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Summertime Blues

Candles
There was a suggestion in the comments on PA a few days ago that I might be tempted to return from my football free summer holiday and rejoin the general discussion. It seems that at last we have something of real substance to debate. Football is, or so I was led to believe, back on the menu. I hastily opened Arsenal.com hoping to find mention of this momentous news. However, unless the person responsible for updating the fixtures page has been slacking, it would appear that in fact the Charity Shield has not been brought forward to this weekend but is still scheduled to take place on Sunday August the second.

So what have I missed then?

Please don’t tell me that the release of the tentative, first draft, certain to be altered Premier League fixture list is the reason we should all be getting excited. This is surely clutching at the most slender of straws.

The fixture list tells us precisely nothing. Even ignoring the fact that we all know this list will change it doesn’t tell us what kind of form the teams will be in when we play them. It doesn’t tell us the kind of form we will be in when we play them. The fixture list could not predict us winning away at Man City nor us losing at home to Swansea. The fixture list could not and did not predict our sluggish start to last season nor our blistering run after Christmas. The fixture list is like a new diary, filled with dates, days and blank spaces. Only once you have filled the pages does it have any use, and then only to look back, to reflect. Let’s face it fixture speculation is of as much use as that other loathsome bandwagon, the one dedicated to speculating about signing whichever player for which twitter has convinced itself we are in.

The Higuaín of the day this year seems, from my occasionally depressed and cursory glances, to be Petr Čech and while it’s possible someone from Arsenal has made a public statement that Arsène and Ivan are trying to sign him, I’ve not read it and as such, to me, it’s all just hot air. This inconvenient truth hasn’t, of course, stopped the gibbering mindless hordes putting the boot into both or either of our excellent goal keepers, and that is only one of the lamentable sides to the transfer tattle with which so many of you try to ruin every summer.

The Higuaín game always ends up as a stick with which the perpetually dissatisfied can beat our club. It is a stick made up of half truths, lies, invention and fantasy wrapped around with its own spurious conclusions and necessarily false insights. First up someone, probably a discredited hack, invents a transfer story. People start discussing it because, oh, I don’t know, because they have no lives or insufficient imagination to come up with and discuss their own inventions. Then after weeks of speculation the player signs for Napoli, or whoever, as he was, presumably, always going to.

In order not to acknowledge that they have been discussing a non story with all the certainty peculiar to these ill informed, ‘in the know’ experts, the fools then have to invent a narrative which doesn’t show them up for the idiots they surely are. So the yarn they spin is that Arsenal have ‘missed out’. Now they need a reason to go with this. Arsène didn’t offer enough money. Or he dithered. That’ll do nicely. Of course this is a good one because both Arsène lovers and Wenger haters can now join in. On one side he’s a tight fisted old goat helping a greedy board steal supporters hard earned and not investing it in the team. On the other he’s a wily old negotiator refusing to be over charged and thereby protecting his legacy and the club we all love. Of course the fact that he may never have even considered signing the player in the first place is entirely irrelevant. The lies become truths. History has been falsified and accepted, the script is written and six feet below the grassy topsoil in a churchyard in Sutton Courtenay, Orwell slowly rotates.

I despise the way this rubbish is recycled every close season. The dramatis personæ may change but the Higuaín game remains the same. It is the way social media works and I know I need to get over it, after all I don’t have to read it do I? The shame is though that Twitter is a very good way to stay in touch with a diverse bunch of people and a great way to remain abreast of world wide events often long before they get twisted or ignored to suit the editorial bias of the so called news media. I don’t want to have to unfollow and mute everyone, I want to remain part of the hive mind but it is so difficult once you have seen the Emperor in his birthday suit.

Take Coquelin. Unarguably one of our players of the season and yet there is a desperate need to undermine him merely because people want us to sign someone else in his position. I don’t know why this makes sense to them but being an addict I do understand the instinct behind it. How to go about this undermining? Well, you can start by creating a narrative that suggests a weakness in his game. Make him out to be a player he is not and that way you can point at players who do the job this new Coquelin you’ve invented is supposed to do, but better. You achieve this by subtly introducing unfounded nonsense when discussing the player as if it is fact. Don’t be brash. Don’t stand up and say “Hey this guy might be a beast of a tackler but his distribution really sucks – don’t you all agree?” that wouldn’t do at all. Just slip in something more subtle like “we all know his problems with distribution but he is a pretty good player nonetheless.” Sounds so reasonable and sounds like the debate has already been had and everyone already agrees. The herd will then be steered that way and will continue the discussion within that particular framework.

The simple fact is of course that Francis’ passing is one of his key strengths, both close and short he is brilliant on the ball. Like Arteta his strength is in his interceptions and not his ‘beastly’ tackling. However that’s no good as a narrative because it closes the door on transfer speculation vis a vis a beastly tackler who is perceived by the herd to have better passing skills.

The truth is we shouldn’t be casting envious glances at other squads and their over priced stars, we ought to be delighted that Francis is already one of ours. He grew up with us. He knows our ways, his team mates know him, he didn’t break the bank. These are good things, facts to be applauded and in which we should rejoice, but sadly so many fans only rate players if they play for other clubs. Or in the case of certain ageing goal keepers if they used to play for other clubs but have long since been superseded. Being an Arsenal fan I am instinctively better disposed towards our own players. I think bringing Coquelin back from loan wasn’t just a master-stroke for the first team and for Francis himself but will send a message to all of our loanees. Far from being the death knell of your Arsenal career a spell or two with other teams may well be the important stepping stone to a regular first team place. What a great incentive to keep your head up and keep playing well.

In case you’re wondering, I have broken from my summer travelogue this week for two reasons. One because I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the rubbish which goes on in the close season and wanted to exorcise it so I can get back to enjoying the wonder that is my life and two because bugger all of any note has happened to me this week. Apart, I suppose, from celebrating the end of my fifty second year on this planet, dated, for those of you who like to be pedantic about these things, from when I was born rather than conceived. This was an event celebrated in muted, dignified fashion. I share my birthday with the battle of Waterloo and Paul McCartney and was born on the day Henry Cooper fought Cassius Clay at Wembley . So I’ll leave you to debate just how old I really am. After all, it’ll be more interesting than reading the tripe being bandied about on Twitter right now.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

41 comments on “Summertime Blues

  1. only 25 days till Arsenal play again, I think the first players will return to pre-season training on monday week

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  2. Morning Steww, everybody.

    I’ve been trying to follow your advice for a while now but just when I think I’ve managed to leave football behind for a few days, up pops a pesky international, to break my break, if you will. Still, good to see the last one was delightfully enhanced by a memorable performance from Jack (albeit the mystifying decision not to start Theo took some fathoming).

    Agree with every word you’ve written about ghost transfer targets and their value to those for whom any time away spent not bashing Arsene or the club is squandered time. Tedious time, indeed.

    I like a quick squint at the newly birthed fixture list if only to help form a view of likely early managerial casualties. This year the prognosis is looking particularly bleak for the increasingly isolated Brendan R. Out by October and a free run in for fifth place for the Spuds?

    Who knows but that kind of speculation is at least as pointless as the transfer-based version and just as much chance of being proved prescient/ridiculous in equal measure.

    Get back to your hols, Steww; there’s nothing to see here!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. just viewed Newsnow Arsenal and I think I’ve seen the exact sort of article steww is referring to,

    “Five ideal Arsenal signings for the five positions that need strengthening most”

    I think a lot of Arsenal fans/bloggers are like the bosses at Real Madrid, no matter how good the players they have, they still want to change them, they want a new shiny signing.

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  4. Thanks Stew: brilliant as ever. I particularly liked “History has been falsified and accepted, the script is written and six feet below the grassy topsoil in a churchyard in Sutton Courtenay, Orwell slowly rotates.” ’twas ever thus, no doubt.

    I remain convinced that the whole goalkeeping thing is a carefully constructed ruse by Jose to cause maximum damage to the relationship between Arsene and Arsenal fan. It is a quite brilliant piece of work from the specialist in Machiavellian manipulation.

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  5. Quite simple the greatest transfer blog ever written.
    I especially like the “we all know” that the malcontent use as a tool to make anyone who disagrees look to be stupid and outside the level of understanding.

    PS. I wrote that entire paragraph without the “spellcheck” intervening. You may well laugh, but this is AFC type progress for me !

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  6. Great article again Steww. Thanks. One observation about the new fixture list (merely showing up my paranoia when it comes to the Gooners) how strange is it that some teams get blessed with consecutive home games (Chel$ki and Man City with 4 each) whereas Arsenal and ManU get blessed with consecutive away games. (3 for us and 4 for ManU)
    By comparison Chel$ki and City get 1 consecutive away games, Manu get 1 at home and we get none, zip, nada.

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  7. Kongdobia and Grachowiak are two holding midfielders who are being linked to Arsenal. What makes them better than Franny? They don’t currently play for us and they have killer compilation videos. And you know what’s going to happen if they join our unambitious club? They’re going to turn to shit just like Özil.

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  8. I agree with every word Steww wrote about this transfer nonsense. I must admit I check Twitter and News Now periodically for news on our beloved club and to be frank this summer is a repeat of the same bollocks. Not surprisingly it is the big accounts on twitter who use the same duplicitous, propaganda techniques (straight from the CIA handbook). They are like the schoolyard bully who will do anything to maintain their status but only more insidious because they have learnt the wiles and tricks of adults. Yesterday these twitter accounts had a rush of posts that Cech deal was done. All their fawning followers hopped on the bandwagon. 24 hours later not a shred of evidence.
    Even more pitiable are the bloggers who engage in tons of research, resurrecting obscure statistics and data to give credibility to rumor and b.s. Last year it was Higuain. Years before it was those great physical DMs Wenger had to buy to replace Arteta. How do these guys expect to be treated seriously? How do they maintain a shred of credibility?

    I stand by a post to George two days ago:
    “The Cech-for-Arsenal brigade is going to have egg over their face sooner or later. He is not the keeper he used to be.”

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  9. Marvellously put, good sir. Only three quarters through my 53rd year, the next one looking good thus far?

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  10. Must say, what I just said makes no sense given I now realise I’m ahead.

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  11. Made perfect sense to me Steve. Says more about me than you I expect.

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  12. Excellent stuff.

    Can’t pretend I’m not an obsessive checker of all the rumours and nonsense, nor that I don’t enjoy my amateur sleuthing about the team, as it is, and as it might be. The difference is I am dogged by low level annoyance with myself for succumbing to the former, and am also full of intentions to leave the latter alone for a while.

    I wouldn’t use the term lightly, but there’s no avoiding the addictive nature of it all. I know what I’m doing every last time- searching for that hit delivered by any signing but especially by a signing like the Sanchez one. Jeez, there’s even the old classic ‘I’ll just have one/ a very quick scan’ in there.

    The clearest it’s ever been to me was when I went looking for more the day after Sanchez signed. Pow! the absurdity and ‘what-are-you-doing-man?’ of it sure was staring me in the face that day. If my neurons and whatnot had got what they wanted, would I have been back for more on the third day?

    Similarly, it’s telling that I have to remind myself that, in the case of players like Gabriel and Chambers, I should currently feel about them the same way I’d feel if an announcement of a shiny new signing was made today : they are two excellent players, and their stories have barely begun at the club.

    On the plus side, it’s a bloody good canary in the mine for me : if I’m ever living totally in line with what I’ve managed to pick up over the years of what a great life for me would look like, my passion for the club would remain unaltered, but I wouldn’t be wasting some time nearly every day poring over all the stinking media and social media garbage and nonsense about the club.

    You’re well ahead of me, Steww, but maybe I’ll get there one day.

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  13. expertschmeckspert:

    We both used the analogy of addiction and I don’t think it is at all wide of the mark.

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  14. Czech Schmeck

    Did you all see that goal from Alexis!
    Transfer window? I’m too busy enjoying last summer’s additons.

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  15. Then there was Cazorla.

    I’m still basking in the glow of his free kick thirteen months ago. What a goal that was.
    The most important goal in recent years? It’s defintely a candidate. What a signing!
    And he celebrated that Arsenal goal like it meant something: His first club honours. And that’s a big reason why he wasn’t ever moving this window: you don’t wait for your whole career turning down Madrid (not a fan!) only to move on when you current club sign up the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and look like one of the top european teams? Yeah, right, a likely rumour! Santi has buisness to finish in the CL too.

    Steww’s right I think. To have indulged in the Cazorla rumours this summer you’d either have to be a gossip addict or worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The Pied Pattern of Tintern strikes again

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  17. Happy birthday.
    I don’t think we need to sign another DM , but to say Coquelin’s passing is one of his strengths might be a bit of a stretch.

    His passing accuracy is lower than both Arteta and Flamini’s.
    It’s not terrible by any means , but at 84% , compared to Arteta’s 93% and especially Flamini’s,who’s not known for being a prolific passer at 90%, needs improvement.

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  18. Tom, if Arteta is the benchmark, they are all shit.

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  19. Pedantic George

    Arteta isn’t the benchmark or at least he shouldn’t be. As a playmaker, turned defensive midfielder, his passing accuracy should naturally be higher than those of Flamini and Coquelin’s.

    One of the reasons for Coquelin’s ascendency was him simplifying his game from an all around midfielder/ playmaker to a midfield “destroyer”, if you will.

    His passing accuracy doesn’t need to be in the nineties.

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  20. Is it being pedantic to stress that Coquelin is a ball-winner, not a destroyer?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Shotts – it’s just obvious isn’t it?

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  22. Steww, being pedantic, Eric Arthur Blair!

    No room for:

    -As the run stealers flicker to and fro,
    To and fro:
    O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago ! –

    and the incomparable,

    – The long-whiskered Doctor, that laugheth the rules to scorn,
    While the bowler, pitched against him, bans the day he was born;
    And G.F. with his science makes the fairest length forlorn;
    They are come from the West to work thee woe!
    It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,-

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  23. I think the more summers that pass,the more we recognise the transfer circus for the..er..circus it is. Thanks for writing for us peasants again Stew,fuck knows what George has got on you mate!..😀

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  24. A very small retainer Mel.

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  25. Pass accuracy doesn’t take into account the types of pass attempted, a three yard pass counts the same as a defence splitting pass and U think we are all aware of le Coqs strengths. If we are buying a DCM then surely it shops be a back up to Le Coq, basically a squad player although im not sure that’s what we need considering the amount of players who can play that position.
    The U21s, copa America, ladies world cup actually proves football never stops.
    Did I say Steww you we brilliant as usual well Steww you were brilliant as usual

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  26. Steww @ 9:01 pm – I now know I am not much of a pedant, all lost to George obviously. But thanks for the affirmation.

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  27. any of you who are on twitter notice shewore and blackscarfAFC making a show of themselves today over the Ivan Gazidis Q&A, what prize idiots they are, there egos took a bashing cos they did not get invited, I do wonder why people who do nothing but criticize Gazidis and those who run our club/team, even want to be invited to an event run by the very people they have no respect for

    It actually shows how lame shewore and blackscarfAFC are, that Le Grove outwitted them in their twitter exchanged today.

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  28. i was invited and had a very nice fish and chips and a free beer with friut and cheese on skewers to follow all very nice. Martin Hayes, Paul Davis, Davis Court and the F.A Cup were also there.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Kike Marin** ‏@Kike_Marin_ 2h2 hours ago
    @Arsenal Wenger doesn’t work with Jorge Mendes. Normal, portuguese agent is a pirate. Jackson Martínez (Porto) the latest example. #Arsenal

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  30. Perdro made mincemeat of She Wore and Highbury Harold Yesterday.

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  31. From what I’ve heard previously from she wore he is not exactly a debating practitioner or an astute thinker he is just abusive. If anyone disagrees he just calls them a wanker and his little followers giggle like schoolgirls hardly thought provoking stuff. For someone who argues against the commercialization of football to sell so much stuff tells you all you need to know just self promotion in my book.

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  32. However it is always nice to see the enemy fighting amongst themselves
    Sinking, rats, ship, leaving…..make well known sentence

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  33. Swe v Eng: There is barely an ounce of creativity in this English u-21 midfield. Despite all the talk, the English have no faith in skilled, technical players. If they are not present at the u-21 level then when, oh lord, when?

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  34. I dont know if anyones already posted this but apparently hot on the heels of the signing of kostos Pileas ARSENAL have now signed 17 year old Jeff Reine Adelaide and 16 year old Yassin Fortune from lens

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  35. arsenal have not confirmed those signings yet, but the lens youth team manager said the two lads have signed for AFC. Youths are often months here before AFC confirm they’ve joined.

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  36. Thanks to PG, I thought i would toddle over to see what Peter Wood, was upto!

    His effort today, cannot be faulted. The attempt to show Tom Fox, how to do commercial deals, was of course ludicrous at the time!

    PG, another convert?

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  37. Are there any administrators of the blog lurking?

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  38. Colombia out of the Copa after a 0-0 with Peru tonight, we might soon know if there is anything to the rumors of Ospina leaving AFC

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