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October 2016
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Why 2nd and 3rd are more of a trophy than 4th, especially in 2015

By Tony Attwood

In retrospect it was a pretty dumb thought.  One of my dumbest in fact.  For it was based on the notion that something which was within the ambit of the semi-skimmed kamikaze-by-proxy fruitcakes who run football would be sensible.

And yet somehow after this season’s tough start with players drifting back over a number of weeks due to the world cup nonsense, I had hoped that the summer of 2015 would be one of those interregnum periods in which by and large we didn’t lose most of our players, and everyone could go and have a little break.

Oh what a silly old man I am turning out to be.

For it is a truth universally acknowledged that if there is something incredibly stupid that a group of very rich people can do which involves a football, then the operators of Premier League clubs with combine with Uefa and Fifa to do it.

And indeed do it now, on the basis that they should have done it last year, but somehow were dissuaded by a swarm of passing pterodactyls with somewhat superior IQs than they.

Allow me t0 explain.

Back in the old days, the days before the Premier League, when the world was barely formed and huge antelopes swamed in the warm shores of the Pacific Ocean as it lapped to coast of Cambridge, football clubs would go on post-season tours, allowing expectant young men the chance to see how primitive the rest of the world was, and show off their stuff in far-off Copenhagen and Vienna.

Such tours vanished from the calendars by the end of the last century and were replaced by pre-season events in which matches are arranged on Lunar Outposts dotted around the Sea of Tranquillity, while cities in the USA host 30 minute each way matches with six breaks in each quarter for TV commercials.

But now the Brave New World of pre-season tours has been disrupted as the post-season tour is back.   Arsène Wenger has expressed his relief that Arsenal will not be involved.

“I am quite pleased with that because pre-season is always a difficult time to prepare well,” he said. “The commercial pressures are difficult but you want to find a compromise. We cannot ignore anymore the worldwide reputation and I would say [a tour] is more PR than finances.

“I hope we can benefit from keeping our tour short. In recent years, I was always worried that we had a qualifier for the Champions League so let’s first make sure that we don’t need that, and then we’ll see. It is interesting that we have only one week to dedicate to a tour.”

So for Arsenal it will be two games in Singapore (our first visit since 1991) in the Barclays Asia Trophy on 15-18 July, where we shall be involved alongside the mighty Stoke City (emergency medical teams at the ready) and Everton in the newly built 55,000-capacity National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

What Arsenal also looked into was a trip to India, and for a while it really looked like that would happen.   Mr Wenger said of that,  “I would love to go to India personally because I have never been with a team. It is a country that opens to football, but we could not find a way. We looked into it.”

So far, so moderately sane.  But take a wander up the Seven Sisters Road and all is not quite so on-this-planet.

Tottenham Hotspur have a post-season tour; they play in Malaysia on 27 May and Australia on 30 May.

Chelsea have talked about a post-season tour to Japan to celebrate the club’s new £40m-a-season shirt sponsorship deal with Yokohama Rubber.

The plan is that their players who play in Euro qualifiers between 12 and 14 June would go to the post season games, and then trot back and team up with their countries for friendlies and qualifiers.

Chelsea (and Man United) are also expecting to go for a jolly in the United States, with Chelsea also hoping to fill in the occasional thursday afternoon with matches once more in the Far East pre-season, while Manchester City and Liverpool go to Australia at around the same time.  Liverpool, representing all that is honest and straightforward in football are also taking in Malaysia.

But that is not all for the post-season.  England play Slovenia in Euro 2016 on 14 June.  The Copa América is also on from 11 June to 4 July in Chile and that means Ospina and Alexis will be busy until then, and fly back home in time for pre-season training.  Knowing our luck Gabriel will be selected for Brazil.  The season in England starts on 8 August.

Mr Wenger says he voted against this.  “I opposed the early start because I preferred to play one more game over Christmas because everybody has the squad that can deal with it and give the players a real rest in the summer.

“They voted to start early in August and that is a bit of a nightmare… That is after a season where you have had no winter break. I don’t see where you go from there to give the players a proper rest. It is impossible. You have had no rest in the winter; now the decision is no rest in the summer, either.”

All of which means that players who don’t play for their countries are once again increasing in value, and we need to get in as many of those as we can.

In fact, the way things are going, I suspect it won’t be long before players say, “Pay me another £10,000 a week and I will tell my country I am retiring from internationals.”

But to return to the headline – with all this going on, what we really really don’t want is to have to play another Champs League qualifier in August.


 Two international events on this day in 

14 April 1934: Frank Moss makes his international debut. When Arsenal bought him he was a reserve goal keeper for second division Preston.  He played in three consecutive title winning seasons.

Also on 14 April 1934: Cliff Bastin scored for England against Scotland – six years after playing his first game ever – for Exeter Reserves against Bath City

Untold Arsenal


21 comments to Why 2nd and 3rd are more of a trophy than 4th, especially in 2015

  • nicky

    Apart from PR I’ve never understood the value of these Far East tours. They are one mad rush for a few days, in dodgy climates, with all sorts of diseases and infections about.
    (no disrespect to the countries concerned).
    I much prefer the old days when the Flat Earth Society advised football clubs never to fly to places like Australia and New Zealand for fear of over-shooting and falling off the edge of the earth.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    And when pre-season tour was catching some beach football, with some bit of beach volleyball thrown in for the wife or wag, at some place no farther than the beaches of Majorca.

  • finsbury

    The minor hack dwarf Henry Winter has launched another attack upon the practices and policies of Arsenal Football Club.

    Such a shame that he chose to ignore simple observations that could be made by anyone unfortunate enough to have read his gibberish:

    A) Coquelin has in fact been an arsenal player for several years. Greg “U have to be Kippong” Dyke calls for more Harry Kanes, yet here we have the contradictory and self-demeaning spectacle of Winter trying and failing to attack the AFC manager for not having flogged off a young player who suffered a bad injury setback from an unpunished and uncalled hack in his last game against Gazprom-upon-Fulham (the uncalled hack from Ramires that led to a goal against and and an injury – same old same old, you’d have thought a journalist would’ve spotted the pattern…).

    Coquelin played well that day and was a loss when he came off.
    What can we say regarding the level of confirmation bias on display from so many regarding Coquelin being te player “we always said Arsenal needed” that ignores what happened to this very same “gritty” player that arsenal have missed for so many years when you have hopelessly biased officals tilting and bending the pitch?

    It’s almost as if they are very much choosing to inhabit an alternative hyper-realit, led by the nose by transparent charlatans like Winter who have proven time after time that they know nothing of Fpotball, an alternative reality that bears no resemblance to events on the football pitch itself.

    And also edits out any stories about any math-fixing cases currently ongoing in the UK away from the back pages and headlines of the 24/7 Sports Media.

    Um, what does “Omertà” mean?

  • finsbury



    “I saw he (Coquelin) made huge improvements in training so I sent him on loan for match practice.”

    AW Jan 2015

    Fairly obvious, and easy to understand for a sports journalist you’d hope. I mean it’s not as if he’s discussing an athletic sport here, is it?

    What value such Gibberish? Is it really worth humiliating oneself in public by writing such tripe in order to put food in your mouth? It’s enough to make you almost feel sorry for these pitiful hacks. Almost.

  • Rantetta

    Spot on, and thanks, Finsbury.

    Have you considered sending your excellent summary to the a Telegraph, or its comments page?

  • finsbury

    C) Coquelin’s early season u21 games are still probably up on the .com and if Mr.Winter felt tempted to use his shovel to help him with his hole he could have a look: games in which Coquelin could be seen to be playing without the same focus etc. on display as now. Almost as if his coach in the above quote (b) was correct and that he did, clearly, need the games? It’s a thought…remind me did Harry Kane have some games in the Europa cup to help settle in before he became a regular PL starter this season or did he just magically appear in the Spuds first elven? What would Greg “I’m just the man for he job” Dyke or Nigel “I’ll make your flesh crawl” Farage say? How long has Mr.Winter been a 24/7 Fooball Plundit/ Hack-Dwarf?

  • finsbury

    Cheers Ranty.

    In answer, no! They’ll be along to have look here no doubt! 😉

  • finsbury

    Ryan Giggsy retired from international football.

    Would would be the public reaction from the likes of, well, Mr.Winter, if Bale and Ramsey flat out refused to play for Wales? Would Mr.Winter out of fear of his Lord and Master, Sir Slurgus, would he wimper and stay silent? I wonder? Let’s be fair, I don’t need to wonder for too long!

    Football, as happened in Cricket, is now having the yearly schedule completely saturated by broadcasters (& agents) who only see players as cattle and not athletes or even human. We know that the broadcasters don’t care about the fans (if in doubt you can go to Wemberlee this weekend…) and it seems through the exercise of rational observation that they also don’t care about the athletes. In cricket players now chop and choose tournaments to play in etc. because they have no choice.

    The same is already happening in football. E.g.: Yaya Toure had a simple choice in a post WC season. Go and play in the AFCON and come back cream crackered, or to drop out the AFCON this season and focus on the club side…and not win the AFCON for Ivory Coast for the first time. But of course according to such grit arsed experts as Mr. Henry Winter, Toure is probably just being “lazy” at the moment, not like the slipping Gerrard who is genetically incapable of being “lazy” which only happens with the likes of Toure or Özil (it is, what it is!). Never mind the obvious benefit to any players who’ve had a mini-rest this season that can be seen at any club!

  • Rantetta

    If I covet my brothers wife and take out a super injunction, will I become and remain a national longevity hero?

    If i hit the disco and hit the DJ, will I escape sanction and become England captain?

    If I verbalise my dislike for people who look different, and my family are a tad dysfunctional (whose aren’t?), will I potentially remain England captain?

    If I play for an honest team that plays beautiful football, and opponents regularly stamp upon my limbs, will I be lauded as “Brittle ankled” and ‘holding onto/running with the ball too much’ and therefore a perennial “sick note”, given such acts are “non infringements”?

    Noooooo – you’ll be an evil bass-turd – because you smoked a ciggy…

    My Son.

  • finsbury

    So, let me get this straight:

    If Coquelin is in fact THE player that AFC have needed for so long then it goes without saying that it’s not up to the players to protect the players on the pitch? Right? That is the referee’s job. Always has been always will be. It’s why referees were invented in the first place.
    Now that we have established that simple understanding of this sport I look forward to the AAA bearing that in mind for the future…never mind the hack-dwarves like Winter after all we know from their own words that they are now no more then just cattle herders for ranchers like Mendez and their Mules like Mangala 🙂

  • Gord

    On a tangent (secant?) to Finsbury. Richard Kilty has challenged Hector and Theo to a race.

    There is a money number mentioned. If they were to have such a race, I would prefer the money go to charity.

  • Pat

    Finsbury and Rantetta – how true!

  • Notoverthehill

    Finsbury,an upmarket newspaper descends to the tabloids, when it comes to football?

    Winter, is the buffoon who tweeted the Bolton chairman, “up Cahill’s transfer to £30 millions”, when Wenger calls.

    It is the idiots, who are calling Mr Wenger lucky with Coquelin emergence. Why was Coquelin retained whilst Frimpong and Lansbury were given free transfers?

    Trash like Winter, do not undertake research.

  • finsbury

    I wouldn’t describe the Telegraph as upmarket!

    I don’t expect them to undertake any research but i do expect a petty plundit to know what a football is 🙂

  • goonersince72

    Whatever break the squad can get this summer, even if only a week, will help. They’ll be fighting in 4 competitions and likely the Community Shield. Should be enough for a team whose manager ‘lucked’ into his squad, as that a***-wipe from the Telegraph revealed to us.

  • Paulie099

    If Arsenal win the FA cup and finish 2nd in the league there isn’t one Arsenal fan that could complain or at least should not after the start We had especially with injuries again. I know United fans will go on about their own poor start but bearing in mind they spent over 145 million on players and that doesn’t even include Falcao who is costing them over half a million a WEEK all in they would have expected a top 4 place at the very least, outside of that and they lose 25 percent of their sponsorship income for failing to reach the CL again and that in turn would have probably meant a 3rd manager to start the new season 3 years running so I’d suppose they have done well with that pressure. Man.City have under achieved but you can’t help but think that both the restrictions placed on them by the FFP and also other teams improvement was just as much to blame. Liverpool and the Spuds have been the real disappointments, Liverpool obviously lost Saurez and that alone is good enough to put them out of the picture and the Spuds appeared to put all of their transfer window eggs into the Schneiderlin basket somehow forgetting that United, Liverpool and Arsenal had already pilfered most of their players. With all of that is it any wonder that Chelsea stole a march especially with the easiest opening fixtures which Mourinho himself probably couldn’t have hand picked better, hardly any major injury concerns and being clever in the transfer market again.

  • Gord

    Continuing on my tangent.

    I don’t agree with a bet for money. I think a bet where charity gets money is better.

    Maybe make a big off-season thing out of it?

    So far, Kilty seems to be the only true sprinter looking for this.

    I don’t think it is useful or fair, that only Bellerin and Walcott represent football. I think other speedsters in football should be drafted in.

    Are there people in rugby, Gaelic, Aussie rules, gridiron of similar speed to include? Others.

    Kilty runs on tracks, with timing setups that have been worked on for years. Football probably runs on grass.

    I don’t know how interested Arsenal is in this story, I’ll assume they are somewhat interested. I don’t think having a straight line sprint at the Emirates/Wenger stadium is going to wear out or damage the field. Potentially, you could have 60-70 athletes all running in a single sprint. Thinking lengthwise, but a 40m race could fit widthwise as well, which could accommodate about 100 sprinters.

    Football players all need a summer break. Arsenal is to go to Singapore to avoid getting legs broken by Stoke, and after that return to London for the Emirates Cup. Let’s say this sprint happens 2 days before the Emirates Cup starts?

    There are lots of speedsters in football (I’m including rugby, Aussie rules, Gaelic, Hurley and gridiron), might there be 80-90 willing to sprint for charity? How many top sprinters (100m or shorter) would want to compete? I’m guessing 10-20. It’s a 5 second event. I would imagine there could be lots of advertising interest. If 10% of the sprinters are from sprinters, perhaps charities associated with sprinting get 20% of the donation (30%? 40%?), and then the various kinds of football split their part by how their athletes do?

    I suspect Emirates/Wenger stadium already has very good video, and all the athletes/teams involved will get useful data out of analysis.

    This is mid April, as I am proposing this is end July. Which is giving the sprinting community about 2-2.5 months to learn how to start on grass (instead of track).

    And hopefully, everyone has fun and nobody gets injured.

  • Rich

    Finsbury, probably too late for me to comment on this one now, but I can see Winter’s tripe pissed you off even more than it did me, which is saying something.

    For me, there is no question Wenger comes in for very special treatment from the football press- whose normal standards are, on the whole, low- and the only question is why?

    I’ve considered a vast number of reasons over the years, ranging from fact or thereabouts to more speculative stuff *, and yesterday I was again reminded of one of the simplest explanations of all : plenty of the animosity could have as its source Wenger’s decency.

    ‘Arsene is almost too good to be true. You would not expect somebody like him in a business like football. He is such a respectable decent person.’. . The quote is an old one, from Willi Lemke, general manager of Werder Bremen at the time, soon after he had flown to Japan to try and get Wenger to leave his new post early and take over at Bremen. A better job for Wenger, but he wasn’t willing to leave the club he had recently joined in the lurch. Similarly, he didn’t force his way out in his first job, Nancy, despite Monaco, a much better assignment, being lined up. He also accepted Monaco’s decision to refuse to allow him to leave for Bayern.

    Those are facts (unless you can believe Wenger is the Keyser Soze of world football and that people who appear to have nothing to gain from doing so have been lying on his behalf), and of particular interest should be a glowing reference from someone, the Bremen guy, he had just disappointed.

    Why would decency, over time, create serious dislike? On the face of it, the decent person shouldn’t bother the immoral or amoral working in his field, so long as he doesn’t directly confront them nor harm their ability to operate as they want to. But it doesn’t seem to work like that in life.

    When two game-players interact or clash there are some unofficial rules which guide what they say and do, as well as a tacit understanding that they are only,after all, playing, no matter how roughly. It’s unlikely to be taken too personally and certain lines are unlikely to be crossed, generally you stay respectful of someone with equal or more power than you (it might be a game, but it’s a serious one and they’ll look to use their power and harm you if you don’t stay in line and respect hierarchy. Recalled loans from Peterborough, for instance).

    A clash between a decent person ,guided by principles, and a game-player has a very different format. The decent person goes wherever their principles take them, and this means that lines are crossed, and, more importantly, attention is drawn, for anyone who can see and cares to look, not merely on something like poor behaviour and hypocrisy, but to the inherent falseness of the game-players, to the fact that they are game-players. That is unforgivable, and will inspire fierce and lasting enmity. If you want to avoid it, you go for the post-match drinks, you give the press the one-on-one’s they desire, you play the game.

    * e.g Winter wrote books on Ferguson and Mourinho. What do you have to do to secure those gigs? Do the relationships end with the completion of the books?

  • finsbury

    Rich, didn’t piss me off, I never read it! Why read click bait?

    We understand that Mr.Winter’s objections to AFC’s solvent and transparent business practices are purely political even of he doesn’t have the courage to admit it.

  • Rich


    You’re right (about not reading that stuff) and I’m getting better at it.

    There are a few I now avoid, and it seems Winter should definitely be added to the list.