David Beckham Superstar

Beckham has a question for the teacher

The other day I was at some giant box store buying some Chinese product and there was a little kid in an LA Galaxy shirt. Sandy blond hair, little square glasses, white LA Galaxy shirt. Now, in my imagination, the back of the shirt said “Donovan,” and I started imagining this little kid idolizing team USA’s captain and LA Galaxy mainstay Landon Donovan and I thought “that’s nice.” When he turned around I saw not Donovan or one of the other LA Galaxy players but “Beckham” and I actually laughed, out loud, derisively.

Beckham.

I hadn’t really thought of Beckham since the end of the season when he was “earning” his 100th cap for the England team and his face was all over the papers and now here was his name emblazoned on some unfortunate kid’s shirt.

Beckham, he’s like a cold sore, he’s always around when you don’t want him.

Beckham and that shirt encapsulate everything that’s wrong with world football; huge salaries, selfishness, mercenary players, the lure of the national team, media manipulation, lies, deceit, and ultimately, the way sport can both uplift and destroy a kids dreams.

Beckham and his flotilla of photographers docked in Los Angeles  last year and like the first Europeans who “discovered” America, he promised to bring us enlightenment. He was going to “bring soccer to America” he said. In essence he wanted to convert us from our backwards religion where we worship 500 lb behemoths who carry the football to the world’s religion, proper football.

Though he still called it soccer, which in retrospect was a blatant clue.

Before the ink was even dry on his multi-multi-million dollar contract the shirts were flying off the store shelves and Americans embraced Beckham, the savior of American Soccer. We bought the hype, and who could blame us? He and his media machine are master manipulators. So, for what seemed like an endless summer I, being the local “soccer guy,” was bombarded with questions about Beckham.

“You must be excited.”  Uhhh, not as much as I am that Arsenal signed Aaron Ramsey.

“What do you think, will the Galaxy win the league?” Beckham’s past his prime and never did defend well on the wing, he will be a liability on that team defensively, though they will probably get better from set plays.

“His contract is huge but the Galaxy seem to think they’ll recover the money, how?” HA! If I understand his contract, Beckham gets part of the gate receipts. THE GATE. This isn’t about business, this is a spectacle and Beckham is the rock star. He’s made a mockery of the so called “salary cap” in the MLS and pretty much insulted all of the decent players who work hard in the league and get paid a regular wage.

I’ll admit that I watched the first few matches, I mean “games,” and sure enough the cracks showed right away: he didn’t defend, he got stepped on by the big talentless defenders in the MLS, he was pretty much constantly frustrated with his teammates (who, to be fair, aren’t used to putting together more than 2 or 3 passes) and the comical announcers kept wondering why he hadn’t scored 30 odd goals in his first game. So, as he hobbled on and off the plastic pitches and the Galaxy started coming apart at the seams everyone started questioning the sanity of this experiment.

Then the England National Team had to go and hire someone with a spine and Beckham’s well orchestrated set play in America was dismantled. Capello basically said

American Football is shit and no one playing in the MLS will make this team. No one, not even Golden Balls. Oh and I don’t give two fucks if he’s approaching his 100th cap, I want to win something.

So, Beckham used the fact that the MLS starts and stops their season so that they don’t conflict with the more important sports in America (like college football, Olympic skeet shooting, and the World Series of Poker) and he orchestrated a “loan” move to AC Milan, where decrepit old pervert Silvio Berlusconi was assembling a hodge podge of washed up has-beens. All so that he could get his 100th cap.

It worked. Hooray for international football. David Beckham is now the most capped outfield player in England history. They should make a movie about it.

Having successfully gotten all he wanted he now returns to his club and the response has been, well, less than enthusiastic. Landon Donovan has this to say:

My sense is that David’s clearly frustrated, that he’s unhappy and, honestly, that he thinks it’s a joke. I also kind of feel (he has taken the team) for granted. I don’t see dedication or commitment to this team, and that’s troubling.

Let’s say he does stay here for three more years. I’m not going to spend the next three years of my life doing it this way. This is fucking miserable. I don’t want to have soccer be this way.

What do you expect? I can’t imagine an Arsenal player doing the same thing, hell, we boo guys who make bad passes, could you imagine the response that a lazy, selfish, pretty boy rich kid would get if he orchestrated a loan deal that took him away from the team for half the season, so he could earn some personal milestone in international football?

So, what has David Beckham taught us ignorant Americans about football? That the club doesn’t matter, so long as you get your caps. That you can get a huge paycheck and put in a half assed work rate. That you can screw your “teammates,” so long as you get your caps. That American soccer sucks so bad that it doesn’t rate as even decent practice for international games. That salary caps are a joke. And that in the end all that matters is one man’s ego.

Welcome back, Dave.

The First Day: the Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good

As inauspicious as our last day over at the WordPress site was (what with the  loss of Felipe Melo as a potential signing) it’s looking like the first day of the new blog is inversely, erm, auspicious!

First off, we have some great news out of L’Equipe (whom T-Town Alex assures me is a very reliable source) that Mikael Silvestre is being tracked by Bordeaux. I’m not going to re-hash the whole “Mikael Silvestre was the one player who was involved in every Arsenal blow out last season and the worst signing in Arsenal history, ever” thing and instead will just simply say thanks for the “service” and good luck in Bordeaux — you’ll need it.

This is followed by the news that Cappy Gallas intends to honor the last year of his contract with us despite reports linking him to Inter.

I am at Arsenal, my contract is still valid for a year, so I am an Arsenal player. We have not talked about renewing the contract, but I am relaxed and looking forward to next season with Arsenal.

It’s funny, there was a time when I joked that William Gallas was a Chelsea plant, that Mourinho sent him to Arsenal to get in as deep as possible and destroy us from the inside. But as it turns out he’s a pretty damn stand up guy. He’s our best defender, probably the most experienced player on the squad, a man who wants to win, and a man who has shown honor in the face of huge criticism. To put it bluntly, I don’t think I would be half as respectful of a club that stripped me of the captaincy.

Anyway, the point of the two stories is that when we signed Vermaelen there was a lot of speculation about who would leave with people wondering if it would be Kolo or Gallas. Well, it’s looking like it’s neither of those two and it’s Silvestre who is headed out the door.

Good.

I mean… uhh… thanks Mikael! Have fun in France!

The other goods for the day are that with the press thrown off the Felipe Melo scent they have sniffed around and targeted three other potential midfield signings: Lorik Cana, Mesut Oezil, and Gaetano D’Agostino.

  • Cana: Big, strong, robust, churlish, talented, good in the air and Arsene even tried to bring him into the team when he was a lad. All of which point to Arsenal wanting to sign him, right? The problem is that Wenger has bought a “destroyer” since Vieira (you don’t have to tell me that Vieira was more than a destroyer, I KNOW) and it’s looking like he’s trying to build a more “continental” team one that challenges more for the Champions League than for the Premier League. So, I’m going with 6/10 on this one, which should be a 4/10 but every time I watch this video that number jumps up one point and I’ve watched it twice this morning. Hell, I might watch it at work again!
  • Mesut Oezil: So, a 20 year old attacking midfielder, silky passing skills, keeps the ball on the ground, destroyed Theo and Gibbs in the U21 tournament, and probably available for around £15m. Ladies and gentlemen, the only question left is how we pronounce his name! Is it “Weezil?” 7/10
  • D’Agostino: left footed, tall-ish, relatively unknown, late bloomer who currently plays on the wing for Udinese. Supposedly a bid has come in from an English team and “an important Italian club” and the speculation is that the bid is either Arsenal or Chelsea. I really don’t know of any Italians who have played for Arsenal, which could just be my ignorance, but seriously, can any of you think of an Italian who played for Arsenal? The only reason that I give any credence to this story is that Wenger has a history of plucking unknowns from the continent. 3/10

The Bad

Maybe it’s not really “bad” but just kind of funny; Aston Villa is reportedly linked to Senderos and Campbell. Welcome to Arsenal 2006, Villa!

The Ugly

Because when I think Arsenal, I think "white and blue"

I’m not sure what the execs at Nike and Arsenal are thinking. First they come out with a blue kit, which you could make an argument for, I’ve seen Arsenal in blue, I own a blue away kit with Henry’s name! There’s at least some historic precedence for the blue kit. Albeit, pinstripes are not historically an Arsenal thing, they’re more a New York Yankees thing. Still, I was only kinda put aback by the blue kit. I wasn’t going to buy one, but I wasn’t going to write some angry screed about it either.

But the white kit is just full of fail. First off, a white kit was first introduced the season that we lost Thierry Henry and there were pictures of Henry in the white kit right before he went off to the sunny beaches of Barcelona. That white kit also was the kit of the season where we lost Flamini and Gilberto as well. So, frankly, the white kit is a curse and I had hoped to never see an Arsenal player in a white kit ever again as long as I lived.

But, to introduce both blue and white in the same season? What the fuck are you thinking? White and blue are the colors of Chelsea, Everton, and Tottenham. Are we Chelsea North now? Tottenham 2? I mean come on, this is really a slap in the face of anyone who has supported Arsenal through these last 10 years or so. Especially since they ruined the home shirt by turning the white sleeves into stripes.

And then there’s the accompanying advertising spiel, which is both perplexing and insulting:

Further shirt details include a panel of horizontal stripes at the back of the shirt, to mirror the craftsmanship of a fine English shirt. Inside the collar is a high quality woven label that reads Arsenal, while engineered in to the side seam is a small red label featuring two Arsenal canons either side of the club motto, ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit,’ which translates as ‘Victory Through Harmony.’

What the hell is a fine English shirt and how, exactly, is it crafted? And what do horizontal stripes have to do with the whole thing??? And then, the coupe de grace, they explain to us what ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ means… fuck me.

I buy a shirt every year when I travel to London to see the club, it’s one of my pre-match rituals, and I am seriously considering a boycott of the shirts this year. I can’t think of any way to get these folks to reign in the stupidity and give us a proper red shirt with white sleeves for home matches and a yellow away kit.

For the record, I’m not calling for a boycott, but Jesus, someone needs to tell them that this latest color scheme is a disaster. Maybe if a huge section of supporters all wore last year’s away kit for the whole season they would get the idea.

Maybe.

Now you're just Riberying me.

He's ready for his close-up

Have you heard any good jokes lately? No? How about this one? “Arsenal Set To Make £40m Franck Ribery Bid – Reports.”

LOL

Yeah, ok, let’s just assume that Arsenal are going to bid £40m, which, according to Bayern manager Uli Hoeness, is £60m short of his valuation and would get us just a leg. Even if we did bid £40m, BAYERN AREN’T SELLING, so this is a non-story and you have to wonder where it came from.

Wait, what if there is something to this story? If we could get Frank Ribery’s right leg for £40m and sew it onto Eboue, we could make a Frankeneboue! Then the boss could say that Eboue’s “like a new signing” and he could say to everyone that “Arsenal develop players, we do not just buy them.”

And then Wenger would sign Karim Benzema, 3 new goalkeepers, Fat Ronaldo, Felipe Melo AND Lorik Cana, steal E’to’o from City, and get Micah Richards and Brede Hangeland, and possibly bring in Xavi Hernandez and David Villa! All this after selling Frankeneboue for £75m, Adebayor for £93m, Bentdner for £6,999 (like a used car, get it???), Eduardo for a free transfer, and Theo Walgod for £1.2billion.

RIGHT???

That settles it, I’m changing the name of the summer transfer period from “interlull” to “interlol.”

InterLOL, wait this is serious

With Adebayor looking closer to AC Milan than ever before, now that Dzeko is off the table and Sevilla is asking £30m for Fabiano, it looks like Wenger might actually end up with the resources to buy Felipe Melo.  Last I heard, Fiorentina want £21m for Melo, which is more than Arsene was willing to pay last year for Alonso, but that Fiorentina are willing to accept Senderos as a makeweight in the deal. So, with the £15m or so Arsenal will get from Adebayor, a Senderos, and maybe even a little cash, we might be able to prise Melo from Fiorentina.

More importantly, this story is starting to look like it has some smoke to it: Melo reportedly asked former Arsenal skipper Gilberto what he thought of Arsenal. As in “hey, I’m thinking about transferring to Arsenal, should I?”

Well…

Gio said “yes absolutely” which is a bit of a surprise seeing how he was treated in his last year, but then simultaneously not a surprise since Gio has always been a class act and clearly still loves Arsenal.

What makes me feel better about the whole thing is that Gio also thinks Melo would be good for Arsenal. Each time I’ve watched him he hasn’t looked that impressive but if Gilberto says

He is exactly what they need – a powerful player with quality. If they got him it would be great because he is a player they need at the moment. I’m sure if they got him it would be a good signing. I have told him Arsenal is a great club and I am sure next season they will improve.

then I have no choice but to trust Gilberto. He was a top notch midfielder for Arsenal and he knows exactly what it takes to win trophies in the Premier League. If anyone in this world knows if Felipe Melo is ready to partner Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal and help win a trophy it’s Gilberto Silva.

So, I officially say “bring ‘em on.”

Or Cana…

The other player that has been on everyone’s hit list is combative Albanian midfielder, Lorik Cana. His club officially said that he’s for sale and immediately Spuds made a bid. The link above says that Arsene tried to bring him over for a trial when he was younger but were denied a work visa, with him now firmly ensconced in the Albanian team the whole visa thing might work out easier. Though, I’m no expert on the British work visa rules.

Arsenal can offer Champions League football a great salary and a host of world class players, he’d be a fool to chose them over us.

Also, then he’d be a cunt, and we wouldn’t want him anyway!

Usmanov’s Millions

Just when you think it’s safe, Alisher Usmanov reminds us that he has his grubby little fingers all over our club. This time is no different than the last time he cropped up: he wants us all to make a deal with the devil and do a “rights issue” that would “generate” “£100m.”

The details of Usmanov’s proposal are unknown and will be discussed by the board this week but from what I’ve read the basic idea is to issue additional stock and generate fresh investment. Of course, Red and White are saying that this money could be used for transfers (that’s the devil’s bargain) and Gazidis is saying that the board will not do a stock offer and blow the money on transfers (hey, maybe THAT’s where the Ribery story came from!).

Either way, I trust the board on this one. It’s pretty clear that they are openly hostile to Usmanov’s attempts to use Arsenal as his personal piggy bank and will rebuff any proposal that would help him consolidate power. The board is committed to growing Arsenal the old fashioned way and while you might disagree with that because it means you have to forgo the instant gratification of spending big and buying  trophies it’s the only sensible long term plan.

Personally, I plan on passing Arsenal on to my daughter and if Usmanov had his way, I suspect that would be impossible.