Monthly Archives: March 2011

Memories of Rocky

You want to know what it takes to win the League? Blood. Blood, guts, tears, and if you give all that. Then you can smile.

You want to know what it takes to win the League? Blood. Blood, guts, tears, and if you give all that. Then you can smile.

I didn’t know David Rocastle.

I never saw him play in a game that wasn’t already a historical event. But despite not knowing him or being there when he scored his most famous goals. I can watch the tributes and appreciate the skill as he glides past a defender in the yellow and blue JVC shirt. I can smile when he smiles his great big infectious smile at some joke that someone cracked in practice. And I can feel the sadness that Perry Groves must feel at the loss of someone so close.

I didn’t know David Rocastle, but I do know and respect the people who still love David Rocastle. That’s why I don’t need to know him to remember him and to love and respect what he did for the club. Because by reading the tributes of the folks who did know him I become part of the vessel that carries those memories forward.

Those memories keeps Rocky alive.

I can see the young East Lower standing inches from his hero, stammering while asking for an autograph, and how many of us have discovered a newspaper clipping of some hero that we pressed between the pages of a favorite book decades ago?

I can imagine the celebrations of Goonerholic when Rocky scored the winner at White Hart Lane to send Arsenal through to the League Cup final. I can feel the explosion of pure joy at defeating the old enemy at their ground and what it must have meant to the player and the fans.

When we die all that I know for certain is that we leave memories behind. And if there’s a heaven it’s almost certainly in the good memories that people share about you and your life. The moments that others choose to pass on about you and how you positively effected their lives are what live on long after our bodies are gone.

I didn’t know David Rocastle, but judging by the memories of so many, Rocky was truly a good man. Long may his memory live on.

Nationalism break over, now we wait some more

..the batmobile lost a wheel and the Joker got away!

The international break is finally over and now all we can do is wait.

First we wait for news on Robin van Persie’s injury. Almost immediately after the tackle that saw him removed from yesterday’s match with Hungary, the twitterverse exploded with people begging me and everyone else for information on how long he will be out.

My feeling is that Arsenal supporters are getting more than a bit tetchy over Robin van Persie and his apparent commitment to country over club. The facts back that tetchyness up too: since he was called up by Holland, RvP has played 33% of his available matches for his country which translates to just 97 games for Arsenal and an amazing 47 games for the Netherlands. I haven’t looked at every other player in the history of the game to get some “context” but I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that no other player has such a huge disparity of matches in favor of country.

What makes his consistent injuries for the Netherlands especially painful is that Robin is so crucial for Arsenal’s title chances and when he does get injured there is precious little we can do apart from complain. And those complaints fall on deaf ears.

I know that it sucks and I know that we are all nervous but we don’t know what happened and I can’t find any video of the incident (though his goal is readily available). So until we get an official announcement we also need to be a bit careful with quotes from van Marwijk who described the incident like this

It didn’t look very serious but it was too painful for him to carry on as he was hit by a knee just above his own knee. With luck he could play for Arsenal this weekend.

Now before you freak out about the “with luck” part, remember this is a translation and it’s a quote that every paper is now passing around. Their job is to sell papers and they will make whatever van Marwijk said sound more frightening than it actually is.  Of course, van Marwijk has a vested interest in minimizing the incident and… well.. you really could spend all day playing the guessing game here.

So, we wait for the verdict from Arsenal. Which is in itself just as questionable as the Dutch medical assessment. Isn’t the Arsenal medical team responsible for the prognosis that Robin would be out for the rest of the season after the incident in the Carling Cup final (pictured above)?

Ugh.

We are also going to have to wait for Jens Lehmann. JL played in a reserves game yesterday and reports are mixed. If you ask him and the Arsenal dot com folks, it was a nearly flawless performance. But I was following YoungGuns on Twitter yesterday and excitedly retweeted several good things from Jens at the start of the match and then slowly backed down as Jens apparently started looking very rusty.

Some rust on a 41 year old who hasn’t played in 6 months is to be expected. So frankly, unless Almunia suffers a broken heart in training over the next few days, I fully expect him to be Arsenal number one against Blackburn at the weekend.

Again, we’ll have to wait on that verdict as well.

We’ll also be waiting on the coming “storm” over whether Arsenal will throw a strop over Jack Wilshere being selected for this Summer’s England U-21 tournament and the French national team tacking on two more friendlies this Summer.

Oh boy, I can’t wait to see how Mount Wesuvius blows his top over that controversy! Or how he doesn’t blow up and instead simply and calmly complains using logic and data before sending his players off to get injured for whatever national side wants them. Because in the end the “club versus country row” that every paper wishes would happen never materializes. Clubs and players are compelled, by the power of law, to release their players.

One thing I did think of though, is if Jack Wilshere was so important to the U-21 side, why didn’t Stuart Pearce insist that he play with the team during this break instead of playing with the big boys? Also, how do you think poor little Josh McEachran must feel right about now? Second fiddle, described by his manager as not being one of the best?

Maybe Psycho should be praising the team he’s got and you know, making them better through coaching instead of looking around for an instant solution by stealing players from the senior team. It’s called coaching for a reason.

We don’t have to wait to see that Jack Wilshere is a top quality man though. He made that apparent when he stood up for Fabio Capello yesterday.

Before the World Cup he couldn’t do wrong, and since the World Cup everyone has been getting onto his back. I think we need to give him a break. He is a great manager.He has proved it at clubs before and he has got a great record for England as well. He is one of the best managers I’ve ever worked with. People need to get off his back a little bit.

What a good kid! He’s young, talented, I suppose handsome, well spoken, respectful… he’s a PR manager’s dream! Maybe Arsenal could do with a bit of him speaking out in our favor?

Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long for that either.

Injuries, Football, Dowd, and more

Raymond Verheijen

You would be excused if you haven’t heard of Mr. Verheijen or if maybe you know of him as “that guy who tweeted something about Gareth Bale.” I admit that I didn’t know who he was until yesterday when I was listening to the Guardian Football Weekly Extra Podcast with James Richardson.

With no other news to cover, they touched briefly on the twitroversy Dr. Verheijen caused when he countered the media claim that Bale was injured in training with Wales on Wednesday. Working with the Welsh side, the good doctor defended their methods saying it couldn’t have happened because Bale didn’t train that day.

Yadda yadda yadda I thought and then the panel went into a brief look at Verheijen’s CV and it was quite impressive. Basically, he’s worked with every successful Dutch manager in the last 10 years or so, including stints at Barcelona (Rijkaard) and Chelsea (Hiddink).

Craig Bellamy has even hired him as his personal fitness coach and claims the man has worked wonders with his technique called “periodization.”

From what I gleaned periodization is simply that you can’t have a single training regimen for every player at a club. Some players, like van Persie and Arjen Robben (he claims) are explosive players and as such benefit from reduced training loads and working on different types of fitness that prepare their fast twitch muscled for load rather than endurance.

The idea of this completely blows me away — not because it exists, but because it’s apparently novel.  This makes me wonder what the training regimen is like at Arsenal? Why is it that Cesc is still unable to recover from his hamstring injury? What caused Vermaelen’s achilles tendinitis? Was it actually a tendon that needed to be removed or was he over training as Dr. Verheijen might suggest?

I need to know! Unfortunately, he’s a big shot guy and I’ve sent him a request for an interview. We shall see what information I can get from here.

The thing is that you look at Arsenal and they currently top the injury list and it seems like Arsenal are perennial injury list toppers. Meanwhile, Gibbs has come down with another injury, Arshavin is being openly called fat and lazy and Arsenal are one or two calf strains away from having zero center backs. In fact, everyone on planet Earth knows that Arsenal need Cesc, Robin, Theo, Song, and Nasri fit the rest of the season if we have any hope of winning the Premier League.

Football v. Football

American football players are often accused of being lazy, out of shape, oxygen huffing, fat bastards and in my experience 90% of that is true. But ask most NFL fans if a wide receiver is fit enough to play for an MLS team and they will almost universally say that they could hands down. These are lean men, whose job is to run, of course they are fit, right?

Wrong.

Chad Ochocinco (yes, that’s his real name) tried out for an MLS team called Sporting KC (yes, that’s their real name) and even after several training sessions was still determined to be unfit to play for an MLS reserve team.

Here’s the video, could someone please get Ochocinco an oxygen mask?

Winning, duh

Manchester United are the most hated company in England. Also, your dog wants steak.

And finally…

Zach over at A Beautiful Numbers Game has more evidence that Howard Webb and Phil Dowd are officiating matches in a way that show extreme bias against Arsenal.

Oh, and this weekend’s referee? 4 Newcastle goals Phil Dowd.