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The road is long and tricky: reactions to the pre-season games

Untold Arsenal on Twitter  @UntoldArsenal

By Walter Broeckx

Apparently all is over.

On July 16 2011 we have lost all and everything. The U10 brigade is throwing up barricades around the Emirates and are preparing themselves to drive the “money grabbing board”, “the manager that has lost it” (and this is one of the nicest ways of putting it) and all the “useless players” out.

The U10 brigade will replace them with all the world class football players that money can buy. You now the mercenary type of player. Maybe they could bring Adebayor back at some stage?  They will contact Mr Usmanov for giving us all the money we can dream of. Neglecting and forgetting the small minor detail that it was Usmanov who a while ago was the only person who has a few shares of Arsenal who suggested that some part of the profits might be paid to the shareholders.  (Although he is also a firm supporter of Arsenal Fan Share).

And why is the U10 brigade in such a state? Because we couldn’t win our second pre-season game. Now that is quite shocking. And further more the fact that we conceded a goal means that this team is heading for further failure.

Now if we think back some 12 months ago we won all our pre-season games. The U10 brigade dismissed those results and said they counted for nothing. And for once they were right. It is nice to win in pre-season but it counts for nothing. Of course we like Arsenal to win each game. But I rather have a not that good result in pre-season than in the league.

And if we think of last summer we can remember that even Manchester United and Chelsea even lost a few games in pre-season. But it didn’t stop them from finishing first and second last season. So yes the results in pre-season count for nothing.

Now I’m not going to say that we played a brilliant game against Greentown last Saturday. No far from it. We started way too slow and the opposition was very determined to give us nothing at all. I had the impression they played like it was a league game. Including taking a lot of time before restarting the game when the ball was out of play.  It looked as if they came for one point. And as they are in the middle of their league competition it could well be that they focussed on the game as if it was a league game and a good way to get yourself in the picture. I think for Arsenal it was just a game on the road to full fitness.

And are we fully fit for the moment? Well I don’t think so. We only got back training for one week and I don’t think that we did much training sessions on board of the long flights to Asia. A few show trainings in Asia, two games and lots of other obligations for the players.

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So at times it looked more like a group holiday to Asia with some training and two games attached to it. One has to do something to raise your revenue but I really wonder if this is what Wenger really wants to prepare the season. I just cant help but feel that Wenger would have liked the more silent environment of the Austrian Alps.  But things are what they are and so we went, tried to make more friends, try to raise some money and most of all tried to stay away from injuries. And this mission has succeeded so far.

But for some reason the U10 has changed it point of view on friendly games this season and not winning (just imagine losing one) a pre-season game is now a complete disaster. Okay it wasn’t our best game. In fact we played a very poor first 20 minutes. We came out with no passion and not a lot of fighting spirit. You know the pre-season friendly game atmosphere as you see it from top teams. The “okay, who are we playing today?” attitude which can be costly when playing a team that is ready for it.

And if you look at some players performances one can say they were poor. Van Persie is far away from his last season form. And this is great news. Just imagine he was on fire now. That would be ultimate disaster. No, Robin should be on fire in a month time. Who cares if he loses possession against Greentown or misses a chance? This is why this is PREseason. The time of the season where players get the time to get ready for more important games. The same goes for a lot of players in fact.

Another thing is that the younger players are more willing to show some fight. This is natural as they know they have to impress Wenger more. Let’s face it a Van Persie (like any other top player) will be able to spend some more time to reach his best form. Unlike a player like Vela who has to show from the start that he can be played. So you sometimes get in those games a mixture of half the team trying to impress the manager and the other half just trying to get more fitter and avoid injuries. I think this is one of the reasons why in the second half with more younger players on the pitch we played much better.

If our strikers would have been a bit more in form we would have won the game. Their keeper didn’t do too bad, so at the end of the day it was a disappointing result. But will this result have any influence on the EPL this season? No, the only result is a rise of blood pressure by those who want to feel bad when we don’t beat the opposition with a big score line.

It’s always nicer to win all your games. Even the friendly games in pre-season. But I will not go over board and say the world comes to an end because we couldn’t win a friendly game. I will leave that for the U10 fans.

Now we will be starting with the real work and train in London and really start preparing the season. Next stop will be Cologne. And I will be there as it is not that far away from where I live. Just a 2 hour drive in fact. So looking forward to see us play in the flesh for the first time this season. Against a tough opposition. I will be ready to show my colours. So come on boys just show that we are The Arsenal. Oh, and Basil don’t mention the war.

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29 comments to The road is long and tricky: reactions to the pre-season games

  • rusty


    I think you’re being *far* too generous here — there’s no way the U10s bothered to actually watch the friendly vs Hangzhou.

    They just saw the scoreline (probably didn’t even click on the match report to see which players didn’t perform and need to be sold on) and went straight to the blogs.

    Thanks for putting in the time to make an informed comment!

  • bob

    As for the Untolds vs the Untenables (U10s), I’m keen to put into play, for all to digest, an Untold Media watch-worthy and fair-minded piece from today’s Guardian by football writer Jamie Jackson. It’s an evidence-based report/analysis/calculus on why and how Cesc’s best interests may well lie, at least for this season, if not another one or two, in staying with Arsenal:

  • nicky

    A bit of a confusing blog, if I may say so.
    A pre-season pair of games of no real consequence…..but against the Chinese “we started far too slow”.
    Some of the players’ “performances were poor but if our strikers had been on form we would have won the game.It was a disappointing result”.
    Sorry Walter but I thought our performance and the result of both games were totally meaningless in every sense of the word. A long flight into unusual conditions, limited training and two games using 20-odd players per match with a flight home in the evening of the second game.
    Apart from “showing the flag” and some financial benefit, a total waste of time which contributed nothing towards essential pre-season preparation.
    I hope we have learnt a lesson….forget these 10day jaunts. The odd tropical ailment and/or an injury being too risky.

  • Shard


    Perhaps the one thing the TEAM took back from the Asian experience, was knowing that fans still believe in them. I know, not that big a deal really (and I’m sure some people will come out with the fans in Asia are not real fans spiel), but it just might be that some positive reinforcement from fans would actually be the tonic that the players needed after the way last season ended and all the negativity that surrounded them from all fronts.

  • nicky

    I must say I’d never thought of that one. I don’t know what effect the overseas fans had on our lads, but their support and enthusiasm couldn’t be faulted.

  • Edda

    It really is exciting times, less than a month to go now and less than two weeks untill i get to be at Emirates and “the only trophy we can win”… I havent decided if its annoying or funny all this negativity surrounding Arsenal this summer. On one side i am really not that pessimistic, even if we went into the season without any more signings i would be quite positive, i would prefer 1 more centreback, but if TV and Kos can stay fit i would be ok with Bartley as a 3rd and Djorou as 4th choice at centreback, any other position i cannot see that we can get many MUCH better players than we already have… But what makes med abit annoyed about this negativity is that i have a real concern about it effecting the club from inside. If if makes AW grumpy and the players uncertain about their quality it really can hurt us this season, but if the low expectations can make the players work harder to prove people wrong it actually can be a good thing. The one good thing about the Asia trip is that it seemed a good bonding event between the players, just a pity Cesc didnt go…

  • Adam

    What is U10?

  • AnT

    As Ivan G. said in the website, the trip can bring something psychologically to the players, one of them as Shard said earlier. Another one I can think of is as what Arshavin said. The trip’s like something a group vacation that can help players to know what it means to be together to achieve something at the end of the season, not only for themselves but also for the fans. Well, it sounds too ideal, but as a fan, that would be great. 🙂

    By the way, I will be in Cologne this weekend. Hope to see some of you there. It’s gonna be my first date with Arsenal. Hope it will be entertaining not as my other first dates. 😉

  • Mandy dodd

    Just sometimes, these u10s are spuds in disguise. Maybe these types are a bit upset to the start of their own pre season?

  • WalterBroeckx

    I will be also there with 2 of my sons and a girlfriend. Well of one of my sons of course. 😉
    We have bought standing tickets for this one as this is a real opportunity to support them standing up. In fact it is from 1979 that I have been standing at an Arsenal game. Hope my back can still have it. 🙂

    Are you German by the way? As I have met a German Gooner in Liège two seasons ago when we played them in the CL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The youth team Adam…

  • AnT

    Hi Walter,
    I’ll be there alone. Well, actually my wife and daughter will come with me to Cologne, but Arsenal is not their stuff, at least not now. 😉
    I live in Germany but not a German, my German language doesn’t allow me. 🙂
    I’ll be at block O2. So perhaps we can meet somewhere there.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have tickets for the Nordtribune block N6.
    Well if you recognise me from the picture just drop in to say hello. I’m the grey one… oh no wait a minute… 🙂
    I don’t know if there is anything to drink over there but if so we could drink something.
    And even though “German beer is chemical free” I don’t drink it. 😉 But anything else will do.

    We plan to be there early. I don’t know if there is a lot of parking place near to the ground or not so not taking any risks

  • goonergerry

    Well yes you have a point-it was fitness-and the conditions are difficult in China-maybe our itinerary didn’t help-but it is fitness mainly- and the result should not be taken too seriously. The defence did not look too good at times though- reminiscent of the last 3 months of last season.
    Perhaps the under tens can see the writing on the wall (maybe its too small for you to read).

  • sad

    @nicky overseas fans seem far better than the home fans. If all Arsenals matches were played infront of overseas fans we would have won the league. The English fans are so dead. The true Arsenal fans of today , the ones that care and suppor their team 100% are from overseas.
    I think the conclusion must be that whatever mayhem the idiotic home fans come up with, the team will always know there are millions of fans around the world lovign them.

  • sad

    is Cologne Koln?

  • bob

    so right you are. even some of our players are, well, from overseas! let a thousand flowers bloom, as someone used to say.

  • Ed

    I don’t know if the Mediawatch has picked this up already… but i thought this was hilarious from the Arsenal fans in China. Perfectly sums up all our thoughts!

  • walter


    Cologne and Koln is the same. A bit funny I think that the English write the name in French. Must be from the “eau” I think. Or Wenger his influence. 😉
    Over here we call it “Keulen” and sometimes we can even hear it “thundering in Keulen”, which is an old idiom in my part of the world.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Meanwhile the youngsters are touring the home counties absolutely battering local sides. I hope some of them get a chance to impress, especially the defenders as they seem to cope a lot better with set pieces and aerial bombardment.

  • Arvind

    @sad: I think that is true. I am not sure if I should bring in a ‘country’ angle here but its an interesting one. On this board and many others I’ve noticed that a lot of the Indian and dare I say Asian supporters tend to give Arsenal a much longer rope than say the West? Obviously forget the AAA and U10 who exist here as well, but the loyal supporters..of not only AFC but any club… tend to stick to their team. No, I am not trying to turn this into a ‘East vs West’ debate..far from it, but its just an observation I made over the lat couple of years now. Is it a culture thing? Or am I just hallucinating 🙂

  • walter

    Agree Woolwich peripatetic,
    I would love to see Bartley giving a chance in the next games. He could be all that we need in a centre back. Tall, strong and mostly raised in Bolton (or was it Blackburn – too lazy to look it up right now) so this should bring us something extra… 😉
    and it would be cheap…

  • zdzis

    @nicky: the pre-season games are meant to let the players readjust to the game. As Walter said, the young up-and-coming are there to run the show, and the settled starting XI players are mostly going through the motions. But that doesn’t mean the games are useless. They are useful for adjusting and learning tactical stuff, positioning, etc. Because of the quality of the opposing teams, and the meaninglessness of the score, the players can feel totally at ease, lose the ball, fail a pass, etc., because there are virtually no consequences. They should be ready for the key games, not for the pre-season. In other words, while the games don’t matter, they are still useful. And, of course, you can still evaluate any team’s performance, regardless of whether they strutted all their stuff or merely sat back and waited for the final whistle.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I was only able to follow the 9-0 demolition of Hastings on Twitter (thanks Jamie/YoungGuns) but one of the things that made me chuckle was:
    “Banfield doing a lot of shouting from the touchline. Not happy, despite the 5-0 scoreline and total domination of the ball.”

    Woking gave them much more of a game, apparently the first ten minutes was a ceaseless aerial bombardment (think Stoke) with Shea being tested.

    Now I know that these are only small clubs and it’s only our reserve XI but they seem to be much more organised defensively.

  • Notoverthehill

    The trip to the Far East was first and last about commercial revenue earning opportunities in the Far East. The majority of the world’s population is living there and is the future manufacturing centre for the minority living elsewhere.

    I believe the real deal at the moment is that Mr Gazidis and Mr Wenger where given the chance of a real pow-wow away from The Emirates and London Colney. The pow-wow was the chance of drawing up the blueprint for The Arsenal to dominate the EPL and beyond. Forewarned is forearmed and foresight is not in the vocabulary of the moaners and groaners.

  • AnT

    Walter, I think you’ll be the one who will easily find me. I will just tackle someone from behind outside the stadium and see who will give the red card. 😉

    I also don’t drink beer much but for this occasion we can try to find somewhere for a drink, an alkoholfrei beer. 😉

    I’ll be there with the tram and this will be my first time in that stadium so I don’t know about anything there. But hope you can easily get a parking space.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    AnT & Walter-the Koln stadium is very typically German, well organized, clean,safe and you can buy wurst and any sort of drinks before the game begins or at half-time. If I remember correctly there is a beergarten (like in Munich and Stuttgart) just beside the stadium.Did you know Walter that if you have your Deutschverein referees pass,you get free admission? I attended all Stuttgart’s home games and a few away ones as well while living there. Unfortunately Stuttgart sucked and Koln wasn’t much better!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ant, so I will have to remember to bring my cards with me.. 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Dom for the information. I have been at the stadium once but this was before the renovation… Must be some 15 years ago when I visited Koln.