Ding, dong, the Roy is dead


Roy Keane is a quitter and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect that from him — but maybe I should have.

Roy Keane is one of the greatest rivals I have ever seen play against Arsenal. No matter how hard someone like Joey Barton thinks he is, he can’t hold a candle to what Roy Keane did on the pitch in his time. Sure Joey tackles hard, he knows how to put in a cheap shot or two, and Joey’s not afraid to mix it up with teammates or even just random strangers on the street. But there’s a huge difference between attacking a teenager on the street in Liverpool after a night of binge drinking and standing up for your teammates in the tunnel against a man like Patrick Vieira. Keane would have stood on a ladder to go nose-to-nose with Vieira if he had to.

A terrier, a pit-bull, the ultimate midfield enforcer, the guy you love on your team and hate on your opponent’s, whatever positive label you put on Roy they all fit, but equally you could call him petulant, a dinosaur, a big mouth, a bad teammate, and now a coward. If you look back at his career this latest bout of petulance and impulsiveness really isn’t a surprise. This is a man who infamously slagged off his Ireland teammates on the eve of the world cup — and was summarily fired. A man who tried to use an interview on Man U TV to bash Man U — and was summarily fired. In short, Roy Keane is a huge douche of a man, which is exactly what you want in a midfield enforcer, and exactly what you don’t want in a modern manager.

I suppose the last straw for Sunderland and Roy was the latest battles over his summer signings. Niall Quinn had just appointed a new CEO to oversee transfers, which we all know irked Roy, but it was the right thing to do. Every morning I would see some report from Keane about how great Kenwynne Jones is, how he completes the team, how they needed him back when he was injured. It was mind boggling stuff: Kenwynne Jones is a player who is so one dimensional there’s hardly a point. Keane though, kept the faith and all season hailed Jones as the savior. Someone needed to reign in Keane’s lack of eye for talent.

That said no one expected Keane to be a quitter because he never quit once when he played for United. Further, quitting now almost certainly precludes him from ever coaching Man U. Manchester United can’t hire a manager who bails on the club when the chips are down.

But everyone should have seen it coming, because throughout his career when the chips are down, really down, Roy Keane lashes out. On the pitch, there was virtually no rival, no man you’d rather have on your side (except Patrick Vieira). On the sideline, all of his poor traits were magnified and in the end his worst trait took over and he quit: which is exactly what he’s done at every level of football.

Good bye Roy, there will never be another like you.

Burnley 2-0 Arsenal Youth — the Good, Bad and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: “The Coca-Cola Championship team booked their place in the last four of the Carling Cup after showing a young Gunners side how to finish.”

A Cultured Left Foot: “It was an evening that the players can look back on without shame. They passed the ball reasonably well, their overall technique, until it came to the final shot on goal, was excellent. In short they lived up to most of the expectations that were placed on their young shoulders.”

The Good

Wilshere and Ramsey were absolutely magnificent: laying on the passes that would eventually be wasted by Bendtner up front, running their asses off, and putting themselves about.

Wilshere is still a bit too slight and often found himself on the ground and dispossessed of the ball to the larger, more experienced Burnley midfielders. But I think he may grow and get stronger, he’s only 16!

Ramsey was always in the right place for the role he played. Wenger had him the holding midfield spot and he did the best he could considering how often he had to mop up Randall’s mistakes in midfield.

Both of these young men show great vision and understanding of the game that belies their years. I expect great things from these players.

The Bad

I really feel bad for young Paul Rodgers: thrust into an unfamiliar lineup on a freezing night in an important game against a hardened opponent would be enough to undo the best men, much less a 19 year old, and to be sacrificed at half-time so that a midfielder can come on and play defense for you must have been truly embarrassing. Even though he had a nightmare match you can see flashes of the brilliance that Wenger saw to pick him, let’s hope this experience spurs him on to better things.

Fabianski also had a bad match, well, Fabianski and Silvestre really. They seemed to lack any communication and more than once got in each other’s way. Sir Alex Ferguson was on the sidelines and must have had a chuckle at Silvestre’s performance — for a defender who is as experienced as he is some of the mistakes he made were the stuff that I would have expected from Rodgers. I’ve heard from some Man U supporters that that’s the bag on Silvestre: he plays hard but he’s mistake prone. Multiple times this season he’s been caught running about wildly and crashing in to Arsenal defenders and it has lead to goals. Let’s hope this is just a lack of understanding and communication and not some kind of thing that he does.

Fabianski looked nervous and spilled the ball several times but it was a very cold night and Jensen spilled the ball several times too. So I’m not sure it was as bad a performance that everyone is marking him down for. The first goal was partially his fault (he should control the area) but it certainly didn’t help him that Silvestre tackled him and piled on, effectively holding him down and letting McDonald have a shot at an open goal.

The Ugly

Leaving Simpson out seemed like a huge mistake because Bendtner was most guilty of the poor finishing that killed the team last night. I don’t know what happened in practice but based on the last game, Simpson deserved the starting spot over Bendtner.

That said, Bendtner started and despite some exquisite service from midfield, simply could not finish. After the third time he dribbled into Jensen during a one-on-one you just knew he just wasn’t going to get a goal. It was a disheartening performance from the player who has started against some of the world’s best teams — with his experience, he should have been the guy to carry the Young Ones but instead he looked like their inferior.

The Boss was clearly upset with him after the match, saying:

We played quite well. We had six one-on-ones with the keeper and we lost 2-0, that sums it up quite well… overall we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost.

They [the Young Ones] expressed their talent and many of them gave absolutely everything. But in front of goal you need to be much more clinical than we were tonight. I felt we were quite naive in the way we took our chances.

Final Thoughts

The team can take a lot of good from this game. Wilshere and Ramsey, in particular, are very young and can look at their performance last night and hold their heads high. Other players need to look at the way they played and work on those aspects of their game that was found wanting.

Tactically, Wenger needs to look at these games and see that Burnley employed similar tactics to Stoke and others that have beaten Arsenal this season. They were very rough on the midfield and got away with quite a bit of rough play and it clearly worked to their advantage. Arsenal need to get their spines up and get back into these kinds of games. At the back, Burnley were able to capitalize on the slightest mistakes and use countering tactics to open the defense. Again, this happens time and again with Arsenal since they seem keen to get 8 attackers in the opponent’s box. It’s score or die with this team and when they aren’t scoring they get beat like they did yesterday.

Finally, Bendtner needs to take a long look at this performance and make some changes to his game. For those of you who didn’t see the game, remember the lucky goal he scored against Kiev? Yeah, he tried to do that three times yesterday. It’s not a clever tactic, it’s not good finishing, and it’s not good goalkeeping to keep it out, it’s just luck when it goes in. Yesterday, Bendtner’s luck, and the team’s Carling Cup hopes ran out.

The good news is that the team have 3 days rest before they face Wigan at home on Saturday. The bad news is that Wigan is going to be looking for revenge for the Carling Cup embarassment and must be watching tapes of Burnley, Stoke, and Hull for lessons on how to play Arsenal and get a result.

Let’s hope Arsenal have been watching the tapes too.

Burnley v. Arsenal — Debt in the Premier League

I find myself in an unusual situation: there’s no television coverage of today’s match in the U.S. So, as excited as I was to see Arsene’s 18 youngsters take on the team that knocked Chelsea out of the Carling Cup, I don’t get to. BOOOO! Maybe I’ll see if I can get a stream on Justin.tv.

It’s going to be a tough challenge for the young squad, up till now they have played home matches and against “lesser” competition but in Burnley they will find a squad that moves the ball well and has some teeth up front. And they will have to do it all away from home, which means that they will need to defend well and patiently wait for goal scoring opportunities.

Tough match for a bunch of kids.

Ahead of the match, Aaron Ramsey is brimming with confidence and has claimed that he could be Arsenal’s Steven Gerrard: wait, he wants to be a xenophobic diving prick? Personally I hope he’s not a Steven Gerrard, I’d rather he be Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. No time like the present to start, Aaron. Burnley’s got 5 red cards this season so they are going to get “stuck in,” how will you respond? I wish I could watch.

Speaking of responding…

Robin van Persie claims that the Gallas outburst wasn’t targeted at him. Hmmmm…. Eboue? Honestly, I don’t know and don’t really care, Gallas isn’t the captain, Cesc is 2-0, and the team seems to be playing well. That’s all that really matters.

The boss talked about responding to the win over Chelsea, hell, the whole team is talking about it: they need to keep the heat on, their foot on the gas, not let up, give 110%, pick your metaphor. Anything less than a win against Wigan on Saturday will be an embarrassment: not only is it a home game but it’s against the team that the youngsters dismantled 3-0 just a few weeks ago. Wigan will be looking for revenge but Arsenal will have a full squad, well rested, and can have no excuses.

And finally…

I’m not typically a fan of articles that talk about debt in the Premier League, usually because they are poorly written, have the tone of a screed, and often like to highlight Arsenal’s debt and downplay Chelsea’s. Basically, they are almost always a propaganda piece in favor of getting some Sugar Daddy in at Arsenal. But I found one this morning that has a picture of the Emirates but doesn’t mention Arsenal’s debt at all. It’s a pretty good look at what’s coming for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U (among others) given the global credit market and their levels of debt compared to their income. A club like Man U is probably too big to fail (some rich guy will always buy a club that big) but Chelsea supporters should be very, very worried. Chelsea have started the downward spiral and rather than being “self sufficient” as Peter Kenyon suggests, they will be insolvent in two years time. They can’t possibly sustain $150m a year in losses without Roman’s money and since he’s turning off the tap and they aren’t making cuts in salary the losses will continue. It was a bad business plan from the onset; use $1bn to buy up the world’s talent and try to transform a mid-table team into the world’s biggest club in just a few years. What they are left with is an insane wage bill, a huge debt to their owner, a tiny outdated stadium, and a couple of Premiership titles all because they overlooked one thing: history. To be the biggest club in the world takes time and sustained effort, many, many championships, and a long history of overcoming adversity. You can’t buy that, Roman.

Right, late for work, if I get to see the match I’ll do a Good, Bad and Ugly tomorrow. If not? Oh well! Here’s to the Young Ones doing a number on Burnley: Up The Arse!