The events on London Bridge last night, like those at Westminster previously and Manchester, bring back the yoke of terrorism to these shores. For those of us who routinely went about life in the 70s and 80s when the IRA planted bombs in the capital and provinces, it was a time no-one wanted to see return; it has.
Now we see the same psychopathy, with a different religion as its mask. They achieve nothing but pain, allowing the festering sore of racism to surface behind policies of ‘national security’. The same ‘national security’ which promotes the hatred that bombs, shoots, stabs and drives into innocents, in the first place.
In the aftermath, the families of the victims – both dead and alive – are left with the iniquitous media, intruding and harassing them. Instead of allowing the privacy and respect the grieving process deserves (and demands), journalists prowl properties, post cards through doors wanting interviews, pestering instead of leaving the privacy the times should have. All human dignity is lost in those moments, stripped away violently by the terrorists and a lust for ‘the story’.
I don’t understand the grief of the violent loss of a loved one and selfishly, I never want to. The families of any and every terrorist act have my sympathy, be they English, European, or whatever nationality these heinous crimes are inflicted upon. They always have and they always will.
The Champions League
In the world of football, Real Madrid exposed the gap between the English game – and Arsenal in particular – last night in Cardiff. An entertaining first half gave way to a second half demolition; Real Madrid were worthy winners, albeit flattered by the final 4 – 1 win over Juventus.
While Juve were on top for the first half, it was Ronaldo – the obligatory “who else?” goes here – who broke the deadlock. No matter how much you may dislike his preening, to score 600 goals, all in decent leagues and for one of Europe’s elite international football nations, is impressive.
It led to a slew of social media comments gloating and revelling in Max Allegri’s failure to win the glittering prize. Which misses the point; Juve were in the final while we try to forget the 10-2 mauling.
The same mentality disparages Tony Adams playing career, unable to separate the Arsenal captain who walked through walls on the pitch and, well, you know where that’s going. The latter is something he has come to terms with; I find the recent comments in interviews and his book, frankly bizarre.
I remember a centre back who led his teams with courage, pride and passion; all in the name of Arsenal FC. What he says is no different to any other pundit; it’s all opinions. Why are his flaws as a person worthy of your derision? Basic human decency is in short supply at times.
In terms of technique, speed of thought; the Premier League is light years behind the likes of the continent’s élite clubs. We may have more money but that counts for nothing on the highest stage.
Can The Gap Be Closed?
It’s a tough question to answer, with never say never, the only reply. Some will put the gap down to financial doping, as if English clubs – Arsenal included – are paragons of virtue. None in professional are innocent; it’s varying degrees of guilt. That’s the same with any industry, before you try to paint football out as a unique case.
And the standard of football doesn’t help. The hurly-burly of the Premier League can be more exciting to watch but it doesn’t improve technique. The England national team suffers as a consequence.
So too do the top clubs in this country. Continued failure in the Champions League saw them dragged closer to the mediocrity of the rest of the top flight in terms of technique. Winning the title here is too much of a different game to success in Europe.
Do Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern have to adjust their games so much in the Champions League? Or do they play more or less the same way away from home in Europe and their countries?
The great English sides managed to bridge that gap; we don’t have any at the moment, and certainly not a great Arsenal one. That’s the mix which makes everything at the club, rather than being the sole preserve of manager, coaches or players.
It’s why when Stan and Ivan talk about winning the Champions League or bringing success in Europe, they open themselves up to ridicule. No-one believes them with many cynical about our Europa League chances.
The gap can be closed but the first step is to stop it growing. And that may take longer than any of us expect.