Whilst our colonial cousins across the Atlantic staged their own little Match Of The Day yesterday, me, you and all other citizens of the Gooner Republic were preparing for the game against Fenerbahçe tonight at the Grove.
We have to start favourites in this game, given the result in Istanbul (and let’s not forget we still owe their manager Luis Aragonés big style for his “black shit” comment to José Antonio Reyes about Thierry Henry before a Spain-France international match when Aragonés was managing the Spanish national side). Talking of Reyes, if you were wandering, he’s now plotted up in Lisbon and is playing for Benfica, having failed to nail down a regular place at either of the big Madrid clubs.
Events on Saturday in the Potteries are still reverberating. Yesterdays Independent devoted two of its sports pages to analysing Rory “Exocet Arms” Delap’s long throws. Seven of Stoke City’s thirteen goals this term have come from his touchline aerial bombardment. Meanwhile “Our Arsčne” (OA) has been displaying the graceless side of his nature, criticising Stoke for their alleged “strong-arm” tactics. Turn it up mate. It sounds like sour grapes to me, never mind the rest of the football nation. Let’s sort out our own house first. I love you and what you’ve done for Arsenal dearly, but enough with the whinging already!
We’re running up rapidly to the January transfer window. Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón has called a meeting of Real socios (or voting members) for 7 December. This is all about the internal politics of Real Madrid and the upcoming elections. He said in an interview on Spanish channel Intereconomía Televisión programme Punto Pelota that, “Coaches don’t like to sign anybody in December. It’s difficult to find anybody it’s worth the effort trying to sign for Real Madrid in the winter market.” He spent a large part of the rest of the interview sticking the boot into former Real president Florentino Pérez, the architect of the club’s former “Galacticos” policy of signing stars such as David Beckham, Ronaldo and Luís Figo. The geezer has a point I think. The all-whites never looked to have any balance after selling Claude Makélélé to Chavski and lost out on Patrick Vieira because they wouldn’t copper up the full Galacticos salary for him.
Despite these pronouncements I shall be keeping a very beady eye on Real and Barcelona, giving their propensity for half-inching our players. Our message is simple – OI! REAL AND BARCA! NO!!
In terms of those Gooners looking for OA to splash the cash with gay abandon at the first opportunity it might be worth remembering that expression about being careful what you wish for. I think we need signings but let’s not go too mad and sign players for the sake of it. I’d rather wait until the right players come along. There seems to be a head of steam building up behind an opinion that says OA isn’t flashing cash out of pride or a misplaced sense of parsimony. What I think is it’s impossible to know. I think a number of clubs who have got into the habit of spending money like drunken sailors with a winning rollover Euro Millions lottery ticket in their pockets are going to get a VERY nasty shock. We might all be VERY grateful for the club not betting the whole house on a few mega-money signings with the wheels having come off the global economy.
Finally, a couple of candidates for my own personal Football Plum award. Ipswich Town chief executive Derek Bowden has backed Bolton Wanderers’ chairman Phil Gartside in calling for a two tier Premier League with no promotion and relegation. I for one am sick and tired of this sort of naked greed and self-interest in football. I don’t want us to be successful because we’ve got shed-loads more cash than anybody else but because we’ve got the best manager and players. I cordially detested the Liverpool team of the 1970/80s which carried all before it both domestically and in Europe. Much as I hated them, they did it not because they were the richest but the best. The sort of “up ladder Jack, I’m on board” thinking of Gartside and Bowden is all to do with money and nothing to do with football. A pair of complete plonkers IMHO.
Let’s hope for three points against Fener tonight. Then we can look forward to Yoonited on Saturday, despite a kick-off time when I’m normally having breakfast on a Saturday. A great big huge, festering, smelly pile of pony to the Premier League chairmen who saw nothing but:
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when they signed the television contract that permits this. Believe it or not I’ve attended a top level professional football match that kicked off at 8.00am (no I haven’t got my “ante meridians” and “post meridians” mixed up, nor was on a whacky baccie lost weekend at the time). It was El Nacional of Quito against Filanbanco of Guayaquil in the Ecuadorian First Division in 1987 at the wonderfully named Estadio Atahualpa (named after the last of the Inca emperors) in Quito. If you’re wondering what sort of bread ‘n’ butter goes to a match at such an unearthly hour on a Sunday (which should really be reserved for sleeping or doing the wild thing) then yes, I’m afraid I have to own up to being one of them. An out and proud football trainspotter, that’s me. I’ve even got the flask and grey anorak to prove it.
Keep the faith, my fellow Gooners. Loud and proud tonight please!
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