On Nostalgia, Barcelona Warning and Good News for Arsenal

According to Stiff Little Fingers, nostalgia is past its’ prime while history is a thing of the past. The late 1970s pub-punk philosophers knew a thing or two about how ‘the kids’ thought.

Now the kids are adults and we know nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Comics might be enjoying a bounce thanks – in part – to big screen adaptations but football never got the benefit. Mainly because films about football are few and far between while good films about football are as rare as hen’s teeth.

Indeed, as I write this, I can only think of Pele, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and a host of former Ipswich Town players in Escape to Victory as the only half-decent football film. The Goal! trilogy is not mentioned in my presence.

If a good football film was written, it would probably be about Jon Stark, Football Mercenary for Hire. For those too young to know or too old to remember, he was a “Matchwinner for hire”, or at least that’s what his business card said. He’d turn up one day at training, be there for a match – maybe two, I don’t recall it ever being longer – win the games for your team and then collect his cash.

Or not, if you lost.

With his trademark leather coat and Glitter Band haircut, he was George Best for hire. Reliable, never at a bar instead of training. He earned a grand a game plus bonuses in an era when footballers’ wages barely reached £200. He was that good.

Of course, it couldn’t happen now. FIFA says you can’t play for more than two or three teams per season – I can’t remember which it is – and that put Stark out to pasture. Unless he had a raft of false identities in a Bourne-esque twist.

Being First Just Cannot Last

Which comes as some relief to Arsenal. We don’t need Jon Stark, it just means the Dog & Duck defenders who masqueraded as Barcelona players can’t pitch up at Colney for the CSKA tie. No need to see their business card: “We do the dirty work you don’t want to”.

If Hollywood scripted last night’s Champions League match in Rome, Kostas Manolas would be the hero. His goal would stop a dirty bomb or nerve agent being unleashed on an unsuspecting city. His wide-eyed celebration captures the emotion of a fantastic win as well as saving the day.

Even Roma players couldn’t believe what they witnessed. As the Greek defender unleashed his inner-Tardelli, one team-mate walked across the corner of the penalty box, hands over face, almost in a daze at the raw emotion of it all.

The last time eyes bulged that biggly, Diego Maradona failed a drugs test; that’s how much raw adrenaline, testosterone and other natural thingies were coursing through Manolas’ veins at that moment.

Seeing footballers enjoy the moment, watching the Roma fans celebrate that instant; it’s why football is such a great thing. You believe it can happen to you and you understand the emotions crashing through their bodies. Half the Eternal City will have woken this morning feeling like they have drunk the vineyards dry.

I’d like to know how that felt but had we lost 4 – 1 in the first leg to Barcelona, they’d have won the second 5 – 0.

There were still seven minutes to go and Lionel Messi on the pitch. But as Argentina found during the 2014 World Cup final, that doesn’t automatically mean victory. Or salvaging a defeat.

The Dog & Duck defenders let them down.

Plug in any Loop Tape You Choose

It was fascinating watching both ties last night. City’s campaign was undone by the same referee whom Guardiola accused of wrecking last season’s home leg against Monaco. UEFA delivered a spectacular middle finger to the Catalan.

It was rank bad officiating to disallow City a second goal before half-time. The fifth official on the goal-line had a clear view that it was a Liverpool player who last touched the ball – the Mr Dull BT Referee claimed said the goalkeeper’s punch meant Milner’s deflection was irrelevant – and was apparently ‘consulted’ over the decision. Oh, for VAR…

That is the reason there are no English officials in Russia, by the way: VAR is a central platform this summer and we’ve proven we can’t use it properly.

CSKA will look at the Roma performance and think they can repeat that. We, on the other hand, should look at Liverpool’s shaky back four and think, “Well, if they can do it, why can’t we?”

Well, we’ve got Shkodran Mustafi for starters and our fates very much depend on which Shkodran turns up in Moscow. The lackadaisical one who we see most weeks, or the Germany international who pops in now and again?

We shall see. One man who will be thinking the Gods are on his side is Mo Elneny. The FA reversed his red card and he doesn’t have to serve any ban at all; hen’s teeth indeed.

Put the Egyptian on the pitch tomorrow and he will feel invincible; the FA? On Arsenal’s side? Is the sky about to fall in? Maybe Mo’s film could be called Skyfall? Nah, it’s a bit of a crap title.

Also, on the Arsenal front, Reiss Nelson showed what an education can do and he realised staying at Arsenal is the best thing for him, so he signed da ting.

’til Tomorrow.

45 thoughts on “On Nostalgia, Barcelona Warning and Good News for Arsenal

  1. I really love your piece. Certainly good days are back for Arsenal, I mean the FA reversing Elneny’s red card .Such decisions are rare, even though everybody knew it wasn’t a red card offence at all. As for CSKA Moscow trying to repeat what AS Roma did last night, no way. Arsenal will be ready for them. The worst result for tomorrow match is a draw for us.

  2. Maybe Mustafi’s movie title could be ‘Shkodran Leader’ ….obviously it would be a comedy or fantasy film!

  3. Good stuff Yogi and it was weird watching the Liverpool v Citeh match because that 2nd goal that should have been that wasn’t sort of killed the tie then the ref sending Pep to the stands was even more strange. The camera kept showing the ref and he seemed to be relishing being at the center of attention and thats a shame because it wasn’t just the disallowed goal but Mane’s challenge in modern futbol is a red.

    But watching Roma was an absolute joy. I remember a couple of us talking about Dzeko and bringing him in and thr counter argument was we have Giroud, sorry Dzeko is a much much better player and he was brilliant over both legs.

    As far as CSKA, we need to get the job done and not sit back and try to hold a lead because quite frankly we are shit at it.

  4. @andy

    I saw that article too but that article failed to take into account that Liverpool signed Keia for 70m which then puts things about even if I’m not mistaken.

  5. @Bill

    Roma wanted to keep and sign Szczesny but Arsenal were asking for more than they ultimately sold him for and once Arsenal were playing games, Roma went with Alisson who was highly rates as well and already a Roma player.

  6. C,

    Apparently it’s only an agreement to buy at this stage and payment isn’t due until the summer so the fee is counted in the 18/19 season. At least that’s the way it’s been accounted for on transfermkt.com anyway.

    I don’t think that there is any doubt however that Klopp, ridiculed by the pro-Arsene section, has shown himself far more astute in the transfer market than Arsene.

  7. andy1886,

    Yea I think it won’t show up financially until this summer but I think everything with the deal itself is done and dusted but Klopp was cool with Keita playinh for RB in Europe.

    Not just Klopp but Pep too, which shows Arsene and his possession infatuation can work, Arsene is just shit at teach it.

  8. Great post Yogi

    Roma’s win proves again that you can win against a team that spends more money.

    Andy:

    It does not really matter if Liverpool outspent us or we outspent them by a couple of million dollars. The spending is in the same ball park as ours and so is Chelsea. All 3 of those teams are a long ways behind the Manchester teams and both Liverpool and Chelsea have been much more successful then we have with similar amounts of spending. Liverpool and Roma and no where close to Barca and Man City but they still won yesterday.

    C:

    The reason we could only get $10M for Wojo is because no one was interested in bidding more. No matter how you slice it, Roma had him for 2 seasons and if they rated him as highly as you do and thought he was worth more then $10M they would not have dropped out of the bidding. Its not like Wojo was a secret or playing under the radar while he was in Rome and it seems logical to think that if the rest of the world rated him as highly as you do then someone else would have been willing to bid and the price would have gone up

  9. C

    “Not just Klopp but Pep too, which shows Arsene and his possession infatuation can work, Arsene is just shit at teach it.”

    I was one of the people who thought Pep’s possession style might not work in England. I was certainly wrong about that. The difference between Pep and Arsene is Pep always has plenty of firepower on the pitch and somehow he can get his players to play at pace and play with consistent energy and press the ball on defense and play mostly solid defense. Our players can do that for short runs of form but Arsene has never been able to motivate our teams to play that way consistently.

  10. I suspect one of the reasons that Pep moves so often is because he knows he can’t keep the players motivated to play with the high energy high effort style for more then a few years.

  11. If my memory is correct Klopp ran out of steam in Dortmund also and he probably stayed a couple of years longer then he should have.

  12. Bill,

    He landed at Juve as Buffon’s heir so maybe Juve saw something too, he was also rated as highly as any GK in Italy not named Buffon the last 2 seasons, Alisson was always highly rated in Italy and it was always going to be Szczesny or Alisson that stayed in Rome while the other went to Italy. Rome had a set price in their set budget because most Italian teams can’t spend wildly like in other countries, so they had a price in mind, Arsenal wanted more they said fuckit and Szczesny ended up at Juve which again shows how highly rate he really is. This is a situation you really can’t speak on unless you follow futbol outside the PL.

  13. Bill,

    Thats the one thing with possession futbol that I have been telling you about that Arsene is shit at teaching, the ability to have your players go from 0-100 at the snap of a finger and then back to 0 but it also shows that you need midfield pivots who are good technically and its just not one of Ramsey’s strengths but its why people talk about Santi and how bad we missed him and its why I think Elneny would be really good because you need your midfield pivots to be consistent in their passing and energy.

  14. The other thing is, we need a CB partner for Mustafi who can be that commander back there. All you have to do is look at Lovern since Van Dijk has come and took control, he looks much more like the good CB that he was at Southampton more than the disastet that he was prior to Van Dijk.

  15. There was a time when Arsenal could have had Klopp, but….[insert answer here which all gooners already know]

  16. Bill,

    In the modern game change and renewal has to be the way to go. Klopp may have stayed on a couple of years too long but Arsene has managed a decade longer than was merited. The apathy demonstrated by all those empty seats is far more telling than the protests last season ever were.

  17. andy1886:
    Bill,

    In the modern game change and renewal has to be the way to go. Klopp may have stayed on a couple of years too long but Arsene has managed a decade longer than was merited. The apathy demonstrated by all those empty seats is far more telling than the protests last season ever were.

    Andy.

    Absolutely. Arsène should have left and the team and Arsène both needed a change of scenery and new input and new motivation after we melted down and arsene lost the dressing room in the last half of the 10/11 season.

  18. C:
    Bill,

    Thats the one thing with possession futbol that I have been telling you about that Arsene is shit at teaching, the ability to have your players go from 0-100 at the snap of a finger and then back to 0 but it also shows that you need midfield pivots who are good technically and its just not one of Ramsey’s strengths but its why people talk about Santi and how bad we missed him and its why I think Elneny would be really good because you need your midfield pivots to be consistent in their passing and energy.

    It’s not about teaching or tactics or some secret formula. What pep does is not quantum physics. It’s about talented players having the motivation to put in that sort effort on both ends of the pitch but especially on the defensive end. I think pep leaves after about 3 years because he understands that players will lose some of that focus with time.

    Our players could play like more like pep’s teams if they had the same level of motivation. The players have to take some of the responsibility for being so willing to fall back into the pattern of methodical slow paced build ups and tippy tappy and losing concentration on defense. I am 100% certain that Arsène was as excited an happy as we were when he watched them play quickly and take apart CSKA and if the players were really motivated they could play like that a lot more often but for some reason they don’t. However, the bottom line is the same thing has been a problems on both ends of the pitch for this entire decade and Arsène has been the only constant during that time do he deservedly gets most of the blame as he should. I hope that makes sense.

  19. The other difference between pep and arsene is pep always has enough firepower on the pitch and I think he has better players. So far PEA looks like a real upgrade but it’s early. I don’t think even pep could win the PL with this Arsenal squad without some significant rebuilding.

  20. Bill,

    Your wrong, ALL players want to be taught and actually need to be taught how and led, its why their are managers some brilliant and some shit and more often than not the shit managers have shitty teams. I mean if it was just down to motivation and what not then you would see more shifting of thr sands in the table but its ultimately about talented players being put in the right system and given their roles on how to play. And performing that role…if that wasn’t the case then you would see players running all over the place with no shape.

    Lool at ALL of Pep’s teams over the years, their wide players stay really wide and its a structure in not only the way they play but the formation itself. Your taking a very American view on this and its something that I personally struggle talking to most people in America about futbol, because they don’t get the tactical side and how important it is. For instance, Henry was shit it Italy, was his motivation different there as opposed to in France, at Arsenal or Barca, no its for other reasons.

    With this squad I think Pep could win the PL. Ozil is as talented if not more talented then either De Bruyne or Silva, Aubameyang and Lacazette I would put against any of Sterling, Sane, Aguero or Jesus and Ramsey and Jack are talented futbolers maybe a class below Gundoghen but Pep plays to their strengths whereas Arsene doesn’t.

  21. Looks like Elneny will be starting with Xhaka staying in London with the flu aka Arsene doesn’t want him to pick up a yellow in the 2nd leg to miss the first leg in the next round

  22. C:

    “Look at ALL of Pep’s teams over the years, their wide players stay really wide and its a structure in not only the way they play but the formation itself.”

    If that is true then we have the wrong players. Do you really think Ozil and Mkhitaryan who are our wide forwards are going to stay out wide and give the team width. That is not going to happen even now matter who is their manager.

    Over the course of history there have been dozens of different formations and tactical approaches to the game and any of them or all can work as long as the team does 2 things. They play solid defense and don’t concede a lot of goals and they turn defense into attack quickly and attack at pace and get the ball into the final 1/3 before the defense can set up. In American football the offense has the advantage. In European futbol the defense has a huge advantage and once you allow the defense time to set up then its very difficult for any team to break down an organized defense no matter how brilliant their manager. What Pep’s teams do so successfully is they don’t concede many goals and they work very hard to win the ball back and turn defense into attack very quickly when they get it back.

  23. Poor old Elneny…he must hate the fa..he can’t even do it properly when trying to get a deliberate red to miss a nice trip out to dodgy Russia!!

  24. It seems the Champions League miss us so much that they are making it a ‘Stars in your Eyes’ kinda competition this season.

  25. Arsene’s tactics work when the players execute the way they did against CSKA and they work for part of every season when we have our annual false dawn. The problem for Arsene is for some reason he can’t find a way to get his players to execute on any sort of consistent basis.

  26. Bill,

    Mkhitaryan would stay wide, he does it for Arsenal, he did it at Dortmund but its not how or what Arsene clearly wants him to do because he put him in the Sanchez sort of role with playing on the left and cutting in on his right. Do you really think Pep would put Ozil outwide, for even suggesting that I shouldn’t even have responded.

  27. Isn’t football supposed to be a contact sport ? How is the defender supposed to eliminate the danger without touching the attacker, he did not especially bring down the attacking player, he just hit the ball and Madrid were gifted a penalty. I feel sorry for Juventus, after all the effort to score 3 and still lose. Hope CSKA Moscow does not catch the bug of resurgent surprises.

  28. OK. Why I think he gave the penalty:

    1. Push from behind as the cross came in.
    2. Push from behind as defender tries to get ball
    3. Tackle from behind
    4. Dangerous play: boot chest high, knee head high.

    Any one from four.

  29. YW,

    my problem with all of those is that he let quite a few of those go throughout the match for both sides. Also Benetia actually wins thr ball and even in real time for me it didn’t look a push.

  30. @Bill,
    Since the heady days pre WW2, no Arsenal manager has been able to obtain real consistency from the players at his disposal. The team has not yet been able to retain a single championship title.
    Peaks and troughs in performance, in equal measure, every season are certain.
    It seems to be the Arsenal Way and longstanding followers of our great Club have come to expect and accept it. 😉

  31. If anything the CL has shown us is that if we sit back and try to protect our lead anything is possible. I know most won’t agree but I say we attack CSKA and get a goal early and then play on the counter

  32. andy1886,

    He is not ridiculed but it is unedifying reading AFC supporters purring over other managers, leering over other team results and wishing we had them
    That’s all

Comments are closed.