It’s The Hope That Kills.

A few weeks ago, Daniel,  my 15 year old son, rushed out of his room, and full of excitement told me that while it obviously wouldn’t happen The Arsenal were linked with Martin Ødergaard. I listened attentively, and while not wanting to kill his enthusiasm, also wanted to warn against the inevitable disappointment when yet again a transfer rumour proved to be just that: a rumour, written to generate website clicks. While it is also true that most of the players he tells me we are about to sign I have never heard of, this one intrigued me for I had a distant memory of the name – and a sense that we’d been linked with him before.

And so we had, back several years ago now when the footballing world was suddenly full of the new latest wunderkind, the ‘hardly old enough to tie his own bootlaces’ Norwegian Messi. Martin Ødergaard. With, of course, the best ‘knower’ of new talent, Arsene Wenger instrumental in inviting all 15 years old of him, to spend a couple of days at Colney. Money talks of course, especially if you are keen to cash in on a yet to be proved player, and so predictably enough he went on to sign for Real Madrid. But however talented they may be, teenagers by and large don’t cut the mustard in senior football, and so Ødergaard disappeared from view, needing  to do his apprenticeship, an apprenticeship of course involving loans to clubs perhaps less well suited to nurturing prodigious, yet fragile, talent (think Gnabry and Pulis). But the fact that Wenger had seen something, and that six year later Arteta was seemingly interested, was enough to get me thinking.

Enough to get me thinking? That, if not a lie, is criminally economical with the truth. This 63-year-old, recently invited for his first Covid jab due to a ‘pre-existing’ condition, was straight on to YouTube, consuming all the Ødergaard videos and chat it was possible to find. And then he did sign (just a loan, but who knows?). That it also coincided with an upturn in The Arsenal’s results even saw a re-reading (about the 7th, if the truth be known) of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. Suddenly we were back, the sunlit uplands beckoning, League, Cup and European glory only a matter of time. Arsene knew. And he made sure Arteta knew too. In my dreams I was shuffling back to the tube station, carried along on waves of song and the scent and smells and banter of match day, full of the 4-0 schooling we’d just handed to the lot down the road, a victory orchestrated by Ødergaard, Saka and Smith-Rowe. My dreams are so sad these days!

Well as night follows day, Ødergaard didn’t really feature at all to begin with: we were dumped out of the Cup, and then met with horribly predictable reversals in the Midlands, first thrown to the  Wolves’, then scrappily at the hands of a Villa side unreally favoured by Fortune. Ødergaard merely an ineffectual bit-player. Of course there was a reason why Real let him go, of course Tierney and Partey were injured, of course the Refs were never going to help us, of course the lot of the football fan is to be permanently disappointed.  And of course a bit of me was deep down pleased: supporting a team, unless you are a shifting glory hunter, is not just about the shitness of everything, but it’s the active revelling in it.

And yet. And yet. And yet. 

Just when you think it is all so bad it’s time to walk away, to stop going, to stop accessing the websites, to deactivate Twitter, Arteta only goes and starts Aubameyang up front, with Smith-Rowe, Saka and Ødergaard just behind him, and another great Wenger signing  (Xhaka) playing alongside another tiki-taka Real reject (Ceballos) at the heart of the midfield against everybody’s flavour of the month, Leeds. And before you know it, it’s 4-O to the Arsenal and the side’s oozing Wengerean unction. Little twiddly midfielders everywhere, Wengerball incarnate, ‘walking-the-ball-in’ the clear ambition.

As I once read, Arteta was Arsene’s translator on the pitch. Could it just be that the DNA is reasserting itself? Might there be glory days ahead? Is it safe to dream again? And if it isn’t, if dreams aren’t allowed, then what after all is the point of anything?

Tim Head@foreverheady

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75 comments on “It’s The Hope That Kills.

  1. Not sure that ‘shots on target’ is always the best measure of a side’s attacking intent. For example, in the first half yesterday Saka hit the target, but did so with a weak shot straight into the middle of the goal, whereas Aubamayang missed the target but it was a much better chance and also the culmination of some incisive play.
    And of course the choice to try to work a better positon rather than cede possession with a speculative shot is often the hallmark of a side attempting to play good football.
    But then that’s the trouble with Arsenal, they always try to walk it in.


  2. It was easy to tell the groaning psychos that no coach would or could come into this club and replicate Arsene’s “decline” where he won three cups and can second in the pgmob handicap race (a double in a less corrupt league) in four seasons.

    You could give arteta another £300M and another three years for the “process” but he is not going to match that success, not with Kia calling the shots.

    The mass stupidity and genuinely psychotic behaviour exhibited by Arsenal followers in believing that normal coaches would better the best football coach they will ever see in the lives, especially one fighting against the Handicap no less, it could all be the subject of someone’s PHD.

    But many many football fans all over already understand the above.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arteta is desperate which is why Tierney played every two three days for four games after Boxing Day with no rotation & then broke down. Partey. Etc.

    Saka won’t last the season at this rate without a spell out. He’ll be Harry Kaned before he is 25. John Terried. Walking by the age of 30 not running and only powered by cortisone injections.

    One reason England have been so shit at Association Football over the decades is because their best players are treated like cattle. For some to state this observation is to be against English Football but if English Football is a bunch of FA fuckwits profiting off the brain damage to the poor then yes I am 100% against such “Football” (which is also called Rugby). They can fuck off! And take Wembley with them.


  4. Foreverheady, I note what you say, but as goals are what win games, and you can only score a goal if the ball goes on target, surely there is no other relevant measure.

    Being able to pass the ball nicely, and to weave beautiful patterns through the opposing defence is meaningless if it does not produce, at the least, a goal, or at the very least a shot in the right direction.

    Sending over 20 crosses to no one is a measure of stupidity and incompetence and nothing else, as it endless passing backwards and forwards amongst the centre backs and defensive midfielders.

    Non-fans used to go out of their way to watch us play.

    Now fans do so not to watch us play.

    That we still see Willian come on, even for a short time, is an indication that our “great coach and master tactician” is pretty far from either accolade.

    Emery was chosen as a manager because he promised to be cheap and make use of the players we had, as set out on his so-called detailed dossiers.

    When he failed, Arteta was chosen because I dare say they thought he would also be cheap. Now that he has spent and spent, even for players he now does not want to use, eg Saliba, and turned us into the prime example of boring mediocrity, where do we go from here?

    From the laughing stock of the league, because of the Ozil debacle, how low are we going to be allowed to fall.

    Ironically, Man$ity will be so complacent about playing us, we could end up winning. Not because we are better than them, but because they might think that we are so bad, all they need to do is turn up and win.


  5. Balogun not in the U23’s squad for tonights match with man city

    Arsenal U23 v Manchester City: Okonkwo; Alebiosu, Oyegoke, Kirk, Lopez; Akinola, Patino; Taylor-Hart, Cottrell, Nelson; Moller.

    Subs: T. Smith, Dinzeyi, Bola, Lewis, Coyle.


  6. Arsenal 0 Man. City 2. Another goal for Delap


  7. Jeorge Bird
    Ft. Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2. Four games without a win for Arsenal. Okonkwo did very well. Lopez did ok in second half. Midfield was way too open. Nelson couldn’t have the same impact he did in his last game for U23s.


  8. Had to go out from mins 25-55 of u23 game but that was dispiriting stuff once returned.

    Defended Bould against a lot of over-the-top criticism earlier in season but tonight had me wondering if all is well in camp.

    Also whether instructions are given to him about how to set up and what subs to make. 2nd goal presumably took wind out of us and from then on looked team crying out to try change things- bring Reiss back deeper even, seeing as how no platform behind him and losing midfield badly- but nope. Just let it drift.

    Then not to bring on subs until last few mins even though we were playing so poorly. That’s the norm with u23’s and, unless there’s some unknown rationale behind it, seems totally bizarre.


  9. I Apologise if my swearing about the lack of protection for Arsenal players and players in general by coaches who overplay them offends,
    Football is not rugby and one reason footballers get paid more then rugby players is that people want to watch the best players play Football for as long as they can. Watching a gym enthusiast run around for two years before breaking down doesn’t have the same appeal as Messi for some reason.

    The main reason they get paid more is because Jimmy Hill and others promoted the rights of the football athletes for the risks they take a long time ago.
    More then a few youth teams no longer allow heading for kids and it’s hard for many fans to understand why. I hope heading remains in the sport but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reduction in the frequency of heading in matches in the future if not already.


  10. i see the Mirror are running a story that Robert Pires and his family, including his 13 year old son Theo, who had been in the Hale End Academy, have moved to Spain, and Robert has joined the coaching staff at second division B side Pena Deportiva Santa Eulalia,

    the article claims Pires decided to leave London due to the change in people’s attitudes with Brexit.


  11. From Just Arsenal

    Lehman talks about English bias in the Premier League
    By Admin Martin – 19 February 2021, 21:00

    Jens Lehmann has claimed that English players got away with swearing at the referee while others didn’t.

    The German was a part of one of the most successful Arsenal sides in recent history, including the team that went the whole 2003/2004 season unbeaten.

    The now 51-year-old enjoyed a wonderful career at Arsenal and he was speaking about a few things in his career, including their rivalry with Manchester United.

    Lehmann told the All To Play For podcast via Sun Sports that he loved how swearing flew around in the Premier League, but added that English players got away with it too often.

    He said players like John Terry swore all the time, but if he did he would be warned by the referee that he would send him off.

    He said as quoted in the same report: “What I liked as a German, on the pitch, there were insults being exchanged and all kinds of altercations and nobody got suspended.

    “English players were allowed to swear at the referee and got away which much more than I did.

    “John Terry did it all the time. If I swore, the referee would say, if you do that again, I will send you off.”

    Lehmann was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation winning the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A, among other trophies.


  12. Given MO’s lack of football in recent times I had no expectations for his first few matches.
    The pass for Cedric was so good he had to make the assist even with his left leg heh. Promising.

    MO required a mini “pre-season” starting him in both recent matches makes lots of sense though Nelson won’t agree, Nelson who should undeniably be in the squad ahead of Willian. Think MO came off early, a likely starter against City.


  13. Eds
    I had hoped that Joshie’s marketing gurus would have convinced him to ignore Kia and appreciate that having a Nelson on the bench over a misspelled William was the better obvious and only option for The Royal Arsenal in Brexit Britain. For shame they failed.


  14. well fins going by Arteta’s comments he is melded to the view of sticking it out no matter what with Willian, as he trains well and also has undoubted talent, done it all in the EPL etc. I’ve said it before I do not see many of our youths being in Arteta’s long term plans, AMN, Nelson, Eddie, Willock, I just don’t see any of them being first choice starters under Mikel Arteta, I’m not sure how many poor games ESR could have before he would get dropped too. Saka has nailed a spot and is much harder to drop. I’m really not sure Arteta is going to be a coach for young players, not sure he actually can risk the mistakes young players make, he may be more jose than arsene when it comes to youth.


  15. That’s a really great read Tim! We have to dream I think.
    And Ødergaard does seem to have something about him.
    The club have made mistakes, big mistakes. Letting Wenger go, letting Wenger go without a plan. Letting Wenger go, without putting him somewhere upstairs passing him off in the process , letting Ivan, ( who I believe played ultimately a big part in wengers removal) dither before going to Milan Then Raul , Sven, Kia.
    I honestly think the crux of it, Stan made the mistake of many businessmen and mafia dons, and put the kid in charge, the kid who wanted to impress..some ..of the fans… always got the impression Stan knew what Wenger meant to this club but went against his better judgement, perhaps consumed by other priorities, who knows .
    And Rosicky, sadly those who wanted Wenger out will never apologise. I am sure they still believe they are right and always will, As for Wenger, vindicated, Wenger needs no vindication as our GOAT manager. Sorry Herb.
    But we are where we are. I desperately want Arteta to succeed. Recent more creative lineups have been better, even if some of our finishing has been poor. We could have had seven against Leeds, 3or 4 against a Benfica, Auba needs to up things. We were stitched up by the PGMOL against Wolves and villa, as we will be in coming fixtures, Leicester and Spurs spring to mind on that front. Any manager arsenal choose will have the PGMOL handicap .
    If Arteta fails, I seriously worry for this club, money grabbers and chancers might want to come , as might those who have a point to prove, but the best managers will know the poison chalice that is managing Arsenal. How do you follow Wenger, how do you beat the PGMOL and media, before you even get started on the ownership.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I see a stat from Orbinio that MO lost the ball only twice during the last game. I really dont know where they get these stats from but that simply wasnt true. He is obviously a very technecally talented player however his overall effect on the games he has played have not been amazing. I know were only two full games in but at the moment I think he is being overhyped. Just like Partey the importance to the team will start when they are grabbing matches by the balls and their performances are bigger than their names.

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  17. MO for me first just have the same initials as Mesut Ozil but also plays in the same position and has a very similar style of play.

    Whether he turns out to be as good we’ll have to wait and see. I like the look of him and he is still young and new to the team. I’m excited for him just like ESR and Saka.

    The fact that we got him to replace Ozil just confirms that he was left out for reasons beyond football.


  18. In the age of Neymar player hype and marketing counts for more then the Football. Almost. Even Darren Bent or Troy Deeney were observing that the detrimental management of the Arsenal squad early this season was not for Football reasons.
    Most Arsenal fans I know are just happy that if Nelson isn’t going to get a chance that MO is fit enough to start and ensure that the statuesque Willian is benched. Anything beyond that from MO in the months ahead would be a bonus.
    Rotations, substitutions and consequently some better luck with injuries for the rest of the season could be the key calls over the next few weeks. Big week ahead for The Arsenal. I wouldn’t complain if Willian plays ahead of Saka against City and he’s rested for the return leg but I guess that Arteta’s rivalry with Pep ensures Saka start.


  19. Just watched the West Brom game and having watched both Ainsley and Joe play much better than Willian and Pepe it is obvious we loaned out the wrong players especially when you consider wages.


  20. Liverpool have lost four consecutive home league games for the first time since 1923


  21. Everton are a very good team but once Liverpool start winning again they will go on a run and I feel they will still make top four.
    With both Manchester sides and chelski also very strong I think that’s probably your top four.
    Many would say how can you count Leicester out of that but I think they will come fifth with Everton completing the top six.
    After that you have West Ham, Villa and the spuds going for 7/8 and 9 with us a safe bet for tenth.
    Saints, Wolves and Leeds will come 11/12/and 13 in that order.
    Palace should come next as all the teams below them are worse although there is always one team who drop like a stone I hope that’s not Roy’s mob this season.
    Burnley, Brighton will stay up and that leaves Fulham and Newcastle to battle it out for the final safe place at the moment my money is on the cottagers but we’re a long way out for relegation battlers at the moment.
    West Brom, Sheffield United are definitely down.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. FT: Fulham 1-0 Sheffield Utd

    sheffield with only 13 games left and are a full 5 wins from safety, they have won just the 3 games and drawn 2 in their 25 games so far, it really does look way beyond them to stay up


  23. After today’s round of matches West Brom can no longer win the league however Fulham still can.


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