Profits, Arshavin, TV, Transfers, and Film; Arsenal do have other stuff going on, you know.

Arshavin is a philosopher

Arsenal Financial Report 2009

I just spend an hour reading Arsenal’s 2009 financial report and with all the financial wizardry they are doing it looks like Goldman-Sachs is in charge of our accounting — and I don’t mean that in a good way. The report raises more questions for me than it answers.

  • Football turnover went up £18m but profits from football increased only £200,000
  • Property sales went up £73m from last year, yet profit from that only went from -£3m to + £5.6m
  • Exactly how much money player trading generated or lost is obfuscated beyond belief. At one point, they actually claim that Arsenal spent £41m buying players in 2009. At another point they claim that Arsenal generated a profit of £23m from player sales. And at a third point the accountants say that Arsenal spent £20m on players in 2009, which they then subtract from the £23m number above to get a grand total of £2.9m in total profit on player sales.
  • And the thing that sticks in many people’s craw is an undisclosed expense called “other operating costs” which shot up from £46m to £55m. They explain the increase as retail costs, utilities, staging the Emirates Cup, and currency exchange losses but the thing a lot of supporters want to see is an actual breakdown of those costs and not just some glossed over explanation of the increase.

It’s a really huge report, with some conflicting data and while I’m willing to concede that I might just be a bit thick I also get the distinct feeling that the board is not being entirely forthright about some things. What exactly they might be hiding, I don’t know but there is something strange about this report. I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe one of you smarty pants who earn 2 to 3 times my salary and can kick my ass if I lived in New York could read the report and tell us what you think?

Arshavin’s Web Site

If you haven’t already, you really need to go over to Andrei Arshavin’s web site and read his responses to the fan mail he gets. My favorite example from Monday’s batch is this:

Hi, Andrey, I love arsenal and helicopters. My friend, Steve, said that he met you once and he said you were very nice but you smelt of coffee. Do you like coffee? He also said that he held your hand. If I met you please could I hold your hand, I promise it will be no longer than for 3 minutes. LOVE FROM ANTHONY, 28 ENGLAND.
Аrshavin: I don’t drink coffee at all.

Andrei deftly side-steps the whole hand holding and helicopters bit and dives straight into the heart of the matter: he doesn’t drink coffee!

You can’t make this stuff up.

The Final Word on Shawcross’ Assault on Ramsey

Fox Soccer Channel’s commentators can be a bit hard to swallow for us Yanks some times, but here’s once where they get it dead on. I’m warning you now, this video shows Shawcross’ assault multiple times and from multiple angles in order to emphasize Bobby MacMahon’s point that the Ryan Shawcross “tackle” wasn’t a tackle at all but as he puts it “a scythe.”

That video shows definitively that the tackle is not a 50-50 as many people are claiming and that Shawcross actually sweeps through the leg of Aaron Ramsey, playing the man and not the ball.

Anyone who claims that Shawcross’ assault “wasn’t even a yellow card” or is somehow equivalent to Gallas’ 50-50 is either a mentalist, a low-life scumbag, or as Grimbo put it a cuntbucket.

Speaking of TV

My American readers know that Setanta in the USA has lost their rights to EPL games and that Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) has opened a second channel called Fox Soccer Plus (FS+). Unfortunately, FS+ isn’t being carried anywhere at the moment which means that any EPL games played on FS+ are basically going unwatched.

Previously, I was hopeful for us Gooners because when I looked at the FSC schedule Arsenal were scheduled to be broadcast every weekend for the entire month of March. Now that’s changed and this Saturday’s game is actually going to be shown on FS+ much to the chagrin of Yankee Gooners.

Don’t despair, there is an option! Fox has a pay internet stream available of the match over at Fox Soccer TV. I don’t know what kind of schedule they are going to have over on that web site yet, but it’s just $5 to watch this Saturday’s match.

Which seems pretty reasonable since I paid $1500 to fly over and see the same game.

They Call Him Melo Yellow

This year’s winner of the Serie A’s infamous Bidone d’Oro (the “Golden Garbage Can” award) was none other than this Summer’s Arsenal target, Felipe Melo. The £25m Juventus flop played in yesterday’s Brazil v. Ireland friendly at Emirates Stadium and evidently re-kindled Arsene Wenger’s love affair with the player prompting the Arsenal boss to say that Arsenal are still interested in signing him.

It’s pretty odd to say the least, but with the dip in form of Denilson, Wenger could see Melo as a bargain and the perfect player to replace our Brazilian in the Summer.

The Damned United

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see The Damned United but if you haven’t you should definitely check it out. It’s a movie about iconoclastic football manager Brian Clough and his time managing Leeds. I’m not going to recount to plot (click the link if you want that) but rather just say that I was struck by the similarities between Clough and our very own Arsene Wenger. Both managers are well known for their outspoken views, their desire to change the English game, and their absolutist view of how football is properly played.

Clough famously took on the footballing establishment and decried the lump and crunch football that was prevalent at the time and though he doesn’t revolutionize football while at Leeds (or the film would be called “The Glorious United” I suppose) he is the only manager to ever win back to back European League trophies. Which he did several years after this story takes place while managing Nottingham Forest.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating story and damn good fun all around I highly recommend the film.

Finally

Right, that’s it for today, Theo Walcott is going to get a run out with the English Nationalism team today and several other Arsenal players will be playing friendlies as well. Wish them all luck and here’s hoping that Theo scores a barbershop.

Final prep for the England flight today, I’m starting to get nervous/excited. More on that tomorrow.

See you then!

English Football Is Psycho

Sorry, but I haven’t got time for a proper blog today (though I have an article brewing) owing to the fact that I’m preparing for my trip to London on Thursday and have to tie up loose ends at work and home before I get on the plane.

This brief bit is in direct response to the pundits who have jumped to the defense of this indefensible person, in all likelihood because he is now an English international. Gunnerblog found articles by Stan Collymore, Paul Parker, and Lou Macari which are three of the worst examples of human beings, much less writers, that I have ever had the displeasure to read. Not to let the cat out of the bag but in each they either blame Arsene Wenger, ask Wenger to apologize, or actually blame RAMSEY for fucking up Shawcross’ England debut. Of course, the Lou Macari article is in the same paper where some utter, utter cunt claims that the Arsenal players, especially Cesc, were more interested in getting Shawcross sent off than helping Ramsey.

There are plenty of others out there to look at. Wayne Rooney, serial cheater, known liar, and all around dirty player has jumped to Shawcross’ defense. Alex Ferguson evidently called Shawcross on the phone to lend his support. Do you think the conversation went like this: “That’s a good lad, next time take out more of them so United can win the title?”

But it’s U21 Nationalism coach Stuart Psycho Pearce who really sums up the myopic disconnect between reality and English football with this quote:

If you look on the back catalogue of any player – and I am talking about any player – you can find instances of poor tackles. What we don’t like to see is players coming out of tackles with the ferocity of injury that Aaron has had. But I have seen worse challenges than that this season that thankfully (emphasis added, ed.) have got away with not even a booking.

One that springs to mind is Kevin Nolan who made a challenge on an Everton player (Victor Anichebe) which wasn’t the best. It looked far worse probably than that challenge. You are in the lap of the gods on a football pitch that hopefully on occasions you don’t come away with the sight that we saw with Aaron Ramsey.

Thankfully? Are you kidding me? For this?

I’m at a loss to explain why he is thankful that Kevin Nolan’s two footed lunge which saw Anichebe out for a year was not even a yellow card. As far as I’m concerned, Kevin Nolan intended to break Victor Anichebe’s leg and deserved far more than just a yellow card. But see, Stuart Pearce, is part of the problem. He’s the England U21 coach. He is one of the people who taught Ryan Shawcross right and wrong, and he thinks that Kevin Nolan’s attempt to end Anichebe’s career doesn’t even warrant a yellow card.

Amazing.

Pearce also mentions how if you look into anyone’s back catalog you’ll find skeletons in their closet. Well, here’s Shawcross’ back catalog:

Brutal tackle from behind when he was just a lad at Royal Antwerp, 2007

Here he is laughing at breaking Francis Jeffers’ ankle, 2008

Here he is tackling Adebayor off the pitch and injuring him for 3 weeks, 2009

And finally, the tackle on Aaron Ramsey, 2010

Some might say that 4 injuries in 4 years by the same player is not coincidence. That maybe he has a problem? Stuart Pearce wouldn’t but there’s a reason why he’s called Psycho.

Media Round-up; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Arsenal supporters the world over are breathlessly waiting for the 4th estate to weigh in and see if they are to maintain their anti-Arsenal bias or if they are going to take on the culture of English football which glorifies leg-breaking tackles.

Unfortunately, there are some scum, the Tony Cascarino’s* of the world, who are still banging on about the “speed of the game” and how “such a lovely lad” like Shawcross could never harm a fly much less a Welshman. Fortunately, from what I can tell, their numbers are getting smaller as thinking folks, like Patrick Barclay, weigh in and blame the establishment for what happened on Saturday.

Here’s a round-up of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in today’s media.

The Good

There was a remarkable interview on the SkySports Sunday Supplement with Sam Wallace of the Independent, Patrick Barclay of The Times, and Neil Custis from The Sun. If you only have time for one interview or article today about this issue, this is the one. It starts slow, with Sam Wallace doing the whole “just too quick” and “he’s not that type of player” bullshit but then Patrick Barclay and Neil Custis step in and take the interview over.

Barclay is adamant that the problem is that there’s a “wildness” to the English game that is considered not only acceptable but is encouraged. Moreover, his example of this wildness is last season’s tackle by Ryan Shawcross on Adebayor which happened 5 yards off the pitch. It’s a subtle dig at the whole notion that “Shawcross isn’t this type of guy” when so very clearly after breaking Francis Jeffers’ ankle two years ago, then the Adebayor tackle, and now the Ramsey tackle, Ryan Shawcross is that type of guy. If by that type of guy you mean “someone who is at best serially reckless and at worst intentionally out to harm his fellow professionals.”

But Barclay makes another important point and that is how in England a player can tackle another with their studs 8 inches off the ground but in other leagues that is simply not acceptable. He then reiterates my point of yesterday that this is the fault of the refs and the FA; players wouldn’t tackle like that if they were red carded for it irregardless the broken legs.

And then Neil Custis from The Sun weighs in with his criticism of the teams which simply come out to kick Arsenal off the pitch. In this he backs up Arsene Wenger’s claims and again points the finger directly at the FA for not doing anything about it.

But it’s what Barclay says at the end that’s truly remarkable. As they are getting ready to fade out, the presenter asks if Arsenal can win the title. Barclay says no, but he praises Arsenal as the team in England with the most fiber and mental strength, which they showed with their 3-1 win over Stoke. Again, it’s spot on. I have never seen a team recover from a tackle like that and go on to dominate their opponents the way that Arsenal did on Saturday. Truly amazing grit from this team. Truly.

Meanwhile, Martin Samuel asks how three broken legs in 4 years can be simply down to accident. The best part of this article was the quote, from 2007, about Ryan Shawcross breaking Francis Jeffers’ ankle:

There is no way that was a malicious challenge,’ said David Kemp, assistant manager of Stoke City. ‘Ryan isn’t that sort of player. It was probably a new experience for him to get frustrated, that’s why he chased down the ball and made that tackle.‘There was no malicious intent. It was a genuine attempt. We’ve seen far worse challenges go unpunished. It was just one of those football injuries, one of those incidents that frequently happen in the game. Before long Ryan might be on the end of one himself.

Maybe he’ll get on the end of one himself? Amazingly, that is the mentality in English football isn’t it? Don’t end the wild tackles which cut down people’s careers, tackle back just as wildly.

The Bad

Graham Poll came out against the Shawcross tackle but doesn’t add to the debate. So, I’m putting that here, in the bad. Besides which I can’t really have a Graham Poll article in my good category, can I?

John Cross from the Mirror, who tweeted the other day about how sick to death he is about fans complaining about an anti-Arsenal media bias, puts out what on it’s surface looks like an even handed article which simply details the events and where Ramsey is in the recovery but he ends the article in a peculiar manner:

But Stoke boss Tony Pulis has defended his player, pointing out that he has never been sent off before and also said his team have been victims in the past.

Pulis said: “It’s a disappointing challenge and as I say it’s so ironic that Ryan’s involved in it because of all the players that we’ve got here he’s such a gentle kid, such a gentle lad.

“Just by the effect it had as he was walking off the pitch and what’s happened since it will be devastating for him. We’ll have to make sure we keep a close eye on him. My condolences go out to Aaron and Arsenal. No one likes to see that happen.

“I honestly don’t think that Ryan is the type of a person who would ever go out to do anything like this. We’ll see what effect it has on him. But he’s a great lad.

“Rory Delap broke his leg in a challenge with a Sunderland player a few years ago and was out for nearly eight months. We dealt with it in-house and got on with it.”

Of course the lead sentence is the most important in any article, but second is the ending and here he ends with what many Stoke fans are pointing to as a reason why Shawcross’ red card should be appealed. In the demented minds of cavemen like Tony Pulis since they had one of their legs broken at one point, that makes it ok for them to break legs. And John Cross from the Mirror, gave credence to that by printing that retarded quote — you know, to “balance” his article.

The Ugly

These article are easy to find, open the Independent and you will see they run the gamut from pro-Shawcross pieces which claim the footballer is simply “unlucky” to articles describing the pain that Shawcross is in and how his teammates are rallying around the poor lad. That first, the Sam Wallace piece is most remarkable since it sets out to describe what a great guy Shawcross is and how we shouldn’t label him as dangerous, despite the indisputable fact that Ryan Shawcross broke Francis Jeffers’ leg in 2007, tackled Adebayor off the pitch last season and put the striker out for 3 weeks, and broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg this year. What exactly does the kid need to do to earn the label dangerous? Hit someone with a brickbat?

There are so many of these type of articles out there right now that it’s not even funny. Each paper has a variation on the “Stoke rally around wounded Shawcross” story that it almost seems they are taking copy from each other. The Times’ piece by Oliver Kay is almost comical in its strident defense of the “passion” of the English game: as if passion can only be expressed in leg breaking tackles. Kay even makes the claim that these leg-breakers are what make the EPL so marketable. I’ve heard that before, over here in the States in relation to our American football where “big hits” are a part of the game that many are seeking to stamp out. I guess that sport is no fun to some people unless they can turn it into blood and guts, “modern gladiators” and all that pablum.

But the final word has to go to two of my favorite columnists Shirtless Jaime Redknapp and Tony Cascarino** who both simply say something stupid, don’t back it up, and move on. Redknapp calls Aaron Ramsey “unlucky.” UNLUCKY! Like there were some fans in the stands who witnessed Ryan Shawcross break Aaron Ramsey’s leg and said “ohhh, unlucky Aaron, unlucky!”

Cascarino*** takes this “unlucky” theme  and compounds the douchenozzlery by throwing in his two-cents worth in saying he didn’t even think it was a red card. Fucking mind-blowing, really. Just fucking mind-blowing.

How much are these two guys paid to say this stuff and how the fuck do I get THAT gig?

Conclusion

I want to end with a Rafa Benitez quote. After playing Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers and seeing his players kicked all over the pitch by a pack of cheats and scum like El-Hadji Diouf, Rafa coughed up this gem:

We try to do our talking on the pitch. If they are pleased with the way they play under this manager it is their decision. They have a style and they are a team that plays this way under this manager.
I think it is a model for all the managers around the world, their style of football, his behavior. It is the perfect model for all the kids and I’m sure all parents will enjoy this model and encourage their kids to be the same. The style of football, I think, Barcelona are thinking of copying

The same could be said about a dozen or so teams in the EPL, Rafa. A dozen.

*I apologize for my language here, I know how rude it is to use that word.
** Again, my apologies.
***7amkickoff sincerely regrets the use of such language and will attempt to not say this word ever again.