Strange Relations


Arsenal’s preparations for Sunday’s North London Derby received a timely boost with reports this morning that Bacary Sagna is likely to have recovered from knee-knack in time to face the Boy Wonder. Rumours abound that the Premier League have forced Spurs to field an XI to diminish Gareth Bale’s ability otherwise he would yet to have dropped a point. Welcome to the world of Arsenal, Tottenham; one good season out of a player and then they disappear the following Summer but their legacy is to leave you FFP compliant and proclaiming  profits are a sign of good housekeeping <THWACK! Stop talking about the damned accounts>

Should he not make it, Carl Jenkinson will take his place. The youngster did well against Villa, perhaps the moments of madness induced by the Wearside sun were necessary for his development (and that of the team as it happens). Little wonder that he enthused about the core of the team being British, his Englishness ensuring that he is a beneficiary of Arsène considering passports. Time will tell whether his assertion that the youngsters coming through now are going to be good enough players in the future. It is not only the club who benefits, the national team likewise. Whether we will return to the times of England ruling the waves and picking seven Arsenal players for a match remains to be seen. The closest to that is likely to be a training match at London Colney if the FA ever use it again, their desperation to ensure that St George’s Park is not a white elephant will probably preclude that.

Jenkinson harked back to the old days when he noted that Arsenal are an English club, noting that it is something that the “fans can relate to“.  I understand what he means, referring to the heart and soul. Decades past, the club would have been a focal point of the community but as mobility increased in society, the function of the club as the heartbeat of the neighbourhood has diminished. Yes, businesses thrive on matchdays, they always will with the club’s pricing structure and general fare being poor. The various projects – the Double club for education, coaching and charitable work – are all commendable but that heart of the community feeling has long since gone, the nails in that coffin hammered in with every passing breath of the Premier League.

Some may take the view that identifying with English players is easier than their foreign counterparts. I don’t buy into that theory. It is the one area that Arsène is utterly correct in that a passport is irrelevant (unless your name is Edu, of course). I don’t care what country a player is from, even someone like Jenkinson who is an Arsenal supporter – and not one posing in a dubious photo – I can’t relate to them. Footballers are beyond any concept of what they used to be. Even in the 80s when I was in my 20s, players the gap between players and supporters was growing. The end of the maximum wage started that process, it took time to gain traction but Bosman and the Premier League ensured that it exploded beyond comparison. I know players all come from similar backgrounds to me – some better, some worse – but that’s where it ends. People who think that they can relate to players now are deluding themselves; football might be the working class game for supporters – even that is dubious – but it is not for the players.

Does the nationality bring about more loyalty? There is a strong case that it does, particularly for someone like Jenkinson or Wilshere, who understand the tribal nature of the game, perhaps have more feeling for the club than someone flying through the doors for a couple of years. Few players have the strength of character displayed by Sol Campbell when he crossed North London a decade ago. Most would not conceive of leaving London Colney for Manchester United but clubs seem reluctant to tap into the native source of players when they are established at big clubs. United and Arsenal do not routinely trade in English players, nor for others either. OK, that might be put to the test now that Arsenal have talented English players coming through. Perhaps that paucity of talent made it seem like an inherent loyalty, the reality being it was a misnomer for lack of talent.

Whatever the case, it is harder to relate to the club as a whole now. The game has changed from my youth and to be honest, my 50p to get onto the North Bank never mattered that much but with revenue streams growing elsewhere, my £50 a game matters even less in the context of the hundreds of millions of pounds they generate each year. The Premier League killed off the heart and soul of the club but as long as there are supporters, it will never kill the heart and soul of the game. No matter how hard it tries.

’til Tomorrow.

127 thoughts on “Strange Relations

  1. your totally right bob..

    he ouzed everything..

    he worked hard on the field for the money he took home and with that money he invested wisely.

    he was one of those footballers who football didnt make and he didnt need football..he made football and it needed him..

    very rare these days..

  2. And god bless him Dennis could look after himself – he had a beautiful blind side stamp on any defender who messed with him

  3. Are there still players like Dennis just a player who oozes talent and class. The only player like that for me and from reports that I have read about is Schweinsteiger. Apparently turned down offers from Manure and Madrid.

    Speaking of, watching the Bayern Dortmund match and Schweinsteiger seems to be at his best playing against Dortmund constantly pulling the strings, putting out fires and playing exceptional passes everywere.

  4. Robben just scored a brilliant goal that made even Klopp smile and applaud at it(seriously he applauded and smiled at the goal)!

  5. Klopp seems a class character. When AW hangs it up, he’d be my current pick for worthy successor.

  6. Watching this match, I must admit Bayern doesn’t like when the fight is brought to them. Dortmund are attacking and while giving them respect as a good team they are not giving them the amount of respect we gave them and Bayern aren’t playing as fluidly and are making mistakes.

  7. They were attacking when I wrote the comment, Dortmund was exploiting the gaps and getting shots on target that were otherwise nonexistent in the 1st half. Lewandowski has gone completely missing this match.

  8. Reus has been totally ineffective, C, and Klopp agrees by taki g him off! Gotze’s final ball has been very poor too.

  9. I think Alaba has distinguished himself far more at LB for Bayern. We aren’t agreei g on anything about this game, C!

  10. If Dortmund get a goal, it’ll be totally against the run of play, basically. Bayern looks absolutely dominant. Now with three strong holding players they are stifling Dortmund in midfield.

  11. Martinez is a beast. Gives them even more steel. I thought Gustavo was great last year, so I didn’t understand Bayern paying so much for Martinez with Gustavo there, but he is a monster. Of course why did they go for Mandzukic when they had Gomez. But Bayern wanted to reclaim the title and do better than two CL finals in three years, which when you see how unlucky they were to lose the CL to Chelsea. Admirable. Going to be a huge challenge but possibly a fantastic game. We’ll really have to take it to them.

  12. Bayern on course for a treble. My cousins in Munich must be enjoying this season so far.

    The players look thrilled with this defeat of Dortmund.

  13. Too bad, a loss in the German cup and a stumble in one of their league matches and their confidence might have been shaken a bit.

    But we have bigger fish to fry right now with the Derby and our fight for 4th. I’d much rather beat Spuds handily and have a good run in than overturn the Bayern result, tbh.

  14. I will completely agree with you about Martinez. He was the missing piece for them. Gustavo is brilliant everytime I see him but Martinez and Schweinsteiger look as though they have been playing together since they were young lads. Martinez was a destroyer and playmaker last year and is even better this year.

    They bought Mandzukic because Gomez was out for the 1st 2-3 months of the season and has just started to regain form from his long lay off. If I’m not mistaken Mandzukic was at Bayern before and was let go because of Gomez a couple years back only to return to be a great signing while Gomez regains form.

  15. Limestone. @ 9:34

    Even with full attention to both, the probability of the former far outdistances the latter so if we must prioritize, 4th in the PL is clearly the higher.

  16. I think we can win the 2nd leg honestly, when Dortmund attacked with pace they were able to attack Bayern and were creating chances. Its when they tried to play Bayern’s game is when they were getting bossed off the pitch.

    Tell your cousin Arsenal are going to rein on that treble parade and win this leg!

  17. Haha! Will do, C. But I don’t think he’s too worried about us. We shall see. But I agree with Bill that our priority is getting 4th in the league now.

  18. Agree Bob,
    DB had all the ingredients you want in a footballer.
    Great Skill,brilliant football brain, competitive as hell, and he would have taken the train to Norwich.

  19. Nice write up. YW
    I don’t get the significance of the photo.
    in any teams make up I think it is important to have a local representation from a same country or city. It gives the fans an extra incentive to get excited about the games and pull for their local lads. All said the final factor is ability of players that should determine who gets on the team sheet.
    So happy BERGKAMP is going to be recognized for being one of our best players of all times. Still one of my most favorite all around footballers. Hope to see him in some capacity back at ARSENAL. some day soon.
    An excellent pose too for a player of his calibur.
    I’m with you buddy. Derogatory terms really have no place in civil conversation. The N word. The C word. Both of them. The P word. And the Yword.
    As good people let’s make an effort to get ride and eliminate these prejudicial and defamatory terms out of our conversation. It only shows the true nature and class of the person using those terms.
    I have a theory why the core of ARSENAL SQUAD has gradually moved towards a mainly ENGLISH team.
    So much so that we might very well see four or five GUNNERS in the national team in the near future.
    For years AW Was adamant his team was being targeted and not getting the protection from officials during the games.
    Five broken legs and ankles attesting to this fact. Most in the league by count. Now you can add BACARY’S second leg break to that count making this total SIX.. a clear stump on a defenseless player on the ground that went unpunished.
    I think AW and the club are thinking the only way to get this protection and therefore an even playing field is to make the nucleus of the national team ARSENAL. the FA and their officials will have to protect the members of the national squad even if they don’t feel like doing the same for our club.
    Just a theory and my opinion only. I’m all for it if it achieves the objective. It seems to be the best if not the only reason for this shift.

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