AN EASY NIGHT IN PARADISE

AN EASY NIGHT IN PARADISE

An indifferent performance from us at Parkhead last night but the result we were looking for. We’ll have to really stamp on our collective crank in golf shoes not to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.  
Thomas Vermaelen again looked like he’d been with Arsenal since he was a baby. Tony Adams has worried about his lack of height which I thought was a legitimate concern. I now think, albeit based on two performances, that he might well be the real deal.  
He reads the game well, isn’t afraid to put his foot in and can play. He also heads the ball very well and competes in the air for a man whose not all that tall. I’m reminded of Frank McLintock, brilliantly converted by coach Don Howe from a midfielder to a central defender relatively late in his career. McLintock wasn’t a tall man either but he read the game so well and was such a fierce competitor on the ground and in the air it didn’t matter. Having endured the disappointment to two losing League Cup Finals to Leeds United and, oh dear, Swindon Town in 1968 and 1969, he brilliantly skippered the side that won the European Fairs Cup in 1970 (our first silverware in 17 seasons) and the League and FA Cup Double in 1971. He was sold prematurely to Queen’s Park Rangers where he very nearly took them to the League title, being just pipped at the post by Liverpool.  
I have high hopes for Vermaelen based on what I’ve seen. He could turn out to be just the muscles from Brussels (via Amsterdam) that we need.  
Now we need to concentrate on our home League opener against Pompey on Saturday. The Hampshire club are a classic example of why football needs to wake up and regulate itself properly, both in terms of financial management and ownership. It’s sad to see a great club with passionate fans reeling as they are at the moment. We need to be professional and despatch them clinically. No more dangerous beast than a cornered animal. Too often over the past couple of seasons we’ve turned up at games such as these assuming that all we have to do is stroll out on the park to win. Hull City last season comes to mind. The time to come on like you’re seven feet tall, covered in hair and have a huge old chap is AFTER you’ve picked up the silverware, not before. We need to develop a ruthless streak. This doesn’t mean clogging the opposition all over the park or cynical tactical fouls. It does mean treating every opponent with the respect they deserve and going for the throat at every opportunity.  
Always love the first home game of the season, especially when it’s on a weekend. A chance to meet all my football mates that I don’t see over the summer. The roar of the grease-paint and the smell of the crowd and all that!   
On a non-football note, the very best of British to the England test side against the Aussies the deciding Ashes test starting tomorrow. I shall be at The Oval tomorrow cheering the boys on. As a patriotic Welshman cricket is the only sport in which I follow England as the Welshmen play for England in cricket. 2005 was an absolutely gripping Ashes summer. This series hasn’t been quite so vintage but we’ve still got a chance of beating the Aussies. C’mon boys!  
Mad for it! Can’t wait.  
Keep the faith!  
 

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