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Friday, 31 March 2017

Never forgotten - David Rocastle

David Rocastle

As ever on 31st March this post is dedicated to David Rocastle. You won't find any survey results from cretins like Tim Payton and his AST cohorts on this site as their self-promotion reaches a fairly sickening level today. 
Rocky had skill, power, toughness and class. Quite simply he was the complete player. The fact that David won so few England caps is an indictment on the way things were at that time. Here was a player who was on a different level to other English midfielders of that, or almost any other, era. He would have been so good in Arsene Wenger's early teams. This is a really excellent video with voiceovers from Ian Wright, Michael Thomas and Nigel Winterburn.
I can forgive George Graham going to manage Tottenham. I can forgive him for the bungs scandal that finished him as the Arsenal Manager. I can never forgive him, however, for selling David Rocastle to Leeds. I don't much care that he had a chronic knee problem that would afflict him at times from then on. Rocky was the best English footballer of his generation, and he was a proper Arsenal man. Quite simply he was a hero to Arsenal fans.
Tomorrow night at 9pm there is a special documentary on BT Sport about David Rocastle and Ian Wright. It promises to be a must-watch television event and, no doubt, will see a number of us getting quite emotional. RIP Rocky, I'll never forget you. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

The only reason I'm an Arsenal supporter

Dad with some of the Arsenal boys he's responsible for - Wembley 2015

My Dad is 75 today. Happy Birthday Dad! He is the sole reason I'm an Arsenal supporter. I was born to it, educated in it, and immersed in it. So were my two brothers, my nephew and my sons. The fact that his grandsons are Freddie, Liam, George and Charlie probably tells you a bit about how our family is with regards to Arsenal. Dad has been to every final Arsenal have played in since 1968. He is, as far as I'm concerned, the ultimate Arsenal supporter. He was also a very good footballer in his own right, and played to a high level in the amateur game, so he genuinely knows what he's talking about. When it comes to Arsenal he is really THE MAN. He has made genuine friends all over Europe through following The Arsenal and that's the measure of the man and the Club we all support.

Five years ago I wrote one of my two favourite blogs ever, all about my Dad, so I thought I'd share it again today - please click the link here to read it.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Impostors to the shirt

That idiot Mustafi in familiar pose

For me that was even worse than the Bayern Munich capitulations. What we saw at West Brom, from the beginning to the end of the match, was a group of players who didn't want to play for Arsenal. It is utterly shameful for that to be the case. I'm not about to defend Arsene Wenger either, but the players he has trusted and indulged far too much have actually turned their backs on him. With the possible exceptions of Monreal and Oxlade-Chamberlain (and Alexis before he was kicked out of the game before half-time) there was no evidence that these players had any pride in the fact that they are wearing the Arsenal shirt. They used to play a video on the big screens at the new stadium with a voiceover of Bob Wilson talking about the pride of "wearing that big gun on your chest" - well there was very little sign of that from this rabble yesterday. The defending was comical and, yes, Mustafi was blaming everyone other than himself after all three goals. 
It says it all about how this team is right now that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was thrown under the bus by being sent out to do the post-match interviews. With Mertesacker and Koscielny both in the squad yesterday that is a genuine dereliction of duty from the senior players. There is absolutely no leadership and no togetherness. When Alexis was totalled by McLean there was no reaction from the Arsenal players. It was an injury that been coming thanks to weak refereeing from Swarbrick who was the only person watching that had no idea what was going on with different players taking it in turns to kick the Chilean. Pulis has form for targeting Arsenal's best player in this way and it has resulted in shattered legs in the past. As the captain of the team Koscielny should have been in the refs face and telling him what he was failing to see. It was almost as though, because there has been an undoubted problem with Sanchez and the rest of the team, that they didn't mind seeing him get booted. Given that he is the only player likely to get them out of a hole, as he proved again yesterday, that is disturbing. Now he is likely to be out injured for a while and we stare ever deeper in to the abyss.
I don't feel sorry for Arsene Wenger, as such. He has signed all of these players, he selects these players, and he has given them far too many chances over the years. What we are seeing is what he has created, or rather destroyed, ever since the Invincibles were broken up prematurely. I find myself longing for the days of Gallas and Denilson and Adebayor - at least we still had Fabregas and Van Persie back then. Ospina was doing a bad impression of Almunia from the minute he came on yesterday. Bellerin has no idea of how to play at full-back, while his attempts to pass the ball in to the middle are embarrassing - Debuchy or Jenkinson should come in. Mustafi is a joke player who should be replaced by either Mertesacker or Holding. Koscielny, normally so reliable, is no skipper. Monreal's lack of pace causes us problems, though at least he tries - with Gibbs incapable of playing more than two games without getting injured there is no choice but to play him. Xhaka is too slow to play in a Premier League midfield. Ramsey seems to think he's a top player while anyone watching him who isn't Welsh will know otherwise. Walcott has got goals this season and, up until November, was more involved and more physical than he had been in the past, but he is now back to the little boy on the pitch that he always was. Oxlade-Chamberlain has clearly been told he is not to take people on with the ball in central midfield, despite this being the only way we will create opportunities against an organised opponent. Sanchez, for all his faults, is the only danger we have. Welbeck was given a real chance to impress yesterday and was awful. Giroud came on and didn't get involved at all, albeit he had no support and no service, as per usual. Ozil, of course, wasn't even there yesterday but if you believe he's been "ill" and "injured" this past few weeks then you must be very gullible indeed. I'd rather see Martinez, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nelson etc given some chances in the coming weeks than sit through the creeping death that this lot are subjecting us to. 
The fact is that very few Arsenal players over the last few weeks actually deserve to be paid. They are an embarrassment to the shirt they are privileged to wear. I don't really care if they don't want to play for Arsene Wenger anymore, they have a responsibility to the Arsenal supporters to play for us. Thousands pay our money every week to support them as the custodians of those shirts, we were there before them and will be there long after they've gone, so it's us they should be playing for, regardless of Arsene Wenger.
One more thing before I sign off this post; those banners hanging from aeroplanes yesterday were embarrassing. For starters there must be more money than sense, whether you are wanting Wenger to go or to stay (though it amazes me there are still people who can't see the wood for the trees on that one) to actually hire a plane! There is a lot of self-aggrandisement, in my view, going on in this "Wenger Out" protest stuff. I believe that, once he has gone, some people will be wanting to gain the credit and the notoriety for it happening. Certain people still dine out on how they got Terry Neill the sack back in the 1980's and I genuinely believe those involved want a bit of that for themselves - radio interviews on the BBC and TalkSport, taking total joy from the idea of the planes and pre-match protests in recent weeks, it all adds up to something unsavoury as far as I'm concerned. I'll probably get some stick for saying that, maybe even get called some nasty names, but that's how I see it. I hope I'm wrong, but thanks from one of the protest organisers to the "sponsors" smacks of something all a bit fishy to me.
We now have an interminable international break to get through where the only thing likely to cheer me up would be an announcement that Arsene is going in May. That would, surely, bring everyone together in an effort to finish the season well and try to win the FA Cup in his final game. It won't happen, unfortunately. We won't get an announcement and, on recent evidence, we have no chance of winning the FA Cup against City, Chelsea or Spurs.