The only Arsenal fan who has "connections"
I've been on nights since new year so this is my first opportunity to write in 2016. I managed to see the whole Newcastle game, albeit on Canal+ via the internet and I was more than pleased to see us escape that with the three points. The players weren't at the races on the day, with the notable exceptions of Petr Cech and Olivier Giroud who I thought were outstanding. Newcastle should have got at least a draw, while Aaron Ramsey did his best to stop us winning - his back-heel to concede possession with 25 seconds of injury-time left would have been met with a fine of a weeks wages if I was in charge. It didn't cost us on the day, but for experienced players there was little idea of seeing out the game in the way they did against Manchester City a couple of weeks back. Onwards and upwards, a win is a win and we stay at the top.
I spent this morning in Canterbury at the Marlowe Theatre pantomime. I think I can honestly say I saw less silliness there than I have on Twitter and in the newspapers all week when it comes to transfer "gossip" and what it means for Arsenal. Those of you who read this site regularly, and have done for a long time, will know I do my best to avoid worrying about the nonsense of transfer windows, safe in the knowledge that the so called rumours are, 99.99999% of the time, just pure made-up bulls***. I don't get out of my pram over it because I know it's all lies. I'm embarrassed for the so-called journalists who peddle this cack in the interests of generating publicity for themselves and their newspaper, but it never ceases to amaze me how people fall for it.
If I was to stretch reality slightly I might be able to accept that, occasionally, a journalist might get a sniff of something close to the truth. After all, it is their job to do that kind of thing. I do not include the likes of Guillem Balague or Graham Hunter among that number as, despite what Sky TV would have you believe, neither of those two idiots have the ear of the President of Real Madrid or Barcelona, or even Dog & Duck 2nd XI on Hackney Marshes. They are parasites and charlatans who must actually be very fine actors who missed out on their opportunity to be in The Bill 20 years ago. I also exclude John Cross of the Daily Mirror. Mr Cross used to work on the Islington Gazette so has been close to Arsenal for a long time. I also know one or two people who can vouch for him as an Arsenal supporter. However, his claims to have any knowledge of Arsenal's transfer targets are nothing more than total nonsense. On Christmas Eve he reported that Ken Friar and Liam Brady had flown to Moscow in the week to conclude the deal for Arsenal to sign Aleksandr Kokorin, thus boosting our numbers at centre-forward. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when Crossy announced on Boxing Day that Arsene is interested only in signing a midfield player in this transfer window. Does he think we'd all forgotten what he said in the paper just two days before? I know most of us over-indulge over Christmas but not to the extent of collective amnesia. Or do we? The sad fact is that people believed both (fairy) stories even though they came from the pen of the same bloke within 48 hours of one another. Having believed the original Kokorin story and got mildly excited about it via Twitter etc, these same people were then getting uncharacteristically upset two days later. Worst of all, these are not children. This week we've seen Crossy tell us that Debuchy is heading for Villa, before suddenly being "in talks" with AS Roma. So which is it? Maybe neither, I suppose. I don't want to single out John Cross as he is far from alone, but being the man who follows Arsenal for the Mirror, and being a man who claims to have something of an "in" at the Club, he gets a lot of traffic as a result. Don't get me started on The Sun and their particular collection of idiots who have literally no affiliation to Arsenal whatsoever. Suffice to say they are among the very worst.
Do you know what's worse than a journalist claiming inside knowledge? It has to be the "in the know" fan. The man (or woman) who knows someone "close to the first-team" or some such nonsense. Gunnersaurus is close to the first-team but I can guarantee you he does not know the likely signings at Arsenal any more than you and me - by the way, I do actually know the man who is inside the Gunnersaurus costume and I'm no nearer to knowing what Arsene Wenger is planning. Frighteningly these "ITK's" have developed a massive following thanks to Twitter and the like. Thousands of people hang on their every word, especially once we get to January and August. So this week it is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has been the subject of the speculation. He's been at all stages of a transfer this week from being "nailed on" to "no interest" depending on which compulsive liar you want to listen to. The thing that has irked me is the way that apparently sensible people have reacted. I would have to admit that I am excited by the idea of Arsenal signing Aubameyang. I'm also excited by the prospect of us signing Lionel Messi. None of us know whether or not Arsenal are interested in signing the Dortmund man. None of us. Not one. None. Only Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis do (and maybe whoever they employ to lead negotiations). It is clear we are on the case for Elneny from Basel, nobody doubts that, but that's largely because Arsene has confirmed it himself by refusing to speak about it! Actually, when you've been through all this speculation nonsense it becomes quite easy to sort the made-up from the genuine. The thing that really got to me last night, however, was when "FKHanage" (a prominent pod-caster with no connection to Arsenal other than being a supporter - just like you and I) went on Twitter to "announce" that Arsenal have no interest in Aubameyang. This wasn't stated as an opinion, or a comment, but as a matter of absolute fact. It may well be true, of course, and is more likely to be true than not. But there is no way this bloke knows it as fact. He is not in the company of Arsene Wenger or Ivan Gazidis. It didn't stop people getting hot under the collar about it though. The gullibility of people is beyond my comprehension. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth going on, that's for sure.
The only Arsenal supporter close enough to Arsene Wenger to know anything about our transfer targets is David Dein. I don't doubt that Arsene probably talks about most of this kind of stuff with Dein, but I also doubt that the former vice-chairman would divulge Arsene's secrets to some prat on Twitter! I also doubt he tells John Cross or anyone else from the media. I get people at work sometimes asking me if I've "heard" anything about potential signings. As if a season ticket somehow puts me on Wenger's mailing list of people who must be told who he's trying to sign. The difference is that I'm not then making stuff up to try and sound like I'm well in with Arsenal Football Club at the sharp end.
Here is my advice to any of you who believe anything you read in the newspaper or on Twitter or on Facebook or hear down the pub:
Get a life and realise that, when Arsenal do sign someone, they will let you know. In the meantime grow the f*** up!