Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood meet László Bölöni
Most visiting teams playing at the Ems tend to stay at the Toppled Bollard (also known as the Auld Triangle) in Islington, and so it was natural that this week Walter, our Belgium correspondent and I (UNTOLD’s resident loonie) went to meet Transylvanian László Bölöni, manager of Royal Standard de Liege.
In March last year Mr Boloni (or “A load of old” as his is quaintly known at the Bollard) was decorated by the president of Romania with The Order “The Sportive Merit”) class II for his part in winning the of the 1986 European Cup Final Class II.
“With the coming of Standard Liege this week we have the current champions from Belgium at the Emirates. So how’s it been for you this far?” asked Walter as we settled down to quadruple vodka and limes all round.
“In fact we have had a very mixed season so far. Some big wins and some big and unexpected losses as well. The whole season also has been marked by a lot of incidents off and on the field.
“Our main player and captain Dufour, who repeatedly has been linked with EPL teams, is still out after breaking his foot. I told him it doesn’t matter, use the other foot, but he doesn’t want to play. He is what you could call our Cesc but without any of the style and ability.
“Then there was the incident with Axel Witsel at the Anderlecht game. Witsel, who is an Arsenal fan, came in over the ball and broke the leg of the Polish Anderlecht defender Wasilewski in a horror tackle. He had a lengthy ban but started playing again a few weeks ago, not that you can tell the difference.
“Between all this there were some reports in the press about players who were shouting at each other via our perennial friends: the journalists. Mbokani against Jovanovic, Jovanovic against Dalmat, Jovanovic against… well just about everyone. He sure is not only a dangerous player on the field who can turn nothing in to something; he is also a triffid.
“So far we have played 15 games and won 6, lost 2 and drawn 7. Not a very good run this season. After winning against then first Club Brugge we lost at Gent 2-1 and played very poorly. We have 25 points so far and are 10 points behind the leader Anderlecht with the same amount of games played.
“In England this would be bad, but in Belgium this is good, because in Belgium we have this season introduced a new way of playing the league that means this deficit is not as big a disaster at is seems at first sight. We have 16 teams, and at the end of the season the first 6 teams play a play off where the points they have reached so far are divided in two. So a team that ends the regular league with 60 points starts the play offs with 30 points. A team with 50 points begins with 25 points so this still can make a big difference during the play offs.
“So from 10 points behind you suddenly got only 5 points less. Strange ? Yes off course but this is Belgium, the land of the surrealism. I will explain…
“Sometimes we are bad, sometimes good. Arsenal must be careful. One of our problems is like in the game against Arsenal in Liege. We take the lead. We sit back when we have the lead. We are the Bolton of Belgium except Bolton don’t get the lead.
“Our players to watch are our attackers Jovanovic and Mbokani. In midfield Witsel and Carcela, a young player of Moroccan origin who decided to play for the Belgian national team because he once ate a Belgian chocolate. In defence we struggle a lot to give the opposition a false sense of security and our goalkeeper can produce stunning saves and then let a ball past him like an U12 keeper. That’s the point – we never know when we are beaten, when we have won, who we are playing, or where the ground is.
“Now,” said Mr Bölöni, looking at Walter, “I will tell you about Arsenal.”
“In goal,” he said, “We will have Aluminum Man, and Man Manone Man behind him, and mine’s a packet of crisps with a double Guinness.
“Then, radically, revolutionary and quite unexpectedly I know from secret documents we found just outside the tube station, Arsenal are going to have the four back, or “back four” as the poets say. ” He took a swig of his drink and ordered a dry sherry.
“Quantum mechanics tells us that each object can be in at least two places at once – in fact is in every place at once. This is the fundamental of the Arsenal back four – they are in a continous excited state of photosynthesis if you get my drift.
Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Gibbs. (Traore, Eboue) are always there and thereabouts and once you have recognised that life is easier.
“Now the middle we take it on a stage further. The plan is once more quantum for the midfield three are as we can see in all possible places following all possible pathways at once, thus effectively ending the simplistic linear co-ordinate based “up and at em” approach of the Royals.
“Denilson, Song, Vela (Nasri) (Ramsey) (Wilshere) will be here and there and somewhere else quite separate, exactly as the theory predicts.
“And the front we have the idea of the path through the maze in which every possible player takes every possible route at every possible moment in order to create a pint of bitter. We should respect our players not only as players but also a quanta machinist. I expect to see Arshavin, Eduardo, Theo (Rosicky) (Merida) (Nasri) mutate into one giant robotic goalscoring machine.
“In effect your mobile and rotating team visits the future, sees which possibility are in fact the possibility of a goal scoring opportunity, appears in all positions in one go and then finds the route to goal. It is in fact exactly as predicted because it happens before it has started.
“Indeed it is this relationship between Arsenal FC and quantum mechanics which has led to the goal scoring developments of this season. This is important to recognise because it allows us to predict the scores of forthcoming goals.
“It also shows us the relationship between Belgium football and the Arsenal. In Belgium you get a certain number of points and then cut it in half for no reason other than the fact that they thought of it. In England you just have faster photons and a club like Liverpool who this year celebrate 20 years without ever winning the league whining about winning the league. The difference between whining and winning is a dropped h and an added n. I think you will find that is true.”
It was then time for the Belgian team to return to further training in the front parlour of the Toppled Bollard and we paid our respects and left.
ADVERTISEMENT. We keep sending Amazon copies of MAKING THE ARSENAL (the staggering and exciting new book which covers the world, quantum physics and hats) and they apparently sell them and then immediately put up a notice saying, sorry not in stock, we’re waiting. So we send them more, and so it goes on. The world goes round. There is no solution. Except that if instead of buying the book through Amazon people bought the book by following the route via www.woolwicharsenal.co.uk all our troubles would be over cos we’ve got lots of copies. What’s more tomorrow morning I am going to visit the printers and they have promised to give me a cup of coffee in return for the huge amount of work I have given them by selling all these books. You should buy one. It’s jolly good. The book’s good too.
(c) Walter, with additional notes from the world beyond space and time. 2009, 2010, 2011…
- The seven main things that are wrong with football in England
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 2 comments from the manager and team news
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 1 the head to head record and comments on Spurs summer signings
- Slowly the media wakes up to the notion that Uefa is being run by one family
- Fans are getting a bit more uppity, but who’s fault is that?