Author Archives: Grimbo

About Grimbo

Transplanted to the San Francisco bay area eight years ago, Grimbo is a Londoner by birth although one that was born on the wrong side of the River Thames. He survives the immense sunlight exposure of North California by being coated in sunblock and regularly marinaded in beer, he hopes that one day his immense freckle collection will all join together so that he can claim to be tanned. He’s both a player and sometime manager of Sunday League clubs all over the region and semi regular patron of Maggie McGarry’s in San Francisco, home to the infamous Bay Area Gooners many of whom marvel at his ability to scream “you c**t” in the correct accent while remaining blissfully ignorant of how unacceptable the c-bomb is to those around him.

Grim Thoughts: Distraction tactics.

Whilst you all wait for the outcome of Tim’s epic Datafest at the end of the week (I’m for one can’t wait and applaud you both for doing it) I got bored of talking about the same old transfer s**t and so I wrote this…but before I go on I must say something about my last post:Typical Gooners… my von Pissy post of earlier in the summer was really just a right old rant that I’d held in for FAR too long and got a bajillion comments (coffcoff 44) and made me feel right tasty as a writer of this sort of bloggy stuff so when I got the idea for yesterdays post, which I thought was far better structured and relevant than the onscreen-vomit of my usual writing style (if indeed it can be called a ‘style’) I was not so much deflated at the lack of interest as suffering an ego- Hindenburg moment. The result, as of writing this, is just over 15 responses (5 were mine). I swear you lot are a miserable bunch… unless it’s toy throwing of the most epic variety then you don’t want to talk! Psssh… damn you all, but I still love you. Well, most of you, in a very non-contact, asexual, non creepy manner…besides it’s good to have the wind taken out of your sails every now and then and take a reality check on one’s skill set.

Moving on, are you as sick as I am of reading about: Higuain (yesterday was my last mention – until my next) & Luis “Chompy” Suarez? I swear there’s more non-fact based and unsubstantiated nonsense out there then a Creationist Science fair! Well I’m f***ing sick to the back teeth of it, I can tell you. So, let’s not talk about any of them today shall we? Instead let’s talk about silly things like – some of the interesting moments of last season’s global football and what might be to come in the season before us, and with frivolous abandon! The truth is I’m starting to worry less and less about our front line, who seem to have gelled quite nicely, and more about our midfield and defensive options and I’m about as far from giving a damn about a mega signing as Tottenum are from building their new Sh*te Hart Lane. Sure it’d be nice to parade a shiny new player that doesn’t have to be justified to all your non-Arse mates but if mega signings were all that brought me to love AFC (I have no family legacy of ANY club support – AFC was free choice for me) then I’d be bald from tearing my hair out, fat from drinking too much booze and drunkenly scoffing kebabs and slightly twitchy from nerves that had been shot out of a cannon for the last decade. It’s not easy being a Gooner, but I prefer it to the alternatives on hand, just saying. Oh and if the above describes you – sincere apologies.

Anyway – of course I think we need a few players in the squad but I’m not going to move from one bunch of transfer tattle to another of a slightly different flavour as something has occurred to me from watching a LOT of football from last season, and not just the Arsenal. The game at large is in a transition period where new styles of play are starting to bud from tacticians in reaction to the outright domination of the last 8 years by first Spain and then Barca. Since the dream team at Barca first started to come through with players like Messi, Xabi, Iniesta et-al pinging the ball around the pitch at Warp Factor 9, selfishly possessing the ball like the Devil did to Linda Blair in the Exorcist and shaming their respective national diving teams with displays that would win Olympic Gold. Meanwhile pundits the world over furiously spank their keyboards into submission with orgasmic delight gleefully declaring that Barca was the best team ever to even look at a ball and that Messi, who laughably is very tidy with the ball, is the best we’ll ever see so we might as well all stop watching footy because it’s all downhill from here. It always strikes me that in their wonton ferver they all ignore the fact that if a team played like Barca do now back in 1962 they’d have suffered more broken legs then a dyslexic and clumsy chicken farmer.*

Of course it started to all fall apart for Barca when Pep burnt out (I still have warm thoughts of the press room and the player’s faces…hoho) and took a year off. After that it became ALL about Messi, chinks were found in their previously impregnable armour and despite strolling La Liga (well come on – it is only a two horse race) in the CL last season they hit the wall. Well not ‘the’ wall, a German one called Bayern Munich. There’s no denying that at a club level everyone’s looking to the Germans for inspiration at the moment because tiki-taka got smashed…into-kaka. I don’t think anyone can argue with a 7-0 aggregate. The keys to the Spanish fortress of impregnable ball movement were laid bare for the world to see and the Spanish game got mud in its eye that’s been recently compounded with Brazil doing the same thing to Spain at the Confederates Cup recently. Real got given similar treatment by my favourite non Arsenal club; Borussia Dortmund who suffered their own RvP moment before the season was even finished which I think was a very nasty move by Bayern and was without doubt pivotal in the CL final result. The bubble even burst over the Special One who fell out of favour with Real, not to mention the Spanish press, and was Special Delivered back to England to be back where his brand of sound-bite is more loved because it means the pun writers in the Uk trash press can take the season off because he’s a one man quote machine. Yes, Mourinho returned to the bosom of the great unwashed chavfest that is Chel$ki as a much diluted version of the bloke that left…with his tail between his legs for the first time. With FFP supposedly coming in and his new ‘Quiet’ persona it’ll be interesting to see if he’s still the same manager without a bottomless pit of cash to spend, hell he even likes Wenger now!

Meanwhile back in England we got served with a luke warm broth of average football in a season where, with all due respect to the champions, it was won with an incredibly dull display best described as; ‘meh’ where the deciding factor was that Man Utd were simply the least s**t team out there and if we’re all honest the difference was just one man (you know who). We were busy rebuilding (again) because of the aforementioned backstabber, the Chavs were busy sacking their CL winning manager and trying to play ‘pretty football’ and failing again first with Di Matteo (poor sod) and then with Rafa which in itself was hilarious even if they did with the Thursday Cup. I really don’t understand why Abramovich doesn’t understand that ugly football is part of the clubs heritage. Citeh were Egosploding, trapped as they were between an Narcissistic manager and more player tantrums then you’ll see thrown in a whole season of Toddlers & Tiaras.** The Spuds were, well being Spuds and choking their own chicken whilst Liverpool and their newly polished Manager Rodgers were so worried about their “legacy” and that people in 2013 didn’t actually know what it might be, that they filmed a documentary to let us all know. This is because they’ve actually sucked at football for quite a long time now and it was laughably titled as the tale of the world’s most ‘Storied’ club, in order to paper over the fact that they’ve never won the Premier League… I’m still laughing about it now.  You can’t make this stuff up.

So what about this upcoming season? Well it’s obvious that a new much stronger, slightly less pretty style is needed in Europe, something we discovered when we became the only club to beat Bayern at their gaff and came perilously close to winning the tie. Man Utd can’t seemingly get who they want to give Moyes any street cred, because despite being the sensible choice to succeed SAF, whoever took that job is bound to be crushed under the sheer weight of expectation as may be evidenced by their mediocre pre-season and Rooney’s foot stomping. Chel$ki have what they need already, barring Rooney, but a manager that only knows how to play a ruthless brand of football that, while it certainly wins stuff, it’s football that that no one but Chavs likes to watch. Watching him try to play ‘pretty football’ will be fun. Liverpool are more focused on not selling Suarez, which would confirm that they’re not the football superpower they think they are, and are otherwise busy hoovering up mid level players and praying we don’t actually up the bid to 55 million (which I don’t think we will). Tottenhumm are busy asking RIDICULOUS amounts of cash for a Welshman who may well Bale out (snigger) and have been talking up their chances in the press with world class players like Defoe spouting PR crap (eyeroll). Meanwhile Citeh have bought every available striker they could and promise much with their new more sensible manager although it remains to be seen just how he manages to get that many over-paid Princesses to not throw their toys out of the pram.

As for Arsenal… well. Despite all the booos and hisses out there, we do have some advantages: 1) We’re the most settled team. 2) The most settled structure. 3) A Stonking pre-season with 19 goals in 4 games – and yes I know the opposition wasn’t good, but Man U and Citeh lost to similar calibre sides. 4) A very good finish to the end of the last season. 5) A boat load of cash and seemingly the will to spend some. The only fly in the ointment seems to be that we’ve finally got cash just as ANOTHER Billionaire comes in and makes it rain ridiculous wages in Monaco (note; they’re not part of Europe and not part of FFP) to add to the usual spending suspects of recent seasons, this has seen clubs that didn’t have cash (Napoli) suddenly get cash, just at the same time as the world suffers a serious drought of world class talent. It’s slim pickin’s out there which is one of the reasons for the Chompy bid and much of the Gooner ire at not getting the other bloke. Personally I think Giroud will surprise a lot of people this season now he’s settled, Walcott just needs constancy to fulfill his potential and a lot of tasty young-un’s may just surprise us all… if old red nose can win a treble with kids, then so can we.

Whatever – I hope this has been a distraction from you refreshing your NewsNow page in the vain hope that something will change fast (it never does). Good luck with the eyestrain – until next time.

Grimbo

*legs/eggs… I really shouldn’t have to explain this stuff…
**Google it and if you’re brave watch an episode, but have a vom bag handy.

Grim Thoughts: Vexed Sighs and Higuaingate

Here we are in the waning days of July and despite the veritable maelstrom of bulls**it that threatens to engulf all Goonerdom I remain somewhat alarmingly serene. It’s odd having this big green lump of a persona and not having much to rage about, but there it is. Yeah I’m a little bummed about Higuain going to Napoli but I suspect that there’s a lot more to that story and whilst I fully understand the rage and fury of many Gooners as to why we haven’t signed 20 players already due to this season really representing a real opportunity to have a crack at the title due to the disruption at other clubs, one of the things I have learnt about negotiation is that when the seller (allegedly) agrees a fee one minute and then bumps it up 8 million squid when someone else rolls into town with a fatter wallet you are only left with one course of action – walk away.

Before you all start going Loony Tunes and look into the purchase of ACME goods of the explosive variety in order to go all Wile-E-Coyote on my personage, let me say that my logic in this is based on a simple provable fact:there have been MANY ‘guaranteed’ goal scorers that have come to new clubs such as Shevchenko, Berbatov, Torres and Veron that were bought for a bazillion quid and yet failed to match or even come close to expectations. You don’t even have to stretch too far back in our own history to remember Jeffers, OK we didn’t spend a bankroll as thick and luxurious as a MEGA Roll of Andrex/Charmin (delete as applicable) but he was nevertheless expected to shine like a freshly wiped, waxed and tanned butt the likes of which you only see pictures of on Brazilian beaches. My point is that a goal machine at one club doesn’t mean s**t at another, it merely increases the odds of the new player being an onion bag exploder in your favour, but it is still a gamble and sometimes it’s the unknown’s that are the best bet.

Exhibit A your honour: One unknown Spaniard named Michu who was very much on the ‘huh?’ side of the transfer fence at this time last year and is now most certainly not. As a side note, I’m frankly surprised by the lack of clubs lining up to pinch Michu. Premier League Goal Scorer: Check. Available for mid 20 million quid: Check. Spanish: Check. Cool sounding name: Check. I had thought a bigger club would have been in for him like a drunken chav goes after anything with a pulse when a night club’s ‘f*** off’ lights come on at the end of an evening, but it kind of underlines one point: I know exactly sod all about ‘actual’ transfers – I have never completed one, and unless my career takes a sudden and completely unrealistic hand-brake turn, I never will. Consequently I can say with a high level of certainty that neither have, or will, you dear reader*. Higuain is a good looking footballer, certainly after he cut off his overly gelled long hair, and in all likelihood he’d have done well at the Arse as he’s pretty good on the ball too but I think falling into a ‘we should buy him at all costs’ mode of thinking comes at too high a price; just my humblest opine.

AFC Reportedly valued him at 23 million and so did Real until a thicker roll of bog-paper was hurled at them from Italy after which turned to Arsenal, waggled their eyebrows expectantly and awaited a bid of 36 odd million which would have lead to another head swivel & accompanied dance of eyebrows in Napoli’s direction. Rinse and repeat ad-nausem until his price is up in the region of the Bitemeister himself based upon a healthy-ish goal return from the world’s most successful club. Here I will pause and say something else… a striker is only as good as his supply lines, what if Higuain looked better than he is due to good supply? I mean, surely if he was really a 30-40 million squid player then Real wouldn’t let him go in the first place, no? He’s been allowed to go in order that Real develop internal talent, and/or buy Bale (hohoho). Even Benzema is considered better and personally I don’t really rate him at all. This is all of course speculation and opinion, the same as the speculation and opinion that Arsenal have been idiots to let Higuain go to Italy – it’s all subjective and I merely felt the need to present an alternative perspective to that which has been already been expressed numerous times.

Personally speaking; while not 100% I’m comfortable with the loss, I’m also not throwing a tornado-esque fit the likes of which the Tasmanian Devil would be proud whist lisping all over everyone I discuss the issue with. As soon as Napoli came in with their softly quilted, perfectly perforated notes and a bid over 30 mill, I knew exactly which way it was likely to go. Benítez is in my opinion crap at transfers and is free spending when it comes to money that’s not his. If you’re one of the poor suckers that got screwed in the housing collapse of ’08 you’ll probably know how bidding wars can over-inflate values. It’s the fundamental flaw in free market economics; value isn’t set by logical parameters, it’s set by fear of loss and/or sheer desire, and when buying anything that has value that is not set and thusly is free to float on the market then one CANNOT do it with even the faintest whiff of emotion, and that’s the reaction I perceive here. If he chokes at Napoli everyone will knowingly nod and say ‘phew – we dodged a bullet’ whereas should he pummel 300 goals in 200 matches then the value of stretchy purple pants is likely to soar such is the Hulktastic response that will ensue, and shocking though it may be considering my long standing green hued image I’ll be doing the opposite and walking into the sunset to the gentle notes of a piano in search of something more worthy of my fury. I’m fully aware that saying all this most likely means a comments section of the pitchfork and burning torches variety but that’s fine with me as long as you don’t get personal.

Team building is a very difficult thing, something very few of us have experience with, and even if you do, almost certainly not at the levels discussed here. Currently I’m quite happy to watch this play out as I suspect we’ll see some movement in the coming month and I think Giroud, A-ha and Walcott will do very well next season and just for once, isn’t is nice not to have to read “I want to go home” or “I deserve trophies” or all the shit we’re putting the Scousers through? Whilst I ‘did’ feel a pang of guilt at first when Rodgers said LFC were a bigger club then AFC that all vanished. Maybe once upon a time 20 years ago that was the case but now, not since we built a new stadium on our own and have watched you get bought & sold 3 times and have seen you burn money like it was confetti… sorry to all my buddies of the Scouser persuasion but that’s the truth as it stands right now in 2013. If you were ‘bigger’ than us then you’d be bidding 40 million+ for one of our players and not vice-versa. No, I’m happy that we have a squad that’s gelling nicely, went on a rather handy unbeaten run at the end of last season, spanked in 19 goals on the pres-season tour and saw some wonderful young talent that could break through (Zelalem was epic) and just knowing that we’ve made a 40 million+ bid??? I honestly didn’t expect to see those words for a number of years considering our biggest purchase to date is in the 16 million range.

If you’re interested in some more of the above type of calm logic then I’d highly recommend reading this excellent piece by Don McMahon over at Untold Arsenal for some ideas as to how the transfer (un)merry-go-round spins. Some very interesting talking points if you ask me, deserves a good sharing around.

Until the next time I get my s**t together… stay red & white.

Grimbo

GRIMBO SMASH

Grim Thoughts: The Ninjas of Opportunity…

Wotcher Gooners… it’s been a weird few weeks since my last ‘back from the grave’ post gave me the verve and vigour to write again. Thank you all for the outpouring of love… it shocked me how much I missed the interaction with Goonerdom via my particular brand of mindless drivel… and I must say a special thank you to Tim the Enchanter – he who IS 7amkickoff – for his patience with me during my dry spell(s). There are not many who would put up with a part timer like myself so if you like my fluff – make sure you give props to the man himself… thanks Tim.

I’m now just a few weeks away from wrapping up my company here and after the initial shock my mind is now starting to look at its demise as an opportunity which may at first seem; a) weird b) fucking irrelevant to an Arsenal blog such as this…. however as always dear reader, bare with me and let me explain: This season as the last post outlined was a very testing time for me due to that Dutch bloke that left us to play for ManU… my ire at him is, this week at least, tempered by my joviality that he has jumped into the same damned boat that old Cescy did a few seasons ago; i.e. the scenario he left us for only lasting one season. With Cesc it was for his home club and childhood hero Pep, who promptly fucked off after that season… the laughter still echoes in my mind whenever I picture the Barca team sitting being told, the tears welling up… hohoho. With vanSkunkie it was the little boy inside that took SAF at his word that he wasn’t going anywhere, because you DO know that was mentioned in the contract negotiations right? With SAF ManU’s credentials were that with the Red Nosed wonder they were guaranteed to be fighting for silver every season, that’s why vanSkunkie left no; for ‘titles’? Without SAF that guarantee has been flushed like a mid morning turd. Sure Moyes is a sound manager that’s done a great job at a mid-table club… but ManU is a different beast entirely and if he CAN cut it, it will I think take a few seasons first which takes vanSkunkie to the end of his shelf life.

It famously took SAF a good chunk of time to get going after his appointment, time that Moyes is NOT going to have, in addition ManU’s dressing room is full of the sort of prima donnas that I’m pretty sure Moyes wouldn’t have employed at Everton so he’s got an interesting challenge ahead of him balancing that many egos and as of this writing Rooney’s the first to hand in a transfer request. SAF commanded the respect of the squad, but a new manager like Moyes with exactly Zero on his CV and regardless of reputation, may not. Look at how the Chav players treated AVB or failing that just watch The Damned United for clarification of how it can go very, very wrong. My guffawing at this scenario is based upon a simple precedent: Disruption for them is opportunity for us. Think of disruption as a Ninja that’s stalking you. Miss it and it’ll fill you full of shuriken or spider venom. Catch it and… erm, well you won’t be dead. Actually that was a really crap analogy; my point is that the summers main disruptive talking points are OTHER PEOPLES for the first time in a long time.

I’ve written before about the 5+ years of summers marred by players wanting to go home, flashing their tits at other clubs for more money, disagreeing with the ‘direction of the club’ and the ongoing gnashing of teeth about our finances which I suspect were never as rosy as was suggested by many in the ‘spend it now’ side of Goonerdom. The state of AFC finances has always seemed to me to be indefinable because all the figures are out there but we don’t have the minutiae of detail needed to predict the true net worth… Plus, we all know Wenger is about as open with his plans as the CIA is with a Drone Strike program. We also all know that the future of the club was mortgaged to long term deals to fund the building of the Emirate Stadium and that now those deals have run their course. The fruits of the switch, in addition to the end of those old agreements, will see an injection of cash into the club of steroidal proportions. This was all part of the ‘plan’ I’ve eluded too in many a post over the years which is only really visible with ‘20-20 hindsight glasses’ (patent pending).

What I’ve never alluded too and what I couldn’t foresee (nee – did any of us?) was the absolute cluster bomb of WTFedness that’s going to happen in the Summer of 2013. We all knew that the Chavs were going to sack Benitez as he was always a stop gap. Citeh have also just chopped the charming and modest Mancini for being a complete and utter failure by only providing two trophies in three seasons just 12 months after handing him a 5 year contract. Of course this all pales into insignificance next to the laughter fest that is Fergie stepping down. We all have Manc friends (don’t we?) and I have several from whom I’ve had to take gloating from since the invincible season and the huge swathe of disruption since that heady season, worst of all last Summer. For the last 8 years we’ve all taken it on the chin but the one conversation stopper with them ALL has always been; “Oh yeah, what are you going to do when Fergie goes?” Some try to laugh it off with mutterings of “we’re bigger then Fergie” but the fear in their eyes tells a different story. Pure, unadulterated, dread! I would say with some justification…loathe him or merely hate him even this scribe, who has the misfortune to share a birthday with him, has always had to respect his impact on ManU and the game in general. To stay at the top for that long is a massive, massive achievement and now we know Moyes is taking over the pressure is palpable, almost crushing, in the manner of an elephant deciding to park itself on your toes.

Moyes may or may not be the man to take the club forward but with SAF staying at the club in a director position, the ghost of his legacy will always cast a shadow over Moyes’ reign… will he hover like Busby did? Will he hang in the background messing up perceptions when things don’t go to plan as Dalglish did to the Scouse managers, namely Woy? The addition of such mass disruption at most of our direct competitors is at odds to the relative stability we’re looking to have in the summer, plus the big boost to the coffers seems to make 2013/14 a really big opportunity for the squad that has perpetually needed one or two signings. Of course as I type this I’m crossing my fingers whilst gripping wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, dodging all ladders & pavement cracks and heartily stomping repetitively in all the dog shit I can find and, as I live in Marin which has the highest level of dogs-per-capita of ANY county in the US there is PLENTY of that going around which does beg the question; “why do I have such shite luck?” This is not to mention any black cats thinking about coming anywhere NEAR my path over the coming weeks; take note I’ll be carrying a spray bottle and a LASER pointer with me at all times.

Simply put, I might actually be right in being optimistic for once. For where there is disruption amongst ones competition there’s opportunity for one (us). This very circumstance is something that the Chav’s, Spuds, Mancs and Citeh have all taken advantage of in their own ways in the last 8 years. Not even counting the poisonous fuck Cashley, for years the Chav’s transfer policy seems to have basically been to watch whoever we’re linked with and then buy ‘em for 3x the price. The Spuds have been working in relative stability* compared to their own recent past and finally might have a manager that suits them. Up until last summer ManUre had been relatively quiet to be honest with regards to destabilizing our squad, but certainly they’re the main contributors to our downfall this season by taking advantage of the fact all of our Capt’s have left for the last 5 years and that our wage structure is so rigid it makes North Korea look positively cosmopolitan. They waved a guarantee of trophies and a fat stack of cash under his nose and he took a massive dump on his legacy. That of course is not to forget Citeh… we don’t need to go there do we? If you haven’t noticed how many have they taken off us in recent years then you’ve probably just returned from the Bermuda triangle…or something.

Now the boot may well be on the other foot, which is pretty stupid because why would you wear a left sided boot on your right foot? Ridiculous phrases aside** my point is that we’re facing the most stable summer in recent memory with regards to players… in the core everyone’s signed up (please re-sign Sagna!) and are seemingly pretty happy. Buckets of cash will be coming through the door in the not too distant future with sponsorships being renewed and barring the Cocks on Balls there’s massive disruption at all the other clubs we mainly compete with. So while I realise I’m a diehard optimist and my rosy view is not shared by many in the days of “Stan’s robbing us blind” is this not at least some sign for Gooners having a cheerier outlook? Well as someone who’s staring at both the unemployment roster and a very uncertain future after fourteen years as a nerdy publisher I see what many many view as misfortune as simply a step into the new; an opportunity to go and do something different.

STILL not optimistic? Tsk… there’s no pleasing some people.

Grimbo

*How stable can a cock standing on a ball EVER be?

**I’ve never understood “Sweet as a nut” either… because they aren’t.