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Monday, 30 May 2011

MY transfer policy, Barca masterclass, FIFA shambles

The good of the game? Not a chance

Now the season is well and truly over we have entered the silly season of "transfer gossip" or as I prefer to call it - "make up a story about any name you can find that might fit in to a position where Arsenal need a player and fill a paragraph in the newspaper with it, regardless of whether anyone has heard of them, or even if they might not actually exist." For a couple of years I fell in to the trap of religiously reading all this nonsense day after day, and then getting more and more depressed as we failed to add to the squad. If you want to put yourselves through all of that then please help yourself, but you will find very little comment on transfer gossip on this website. If a particular story looks interesting, or possibly true, then I will give my opinion but, by and large, I'll only have anything to say on a transfer when they actually happen.

I thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona's destruction of Manchester United on Saturday. It was nice to see them doing it to somebody else for a change. When we were dismantled (with only ten men on the field) at the Nou Camp Arsenal were ridiculed in the press for the way Barca toyed with them at the back. All of this was to forget that Nicklas Bendtner missed the chance to knock them out in the last minute. On Saturday we saw them make Manchester United's back line look like amateurs.
When Barcelona play like that I don't see how anyone stops them. It doesn't really come across on telly, but when you watch them live they always seem to have two extra players on the pitch when they have the ball, their movement is uncontrollable. When they don't have the ball, which is usually rare and short-lived, I have never seen a group of players that works so hard to get it back. The fitness levels of the Barcelona players are seemingly on a different level. Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Villa and Pedro sprint everywhere, they never jog.
They also have discipline in their defence. Dani Alves doesn't really play as a full-back, which is just as well as he is awful defensively. To compensate for that you will hardly ever see Busquets, Pique, Puyol (Mascherano on Saturday) and Abidal crossing the halfway-line. They are quite simply the best team I've ever watched. I remember marvelling at Real Madrid in the late 90s when the likes of Redondo were playing in midfield for them, and how they pinged the ball at each other with pace and control. I always felt that if I could see an Arsenal team play like that they would be the best. Between 2001 and 2005 we had just that, and that Arsenal team was the best I had seen, anywhere. But this group at Barcelona has raised the bar again.
Messi won the man of the match on Saturday but Xavi is someone I simply marvel at. He never seems to give the ball away. He is always moving. Pass and move, pass and move, all across the pitch, all being linked by Xavi and/or Iniesta. It is, perhaps, easier now to understand why Fabregas would want to join them. However, brilliant player though Cesc may be, can anyone honestly see him getting a start in that team? I had to laugh when the commentators on Sky claimed that Scholes would have been able to play in this Barca team - if ever you needed an example of how some English people still seem to think they have the best players then that was it in a nutshell. Manchester United were destroyed, and there is no shame in that against this team. Neither should there have been for Arsenal at the Nou Camp, yet the press made out we were humiliated and embarrassed - I haven't seen any apologies.

FIFA are entrusted as the custodians of football. I would suggest that FIFA has to be the most corrupt organisation in the World. It was obvious to me last week that this whole campaign against Mr Bin Hammam was being orchestrated by Sepp Blatter and his cronies. It is no surprise that Bin Hammam and Warner have been suspended while Blatter is "cleared" of any offences.
The whole World Cup bidding process showed that money and pay-offs are at the heart of all of FIFA's decision making. Hardly any of these people making the decisions are what could be called "football people." Platini, whatever most of us think of him, was a top class footballer, which is more than most of football's power-brokers can boast. It is disturbing to me that these people run the World game. These people are the ones who decide on rule changes, which is why we have no serious move towards the introduction of technology in the game. All the time these people are on this gravy train we will see football continue to be held to ransom by such stories of corruption. Lord Triesmann was castigated by the press and ostracised by the FA when he said what he did about the World Cup bidding a couple of years ago. I think some people owe him an apology.
What is required is the disbanding of FIFA. This can only be done in one of two ways. The first is for the FA, and the governing bodies in Scotland, Spain, Germany, Italy and France to break away from them. The loss of the six richest Football Association's in Europe would be catastrophic for UEFA and would put the power in to the hands of the European associations. The rest of the World would have to follow them. The second way is for the top European Club's to withdraw from UEFA. If the top 32 in Europe broke away it would bring UEFA's and FIFA's influence on football in to sharper focus - they would no longer be able to control the players and the Club's. Okay, they would ban those Club's from their formal competitions but this would not last long - money talks, and no competition could afford to lose Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Rangers, Celtic, Inter, AC Milan, Juventus etc. You would have to say that anything that removes the likes of Blatter from a position of authority must be good for football.

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