, also takes time to be with his loved ones,  forget about his boots, and feel the beach sand. What does Cesc’s future hold? Only time can tell, for the moment, he enjoys the coast with his family. A true star on and off the pitch who looks to have his future bound to one of the teams in La Liga.

So that’s his latest official statement, and it once again is vague, as it should be. While it’s true that he hasn’t committed himself to Arsenal, it’s important to see that even though he plans to leave us eventually, we mean a lot to him. I’ve seen a lot of fans criticizing him for ‘forgetting’ everything Arsenal FC have done for him, but this video is proof that he can’t. And after the Samir Nasri quotes we’ve just received from NOTW (please visit @timpayton for the quotes if you don’t want to purchase the rag), it’s refreshing and I appreciate seeing Cesc not betraying it to the media.

Cesc remains one of our most well-spoken diplomatic players, regardless of his intentions to stay or go. That’s something I truly respect and admire about him. Oh, how I wish ALL of our players were well-versed in the do’s and don’ts of footy PR.


Posted: June 29, 2011 by cyclechicster in Red-Eye to London
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So this video has caused a minor uproar on Twitter as Cesc’s quotes have circulated via The Guardian. Unfortunately, the translations are correct. However, the media are (omg what a surprise) capitalizing on these quotes.

This is what I can catch, some of it is in Catalán and I don’t understand it, so unlike the Don Balón translation, this will be slightly incomplete.

Reporter: You can’t resolve anything now, can you?

CF: Nonono–

R: but you can relax about it now?

CF: Exactly, at the moment I don’t have anything to say and there’s nothing to discuss.

R: you’re just getting in good physical condition to be ready for the start of the season, right?

CF: Of course, I’m already doing my part, and doing what I can–

R: [two reporters talk at once] Are you relaxed/content at your club? [the other asks if he is an optimist]

CF: yes, yes, I’m very relaxed

R: [in Catalán] What about the market?

CF: What market?

R: the transfer market [not sure about this next part] Are you in it?

CF: Me? No, if something happens it’s because it has to; I believe that when a player is in the market, it’s because his club doesn’t want him, but I don’t have that problem so I’m calm.

R: Are you an optimist?

CF: Yes, I’m optimistic about everything, I don’t know what you’re referring to.


Breaking a Vicious Cycle

Posted: April 24, 2011 by cyclechicster in Red-Eye to London
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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.