It seems to me that football administrators are not the only ones who have a paucity of original thoughts. Steve Coppell has stoked the fires ahead of Monday night’s clash by commenting in The Daily Mail ,
I admire so much the football they [Arsenal] play, it is most pleasing on the eye, but you would hope that, given the fact that he (Wenger) has been there 10 years, he could create English players who could play that way
Well here are a couple of observations for you Mr Coppell. Firstly, think long and hard about this because there is a phrase involving the words, ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’ that springs immediately to mind. Let us take for example the Reading line-up for their match in August against Chelsea shall we? A good solid block of Englishmen I presume you fielded, maybe eight or nine of them. No, well surely, half a dozen? No? How many then, I hear you ask? Four; Michael Duberry, Nickey Shorey, James Harper and John Oster. Skilful, talented, regular internationals, one and all. You wonder why Arsene looks abroad for his talent. In fairness to Coppell though, he made more of an effort when Reading visited Craven Cottage last weekend. He included five Englishmen in his squad.
The cheap shots do not get limited to this blog either for the article and Coppell continued,
It’s a cottage industry. The ones not good enough for the first team are very profitable by-products and are sold on. It has been of benefit to us but I always have one eye on the English national team and I think there should be a number of English players in every squad, every Saturday — we are in the English Premier League after all
So let me get this right. Arsene is a bad man because he does not field a team full of Englishmen. To make it worse, he does train them but they do not make the grade at Arsenal so he should not sell them but give those players to other clubs for nothing otherwise he is making money for his employers. Maybe you would like Arsenal to do a better deal for you next time. Something along the lines of those that you see in the supermarket? The acronym ‘BOGOF’ have never been more appropriate.
The attitude displayed is very scary. This is a man who some would have as managing the England team – who knows, maybe this is his effort to prove his credentials to the FA: ‘Look, I am one of you. I slag off Arsene Wenger’ – yet he is incapable of looking beyond yesterday’s back pages for the reasons behind the consistent failure of the national team. Indeed, worryingly for Reading fans, he displays little understanding of how long it takes to develop talent. As Arsene observed in this month’s FourFourTwo, it takes half a dozen or so years for youngsters to be ready for the first team. If the English talent is not within his catchment area, he cannot develop it. Chicken and Eggs abound.
Coppell would be better advised to get his own house in order before pointing fingers. It is not the sole responsibility of Arsene Wenger to raise the standards of players in English football. If the managers and coaches were more concerned with technical ability rather than having a bunch of talentless misfits who can kick a ball hard in the general direction of their forwards perhaps the England team would fare better. It is not as if they can claim to be fitter than their peers in the rest of the world are. How many times have England flagged in the final quarter of a game. More times than I count on my fingers. Coppell’s disrespect deserves to be shown the order of the boot on Monday with a spanking administered to the home team, rather like last season.
It seems that it is open season on Arsenal by our rivals this past seven days. At least Ferguson and Coppell had an excuse in that their charges were or are the immediate opponents. Steven Gerrard does have the excuse of wanting to deflect attention away from his own team’s failings.
Apparently, we have not had the same injury problems that the rest of the ‘big four’ have had which is probably news to players such as Robin van Persie, Rosicky, Adebayor, Gallas et al who have missed games this season. No doubt, they were malingering. Or could it just be that he does not want to admit that his own managers rotation policy is the reason for their failings but to say we need to face a few more tricky games before anyone judges us is, I’ll be polite, idiotic. Looking at the results so far, both teams have won away at their local rivals; both have taken two points from two games against the big four.
So why could Arsenal be ahead? Surely, it could not be due to Liverpool dropping points at home against lesser teams? Apparently, though no, that is not the reason. This is a genuine quote from LiverpoolFC magazine,
We are not at our best yet, while few would argue that Arsenal are playing to their full potential
Umm, allow me to step forward then. I do not think we are. I think that the team can get better. We were not at our best against Bolton, Sunderland or Blackburn. We won those games but the team can play a lot better in attack and defence. Indeed, I do not believe we played to our full potential at Anfield, a game where the result aside, we wiped the floor with Liverpool. And that for the rest of the Premiership, is the scary thing.
Still, it is a sign that Arsene and the team are getting things right again. When opponents are not a threat, you are polite, building them up. The reverse holds true.