By Tony Attwood
So just another interlull week in terms of football news (although of course certainly not in terms of anything else).
Using the lovely archaic language that the press indulge in these days, Cesc Fábregas’ statement that Chelsea’s season is fucked was described by one over-extended journalist as a “foul mouthed rant”. An interesting use of the word rant, which my dictionary defines as “speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way.” Mind you I suppose “Chelsea’s season is fucked” being four words long, is speaking at length for some newspapers.
Goal.com was particularly amusing on the subject going for, “Chelsea’s form this season has been nothing short of woeful, and his foul-mouthed assessment of the season up until now reveals that the players are suffering from a huge dip in morale.”
Which contrasts with “Cesc Fabregas has signed for Chelsea and in doing so has left Arsenal fans distraught. Many accuse Arsene Wenger for not exercising the option to buy back the Spanish playmaker,” which was published by … goal.com when the signing happened.
Of course any mention of Fábregas reminds us of the wild ravings of many a pressman when Arsenal did not re-sign a player who signed an eight year contract in 2006, and then in 2011 jumped ship and went to the child traffickers. The man had already shown what his word and signature was worth, and the gibberish about Barcelona being in his DNA was just… gibberish.
The Independent at the time of Fábregas’ attempt to wheedle his way back into Arsenal said that Arsenal should sign him, “Not just from an on-field perspective, not just because the former captain was desperate to join his former club, but because it would have been a massive statement of intent from a club who had just won their first piece of silverware and were on the verge of signing Alexis Sanchez.”
That however was mild compared with what happened after the signing for relegation threatened Chelsea: “Arsenal fans should aim anger at Arsène Wenger, not Cesc Fábregas”. This was from Toby Moses who is Deputy Production Editor for Guardian Sport, and writes on technology and apps for the Observer’s New Review. Reading on you might wonder if it is safe to take any technological advice from a man whose judgement two years ago was…
“The anger is understandable, the fans have been fed a diet of hope for tomorrow for years – when the stadium’s paid off, when the new sponsorship deals kick in –well tomorrow is now, yet still another top player is allowed to slip by.
“And not just any player. This is a player brought to Arsenal at the age of 16 from Barcelona’s youth academy, who Wenger groomed, and introduced straight in to the first team. He may not have won much – the sole FA Cup medal from his time at the club was in his breakthrough season in 2004-5 – but he carried Arsenal through the lean years, scoring and setting up countless goals over his eight years in London. Wenger rebuilt the entire system of the club around his star man, moving from the 4-4-2 he had always enjoyed success with to a Barça-style 4-3-3 with which he won nothing (this season’s FA Cup triumph only happened when Wenger reverted to 4-4-2 at 2-1 down).”
“Fábregas never made any secret of his desire to return to Spain and his hometown club – and the fans respected him for that – it would be understandable under any circumstances, but Barcelona were cleaning up and Arsenal were battling for fourth; he’d have been mad not to want to head back to Catalunya. If the way he left in 2011 left a bitter taste in the mouths of some – a pre-season “strike” and a knock-down fee – the fact that a first option was included in the deal and that Fábregas claimed he’d only ever return to England with Arsenal softened the blow, and seemed another piece of great Wenger business. That illusion has now been shattered.”
Although that is certainly not “foul mouthed” it most certainly is a rant and contains some very odd statements such as “Fábregas never made any secret of his desire to return to Spain and his hometown club – and the fans respected him for that.” Apart from why you would sign an eight year contract if you wanted to go “home” the fact is that the writer doesn’t say “some” fans, but “fans”. All fans. And the evidence for that?
Ah, no, just realised. No evidence based journalism here. This guy writes on technology and apps and you know what IT is like. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t – at least not how it is supposed to. The non-foul mouthed rant continued…
Looking at his performance and potential contribution, Wenger seems to have got it all wrong about his former player.
“When he left we bought [Mesut] Ozil to buy an offensive player,” Wenger explained at his press conference. “We have [Santi] Cazorla, we have [Jack] Wilshere, we have [Aaron] Ramsey, we have [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, who are all offensive players. “
Wenger’s argument is folly. Bar Jack Wilshere, those other players are not comparable to Fabregas; the 27-year-old may have played in a second striker role or on the wing at Barcelona and for Spain, with the great Xavi occupying the central role, but since joining the Blues Fabregas has played in a deep-lying role – the position he flourished in, which Wenger seems to forget, at Arsenal.
In a sense the IT man is right – those other players are not comparable to Fabregas. I mean, to compare Fábregas with Mesut Özil is just lunatic. But of course in the world of IT you can compare make believe with… well, make believe.
Anyway moving on with the interlull news, “Alexis Sanchez an injury doubt for Chile’s battle against Uruguay with calf knock” shouts the Mail. “Alexis Sanchez faces a race to be fit for Chile’s World Cup 2018 qualifier against Uruguay on Tuesday after feeling a pain in his calf. The Arsenal striker is touch and go to play in Montevideo in a meeting of the last two winners of Copa America and a decision will be made before the game. ”
Don’t you just love this phraseology. I mean, have you ever been in a “race to be fit” or be “tough and go to play”.
What a strange world these people live in.
‘Alexis has a pain in his calf and we will wait for him until the last minute to see if he is ready to play,’ Chile manager Jorge Sampaoli said.
Let’s hope that the injury means he can’t play for Chile but is fine for the West Brom game. But now moving on…
West Ham fans have their flag removed at England game as crossed irons are a ‘racist symbol’
That is the headline in today’s Independent and is followed by the statement that, “A group of travelling supporters had their flags confiscated by Spanish authorities after England’s defeat to Spain and were told it carried a ‘racist symbol’ – the crossed irons of West Ham United.”
Apparently the owners of the flag were then told that “if they claimed ownership of any of the flags they would face a £3,000 fine for displaying a political or racist banner at the game and that the flag would still not be returned to them.” What we call a lose-lose situation then.
Having had the banner removed during the game the supporters then went to the officials entrance, and were apparently threatened with removal. But FA Chairman Greg Dyke and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor emerged and attempted to help. The supporters then said,
“When they came, they heard the commotion and, to be fair, asked what the issue was. With a roll of the eyes, as no doubt they have seen this all before, they walked back into the stadium to try and get more information. They came back around five minutes later saying they had spoken to someone and confirmed the Spanish chief of police had ordered the removal of all of the flags because they carried a ‘racist symbol’.”
Now the telling in the Indy is one of English people behaving normally and reasonably and stupid foreigners making things up as they go along. It harks back to the 1960s when large numbers of English people started to go abroad for holidays (instead of Blackpool and Skegness) and found themselves “forced” to take their own cornflakes with them because “you can’t get a decent breakfast abroad”.
But there’s a greater problem here as the symbol these guys used is the official new badge of the State Aid Stadium into which the club moves next season (but only one day a fortnight you understand, hence the low rent and the state paying all the fees).
“Not at any point did anyone from the Spanish side speak with us, nor at any point prior to travelling were we told our flags may have been deemed offensive,” said one of the State Aid Utd supporters. “This stinks of a typical attitude towards the travelling England fans that we encounter on a regular basis.”
So funny foreigners being difficult? In fact although the West Ham symbol is not the “iron cross” of course, it is “crossed irons” and in some countries there is a link to fascism with the traditional WHU symbol which dates from their foundation as Thames Ironworks just across the river from Woolwich Arsenal.
The issue is not one of freedom of speech (or perhaps freedom of symbolism) in the UK because the symbol doesn’t have any strong fascist associations these days apart, but if you are going to invent or develop a symbol, and you are going to use it abroad it might be worth checking it first.
West Ham devised their new badge last year, with it to be adopted in time for the state aid stadium move. It removes the Boleyn Castle which has been on the badge for a long time, but includes the crossed irons and the word London. Green Street House, where Thames Ironworks was set up, was known as Boleyn Castle because of its structure and association with Anne Boleyn.
But this is what you get when you throw out your history. You create a new symbol, seek a certain pre-eminence by sticking the word London on the badge, and then next thing you know, your flags are removed in Spain.
Funny ol’ world.
The anniversaries – a good day to play Tottenham
- 17 November 1902: Woolwich Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1. London League Premier Division. The result saw Arsenal firmly in place at the top of the league after five straight victories.
- 17 November 2001: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1. League match 12 of the third Double season. Pirès put Arsenal ahead on 81 minutes but Tottenham equalised in the fourth minute of injury time.
- 17 November 2012: After defeat to Man U and home draw with Fulham, Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2. The games came from Mertesacker, Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and Walcott.
Meanderings from the History Society….
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 1: the re-birth of the club. 1969/70
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 2: preparing for the impossible. (July to December 1970)
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 3: The Golden Treble
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 4: What went so right in 1971, and why did it then go so wrong?