Martin O’Neill has lost his ever loving mind

I saw the comments that O’Neill made right after the Arsenal match and put them down to an emotional manager being duped by the press into giving an incendiary quote. But today’s latest tirade is not just a manager reacting to the quotes of another manager, they are a full on assault by a man who has clearly lost the plot.

Unless you live in a cave, or Birmingham, you’ll know that O’Neill inexplicably ripped Arsene after the Arsenal manager was quoted praising Villa for their hard work. Julian over at Gingers for Limpar posted Wenger’s quote in its entirety and really rips O’Neill in a scathing but right on piece. Here’s what Wenger said:

It was a very difficult game, because they stopped us from playing when we had the ball and when they had the ball, because they played a very long-ball game and closed us down.
We didn’t always find our passing game and we know when we come here what you get and we were not disappointed.

They play a very efficient English game with long balls and are very physical and they did do that very well and they are a good side on the counter-attack. I hope they have a good run now against all the other teams because they are quality, are well organised, have a strong spirit, and are very strong physically.

The midfield four of Milner, Young, Downing and Petrov don’t stop running and all these players can score goals so I think they have a good chance. Although Villa were physical, it was not a dirty game. It was a committed game. It was a fair game but not dirty at all. For me, it was physical in a positive way. They were committed, go for the balls and it is part of football.

So why is it that after Wenger said he hoped that Villa does well, Martin O’Neill’s shrill, shrew-face is filling my RSS feed today? Apparently, he’s now decided to do the honorable thing and use the English Press to attack Arsene Wenger.

His attack is really amazing, he ranges from how Wenger has a cult of personality, to Wenger being a mentalist, to Wenger deliberately manipulating everyone around him but here’s my favorite bit:

These are deliberate ploys. He is trying to influence things. What he wants to do is point out to everyone under his spell that Arsenal are the only delightful team around If he believes that, good luck to him. He might want to take a look at Barcelona. We should hold opinions until Arsenal play Barcelona. And if they lose to Barcelona, Barcelona will be considered a long-ball team.

You know what I love about this? He’s comparing Aston Villa to Barcelona. Yes, just like Wenger “irrationally” accused slick passing Aston Villa of being a long ball team, he would similarly call Barcelona a long ball team!

But the thing is, Martin, YOU ARE A LONG BALL TEAM, YOU PRAT. Don’t believe me? Click that link up there, Julian explains it with pictures and everything so you’ll understand it.

If he just left the tirade at matters concerning Aston Villa, that would be one thing but O’Neill takes the crazy train all the way off the tracks with his follow up:

There is a plan throughout. If he puts his hands in the air enough times, they (officials) will probably accept the fact he can see it from that distance, that Sol Campbell hadn’t fouled Richard Dunne, and the referee obviously agrees with him. He’s a very skillful manager but he has another record, like he has had something like 99 sendings off this year – and 98 of them weren’t his fault. That is the problem.

There are things that happen in the game you cannot always be fantastically proud of your team. There can be some nasty challenges made by Arsenal players – you cannot condone everything. William Gallas is just one the other week. You cannot condone everything. You have to say ‘On reflection, I’ve seen it again and it’s a nasty challenge’.

Arsenal have had 99 sendings off? Are you barking mad? And the Gallas tackle? REALLY? The manager of Aston Villa, a team which revels in winning 50-50 challenges, is going to have a swipe at William Gallas for a 50-50 challenge that the referee had a look at after the match and decided that it was just a foul.

He’s lost his gods-damned mind and what little respect I had for him has now gone out the window. Seriously, get help Martin.

The worst part of this whole thing is that the press and game announcers are repeating and amplifying the accusation that Wenger made “derogatory comments” about Villa. He did not make derogatory comments, unless you think that calling a black cat “black” is derogatory.

Villa aren’t the most long ball of all the long ball teams, nor are they the most prickly of kick ball teams, but they are a physical team, who play long balls to Young, Agbonlahor, and Heskey. It’s just fact, so it can’t possibly be derogatory.

Maybe what I’m missing here is that the press think that Villa’s play is derogatory. Maybe the press, and Martin O’Neill, have finally realized that the English long ball game is ruining a whole generation of young English players and will keep the country from ever winning an international tournament? The FA did just say that the new national training ground will banish the long ball, so I suppose that anything is possible.

I suspect that what we’re seeing is the reaction of everyone connected to the English Premier League to the fact that Arsenal were temporarily top of the table. For many, Arsenal at the top of the table was an affront to the pundits and managers who think that Arsenal aren’t “English enough” to win the League. So, when Wenger makes any kind of statement about what is the quintessential English team, full of future English national team players, the reaction is swift.  They denounce him and make sure to get loads of good quotes from the Villa players and their manager.

Don’t be surprised if the next article is the press getting reaction from Sam Allardyce and Steven Gerrard. They never miss a chance to take a swipe at Arsenal’s foreign manager.

Arsenal v. ManIOU Preview

I hate the Saturday before a Sunday game. Generally, all the team news has been written and the interviews have been transcribed and we’re just sitting here, watching Serena Williams win the Australian open and waiting for some football.

As you already know, there isn’t any new team news and there won’t be any new team news until the lineups are announced 1/2 an hour before the match. The big worry, I suppose, is that Arsenal are working around the clock to get Vermaelen healthy to start. If they can’t patch him up, Campbell will get the start.

Of course I’d rather have Vermaelen but I feel very comfortable with Sol in the lineup. He’s an absolute legend and even if his legs are 35 years old he has experience and that means a lot. Over the last few games I’ve been very impressed with his anticipation, timing, and commanding heading of the ball. We haven’t had a defender like that since… well, since he left!

Arsene Wenger was quick to point out Sol’s experience and specifically his experience playing against Wayne Rooney. It’s actually a bit of a sly comment by the manager to remind everyone that Wayne Rooney is a serial diver:

You know how strikers are, there is no angel. They play a game. If you look at the penalty at Old Trafford this year then you can not say it is not a penalty because Almunia really goes for it. But the ball was already out and Rooney took advantage of the fact Almunia had already dived.

You can say that it is intelligent. But the border between intelligence and starting to cheat, every striker plays with that. You have two games, one with the opponent and one with the rules and the referee and you try and extend that to your advantage. Sometimes you go a little bit over the limit but that is part of the game of a striker. It is not cheating it is being a striker but you always have to push a little bit. A defender does it as well when he pulls a player’s shirt.

The first one [when Rooney dived over Sol's leg in 2004], I don’t agree with it. For that one Sol Campbell did not touch him at all. With the second one he made more of it but it is a penalty because Almunia goes for the ball and he is late.

I doubt that Chris Foy will be swayed by Arsene pointing out the fact that Wayne Rooney is a cheating, diving, foul tempered, jug-eared cunt but you have to give Wenger credit for trying. My regular reader remembers that I have pointed out Rooney’s serial cheating but for you noobs, feel free to click the link above for all the video evidence that you need to see that he is a serial cheat.

But like I said, Chris Foy is in charge of the match and he’s shown himself eager to give penalties against Arsenal, so I would be shocked to pieces if Rooney doesn’t get two or even three penalty calls despite Wenger’s plea. I’m not making excuses for tomorrow’s game, I’m just saying, the defense needs to be extra careful around Rooney because he is a cheat and Chris Foy is a bit crazy.

There are question marks over other squad members. Is Diaby fit? Song? Having those two in the team would provide some needed steel in front of the back four. Song in particular would give Sol a strong, rangy, player to harass Wayne Rooney. Finger’s crossed that he’s able to play.

Offensively, if history is any indication Arsenal will need at least two goals to win the game. The last 6 games have gone like this:

Man Utd 2 – 1 Arsenal
Man Utd 0 – 0 Arsenal
Arsenal 2 – 1 Man Utd
Man Utd 2 – 1 Arsenal
Arsenal 2 – 2 Man Utd
Arsenal 2 – 1 Man Utd

Both teams have good home records and both teams look to need two goals to get all three points. Wenger is prodding Arshavin to step up and produce a display tomorrow, but much of that is down to where the Russian genius is playing. Is he going to be the center of the attack and have to work hard to recover Almunia’s constant barrage of foolish long balls or will Wenger play the supremely confident Bendtner in the center of attack and give Arshavin room to work?

Nasri should also be available and has proven himself a pest to ManIOU in the past. Who could forget his wonderful strike against them last year? Oh, you have? Here it is again, in beautiful High Definition!

I love the buildup in that goal and how Nasri just takes a few extra strides before unleashing that venomous shot. It’s pure genius.

These Arsenal v. Man U games are always good because both teams come to play and I expect with the title race as close as it is tomorrow’s game could be something really special.

The match is on Fox Soccer Channel in the States and I will be liveblogging the match on the site, tune in at 7am (PST) for the pre-match banter. Oh, and if you live in Blighty, you need to find a pub with a 3D television because SkySports is going to make history by broadcasting the game in 3D.  Here’s to Arsenal being the first team to win in the 3D era!