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Victory through Harmony
by Tony Attwood
We all know that sometime around June the financially discredited Barcelona will start their annual whimpering about Cesc wanting to leave Arsenal and join them. They were going to do it this month, but then one of their number started chattering about how it would happen in January when Arsenal were clearly out of the league race and Cesc was thoroughly fed up with being at a failing club.
That sort of prediction is a problem when we are still in all four trophies for which we have entered this year. Five if you include the Reserve League (where amazingly, despite filling the squad with youth players, and losing one game 10-1 when we put out virtually the under 16s and had one player sent off after five minutes) we are still equal top on points – behind on goal difference – with a game in hand). Six if you include the FA Youth Cup. Seven if you include the Ladies team. OK I’ll stop now.
These are the traditional ways of taking on the opposition – in games (although I will admit the Ladies haven’t played any league games yet – they are playing in a summer league this year). But it is looking to me as if we are moving into a world where that is no longer the prime way of winning at football. Other games are now being played.
The media have long been involved in this, telling us what is, and what is not important. Rather than saying, “here’s an interesting idea, what do you think” they tell us how we should see the world. (Actually on the Arsenal History site we recently took a look at how an Arsenal manager was involved in going a bit further and, having learned how it was being done in the US, started making up news in football. But it was a long time ago.)
The media is made up of goofs and biglesloths (a made up word to suit its made up stories), and it does give us a laugh. As the Guardian pointed out there was a lovely shot yesterday of Gareth Southgate yawning in the reflection in the studio window behind Gordon Strachan who was attempting to say the word “Nasri”. I suppose they do it in case the football is poor – although last night it wasn’t.
The problem is, people believe the media. A mate of my Celtic supporting neighbour, who is an Arsenal fan, (the mate that is, not the Celtic supporting neighbour) announced after the 10-1 reserve defeat, “that’s it, Wenger has got to go”. He was apparently quite angry and determined and vowing never to go to a match again until Mr Wenger was replaced – although I gather it didn’t matter who it was who replaced him.
I didn’t get the idea he knew exactly what happened with the 10-1 defeat, or where we were in the league, but he knew that a 10-1 reverse in a reserve game (reverse/reserve – clever eh?) was a suitable case for a sacking.
The media has been getting a spot more complex of late though. It is bad enough watching on TV Mr Winterburn sitting in a studio on Sky looking at a TV picture that we couldn’t see but which was freely available on ITV if only we could find the remote, telling us what he could see on that picture. In fact that reminded me of hearing that a person in one soap on TV (Coronation Square or West Enders or somesuch) announcing that he or she or it couldn’t go out because on TV a character in Emmerdale Council Estate (another soap) was being killed off by an evil producer on Roadcross (a soap). I think we were all invited to go to his house and do him over.
But last night it got better or worse – depending on your point of view. The Guardian (which you will know if you have been paying attention these last 320 years is my newspaper of choice) couldn’t report on the match in the normal way because Leeds has banned the Guardian from the ground for asking who owns Leeds. Actually Untold has asked this question a lot of times, but we haven’t been banned yet – but then I couldn’t get to Leeds last night anyway. But I was there last time we played them, and although that game was before I started this blog, I had expected a retrospective banning order posted through a wormhole in the fabric of space and time. But it didn’t arrive, so I didn’t go – although I could have.)
Anyway Leeds view of reality is that no one owns more than 10% of Leeds so they don’t have to declare anything to anyone, and those jolly people at the League have said they believe Mr Bates so that’s fine. Now I seem to remember Mr Bates getting slightly confused over a certain company he owned, declaring that he didn’t own it and then on having the papers put in front of him in a court case in Jersey which showed he did own it, and then saying he had got confused. And of course I may be confused with this story, one can’t tell. It was all so much easier when one just had to win a match.
But that’s not the end of it – and of course it never is.
Staying off the pitch Robbie Keane hasn’t joined Birmingham Small Heath which doesn’t really affect us but he said that the bid to buy him was a “publicity stunt.”
That’s a bit of a funny publicity stunt – but I suppose it is meant to keep the supporters happy. They said, “We could have had Keane, and we have the money – oh yes we have the money, even though rather like Leeds no one is quite sure who owns this club (Mr Yeung only has a minority holding) but in the end we didn’t.” Which is I suppose a bit like Barcelona – although after they failed to pay their players last summer they can’t do the bit about having the money.
It is a bit of a reminder of the time when that Hoddle character was in charge of the Stratford Tinies before they did or did not go east and to answer the fans’ annoyance at not buying anyone, he gave a list of six players they had almost bought. Well, five players. The last one was a cabbage.
In the Blues case Birmingham’s vice-chairman, said: “Everyone knows he is a tremendous player but having considered the overall package (one which certainly wasn’t unfair on the part of his representatives to ask for given his talent and experience), Keane’s age and the length of contract, we felt financially he wasn’t the best option available.” You can’t say fairer than that, unless of course you explain what the hell you are talking about.
This is not the first time Carson Yeung has done a Hoddle at Birmingham. He did it with Kenny Miller, (who went to Bursaspor) and Charles N’Zogbia (who took a further look at Wigan pier and decided to stay). Oh and Babel (the player not the fish), Pavlyuchenko and Dembélé. They are not, as you will have noticed, Birmingham players. But they could have been.
And there is West Porno and what they hope will soon become the Olympic Porno Arena, their proposed new home (if it doesn’t become Tinyland). They don’t want Mr Grant, so they set up Mr Hold Your Head (so named after he told all his players that if Arsenal were on the attack they should lie down and hold their heads in order to get the game stopped.) He was renamed Mr Longball after a bizarre and eccentric rant about a comment Mr Wenger was supposed to have made about the Aston Villa team he ran at the time.) He was also known as Mr Russia after he took a reserve team to the icy wastes, and deliberately got knocked out of the Uefa Cup, so he could come in fourth in the league. They came in fifth. Or was it sixth? Anyway his old club is now up for relegation and he’s on the dole.
Anyway, for reasons that have never become clear West Pornography want to have the ex-Villa man as manager even though they don’t spend money much. Mr Grant was going to be thrown away after the Arsenal game, and Mr Hold Your Head would be brought in. But he wasn’t. Now West Porn like Mr Grant again and everyone’s bemused.
Perhaps that is more of an own goal than how to take on the opposition. Or maybe it is just the way pornographers work.
So it goes these days. Winning a cup match, even playing terrific football, and leaving out several class players for much of the game (and using the man who started the season as fourth choice keeper in goal) isn’t much news any more. And why should it be when at the great empire of football – Buckie Thistle – some players had a fight (having seen Newcastle players fighting each other and being sent off – if you remember that one). Now that’s news.
Actual playing on the pitch.. .that doesn’t really matter any more. Although we do seem to have scored more goals in the league than anyone else, have the second best goal difference (just one behind the best) and have the best away record in the league. (I like that bit, because that was the foundation of the Unbeaten Season. We got the away form right first, if you remember.)
Near the top of the league, scoring more goals than our rivals, in four competitions, the Reserve League, the Youth Cup, the Ladies league – oh and I forgot, the Ladies are still in the Champions League as well. And I thought we played well last night – the numbers in the headline are shots on target.
Funny old game.
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