Category Archives: Arsenal

Let's give a red card to the internationals

Lampard should see red every game

Of all the problems plaguing modern football the biggest, and the first that I would change, is international football. No more World Cup, no more Euro Cup, no more Under 19, Under 16, Under 3, nationalistic pointlessness, I’d get rid of it all. It just seems like a holdover from when Europeans used to kill each other over a line in the forest somewhere. For example, there’s an Andorran national team. A country the size of the city I live in, with half the population is fielding a national team in all of these competitions. And what are they playing for? Andorran pride? What’s that some kind of veiled racism or pathetic nationalism?

More than any spectacular football, the international breaks signal a chance for horrible people like Michel Platini to bleat on about quotas, for fans to display their racism, for football associations to propose preposterous rules changes, for players to give interviews, to watch some really crappy football, and for the specter of injuries to raise it’s ugly head.

Yes, the internationals, what a great idea. Let’s whip people into a nationalistic fervor over a pointless game so that players and associations like UEFA can have a platform to change the game I love while extracting the very last Euro out of the average fan’s wallet.

As the links above show, this break is no different than any other. We start off with the FA’s announcement that they are looking into a “homegrown” quota system. Basically, it takes Platini’s horribly racist idea of forcing clubs to check passports before they field a team and waters it down by allowing  teams to simply follow the current quota rules for Champions League qualification. Which is to say that no matter where you were born as long as you were educated at the club, you count as “homegrown.” Actually, I’m fine with this, mostly because I think it will shut Platini and the English nationalists up about Arsenal’s academy.

These homegrown plans always make me wonder why UEFA and FIFA and the FA refuse to deal with problems like Spanish racism before they start worrying about the passports of players on a club like Arsenal? I’ll tell you why! Because the line between the nationalism they are peddling in the guise of “International Football” and outright racism is more permeable than the Maginot line. You need look no further than the fact that a club like Zenit can openly discriminate against blacks and still be allowed to play in UEFA tournaments or a national team like Spain has so many openly racist supporters that the English team needs 500 cops to protect them from the Spanish supporters to see that there’s a serious problem brewing here. How can those organizations let those teams play unless the reality is that they need those racist fans? Surely not every Spanish fan is racist but a large enough number are that these organizations have to play this balancing act between nationalism and racism.

From “homegrown” quotas we move on to the Irish FA recommending a “sin-bin” for yellow carded players. I understand where this comes from because in a sense it is unfair that a player who gets a fifth yellow is suspended for the next game but there’s just two minor drawbacks to the sin bin idea; the referees seem to have a problem getting calls right, and the referees seem to have a problem getting the calls right. Now I know that technically those two are the same thing, but they seem important enough to mention twice.

On the face of it, it seems like a good idea, like if there was a sin bin maybe Bolton wouldn’t be as quick to tackle. But the problem is that you only need to look at the last game against Bolton to see what would happen: Arsenal got as many yellows as Bolton did! The sin bin idea isn’t going to stop a team like Bolton from kicking Arsenal off the pitch because the refs let teams like Bolton get away with more before they get a yellow.  No, it won’t make the game better, it would just give as all another reason to bitch about the refs.

Not to be outdone by the executives in charge of the game, players too use the international break as a soapbox on which they can give their opinion — and for us Arsenal fans that usually means some disgruntled (former) employee. This time it was the exception that proves the rule and Gilberto gave a very respectful, thoughtful, and even-handed interview about Arsenal’s struggles since he left. Just one quote from the interview should remind us all what we loved about Gio: he was a selfless, hard working, respectful player who did everything asked of him out of love for the club.

It’s a big period for Arsenal. Since I was there they haven’t experienced a situation like this. Now they are out of the Champions League places which is very uncomfortable but I’m sure they will pick up points and get back and qualify for the Champions League like we expect. They’ve got quality and a good manager, Arsène Wenger, will do a good job with them.

♬ Mister, we could use a man like Gilberto Silva again… ♬

And if you’re able to stomach all of that and sit down to actually watch a match, well then you’re likely to be treated to a display of football futility like the goal by Bischoff linked above. I’ll concede that you might catch a beautiful goal or two, I guess Robinho had one yesterday against Italy, and you might even get a good match every once in a while, but the vast majority of these matches are just dross. No one, not players, managers, fans, no one on earth wants to see the Malta first team play; much less their U21 (yes, they have a U21).

Given all that, I say down with the internationals! Instead, let’s give hard working footballers a week off and let them travel to Malta to enjoy the sandy beaches without the added pressure of giving an interview, or having the ignominy of being booted out of some pointless tournament at the hands of the mighty Maltese FA.

What am I saying? They’ll never give up on these tournaments. There’s too much money to be made off the suckers who watch them.

It's a mad mad mad mad season

As if to punctuate the madness of this season both Tony Adams and Phil Scolari have been sacked by their respective teams, ostensibly for failure to perform but in reality because the braying of the supporters got to their respective owners and they chose the easy way out of a complicated problem.

In Pompey’s case you could make an argument that Adams probably wasn’t ready to manage a Premiership team. He hadn’t really distinguished himself at Wycombe and even under Harry he hadn’t really done anything to show that he should be a head coach. Simply put, he needed more time before he took over a team. But worse than just being a raw recruit to the job of management, Pompey promptly pulled the rug from under his team; selling Diarra and Defoe and then cutting the purse strings before Adams could  bring in anyone of any quality. It says a lot of the man that he stuck by the team after the owner basically told him he had to perform a miracle. In fact, it may be a flaw that he stuck by that team, by sticking around he let them make him a fall guy — you gotta have more spine than that to succeed as a manager in the Premiership.

Scolari, on the other hand, simply fell prey to the insanity of Roman Abramovich. Roman Abramovich has a hard-on for Arsenal. He saw how Arsenal went from middle of the pack club to perennial league champion challengers in the 1990′s and early 2000′s and wanted to replicate that form with Chelsea. If he pulled it off, just like Arsenal, the club’s value would skyrocket, he’d have a room full of trophies, and everyone would hail him as a genius. What he failed to see is that Arsenal didn’t buy their way into that status, they took the long, hard road to the top of the heap: hard work, dedication, hunger, a stellar youth program, a tremendous scouting network, all components of Arsenal that Roman abandoned for the quick fix of simply buying a few trophies. That’s a house of cards and as the cards got older and the winds of chage blew through London it had to collapse.

I’d feel bad for Scolari if he wasn’t 173 years old and about to receive a £15m payout for the honor of being sacked. I honestly don’t know what Roman expected to happen this season. That team was built by Jose Mourinho for one purpose; to play and win English football. They are not ever going to be able to play Arsenal style football when human refuse like Lampard and Mikel are patrolling the midfield. They aren’t beautiful footballers, they are the kind of players who will grind you down and get a win. To win trophies in England you need to have some (more than one, Arsene) English national team players and you need to be able to put in one goal and shut down your opponents with stiff defense. Jose knew that and he built a team to do exactly that. Paradoxically, to win things in Europe you need to play more like Arsenal than Chelsea — OR — be like Man U and be able to play in a variety of ways.

I don’t think Roman really understood that, so, his insistence on playing “beautiful football,” like his true love Arsenal do, led him to bring in Phil Scolari. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Phil, Gods bless him, tried his best to emulate Arsenal — right down to the horizontal-passery-ball-holdery-bullshit that is currently plaguing Arsenal. This went over like a fart in church with the Chelsea faithful: if you think Arsenal fans are shrill crybabies who are insanely demanding of their club, you should check out the Chelsea folks — they are complete lunatics.

Hey Roman and Chelsea supporters, here’s a clue, you’re not going to sack your way to a Champions League trophy. In fact, you’re going to sack your way through all the good managers and leave yourself with no one wanting to take the job. Now that the transfer window is closed, and the crazy transfer money has dried up, the only reason I can see to take the reigns at Chelsea is to get that inevitable payout when Roman fires you in 6 months.

So, I feel a lot worse for Adams in this than Scolari if for no other reason than Adams is at the start of his coaching career and Scolari is at the end. Adams’ sacking could have a much more deleterious effect on his career than Scolari’s sacking will have on his. Plus, well, it’s nice to have Arsenal’s troubles out of the papers for a few days and see the Chelsea supporters squirm under the spotlight. I mean, Avram Grant is being linked to the club again for Christ’s sake!

But with Theo coming back by the end of the month (I was hoping to see him on the 21st, but it looks more like the 28th before he’ll be ready) and Eduardo getting a run out with Croatia on Wednesday Arsenal have two players coming back into the fold just in time for Arsenal to strip Chelsea of their Champions League place and seriously question the resolve of Mr. Abramovich and his band of Chelsea-come-lately supporters. Given all that and the sudden availability of Mr. Adams, maybe Arsenal should open the door to Tony?

He could hardly make our defense any worse and as I always say “defense wins Champions League places.”

That and, irregardless.