Nearly Signed Him. And Him…

The nearly-signed XI is one of the great games football managers like to play. Not just Arsene, but others before him. Sometimes you rue missed opportunities – Shilton and Alonso – while breathing a sigh of relief when deals don’t happen – Cottee and Kalou.

Terry Neill was a great one for the ‘nearly signed’ tale. We nearly signed Johan Neeskens just before he joined NASL. Glenn Hoddle in 1983 as well; think Sol Campbell but more seismic. Not the jewel in the crown, but the crown itself as far as the Swamp Dwellers were concerned.

The Hoddle link came in the same summer Charlie Nicholas signed for the club; QPR sniffed about as well but how much genuine interest from the player, well, who knows? It’s a big leap from the back pages to reality; there is little difference between then and now, beyond the sheer overwhelming volume of stories made up now. Sorry, printed.

Anyway,  1983 was a vintage year for the nearly-signed tale. Neill reminded us that he tried to sign Maradona all those years ago – Diego’s now a close personal friend – although not many people called him a “lovable nutter” during the summer. Coked up, with the infamous photo of a bag of Columbian marching powder on an aeroplane table during the World Cup. He didn’t care; he was out of it.

You have to admire Neill’s gift of the gab that he even got Arsenal into the same room as these players. Platini was another one where Terry got involved; ‘It’s a huge job here at Arsenal but we’ve got a fine array of talent. There’s big John Hawley and big Ray Hankin. Let’s see you launch a ball or ten up to them.’

Platini or Maradona at Arsenal. Worth a moment’s reverie about what might have been.

That Was Then This Is Now

It’s back to reality now and the international week is well and truly under way. Danny Welbeck is looking to return to Arsenal PDQ and decided injury was the best way to achieve that aim. He’s still with England but training “behind the scenes”. Will Gareth Southgate take the hint?

Now he’s ditched the waistcoat, the questions are being asked of him. The England players are fed up with the reduced commercial income – only £150,000 per year each, apparently – so they are ditching their agents. But they need a star and for one to rise above the tide of gormlessness, Southgate must adapt.

With a spiffy new contract, he’s going to find knives very sharp if he’s the first manager to get England relegated with uninspired tactics. He doesn’t even need the relegated bit; England are teetering on Route One, which won’t sit well with the denizens of Fleet Street. Or wherever they are based these days.

No matter what the tactics in vogue in the Premier League, England teams always revert to type. Even with foreign coaches who are supposedly more sophisticated tactically.

Eriksson aside, it’s a variant of the long ball forward which becomes prevalent. The Swede descended into that a little but it’s a vicious circle. Coaches bemoan the lack of English talent but when they reach the England team, the tactics revert to type. 

‘Twas ever thus.

The Kitman Speaks

Away from that, Adidas’ CEO said Arsenal were wearing the wrong shirt on Sunday. You’re telling us; it’s a hideous design for an away kit although I’m sure someone, somewhere loves it. Let’s see if Adidas come up with something better although their farcical use of templates this summer with Leicester raised awkward questions.

I don’t know why I expect differently. Back in the day, most of their kits were templates. They market them under the ‘Essentials’ tag these days but if you bought a red Adidas shirt back in the day, it was essentially the Bayern Munich kit minus the Germans’ badge. Blue was France, or put some white sleeves on the red for a Wales design. Yellow with blue was Sweden while orange and black signalled a Dundee United top.

Mind you, Adidas weren’t asking you to shell out £70 for a top back in those days. Not even the equivalent of that, either. Nonetheless, it shows that frankly there’s nothing new in modern football.

’til Tomorrow.

34 thoughts on “Nearly Signed Him. And Him…

  1. Yogi, England will always revert to Route One because for all the passing futbol and slick play that takes place in the PL, how much of it is due to English players being at the heartbeat? Spuds without Ericksen and Dembele(Alli plays like Ramsey and Route One futbol helps him) play Route One, Citeh play brilliant futbol but Sterling is a cog not the heartbeat, same at all the PL sides.

  2. The one we did sign was Bergkamp. He paved the way for Arsenal’s renaissance under Wenger. For all his wrongs David Dein got that one right, Wenger can’t take credit as he was signed the season before he came.

    One of the best Arsenal players of all time, many would argue the best.

  3. I know we are talking the past but damnit if Leno, Torriera and Guendouzi don’t look like they were definitely ones we needed and the new regime got right.

  4. C,

    Oh dear. Poor Fella. I don’t like his antics, but I don’t wish him ill, but I can’t help grinning inside.

  5. Pete the Thirst:
    The one we did sign was Bergkamp. He paved the way for Arsenal’s renaissance under Wenger. For all his wrongs David Dein got that one right, Wenger can’t take credit as he was signed the season before he came.

    One of the best Arsenal players of all time, many would argue the best.

    Absolutely Pete-my favourite Gunner of all time,followed by Bobby Pires….then Liam Brady

  6. Jonnygunner,

    Hard to argue against that top three. From the Sexy selection that is….. ref yesterday’s post….. tho I’d add Supermac to that list.

    But wat about the engine room, the ugly ducklings? Alan Ball, Gilberto, and it’s a close one between Parlour and Talbot. Better, v Uglier. Loved them all

  7. ferkov:
    Jonnygunner,
    FA cup final v Chelsea…….it’s only Ray Parlour 😂😂😂

    Hard to argue against that top three. From the Sexy selection that is….. ref yesterday’s post…..tho I’d add Supermac to that list.

    But wat about the engine room, the ugly ducklings? Alan Ball, Gilberto, andit’s a close one between Parlour and Talbot. Better, v Uglier. Loved them all

  8. How dull was the Spain Wales match yesterday. Its funny to think, but the Spanish players actually looked like they got bored tearing Wales to pieces.

  9. C,

    Should’ve watched the mighty Jocks.
    At least both teams seemed to care about the result. The quality was sadly poor.
    Scots lacked pace all over the park ,and were run ragged.

    Maybe they were already resigned, but my mates here in Wales were most unenthused prematch. Notably silent since!

    Didn’t see any of it ,but I wonder ,from what I’m hearing , whether decent coaches have found them out. Bale aside, no pace ,or touch. Standard home nation fare! Giggs will take the stick tho. Never played did he!….

  10. ferkov,

    No offense to Ramsey but if Bale doesn’t play, they don’t have a shot in hell against even a decent side. No pqce, Ramsey with the odd touch or moment of class but overall, like at Arsenal, has had 1 very good run(that season for Arsenal and that tourney for Wales) but otherwise just doesn’t do it.

    Giggs will get stick but they have been found out. Was watching the match with team mate of mine before our match and he said, ‘no way he sees Barca truly in for Ramsey, he isn’t as good as Raktik or Artur(Brasilian lad) now Vidal(who can’t get a match).’

    What was most interesting to me was that he said,
    ‘people keep talking about Barca need goals and Ramsey could provide that, I wonder if these same people realize that Coutinho plays that role and Dembele plays on the flank.’

  11. C,

    Easy now, my Rambo shirt took a nice little hike last week, and your gonna ruin it. But essentially, yes , that one goal last week doesn’t make him less square , or the position he needs to fill less round.

  12. Interesting, England struggle to find good midfielders who can boss a midfield and their goes Croatia with Modric, Raktik, Kovacic and Brozovic(who is currently injured).

    Guess England has Kane

  13. C,

    There’s still a disconnect between academy ‘prospects’ and the real deal. Don’t need to look far from home to recognise that.
    Academy generations do seem to be getting stronger and deeper. Training more and better coaches is helping.
    Education and Guidance is quite the watchword at Hale End.

  14. Ha. Morata. Another of The Moaning ones victims.
    He really is stealing their personalities!
    As I said , pure evil.

  15. YW,

    Indeed. Hats off to yer.
    Still, only another week now. Start getting excited by Thursday, make that Friday, . We not playing til ferkin Monday mun!!
    Let’s hope for some slip ups to cheer us up at the weekend.
    Chin up. 😬

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