106 Comments

The Blame Game? – Oh dear oh dear oh dear (Sorry Frank, I stole your line).

Time for a bit of fight back I think. As no news of concrete signings have arrived, the mood has grown progressively worse. We knew that the atmosphere would be poisonous at the Emirates if we lost the Villa game, and our worst fears were confirmed with the chants of “spend the f*cking money”. Twitter erupted with rage after the game. Bloggers and tweeters who had been sitting on the fence were now coming out, openly vocal with dissatisfaction. Even some self-proclaimed Wenger supporters were shifting their position. The tensions beneath the surface had unleashed a volcano and we were now witnessing the pryoclastic flow. Absolute mayhem.
Many tweeters came forward, ridiculing the AKBs. Every accusation levelled at the club, the board, and particularly Gazidis and Wenger, was vindicated by this result, in their eyes. Depending on who you read, you get a particular crime read out on a charge sheet. The major crime, according to some well known bloggers, is “mismanagement”, for failing to secure transfers so far this summer. A whole list of people will tell you why. Wenger seeks value instead of just doing the business. We have the wrong targets. There are players, but Wenger is stubborn. The board screwed up over Suarez. Or ultimately, it’s the fault of Wenger because he is in “slow decline”. I smile ruefully at a lot of these because I have heard them all before, and they are sometimes part of a narrative. However, it is actually difficult to deny that we are not in the best position, as there are genuine squad places that do need to be filled. We are a centre back light. When we miss Arteta, like against Villa, we tend to struggle. The jury is still out on Giroud.
My view with a lot of these things, is are you interested in the micro or macro picture? Yes, you may argue that it all relates to the big picture, for if we fail now, in the 1st couple of weeks, to qualify for the CL, we lose at least £20 million in revenue and it will lessen the attractiveness of the club as a future destination for new players. So this amplifies the need for a stronger squad. It would be churlish of me to deny this. The theory goes that if we had got our ducks in a row in June/July, they would have bedded in, and we would be unleashing them in August/September. It is a compelling theory but it has a giant hole. It can only be translated into practice if you have very very deep pockets. The only club that can get business done this fast is City. Granted, occasional transfers are accomplished in June, a la Gervinho or Podolski, but we are looking at 4 to 5 squad places.
The word “failure” crops up repeatedly when talking about a summer transfer business. In a 60 mile tailback on my way to Cornwall, last week, in a nightmare 8 hour journey, I wondered who was to blame. Was it the transport department? Was it the motorists? Was it the Conservative governments from 1979-1991, who I still see as massive infrastructure vandals? Or is nobody really to blame? So in the case of transfers, who is to blame? And why? I argue that it is very difficult to know who is to blame without being in full possession of the facts. Let us assume that we have compiled a shortlist of around 4 to 5 targets for each squad place. Let us assume there are 4 squad places being filled, so that gives us around 20 targets maximum. Let us also assume that there is a budget, not necessarily rigid, but it does exist. Let us try now to compute the things that could go wrong.
Player doesn’t want to come to Arsenal – This is I believe is a widely under-estimated factor, and can happen, not just because they don’t see Arsenal as being an attractive option, but because they are not guaranteed a 1st team place. I have heard of 2 cases in the last 2 years where players  opted for other clubs for this reason, in Vertonghen and recently with Gustavo.
Selling club doesn’t want to sell – We don’t know if the selling club will sell.
We get into a bidding war – We may get into a bidding war with a club with bigger resources, a la Mata, which we immediately pull out of.
The price is simply not acceptable – The selling club or the player blows the budget.
I can hear the Piers Morgans of the world saying all this is nonsense and unacceptable, and that Dein would have done the deal. There are various counter arguments for all of the above, and the most common one is that the club has an ideological problem with value, or more accurately, Wenger has the problem. In order to rectify this, we should pay the premium, as that’s what clubs have to do to secure players. This is one of the most interesting arguments that I see made, genuinely. The proponents of this argument will tell you that the negotiating position of the club is such that we will haggle over a million, which will kill the deal. It is an emotional argument, as it fits the narrative that Wenger is the scrooge banker, omnipotent and infuriating. His intransigence is killing the club and these are actually simple deals that should have been done and dusted. I would have no problem in joining in the chorus of dissatisfaction if this was actually true. The problem is I don’t actually believe it is true. It is not because I am a dyed in the wall Wenger aficionado. It is not because my first instinct is to defend the club and/or Wenger. I don’t believe these arguments are true because such a philosophy would mean we wouldn’t be able to function in the market. It is a market, after all. The selling club has to be satisfied by the price. If nobody was ever satisfied, no players would have ever come to Arsenal. Selling clubs are not backward in coming forward and demanding more money,  certainly not this year. The other point is that I actually believe in Wenger’s valuations, particularly of english players. An eye watering £35m for Carroll? I am not dissing Carroll, but he is a case in point.
But there is a wider point here. What exactly is the expectation level? Most people say they want to “challenge”. Others say we must win the title. I think it’s important to examine the expectation level, because it’s here that I find the biggest delusion. Which is perverse, given that delusion is the accusation levelled at the AKBs. If the expectation level is to win the title, then those who believe we can do it by 4 good sigings are hopelessly deluded. If we believe the figures from Swiss Ramble, it looks like we have at least £100 million for transfers, and can afford the commensurate wages. Yes, the frustration of the summer is that we haven’t spent any of that money, but the wider point for me, is that even if we do spend it, what are people expecting? £100 million is chicken feed for City and Chelsea. They can spend that and more, and blow us out of the water on every deal where a mercenary comes sniffing. Jovetic, Hazard, Mata, YaYa Toure. Our financial position has not changed insofar as we can expect to challenge the top 6 (mainly) oil sheik and oligarch led clubs in europe. And if people believe we should be challenging them, it’s hard to see why, given our historical profile. We have never won the champions league, never dominated the domestic scene, never won back to back titles. Yes, it is fair to say we should challenge for the title, but the difficulty now is the context of the premier league. There are two clubs who are still making a mockery of FFP and the other who have built up an ethos and momentum that is very hard to stop.
Well, I can hear you rumble, if £100 million isn’t enough, we should have done the deal with Abu Dhabi and replaced the board, when they came in for us before City. Sure, that is an argument. I can imagine some people would be very happy indeed with that, as they would find that incoming players would neatly correlate with their game of championship manager, and they would spend countless hours working out the permutations of mercenaries who would grace the bench. The problem though with the Abu Dhabi project though is two-fold. Firstly they have had to spend a colossal sum for 2 meagre trophies so far, a return on investment at a cost of £1 billion per trophy, and they still haven’t reached the 2nd stage of the champions league. Secondly, that financial fair play may catch up with them. But if £100 million isn’t enough, then what do we do? Wait, I can hear the splutter.. it is enough.. we just need 3 or 4 players, and we will challenge. Surez, Cesar, Fellaini. Job done. Well – ok, if you believe that, then are you are going to give Wenger the credit for bringing together the existing 19/20 players (on a shoestring), that will form that challenge ? No. Thought not.
The problem is, and it’s existed all summer, and there are people saying Gazidis is to blame, is that the expectation is that we can spend big now, get the 3 or 4 players we need, and things will change. But my argument is that we should only think in terms of incremental change. We have seen the crazy valuations out there on the market. We know that selling clubs have a beaming smile on their face when they see us coming, or not, in the case of Suarez and Liverpool. We see how difficult it is to acquire players. We have succeeded in holding on to our best players for the first time in 5 years, so we move forward slowly. If you say that we should win the title, then that’s fine. Put the resources in place. Don’t say we can win the title with just £100 million, because that’s not enough. To put my head on the block, 3rd would be acceptable, 2nd good, and to get to the quarters of the CL. You may scream “no ambition”, but it’s difficult to see how else anything higher can be achieved.
My final point is that I find it incredible that people are willing to hang the club out to dry on so little evidence, and that Twitter and other like forums are to blame. We have situations like the Sahin transfer, which farcically show that this era can be like no other in history. As you may know, we were looking at Sahin, and we pulled out at the last minute. On Twitter, when Sahin’s name was mentioned, a load of gooner’s jumped on the bandwagon that this was a player that we desperately needed and “would improve” the squad. In hindsight, to use the vernacular, this was a “bullet dodged”. Which confirms that the whole Twitter led witch-hunt against the club, where someone decides that a player would “improve the” squad, followed by an inquisition against Wenger for not pursuing this player who would “improve” the squad, as actually being highly damaging, ultimately, to the club. Because a poisonous atmosphere builds up and then secretes onto the pitch, as it did on Saturday.
The only way to counter this is to put some faith into the club, and the coaching staff. I am not going to listen to the opinion of some spotty red bull infused teenager who watches clips of players on YouTube

By  @MuppetGooner


106 comments on “The Blame Game? – Oh dear oh dear oh dear (Sorry Frank, I stole your line).

  1. My fear is Wenger will lose interest in Arsenal because of all the ingrates who call themselves supporters. All the morons moaning about him really have no idea the work it takes to keep this club in the CL places while keeping the spending low.

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  2. Hunter
    I mostly agree with your point about the ‘British’ good old game going Into decline, certainly the Celt teams are historically weaker than they use to be. youth coaching and the big-‘un mindset is still shit.
    There is im afraid to say, a bit of a counter argument due to the strong performance of the English Clubs in the CL but indeed, that too is dropping off a bit recently.
    Of course we could say that our rival English clubs have just bought ‘better’ foreigners to win (buy of fluke) their euro throphies for them.

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  3. Sorry PG and Muppet!

    The fiction of the £70 millions available for transfer is as follows:

    AST Analysis of Arsenal Holdings Half Year Accounts…… as detailed in an article dated 21st March 2013:

    I quote

    “At the 31 May year-end this “unavailable” cash accounts for £100m, and whilst by November some of the season ticket money has been spent it is estimated by the AST that close to £60m of the November 2012 cash figure of £123m is “tied up”.

    The AST estimate that the “spare” cash available for investment in the squad was approximately £60m during the recent January transfer window.

    Over the next six months we think that “spar” cash available will, grow organically by £20m as further funds come available from property assets. From next year there is also the new TV and so it is commonly accepted, and never refuted, that the club has £70m to spend on a combination of transfer fees /wages.”

    The AST split the cash at the bank in half. Completely overlooking the Debt Service Reserve accounts of £23.696m and £1.2m (ring-fenced) for Newton Housing.

    The AST then compound their error, by including the new TV deal, which does not mature until well into 2014.

    The new Emirates agreement is up to £150 millions, which will include the provision of charter aircraft and travel arrangements, which will be non-cash!

    I am waiting for the Manchester United Plc First Quarter Report for 2013/2014, to confirm the new TV deal.

    The AST has a puny membership of about 1,067. Completely unrepresentative and led by mules..

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  4. Sorry, “Over the next six months we think that “spare”……

    I would not put that person in charge of a Spar grocer’s shop!

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  5. “The AST has a puny membership of about 1,067. Completely unrepresentative and led by mules..”
    Har de har hahaha

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  6. Pardew is fighting to keep his French midfielder.
    Oh the beautiful irony.

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  7. I think you make a number of valid points here and I speak as a fan of nearly 40 years, been going since the 1980s. I couldn’t give a fig about the AST but what really grates for me is that the club has definitely taken the fans for granted. We pay the highest prices in the league. It was a pity you didn’t acknowledge that.

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  8. L.T.F.
    Actually no, we don’t.

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  9. “The jury is still out on Giroud” because he’s the only striker not to score with every shot on goal.

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  10. Well for some its still out Passenal,do some degree or other.

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  11. Gainsbourg69 August 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    and

    pedantic george August 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    made my day ..ahahaha

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  12. The cheapest chavs season ticket is £750, compared to Arsenal’s at £985
    Arsenal’s includes several CL and domestic cup games.
    Even if we did quite badly this season, say only 7 .CL and cup games in total, one would be doing well to pick up those games for £35 each at Chelsea. The argument about our seat prices is oft repeated, but it’s just another example of facts being distorted.
    Also Chelsea have been give £850m over ten years by their owner (don’t even begin to ask how he got it in the first place) so they are not as reliant on Arsenal for match day income. Arsenal’s commercial sponsorships have lagged behind our rivals, but that’s beginning to improve, albeit slowly.

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  13. Just watched Kos tackle a dozen times on Arsenal player.
    A perfect tackle ( bit like sangas on JvC, but another day.
    shearer you are a liar.
    However, Kos’s lack of a tackle lead to the first peno.
    No Arteta protecting the defence there.

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  14. Ahh. Such a breath of fresh air amongst the insanity. A great post and so many great comments today. Special mention to SA for telling Stuart Robson to shove it. A sentiment I’ve expressed to my television many times.

    And what is this virtual stadium idea of which you speak? I will need some virtual hands to hold on Wednesday. Not for the faint of heart, that game. Our boys will go to war. I intend to stand behind them.

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  15. Double Canister,

    Sure, Abramovich gave Chelsea the money. The question about how he did make his money may make you uncomfortable but nothing unlawful has ever been proven (and hasn’t Usmanov been accused of corruption in his own country something he says is politically motivated and untrue). Our way of dealing with it has been to use match day income as a way of competing, I accept that (and thanks Arsenal for the increase in programme from £3 to £3.50 this season) but the fans are still paying through the nose and that grates, despite the arguments above.

    At least Chelsea fans get to decide whether they want to go to CL and FA Cup games.

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  16. Thanks Alabama.

    So the virtual stadium is an idea that hasnt been implemented yet, but i hope we can try on Wednesday.

    The idea is that, those of us who cannot go to matches and only see them on TV can get together on a group video call during the match on our computers while we watch the match on our TV/online streams.

    As far as I know, Skype does not allow group video calls, but Google hangouts does. I was thinking that we could create google accounts reflecting our personas here: SA, Alabama Gooner, etc, add each other as friends, have awkward silences, share nervousness, shout together and enjoy the match.

    Georgaki, PG and a few others were interested when it was first suggested. I will ask them again.

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  17. Yeah I demand that I am ” not taken for granted ”

    As has been my unvarying experience of supporting Arsenal over the past 49 years, on September the 8th, every time I have said ‘Jump’ they have responded ‘How high ?’ – until recently

    ‘ Taken for granted’ very good – I shall write to my MP

    On the other hand of course instead of whining about it I could punish them for their shameful oversight – and not give them my cash

    Umm – what to do what to do ?

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  18. @ anicoll5 August 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

    well said.

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  19. It’s the total absence of logic which is doing my head in here. A sort of collective madness appears to have gripped much of the fanbase. They are being manipulated but can’t see it.

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  20. Right Funs.
    What use is £70m when it’s up against infinite money?
    What can we do if a club will sell but the player is too lazy/ greedy/chickenshit to move to England and the Arsenal?
    What can we do if a player wants to come to us but his club are ‘insulted’ by our gigantic record bids?
    What can we do if we loose key players in the opening week of the season, and need to find emergency cover?
    What would have happened if we had ‘spent all the fucking money’ last week?
    Where do we find players like the Ox at short notice?
    Go on Womga finance for a quick £20m loan? we will pay it back next week once we are in the CL, honestly.

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  21. “It could never happen here” they told us and i was surprised & dissapointed when i read that because i thought they knew better.
    There is no doubt as to what is happening in the clip below. Anyone who calls themselves a football can but is incapable of calling it as it so clearly is, beyond any reasonable doubt, is doing the game a disservice:

    http://touch.dailymotion.com/video/x13c1c9_arsenal-vs-aston-villa-bad-referee-decisions_sport

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  22. Ah and we get Webb against Fulham.
    He was on good behaviour last year as the radically rebuilt squad were out of the running. We shall see how he does.
    Though some of course demanded AFC compete last year, after demanding the rebuild. then said how they’d never finish fourth, and now, surprise surprise, well, we know what they want: Blackburnitus (no offence George), an unflattering condition.

    Perhaps it does all even out in the end?

    Maybe UEFA/FUFA will give AFC a ref that bends the other way. After all Fener are in the middle of an appeal against FUFA/UEFA for a ban resulting from, ah, from match fixing.

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  23. Ok. Seeing as no one was up to this awful pun I suppose I must oblige:

    A.Taylor was actually wearing Villa’s colours on Saturday. A shade darker, but clearly he was wearing the wrong top (should’ve been the yellow one for refs). Clearly that’s why he was demoted! He put on the wrong colour shirt. The poor idiot.

    Perhaps AT knew in advance that he was going to stand out. The crowd were on his back. I dunno. There are only about five or six at the officials at every game who try and work this stuff out. It’s the small details, as in that clip above, that are telling.

    Odd. Very odd.

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  24. Fins, any info on whether the club are appealing Koscielny’s red card?

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  25. Long-term fan at 7:45 am

    Given how dangerous it is to expose an oligarch there is enough evidence on record about how they stole the wealth of the Russian people:

    With regard to Usmanov he is a criminal:

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/09/alisher_usmanov/

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  26. Don’t know SA.

    Random: Willian will be another whip for the self flagellators. Maybe he’s improved since AFC last played Shaktar but in my opinion SC, TR7, LJW & AOC are all better then him as AMs. For starters.

    ZimPaul,
    Chamberlian injured badly just before HT, had to come off.

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  27. FINSBURY
    watching that video just raised my blood pressure to danger levels. What a wa•••r Taylor is.
    FUNGUN
    SPOT ON. our own start the ball rolling and the media pick up on it as a stick to beat the club with. So disappointed. I really thought our fans were more intelligent than to be manipulated so easily.

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  28. Only a straight red card can be reviewed. KOSHER got two yellow cards. Not reviewable.

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  29. oh, damn.

    That is one way to manipulate the rules. Give two joke yellows and make sure there is no way to rescind it back.

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  30. @ sensational arsenal
    I don’t think they can appeal it as it was two yellows. But it’s only one game out for Kos, I think, rather than three.
    IG needs to get busy, though. The way we are treated is abysmal.

    @ double canister
    Did you mean me when you said “Funs”? I read it as “Fins”, ie finsbury, which is why I didn’t respond directly. I have read that Andrew Taylor has been dropped by the FA after last Saturday’s display, not confirmed yet though.

    @ goonerkam
    It’s open season on us and the fans are joining in. There is definitely an agenda and not just from the media. Who leaked the supposed bid for Cabaye and claimed it was disrespectful (reinforcing Liverpool’s ludicrous complaints)? Who told Cabaye Arsenal had bid? Must have been Alan Pardew or Newcastle.

    It must be so galling for AW, IG and SK to see all these halfwits trying to tell them how to do their jobs. The board, the manager and the team have got to stick together.

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  31. We get done by this sob , costing us the game, few injured players , suspension and instead of addressing the problem we rip into our own players and managment for lack of action and strengthening In a window that hasn’t closed yet. And now the bid for yohan is a panic buy. F••••Ing unbelievable. Media sharks are laughing all the way to the bank. And now we get Webb for our next game. This problem of picking of the referees goes back many years. Never has been properly addressed.

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  32. Passenal,

    I meant, the jury is not out on Giroud on here – more out there. He’s a good player. My point was more that we are looking for another striker as a reinforcement, and it was just a comment that people were waiting in anticipation for that, amongst some other players.

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  33. Correction:
    Referee AT was not demoted. What was I thinking!

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  34. I propose we treat the coming period as an adventure in every sense. We have a medical room of walking wounded, forward department looks OK aside from Ox, a horrible blow that one, although not sure why Lukas didn’t start, midfield struggled positionally without steady Arteta and needs to make amends with Santi short, Tomas and Aaron carrying knocks (could become worse), backline with Sagna likely out for a little while and TV out for a long spell, Gibbs with a headache, Kos I guess gets a one match ban is that it for the next EPL game; and everyone on our backs, all our immediate competitors won handsomely or so, media spittle licking their chops in anticipation of a big crash, almost urging it. Now that’s what I call a challenge.

    Away at Fenerbahce did you say? Bring it on. Time for to step up the gears.

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  35. All but one out 0f 20 refs in the select group is a ‘Northener’.
    Strange when you loom at the distribution of clubs and population in England.
    How statistically unlikely is that?

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  36. Have to say I agree ZP….BRING IT ON indeed!
    2013/14 already feels like the mother of all onslaught’s up & running.
    To wrap up the decade of dubious decisions against the Arse.

    (“..this is what you get for daring to go a whole season undefeated Frenchie”)

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  37. Istanbul Traveling Party:

    Szcz-Fabianski
    Jenks
    Gibbs-Nacho
    Sagna
    Per
    Rambo-Frimp
    Jack
    Santi-Rosicky
    Theo
    Giroud-Sanogo
    Poldi-Gnabry

    good luck GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!!
    COYG.

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  38. Well – the two from Wiltshire, one from Leicestershire and one from the West Midlands would probably not class themselves as northeners. And I think there are only 18 of them. But it’s intriguing that none are from the South East.

    I see to my considerable distress that the appalling Mike Dean still figures on the list. I had thought that 45 was the mandatory retirement age, but it seems that this applies only to international fixtures. He is still free to commit mayhem in the EPL.

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  39. “To keep hitting the top four and qualifying for the Champions League is great, and Arsene has done such a great job,” Adams, who wants to succeed Wenger as manager, told Zapsportz.com.

    “But there is going to come a day, and that won’t be far away, when Arsene leaves. One hundred per cent I’d like to be Arsenal manager. Of course my heart says ‘yes, yes, yes’, but my head says ‘can I win with this current team?’ My answer is no, I can’t and I am not sure anyone can.”

    Gee Mr. Adams, thanks for the vote of no confidence. Way to support to the team. I hope all of these things motivates the players to win consistently this season.

    Come on Arsenal!

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  40. Lovely chap Tony – salt of the earth

    But in relation to your future applications I am afraid you have about the same chance of managing Arsenal football club, or even being considered as a candidate for the job, as I have.

    One of us is utterly deluded

    And I do not think, this once at least, it is me

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  41. Anicoll, I respect how he is Arsenal through and through. Lack of top quality loyal players like that. However, I wish he didnt talk about Arsenal publicly.

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  42. Merlot
    I class Watford as in the North, haha.

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  43. Oh look, we got us one of them middle of the road doomer idiots talking about fans being taken for granted and the virtuous manner in which Usmanov stole his country’s wealth.

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  44. Some Chap tweeted thus: Wenger sounded good today. Like myself, his articulacy presents itself in its highest form when indignant at the stupidity of others

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  45. Georgaki, PG, remember the virtual stadium idea? Are you guys interested/free to try it for tomorrow’s match? I think Alabama Gooner is interested too.

    Anyone else interested?

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  46. SA
    I’ll be watching it at the pub with plate o fish&chips in front of me. And a bunch o gooner buddies and buddets

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  47. cool Goonerkam. Some other time.

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  48. Sensational Arsenal

    I’m in. I’d like to try.

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  49. That is great Georgaki. I created my gmail id: Sensational.Arsenal@gmail.com. You can add me.

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  50. Whats up family?

    I would love to join in on the virtual thingy. The weekends would work for me.

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