Vermaelen, what he said in Flemish

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By Walter Broeckx

Introduction by myself : this is the translated version of an interview that appeared in Gazet Van Antwerpen on 11/02/2012. Some media have tried to pull some words out of its context. So this is an attempt to find out what he really said and what the media is trying to make of it. My own words are in this lay out. The questions from the reporter are in bold.  The words from Vermaelen are in the normal print.

GVA: Things are going fine with TV. After a long period with injuries he is once again a certainty in the  back line of the London top club Arsenal.  But still not all is completely right.

Arsenal is having a season of ups and downs?

TV: We had a difficult start if you only look at the results.


A few strong players left the club and we felt it. We had to look for a new kind of stability. The new players had to adapt  at the system and at their new teammates and then we had already played 3 games. The arrival of Arteta was instrumental for us. He can keep the ball en is great in coaching the other players. We needed someone like him.

After that things became better?

Yes, we stayed undefeated some 10 games. In January we had a lot of bad luck. We lost games we should have won en we have lost some valuable points.

Manager Wenger also got a part of criticism?

ONLY FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD. All the players stood and still stand completely behind the manager. But this is how things go when things don’t go your way. It’s always first the manager that stands in the line of fire.

When he took off Oxlade-Chamberlain against Utd en shortly after Arshavin was involved in the Utd goal the Arsenal fans were furious?

It isn’t nice of course not for the players or the manager but one has to see it in perspective, after all it was only a small part of the fans that reacted like that.

Last weekend a comfortable win against Blackburn Rovers and it should have been 8-1 if you would have scored?

A shame that I hit the post. I have made 3 goals so far this season. In my first season I scored 8 goals but it is not really a habit for me.

This weekend Sunderland awaits and you have to get past Mignolet to get the 3 points?

Yes we have to.  I think it’s great but I don’t see them very much. Dembele lives in London but in the south and that is still a bit far away from where I live. I sometimes hear Kompany. I don’t see Fellaine that much or hear from him.

You have been injured for a while last season and also this season. Are you back at your old level?

I feel great and play like that. But because our left backs (Santos and Gibbs) are out injured I had to play as left back in the last weeks.  I think that is unfortunate but there is nothing that I can change about that.

Did you talk about it with Wenger?

Yes, but what is said between us stays between us. Everybody knows playing left back is not my preferred position.

Why do you think that despite all this  you after all are a good left back?

I don’t think I am a bad left back. I do my job over there. BUT I AM NEVER REALLY COMPLETEY SATISFIED WITH MYSELF AFTER PLAYING THERE. I WANT TO GET MY HIGHEST LEVEL IN EACH GAME AND I DON’T HAVE THIS AS A LEFT BACK. When the team wins I’m happy, but still it is a bit frustrating.

Why are you so much better as a central defender than as a left back?

Tell me why does a striker performs better in attack than in midfield? I’m just trained as a central defender.

With the Red Devils (Belgian national team) you also end up at left back most of the time?

Most of the time? Always you might say. What can I say about that. It is like it is. I still hope that I will have my chance of playing in the centre, also because this is my best position at my club.

But not for now?

You can’t think like that. Everybody knows that I have been put there as left back because we had no other left backs available.

You don’t intend to train to become a left back?

I cannot train to this position. I don’t really have to adapt myself and have to change myself as a footballer because I have played a few games at left back. Central in the defence is my best position so I just keep focussed on that position.

Did you become a stronger football in all those years?

Physically not but I have always managed to raise my level and performances both at Ajax and in Arsenal. But not with the national team.

How come?

Because I have never had the chance to play at my best position in the national team.

Then the interview goes on about the national team and I have left this out as it has no real meaning for us Arsenal supporters.

You now are in your third season at Arsenal, do you feel a Londoner?

A real Londoner is maybe said too much. If you play football in England, London is the best place to be. This is the most lively city where you always can find  something to do. And I live rather near to the centre in Hampstead.

Do you curse in English?

Yes, this is one of the first things you learn. But I will not tell you the words I have learned.

Do you visit Belgium a lot?

No, I hardly find the time to go there because of the many games we have to play. Only when the national team plays I come home.

Do you miss home?

I live abroad since I was 15 so I am used to it.  The first half year in Amsterdam was hard and then I wanted to go home as much as possible. But now I am used to it and don’t feel the urge to go home any more.

Finally the last question: when is the Arsenal season a failure?

If we end outside the top 4. It is very important for the club to get that CL spot. We cannot be happy without getting that.

So this is it. If you ask me it can be said that Vermaelen prefers to play central in defence. But if the team (and this goes for Arsenal and the Red Devils) needs him in another position he will do this. He isn’t happy about it but mostly because he never feels completely satisfied with his own performances at left back.

43 Replies to “Vermaelen, what he said in Flemish”

  1. By the way the title of the interview was: I’m a better central defender than a left back.

  2. thanks walter…. i dont think vermy will need to worry about playing left back anymore as gibbs is back and per got injured…speaking of per i really do hope he is not as serious as he seemed *fingers crossed*

  3. Thanks for the translation, Walter. I didn’t read any of the English misquotes – easy enough to predict that they misquoted Vermaelen – and his actual words show that he is a team player who does what is required, no complaints. He just states that he plays better when central and I have to agree with him. Although on the left he is more than capable as well.

  4. Thanks so much Walter. And its a very fair interview that TV5 gave. I’d like to see people ask Valencia for example or Michael Carrick…Are you really happy being played at RB/CB? Or Wayne Rooney? Are you happy playing on the left wing in a 4-5-1? Or whoever.

    Players being played out of position is extremely common. But hey anything to screw Arsenal..however possible…

    Here’s the nice who is owned by Sky…

    Watch it now Zoom up the RSS feeds and the AAA slating AW for not buying a 33rd super class Left Back as cover.

  5. Walter, Kentetsu, Mahdain,
    It’s very good of all of you to have weighed in and bring the clarity that too much of the English football media, in this case the Sky example (and other echo-chambers who might cite it) etc., are a swift and cunning to distort.

    The Sky article on TV being “fed up” cites a publication called “The People” as its source. Your source is the Antwerp Gazette. Is “The People” a real source, or did Sky make it up? Or, if real, is “The People” known to distort such interviews as this? Cheers.

  6. Bob,
    you raise an interesting question about the name “The People” in the Sky article.

    The reporter who did the original interview is “Kristof Liberloo”. A very rare name in Flemish in fact so not a Smith or Jones name at all. When I checked the internet I found a few links to “Kristof Liberloo” and they all link to a journalist working for “Concentra Media Group”.
    Concentra Media Group is a group that has several newspapers and some regional TV channels. The two main newspapers they sell is “Het Belang van Limburg” (translated “The Importance of Limburg – Limburg being a county in Belgium) and “Gazet Van Antwerpen” (translated Gazette of Antwerp – what you could call his home town)

    But The People (in Flemish Het Volk) is an existing newspaper but not a part of the Concentra Media Group.

    So it was not The People who ran the first story where Vermaelen said that he is a better central defender than he is a left back and I think something we all will agree on (he is after all 3rd choice left back)

    So maybe Sky was naming “The People” in the hope that people (this is well found by myself I think) would not find the real source of the interview and could not really check it themselves.

    So the bottom line of this mine Untold Media watch à la Belge is:
    1. The interview was like I wrote it above and appeared in Gazet Van Antwerpen (and probably also in Het Belang Van Limburg)
    2. He not said he was fed up he said he feels better in central defence and that he does it to help out the team but he isn’t happy with his own performances at left back ( a very good quality for any player I would say)
    3. If “The People” (Het Volk) ran something it was their own conclusion as it is clear for those who search for it that the journalist Liberloo only works for his own news group Concentra media
    4. Again another attempt from certain media to cause disruption in the Arsenal camp.

  7. Walter is Untold your full time job
    If it is you my new hero.Amazing dedication and a heartwarming sight in the times of gold digging and cynical fans.
    A true gooner,i bet we will find a cannon where a heart is when do your autopsy(not saying that you should die,dont misunderstand!)

  8. Yay to having Walter reliably keeping us abreast of things being said in overseas news. Thank you Walter.

  9. Walter,
    What if “The People,” that is Het Volk neither conducted nor published ANY such interview with TV. In that case, Sky is not just covering its tracks/link to Concentra Media Group, but also misusing Het Volk without its permission, it would seem. So, another layer of toxic waste in the disservice to the public interest and desire to destabilize us. N’est-ce pas?

  10. Surprised that no mention was made in the interview about the future captaincy of Arsenal. Vermaelen is Vice Captain and I would anticipate he would move up a notch one day.

  11. p.s. Of course, if called out on this trickery, Sky might likely say: we meant the publication in Outer Mongolia called The People, or some such sleight of hand. That said, I wonder whether Het Volk would care to win some publicity by at least doing an article on how they were used (approvingly or not) by Sky, the (it thinks) all-powerful?

  12. Well cleared up Walter, thank you.

    I think the fans in general know now to wait for such work before jumping on players, as this happens all too often.

  13. The problem is Bob that I don’t have any access to “Het Volk-The People” but will see if I know someone who has, to check.

  14. Many Thanks, Walter,
    If possible, I think it would be something original to shed some documented light on this one? The lengths they’ll go to cover up this bit of treachery.

  15. Thanks for the truth. But the English press motto is why let the truth ruin a good story.

  16. To make things even more suspicious I just checked and in fact the newspaper ‘Het Volk (The People) has merged with “Het Nieuwsblad” on 10 May 2008 (yes this is not a typo!!!!)

    So I don’t know to which “The People” Sky is referring but it seems that is a newspaper that can be found on the same graveyard as NOTW

    At the start the paper ‘The People-het Volk” appeared under the name “Het Nieuwsblad” with a subtitle “Het Volk”.

    Sure trustworthy the Sky report….:-)

  17. About Mertesacker I have kept an eye on German newspapers but nothing reported over there for the moment.

    Or not more than we know now for the moment from Arsenal.

  18. Vermaelen is pure quality. It just happends to be that pure quality players will always be prefered, even if they have to play out of the position for a better overall team. Vermaelen would take a bullet on the pitch for the team, players like this will again, always be prefered.

  19. @Walter:

    Really enjoyed this. Thanks for digging up the real interview and taking the time to translate it for us. And what has come up in the comments about the sourcing is all the more interesting.

  20. @Mahdain:

    Actually just saw that you dug up the real interview. Thanks for doing that. You’re really good at this stuff, you know 🙂

  21. Walter, Anne, UMers, All:
    We are at an “historic” threshold: Thanks to our friends at Sky, we have learned that from now on all media accounts that try to undermine Arsenal can ultimately be referenced back to (trumpets) “The People.” (Quite ironic when one considers Sky’s Ownership.) However, now that they know that the actual people know this, other dead ends, cul de sacs and (in Walter’s juicy term) graveyards that are no longer entitled “The People” will surely be trotted out. But, for today at least, this tactic of the false sourcing of the anti-AFC story has been revealed. Go Gunners!

  22. Playing a “wild hunch” I peaked and can note that the snidely (and ever so earnest) LeGrovel Bog has just run with the mistranslated “fed up” statement by TV. There are some others doing it if you glance at the goonernews list; and so, Sky’s “The People” is having a bit of a ripple effect via their echo (drekko) chamber (pot). All in all, a good case study in how Sky/AAA can work together to try to undermine our unity.

  23. Sterling work Walter (as per usual).

    Its crazy that you need to ‘clear this up’ for any Arsenal fan over the age of 12.

    Its a truly awful scenario that has so many Arsenal fans falling hook line and sinker for every single negative line that they read about the club. Particularly the doomers, who probably also let out a little squeal of glee.

  24. No guarantee that the photo is of Per Mertesacker’s ankle, but Who Ate All The Pies has a photo up.

    To me, that looks like the medial side of his right ankle. In doing athletic first aid, 90% of ankle sprains are on the lateral side. From the bruising, I would guess some posterior part of the deltoid ligament. But, in the books I have, I don’t really see a good location match.

    Maybe someone else has a better idea?

  25. The media attack on our club continues unabated.

    Only last week our 7-1 drubbing of Blackburn was swiftly followed by the “RVP to Barca” claims plus “Arsene Wenger to coach PSG or the French national team” and now we have this “Vermaelen fed up” story on the very weekend the team break into the top four in the EPL.

    IMO These negative stories are strategically placed to impose maximum destabilization upon our club, our players and its fan-base.

    It does not surprise Me one little bit to find “SLY SPORTS” name associated to this crap.

  26. Walter it seems that you have been elevated to Arsenal Times with an unabridged and “no warts” full disclosure!

    This of course is the site of Boris Mellor, and other anti-Arsenal Board of Directors and especially anti-Wenger, “black” propaganda. There is the odd nugget of information available, such as PerMer’s own photo of THE ankle.

    Well done, Walter, keep it coming!

  27. @anne thanks for the compliments but another person deserve the credit..a goonerette who is absolutely in love with vermy 🙂 i came through that article thanks to her

  28. TAsos

    Transfer rumours are made up about every club.

    I read that Barca want to buy Gareth Bale, but will only pay £20m for him. Yeah right! But it was printed… Spurs have their best player destabilised too. The campaign to take their manager away was the most co-ordinated one I have seen for a few years. Lineker, Shearer, Lawrenson, Ferguson, Hansen, everyone. They ‘want to build an unstoppable momentum’, make Spurs feel guilty if they want to say No (they might, they might not, who knows: but the media has decided that Harry Redknapp must leave Spurs, haven’t they?) The media spent last summer telling Spurs that Luka Modric was leaving: it took a strong Chairman to stand up to them. But they were getting it, just like Arsenal were…….

    The media writes 99% nonsense about transfers. The only things worth respecting are when Arsene Wenger or the Arsenal Board say they have signed someone, sold someone, or are in detailed negotiations with a particular club (I”ve never heard them say that, but hey, if they did, it would probably be true). All the rest is just nonsense. Don’t believe a word of it, don’t let it affect you and don’t rise to any bait. It’s not worth it.

    Sky are interested in the following:

    1. Lots of transfers.
    2. Lots of managerial sackings.
    3. Lots of controversy.
    4. Lots of goals in big games (you thought about 10 goals, 8 goals, 7 goals, six goals etc etc between top teams this year?)
    5. Rumours.
    6. Outrage.
    7. Fomenting tension, distrust and hostility.

    The players, managers and owners get £50m a year to compensate. Fans get higher ticket prices.

    That’s the deal: Sky serve TV viewers, players and clubs. The ones who get shafted are the hard core fans, who really care about their clubs.

    That’s reality……

  29. but i guess i could take credit for passing it over here and asking walter to do the translation lol 😛

  30. Hi everyone, I am a Cameroonian Gonner and this is my first comment on this Blog even though I have read a few articles of late. Just want to say congrats on the good work you guys (The Editors and Contributors) have been doing. It’s good to finally find an Arsenal Blog Edited by Passionate Arsenal Fans

  31. @Rhys

    The media campaign doesn’t bother Me, personally.

    Like many others on this website, I understand how it works and see straight through their agenda. Unfortunately some other Arsenal fans are so deeply submerged in this crap they begin to believe it. Throw enough crap and some will always stick.

    People like Anne & Walter have done a great job here at UA, educating many of us whilst exposing these stories for what they really are, even if the media attempt to disguise the truth in a foreign tongue.

    IMHO Sly Sports have an unhealthy affiliation with one particular club in the EPL, every other club is seen as fair game in their eyes. Become a threat to their domination and prepare to be shafted at every given or un-given opportunity.

  32. Tasos,
    “IMHO Sly Sports have an unhealthy affiliation with one particular club in the EPL, every other club is seen as fair game in their eyes. Become a threat to their domination and prepare to be shafted at every given or un-given opportunity.”
    Yes and the Fergus XX will be the crowning moment in their strategic alliance and de facto joint venture. The Brand for the Brand.

  33. @Rhys:

    Your parallel between the media campaign against Arsenal and the way the media has treated Spurs is interesting. I hadn’t thought about it along those lines before.

    However, at the same time, I have difficulty seeing a true parallel there. And I think the main reason for that is because I would suspect that Redknapp and Spurs might be complicit in this particular media campaign. As for why I think that? Don’t know. Just a gut feeling.

    I guess it all comes down to the question of whether owners and management have any real loyalty to the club at issue. There are many out there that don’t, and I suspect that Redknapp and Spurs ownership might fall into that category.

  34. More rambling about “the foot”.

    I once had an athlete who no matter where he got hit in a leg, always bruised in the heel. But generally, bruising is reasonably close to where the blood vessels were damaged, with some bias indicating the pull of gravity on blood in the region. Between rest and ice, there is little to remove blood in the tissues, and you get your bruise.

    The deltoid ligament looked a little low, and with no anatomy coloring book (it’s a legitmate book) to be found, I went to wikipedia. I give you

    Where the bruising is running posterior to the tibia on the medial side. You can see a group of 3 tendons related to the muscles: Tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus and flexor halucis longus. The two flexor muscles are involved in curling of the toes, and unless the impact/slip which caused the damage also caused the toes to straighten a lot, hence over stretching the tendons, I wouldn’t think they were what got sprained. Tibialis posterior is a major stabilizing muscle of the foot, and is responsible for foot inversion. Halucis is connected to the big toe, and digitorum is connected to all the other toes. So, does Per’s pain relate to any toe movement, and if so is it the big toe or the others?

    In order to guess timeframe, pain and degree of instability need to be known. And sorry, the photograph isn’t telling me anything.

    Anyway, I hope the picture was interesting, and now you know some more Latin names for things in your foot.

  35. Lots of websites pointing to a month out, none pointing to a source or justification. The BBC says that his right ankle has “history”, it has been operated on before. So, Per is back to Germany to have the specialist who did the earlier work look at this foot now. Apparently Wenger should get word today about that, and we’ll hear about it in a week or two.

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