42 Comments

Who Can I Blame For My Arsenal Misery?

Some perspective from @arsenalandrew

The notorious over-emotional toxicity of Arsenal’s online support is in stark contrast to most of the support in the stadium. Whereas online, Arsenal could do no right, in the stadium, a largely ‘flat’ crowd grew increasingly despondent at the sight of a rookie referee entirely out of his depth, a willing accomplice to the hateful Bruce’s brilliantly simplistic resort to time-wasting every single time Arsenal started to get momentum.

Truth is, Arsenal rarely look the best after an international break disrupts our natural but precise squad rhythm and the absence of so many first-teamers yesterday took its toll on our usual fluidity. From reaction online you’d be forgiven for assuming we’ve lost all our opening games but the reality is despite needing to bed in new players and accomodate the debilitation of an unenviable injury record, we are, as a side, hard to beat. The margins between these costly draws and the victories we seek are fine, and whilst we can’t simply point the finger of disappointment at the entire refereeing stable, at this level, and with such marginal differences, the impact of key refereeing decisions can not be lightly dismissed.

Online, it’s seemingly all about Arsene. The reality, however, is more complex.

And whilst I have no doubt this squad will come good I’m more concerned that the online poison will seep through to our matchday crowd making life easier for our opponents and ever-tougher for Arsenal. The gleeful joy of those attacking the club are as odious as the time-wasting of the fat one right out of the Ferguson stable, and as infuriating as the incompetent referees that allow him to get away with it.

Arsenal – and Arsenal fans – need to rise above this as surely as the PGMOL need to get a grip on their officials.

From pedantic george @Blackburngeorge

The danger is that we try to shift all the blame onto the referees, or that we are seen to be trying to do so. The reasons we find Chelsea with twice as many points as us are complex and there is a few of them. To absolve Arsene from all blame, without at least considering he is in some part complicit, is as ridiculous and narrow minded as laying all of the blame at his feet.

Well I have considered his part, and I think he has to shoulder some of the blame (if we have to apportion blame) I believe not only will he accept some blame, but he will put things right. In the last 10 years he has had a lot poorer players than these, playing a lot better than these currently are. I see no reason to think he won’t get this squad firing on all cylinders when circumstance permit.

88 Comments

Refereeing In Crisis: Time to Introduce Officials from Overseas or Will Technology Answer the Difficult Questions?

Howardwebb

Is time really up for the good old-fashioned English referee?

According to Keith Hackett, the former chief of English referees, the Premier League currently only has three world class referees.

He identifies these as Mark Clattenburg, Michael Oliver and Mike Dean. Prior to the recent Chelsea v AFC encounter, Hackett had previously included Martin Atkinson in this list. The solution, he suggests is the wholesale importation of ‘foreign’ referees to save the English game from the “shocking decline in correct decision-making which is ruining big games …”. (Source: Daily Mirror http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/premier-league-only-three-world-class-4443385 ).

Here on PA we have long discussed the issue of referees wrecking games and it’s not my intention to (entirely) rehash previous posts on the subject.

I would say, however, that one of the big changes for me in the modern game compared to when I first started watching, is the degree to which my emotional reaction to a match is, as often as not, dictated by the activities (or non-activities) of the day’s match referee, the collective failures of his linesmen, and the seemingly evident non-participation of his so-called Fourth Official. I can even pinpoint the game when my absolute faith in the fairness of the supposedly neutral referee was steamrollered flat out of existence. It was, of course almost ten years to the day and Mike “Blimey O-” Riley’s horrific display in Arsenal’s infamous 49th unbeaten game at Old Trafford on the 24th October 2004.

I now only enjoy partial faith.

Interestingly, back then in 2004, as after the recent Chelsea match, off-pitch unrest was widely attributed to the performance of the man in the middle. And significantly, then as now, ‘Pizzagate’ successfully deflected attention of many from the referee’s performance and the ‘Battle of the Buffet’ dominated the headlines in much the same way Arsene’s more recent – and infinitely more enjoyable – square-up to Mourinho has done. One recalls discussion of the failure to dismiss Rio Ferdinand in Manchester that awful day was as conveniently thin on the ground as contemporary coverage of Gary Cahill’s murderous assault on Sanchez.

Ever since Old Trafford – as unforgettable ten years on as it remains shameful – I’ve been as likely to have been enraged by the ‘under’-performance of an official as I have by any cheating or other dubious activity on the part of opposition players.

And that’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

Admittedly, my own partisan, biased and hugely impressionistic take on the game has inevitably coloured my view of proceedings and, acutely conscious of this, I routinely make the effort to not believe the ‘evidence’ of my own eyes, at least in the cold light of the post-match day.

For a more dispassionate coverage of the lamentable state of our unloved refereeing stable, trawl your way through our friends at Untold Arsenal’s outstanding contribution to the subject. They created http://untold-arsenal.com/referees in order to more objectively investigate the questionable but largely unaccountable performance of the nation’s most senior referees.

Eye-opening, hair-raising, anger-inducing and ultimately, depressing reading it makes, too.

To my limited knowledge, Keith Hackett’s comments are the first and most damningly critical assessment of the state of our referees by one who, in theory at least, knows exactly how difficult it is to take charge of a match and has the seniority of his past roles to back up his comments. In other words, whilst few would be well-advised to listen to my take on any game, most would do well to sit up and listen when Keith finally blows his fuse on the subject. Or at least recommends a thorough purging of the English ranks.

But whilst Mr Hackett points towards the continent as the possible saviour of our refereeing woes, is it perhaps worth asking the question – why are our own home-grown referees apparently so bad at their jobs as to effectively be in little less than an ongoing unending collective crisis?

Is there any truth in the suspicion of a long-held north (refs) v south (clubs) bias? If so, if held for so long, why does it appear particularly noticeable now?

Is the Premier League, which is now one of the most watched leagues on the planet, also the most critically scrutinised? Are we simply finding more because we are looking more?

Has the current fashion for referees to ‘manage’ the game rather than simply ‘apply the rules’ come back to bite them? Players generally know they won’t get sent off for the first few tackles, no matter how outrageous or dangerous. They also know most referees appear to have no knowledge of the devastating impact on their opponents of the practice of rotational fouling. The bizarre habit of repeatedly warning some players and electing to book others for a first-time offence is one of the most infuriatingly unfair features of the current game.

Is there actual corruption in the game? Are certain teams getting more of the rub of the green than others due to the power of their club’s limitless budgets which enable them to literally buy off referees? Or is it the presence in greater depth of the best players in those apparently favoured sides being given more of the benefit of the doubt than opposition lessors? Prior to his retirement Howard Webb was long seen as favouring Manchester United, but Martin Atkinson’s record for Chelsea (23 wins, 4 draws, 1 defeat) is just as impressive. That neutrals find this so suspect isn’t proof in itself of any wrong-doing and if anything, it’s a reflection of too small a pool of the same individuals refereeing the same teams. But it just looks awful.

The bottom line is that regardless of actualities, the integrity of the game in this country is challenged on a weekly basis by the plethora of decisions by seemingly biased referees that can, at best, be described as ‘odd’.

And it is this fractured integrity that lies at the heart of a refereeing crisis that has been brewing for so long and which adversely affects so many.

Is it really time referees from abroad took over?

I personally think overseas footballers have largely enhanced the game (despite the downsides to the national team and certain other factors) so why not give overseas referees the opportunity? Assuming their grasp of the English language is as sound as many of our home-grown players (‘basic’ should suffice accompanied by plenty of arm-based mime) then that shouldn’t be an argument for not doing so.

But fundamentally I believe the problem isn’t with the passport but rather the pace, the power and the passion of the English game.

In other words, the very factors that make it an invaluable export to the rest of the world.

It is this that renders the game vulnerable to problems for the men running the matches and their colleagues running the line. The game, fuelled by immense fiscal reward is just so competitive, so prone to gamesmanship, diving, the dark arts and other forms of what we once called ‘cheating’ that it has been rendered largely beyond the control of genuine, consistent and fair rule by the men in black. And this, I venture, would be as true of a top, top referee from a Swiss Alpine village as it is of anyone emanating from England’s north west.

For me, Keith Hackett’s intervention is simply the latest step towards the recognition of the need for and the gradual, phased introduction of technology. Even Blatter’s blathering on about it these days (http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/11/sepp-blatter-video-challenge-managers-fifa) so whilst nothing is likely to happen overnight, it is, it would seem, inexorably creeping towards us.

By all means welcome the best refs from sunnier, non-English climes, but the long-term answer is likely to be digital in nature as opposed to anything more internationally exotic.
Not all will agree and concerns I know are genuine. Implementation is likely to prove challenging.

But this is something for which I personally have longed for almost ten years and for the sake of the reputation of our home-grown referees (who I understand are said to be broadly in favour of technology), as well as my personal sanity and enjoyment of the game, it can’t come a day too soon.

To once again have football conversations that centre on the skill of the players rather than the mistakes of the referees would be a marvellous thing indeed.

62 Comments

Arsenal Hold The High Ground – Wenger’s Legacy ?

A guest post from  @Georgakos

 

 

“It’s business as usual for Cellino at Leeds” wrote David Conn in the Guardian on 8th October. “His ownership of the club continues despite the ‘owners and directors test’, operated by the Premier and Football Leagues, stating that people cannot own or run a football club if they have recently been convicted of a criminal offence “involving a dishonest act”. The definition of “dishonest act” in the leagues’ rules is: “Any act which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest”. Massimo Cellino was found to have had “elusive intent” and to have formed a “bogus corporate screen” to criminally evade €390,000 import duty on a yacht [1]. Poor old Cellino, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time because the FA Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations became effective from 1st August 2013 [2].

Not a problem for Roman Abramovich because his ‘dishonest acts’ occurred in the deep and distant past: The Times said that Abramovich “famously emerged triumphant after the ‘aluminium wars’, in which more than 100 people are believed to have been killed in gangland feuds over control of the lucrative smelters”[3].  In 2008 The Times reported that Abramovich admitted that he paid billions of dollars for political favours and protection fees to obtain a big share of Russia’s oil and aluminium assets as was shown by court papers obtained by The Times [3].

There are sadly but a few ‘lone voices in the wilderness’ that may barely be heard above the cacophony of football hackery and punditry. Here’s a recent quote from Matthew Syed in The Times: “It is not what is said that troubles me, however; it is what is not said. You see, I am not sure I have heard a commentator offer a word about where the money that has funded the 11-year binge at Stamford Bridge came from. I have rarely heard pundits, who are happy to talk ad nauseum about Chelsea’s transfer dealings, relate that Abramovich’s billions were gained in an episode described as “the largest single heist in corporate history”. This is not just an elephant in the room; it is a festering pile of manure” [4]. Syed goes on to say, “I have had a large mailbox from Chelsea fans over the years. A significant minority accept that the money bankrolling their club was corruptly gained (how could they deny it?). They say that they love the club, but bitterly regret the identity of the owner. This is a principled and dignified stance.”

And of course it is. I add, that I have the utmost respect for those Chelsea fans because that is the stance I would adopt should Arsenal be taken over by Usmanov or any dishonourable sugar daddy.  Syed continues, “The majority, however, get irate about any mention of Abramovich’s corruption….The most common justification offered by Chelsea fans, however, is also the most egregious. It goes something like this: ‘I watch football to switch off from the real life. It is an escape. I don’t want to get bogged down in thinking about politics.’ This is offensive because it goes to the heart of a wider malaise in football. It is the idea that football is subject to a different set of rules to everything else.”

Of course, a very similar story can be written with regard to Manchester City. In this case a despot, a dictator, guilty of human rights abuses [5] escapes the FA Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations.

I, in common with some Chelsea and no doubt Man City fans, feel troubled by this. I even feel ashamed that this can happen in this country. How bad can it be? How about this:  “Ministers come under fire over claims the Government is too close to a Gulf State blamed for funding Islamist terror groups” [6].For heaven’s sake even Conservative MPs are concerned! Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, called for a rethink of Britain’s relationship with Qatar. He said: “Here in the UK, we do big business with our ally Qatar, including in arms, and yet there are countless reports, until recently at least, of that country’s government actively courting key bankrollers of al-Qaeda and Isil” [6]. It gets better. In the same article we learn that “a Treasury spokesman suggested that the burden of proof required for a suspect to be designated a terrorist – and face sanctions and asset freezes as a result – was probably higher in the UK than in the US.” You see, we have much higher standards in the UK, habeas corpus and all that stuff. Hmmm, I wonder, but then I am naive.

So what, dear reader, is the point of bringing this to your attention? Well, I do this because I feel that it is a huge issue that not only afflicts our society and our role, as a nation, in world affairs but that we cannot ignore how this affects The Premier League and football in general. As Matthew Syed wrote above “It is the idea that football is subject to a different set of rules to everything else”. Well it shouldn’t.

The scale of the corruption involved is difficult for most ordinary folk to comprehend (analogous but not quite to the scale of trying to comprehend the enormity of zettabytes (1021) of data!). We must however, try to understand it when assessing the performance of any Premier League manager and Arsene Wenger, in particular.

It is not necessary to repeat the many accolades that this man has received for his achievements. I will remind you of a quite recent one. In January 2011, it was announced that Wenger was voted “World Coach of the Decade” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) [7].  The organisation aggregated the results from each year of the decade, and Wenger had narrowly beaten Ferguson and Mourinho for the honour. Now that is really something, I think.  So, I contend that we must somehow include elements of the above described ‘dishonest acts’ into any assessment of a manager and not forget that two clubs, perpetual top four rivals in the Premier League, are direct beneficiaries of such acts. I make reference to this so that those who are so inclined might compare the results of the IFFHS study with that of Mark Andrews [8]. The Andrews ‘study’ was referenced by a rather, grumpy, ‘Wenger Out’ man toward the end of the latest “A Bergkamp Wonderland” podcast featuring our own Pedantic George [9].  Our grumpy friend quoted a list of ratios of the number of trophy competitions entered versus those won, expressed as percentages demonstrating that Arsene Wenger is, in fact, one of the least successful managers in the history of Arsenal Football Club! Poor Arsene scored a paltry 11.11%! Compare that to Herbert Chapman at 23.52 and George Graham at 23.07%. At least he beat Bertie Mee at 9.09 and Terry Neil at 3.85%.  I was actually quite amused that our grumpy friend expressed the proportions to four significant figures. Maybe he felt the numbers were more ‘persuasive’ in that format. I wondered whether he knew that it was a valid way to express such numbers when the source figures are absolute (some pedant might want to research that last comment, but then you might be a sad bastard!).  Really, it was more than sufficient to round them up to three significant figures. Mr. Grumpy is so jaundiced that he said that he would remember only the ‘early’ Wenger years as a way of being ‘kind’ to him.

So, dear reader, I hope you agree that we do not live in football bubble. To deny Arsene Wenger’s achievements you must cherry-pick information or remain wilfully ignorant. In my opinion, Arsene Wenger has formidable mental fortitude and courage. How else can he remain steadfast in the face of cheap, cowardly and mercenary journalism which feeds the simplistic and lazy views of those ‘fans’ who try to rewrite the history of Arsenal Football Club?

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/oct/07/leeds­united­massimo­cellino

[2] http://www.thefa.com/football­rules­governance/more/financial­regulation

[3] Kennedy, Dominic. Roman Abramovich admits paying out billions on political favours, The Times, 5 July 2008

[4] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/football/article4206708.ece

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/jul/30/manchester­city­human­rights­accusations

[6]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11156430/Cut­business­ties­to­Qatar­over­Islamic­State­ministers-warned.html

[7] http://www.iffhs.de/en

[8] http://thearsenalhistory.com/?author=2

[9] http://tinyurl.com/oej2grk

66 Comments

Wenger Out – Again

The debate rages on. Seven games into the league season, having suffered one defeat away to the title favorites. Is it time for Arsene to go?

It’s a fair question, asked by people who love the club and just want what is best for them.  Sorry, I meant “best for the club”.

The usual suspects, AKB’s like me, on one side, and the WOB’s on the other. Nothing new, same old entrenched arguments from both sides, just as you would expect.

Then there is the vast majority who are somewhere in the middle. These are the ones who slide up and down the spectrum between the two polar opposites. Some moving slightly and others flip-flopping from one end to the other.

The worst of the lot are those who say something like:

I’m not a WOB, I’m happy for him to stay if he addresses the deficiencies in the squad and changes his management and tactics.”  Big of them that, but let me say what I think these people are actually saying.

First let’s look at “I’m not a WOB”.

What they are really saying is “I am a WOB, I don’t want this Arsene I want a different one. One that does things the way I want and manages the way I would.”

When pushed as to what they perceive are Arsene’s failings they will list the very same arguments that a bona fide full blown WOB would give you.

Tactics.

That’s always a favorite. They want him to change his tactics. Happy to ignore that he has changed the set up of the team several times this season already. What they actually mean is they want him to set the team up in a way that they would. Do what they would do. See the game as they do. Why oh why can’t he see what they do?

Team Selection.

He should pick the players they want picked and play them where they want them played.

Prioritise games.

This one is easy, he should play his best team for every game. Whilst rotating, of course. Quite how he does that is beyond me. Of course they will rubbish this until we don’t get the result they think we should have, then they will insist that rotation was wrong and the wrong players were picked.

Signings

This is my personal favorite. He should sign the players they have scouted, for the positions they have deemed to be key.

A DM was the priority, it’s negligence that we didn’t sign one – they squeal.

Now, looking at the team, it could be reasonable to say that DM is the weakest link. Well it might be now, but let’s look at what went before.

The moment Bacary Sagna decided to leave that was the priority. It was essential that we cover what in the modern game is a vital position. He bought Debuchy, and most think that was about as good as he could have gotten.

When Thomas Vermaelen was sold, CB became the biggest priority. Well he bought Calum for that gap. Now whether he was bought as cover for RB alone we will never know, but it quickly became obvious that he was more than good enough to be 3rd choice CB as well. Covering both will likely see him get more game time and develop quicker. Job done.

Last year the priority position was a striker and cover for Theo. Two priorities he covered with the signing of Alexis.

Next on the list of priorities was a Goalkeeper. Fabianski left and we could not go into a season with just one senior goalkeeper. So he signed David Ospina – sorted.

Then Giroud broke his leg. That quickly became the biggest priority position. Out he goes and signs Danny Welbeck. Not too many complaints about that one.

So although some people see the DM position as the priority now, there were actually five bigger priorities than that. All more than adequately solved. We know (or think we know) that we were interested in Carvalho and Schneiderlin, neither of which happened. It looks like Arsene was unable to get the standard of player he wanted and made a judgement call and passed on this 6th priority position.

We have no 4th choice CB! Well we don’t if you ignore Hayden and Monreal, which everyone seems happy too, but can it really be listed above a seventh priority ?

Funds not spent.

They say all available fund should have been used to fill the gaps they see in the team. Happy to ignore that those funds might be needed to buy the right player in January or next summer, when they might actually be available.

These people will insist that they’re not claiming to know better than our manager, whilst continuing to insist he has made mistakes by not doing what they would have done. Well you tell me, what is that if not thinking they know better?

Finally, I have to concede that these people might actually be right. They really could be better managers than Arsene. But really, what are the chances?

Thanks for reading.

pedantic george @Blackburngeorge.

40 Comments

Arsenal Management Miracles Required ?

Its easy. What we need is a manager than can overcome the financial disadvantage we are at compared to City, Chelsea and United buy buying the right players( you know the ones that cost less than theirs ) and getting them playing with a better spirit.

Teams like Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Montpellier have done it ! Why not us ?

Well, if its that simple why don’t Liverpool do it ? Spurs ? Hull perhaps ? Why not ? Or is it just Arsenal that should manage this ?

What makes Arsenal the club that can do what no other team in he history of the Premier League has done?

“What do you mean the Premier League George , football didn’t start in 1992″ I hear you sequel.

Well because that is when the face a English football changed beyond recognition. The money that was pumped into the game altered everything. And the adding of two super wealthy clubs has compounded matters, perhaps an even bigger change.

How so you ask?

“Nottingham Forest won promotion to the top division at the end of the 1976–77 season after finishing third in the Second Division, but no-one could have predicted how successful Clough’s team would be over the next three seasons. Nottingham Forest became one of the few teams (and the most recent team to date) to win the English First Division Championship a year after winning promotion from the English Second Division (1977–78 season).”

Can anyone seriously think that would be possible today? Did anyone consider Burnley title contenders this year? If you are saying “no”, then why not?

Of course if you do think its possible then I cant help you and you should probably get whoever is reading this out loud to you , to stop.

The teams mentioned at the beginning stand out because they are exceptions. But really they are irrelevant anyway. Its not the same League . Which means the conditions are completely different. In those leagues the competition is much weaker, almost cannon fodder in most cases for the best teams. So if a decent team appears, once in a blue moon, it basically comes down to a two game shoot out. The winning of the league becomes like a cup final run, where just a few key games make the difference. And we know that anyone can win a cup very occasionally. Even Spurs.

Clough himself said “ tactics don’t win games,players win games”. 

So first and foremost a club has to have the required quality of players. If you are City, you can do this by simply going out and spending a billion pounds . Buy 25 top class players and you will have a top class team. Its fantasy football without the a limit.

To beat them a team has to have players near enough that level for the manager to be the deciding factor. And that means developing younger players, improving good players into very good players and spending big amounts on key players that make the difference. But that’s three problems a manager has ,rather than one.

All City and Chelsea have to worry about is buying the right players. And even if they get it wrong it doesn’t matter, other than very short term, they can just go out and buy others. Other teams don’t have that luxury . If a team other than the 3 mega money clubs, buy a Torres, Carroll or Veron, they have dropped a huge bollock.

Time and money can be invested in a young player and you get Aaron Ramsey. Equally you can end up with David Bentley. Its massively difficult to get a young player and him become one of the best players around.

A good player like Gervinho can be bought, hoping he will flourish and the step up isn’t made. Again, that’s not a problem those three team have.

So basically if you think a team should, by good management, overcome these difficulties, think again.

Its hard , and the only way is to do it the way Arsenal are trying. Even if we change the manager,the new one will face the very same problems.

Playing the same way as other teams, having the same sort of players that cost less ( and therefore are not as good or ready ) will never see us being their better.

That’s what I want. I want us to be better, play better, look better and behave better. I don’t want to be a budget Chelsea. Bollocks to that.

What people are asking for is someone to do a “Clough like” miracle in the modern game. Its not going to happen. Not to Arsenal or any other team.

Thank for reading this load of old tosh .

pedantic george ( @Blackburngeorge )

192 Comments

Powerful Chelsea v Dainty ‘Ickle Arsenal

A guest post from @anicoll5

 

Good morning from a sunny and mild Norfolk morning. Very pleasant.

A fixture we had all marked in our diary has finally arrived, and for that I am thankful.

Reading the media this week, and dipping into the frantic noise that makes up the sporting social media, I was struck by the Chelsea v Arsenal game broken down by contributors into a series of contests, the gigantic and the personal. The final Clash Of Footballing Civilisations, Good v Evil, The Oligarch v the Self Sustainers (Roman v Stan), Loyalty v Lucre, the beautiful football of Wenger pitted against the pragmatic brutalism of Mourinho etc. And then of course there is eternally circular the Fabregas/Smabregas theme.

Underneath the avalanche I sense a whisp of fear among some Arsenal fans, still reeling from the lashing of the 22nd March. I spy with my little eye a Chelsea quietly confident that they will sit nine points above us by  4 p.m. today

Resist this nonsense if any exist among you Positivistas, put aside anxiety.

Two very talented football sides will take the field this afternoon, both packed with players from all over the planet who have developed and perfected their skills for just this day. And each player knows he will have seconds, literally just seconds over the 90 minutes to display their talents. Chelsea are the bigger, the muscular, of the sides, but with the ugly rapier of Costa as their weapon of choice (hamstrings permitting). We have the speed and the quality of sharp passing, sufficient to open the lock on the gates of St Peter. Eight goals on our previous three games suggests that we know where the goal is. Two strong defences, two good keepers, little to choose between them.

Where will the contest be decided then ?

It will be decided in  the collective mind, among the players who temper the quality of their play with discipline, who take the fleeting opportunities that will come their way, and chances will come as they always do for both sides.  And should misfortune come their way,  a stray pass intercepted, an ungiven foul, even worse a goal conceded,  it is the side that ignores that setback, does not panic or lie on the ground waving their arms and yelling at Fate, or Martin Atkinson, that will prevail this afternoon.

 

“There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.” 

 

So let that brotherhood of thought and mind be Arsenal this afternoon.

 

Enjoy the game !

46 Comments

Goodbye Paul Brickhill

So that’s it, we’ve lost him. The best of the best, ZimPaul has passed, aged just 56.

I honestly don’t know what to say or how to say it. Paul was so great with words it seems to me that the least he deserve is someone better than me to pay tribute to him. He was among other things a supreme wordsmith. He was eloquent, funny, respectful, knowledgeable, in short he was everything that all of us should strive to be.

Paul lived a life so full that most of us could barely imagine it. Including being a spy. Yes a real spy.

I first came across Paul when we were resident on A Cultured Left Foot. I agreed with everything he said and he with me. The difference though was Paul never got personal, he spoke his mind and it was based on his love for the club and his understanding of football. He was civil to everyone, no matter what their opinions. Of course he didn’t have to be rude, he was smarter than all of us, he had an unfair advantage.

When we set up camp at Positively Arsenal he came with us. Supported us, helped me and advised me. His comments were so good that each one could have been a blog post in itself. In fact quite often I would delete a post of his only to publish it the next day as an article.

Here again is the last post he made

ZimPaulSeptember 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm Edit

Hi folks. I’m just writing to say hello. It is not clear whether or when I could post again. Long story, medical-related. I’ve been in intensive care unit for some weeks, now home.

I just wanted to say what a lovely experience it has always been, on PA and the earlier vintage, meeting you, chatting and engaging. I consider a number of people here my very good friends, over many years.

Wellbeck was always going to be controversial, AW and Co settled on 16m, a tidy amount so rest assured AW rates him extremely highly already. I doubt, like a few deals it was any kind of a short term damage control idea, but an idea AW has been mooting for a while, fast-forwarded by the injury. As usual, shrewd.

We haven’t played to potential, and yet, with a tricky start, we have not lost. Now a testing run to come! We look good. Theo to come, a few fitness issues here and there.

Otherwise, a team to truly admire; balanced, fast, exciting, bold. I have to say I have been impressed with Jack too, even though he has been criticized. His work rate is good, his passing and movement is better then one thinks (he makes it look easy). He is a star, and he will get better as he gets playing time.

Chambers is probably the best buy and most important decision we have made, all things considered, exceptional, immaculate, controlled (player) and clever (the manager). I tip my old hat to AW! I never heard of him. I am so impressed at his game.

Bye Arsenal friends!
Love you lots!
ZimPaul “

Its actually is typical of the man and shows what a class act he was. I will miss him and we must never forget him.

Love you Paul.

Now, I’ll tell you what the great man would want, he would want us to chat about the Chelsea game and carry on supporting the club, the manager, and the team he loved.

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