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August 2021

Lenny Henry, Shakespeare, Mourinho, Van Persie, Crisis and invented Spuds goals


By Tony Attwood

I went to see Lenny Henry in “Comedy of Errors” last night at the National Theatre (which explains the first two elements of my headline), and it was stunning, brilliant and extraordinary – and had a fair old Arsenal element in it too.

The tragedy of Shakespeare is that it is taught very badly in many UK schools, so the vast majority of the British public think it is dull, incomprehensible and tedious.  If only they went to see this show – it is a knock about slap stick that (were the audience to have a somewhat lower average age) would have them rolling in the aisles.  I had tears rolling down my face.

Shakespeare left us virtually no stage directions, and absolutely no costume instructions, so the Arsenal connection is just one of the many modernisations although the script of course is the one that God handed down sometime around 1597.   It comes with the Dromio twins who wear AFC shirts throughout – in the early stage of the story JVC shirts (oh, memories) and then for most of the show when they are older, Emirates shirts.  A neat touch – and the shirts are well in keeping with the personality that the twins have in the production.

Anyway, the people in row G behind me took up the Arsenal theme at half time discussing the use of the shirts, and the return of Henry (Thierry not Lenny) and then ultimately the Glorious Victory, as it is now called.  (Incidentally, where’s the Tottenham Hotspur DVD of the game on Sunday – they usually have one out by now.  They got the special DVD of the 4-4 draw out within minutes of the final whistle I recall).

As “Bonkers” by Dizzee Rascal was played and the neon lights of the brothel flashed to announce the start of the second half in the Olivier Theatre one of these good folk in the inferior row G (I was in F – a much better placed view of course) ended by saying that the result against the “Spurs” would “take the pressure off Wenger”.

And I thought – what pressure?

I let the thought pass until at 11pm, driving back to my Midlands hide-away I heard on the Radio 5 that the big news of the day was that Mourinho had been spotted in London and was looking for a house.  “With three of London’s teams in crisis” started the commentator, and then meandered on – but he never actually told us who these three teams are.

I pondered.  Who could it be?

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QPR clearly are having a rotten time so they are, I guess, one.  Chelsea, having spent their billions on a youth system that clearly doesn’t produce much youth (apart from J Terry, now of advancing years and dubious morality) is clearly another.  For that amount of money the owner might have expected more than a challenge for a Champs League spot.

Tottenham obviously are one.  Their dyscalculic manager might well jump ship, the club could well be sold by Enic this summer, and there’s still all the legal what-not concerning the files surrounding the Olympic stadium that have turned up in the wrong place.  Also, we still don’t know how they are accounting for the aborted attempt to get that stadium.  And if Boris loses the Mayoral elections in London then Ken could get back in and stop the use of public money to support to the Tottenham stadium regeneration plan.  (Vote Ken, Londoners!).  And they let in five at the weekend against an Arsenal team supposedly having their worst season since 1924.

On the way back I drove through Barnet, and they had all their stadium lights still on – and I realised they could be one of the crisis clubs too since they have to move grounds next season.

So yes, there are crisis clubs in London – but can you see Mourinho going to Barnet?  Bit of a story if he did!  But then QPR?  Or Tottenham?  Or Chelsea?  (Certainly not Charlton as they are 10,000 points clear at the top of the 3rd division).

Anyway all this gallivanting around in London and driving home into the small hours meant that I missed much of the big news – apparently Robin has a groin strain and Arsenal are begging the Netherlands not to play him tonight.   The Guardian has this story today announcing that Robin has “scored 33 goals in all competitions in what has so far been his first injury-free campaign since joining Arsenal in 2004.   Following Arsenal’s 5-3 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates on Sunday in the north London derby….”

And there I lost it a bit because I must have fallen asleep in the weekend game.  I mean, I remember the early two goals by the Tinies, but the third.  When was that?  Does Tottenham now count goals scored in the kick about before the game starts?

So is Arsenal a club in crisis?   For me, no.  In a world of financial doping, the impossible transfer market, the media-and-blog anti-Arsenal inventions, and match fixing the fact that Arsenal is still near the top is a total miracle.

Consider and compare us with another club who recently had visions of a top four break-through.  Remember Aston Villa under Martin O’Neill OBE who were playing in Europe, and were about to take one of the top four spots for a long period of dominance.   They are 15th, and lost £54m in 2010/11.  Every year Randy Lerner pumps more in, and gets… nothing.  The ground is around 70% full much of the time and they like Chelsea are finding that money doesn’t make success.

Indeed if the tragedy of Shakespeare is that it is taught so badly in schools that most people think it is boring, the tragedy of football is that supporters have been hoodwinked to believe that football is just about money.   You can pour in as much as you like, but on its own it does not buy success.

Mourinho to Barnet.  I quite like that.

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21 comments to Lenny Henry, Shakespeare, Mourinho, Van Persie, Crisis and invented Spuds goals

  • WalterBroeckx

    If I can bring some “good” news : Vermaelen is fit.

    And now some bad news: Vermaelen is fit and will be playing for Belgium tonight.

    Van Persie twittered that is ok and will play tonight. Just a precaution.

    But here is one Gooner sitting with his fingers crossed that nothing happens to not just those two today…

  • WalterBroeckx

    By the way the name Lenny Henry rang a bit of a bell and now I know he was the chef in chef! A series I really liked a lot.

    Mourinho back to chelsea is my thought. And maybe AVB going the other way. And then thinking that Chelsea paid a lot of money to get AVB.

    The third goal was just an extra point for Dancing Dean his performance on the day Tony.

  • Gerry Lennon

    ‘Ah Mourinho, given any other name would he not smell as sweet?’

    Jose is getting himself set up for the Tottenham job, should it become available? Unless he has higher ambitions, and goes for the England No 1?

  • Kentetsu

    If any of the top London clubs (Mourinho won’t go anywhere else, if he’s coming to England at all) is in crisis, then I would say it’s Chelsea, though it’s probably blown up by the media as well. But it doesn’t help if the manager openly states he fears getting the sack. But with an owner who wants one thing and one thing only – win the CL – you can imagine him not being to happy about possibly missing out on the CL next season. Also, it doesn’t help to have a 50m striker who scores one goal every 12 games. Still, I would rather say they have a difficult season – like Arsenal – than that they are in crisis.

    Incidentally, “King Lear” has been one of the best books I’ve read last year. But then again, no childhood teachers in Holland to ruin Shakespeare for me.

  • Kentetsu

    @ Walter:
    Rather had RvP would not play tonight. Parker may try to take him out again. And apart from him there will be more England players whose clubs would benefit if RvP would be on the sideline for a while.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I agree Kentetsu. A dangerous game for him and would love to see him not playing

  • Rich_Fryer

    A little off topic – but did anyone listen to the Radio 5 discussion on Arsenal’s financial and footballing health last night (about 8:30-9:30ish). Comnclusion seemed to be we aren’t a club in crisis.

  • bob

    RvP and TV both playing tonight. At least Parker can’t go for both of them again. If he (or another hit man) goes for Robin’s ankles again, he will show himself to have been kissed by a capo to do his Don a service. With PGMOL so perfectly transparent (not), watching Godfather re-runs seems the closest one gets to viewing how it works on this inside. Robin, beware of big limos, toll booths, big beds with silk sheets and, best of all, couldn’t you feel a pre-match “twinge” or something?

  • bob

    yes, but also constrained by too much money being tied into our “non-performing assets,” who surely you can name.

  • bob

    Perhaps there was a third “goal” but Parker missed it, twice, as TV and RvP are still standing. As for PGMOL, to quote the Bard: “So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”

  • bob

    Does The Dean dance in Dean-Time? Would all that fancy steppin’ take seconds off the clock as well?

  • Sammy The Snake

    The kind of article we have come to expect from Tony, thank you.

    Why would someon estart looking for house now if they’re shifting in the summer? Too early, isn’t it?!

  • RedGooner

    Bob we should get the footage of Dean and tag that old 80s song Cool and the gang “Celebrate good times come on” and place it on U Tube shame the PGMOL into a response.

  • bob

    Yes! That’s a great idea: C-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n Time, Come on! with the Dance-ster Prancing, over and over. Surely someone could fashion that.

  • Stuart

    I remember Mourinho stating he will return to the Premier League one day to manage a team at the bottom. Can’t help noticing West Ham look likely to be promoted next season and they like to change personnel dont they?

  • Mahdain

    i really hope rvp doesnt play today..with st scott parker selected as captain the scene is perfectly for him to do whatever he wants and be praised as “determination and passion”

  • Richard B

    @Tony – I went to see A Long Days Journey into Night (Eugene O’Neill) last night. It’s about a highly disfunctional family of drug addicts and drunks who, just when you think they are about to get on with each other, break into another argument and someone bursts into tears.
    It reminded me of quite a few football clubs at the moment.

  • Pat

    Tony, it may be true that for some children reading Shakespeare at school ruined it for them. It is also true that for others it introduced them to something they would never otherwise have read. Most children in English schools read very little or no Shakespeare. And then never see or read any for the rest of their lives afterwards either.

    Anyway I’m glad you enjoyed it. The Arsenal element was an unexpected bonus.

  • Adam

    @ Richard B, sounds like Eastenders to me.

  • Gord

    The Guardian has a correction to the Arsenal-Tottenham game. 5-2, not 5-3. It’s the 4th point.

  • Damien Luu

    Mouriclown can only “manage” the clubs who give him a mountain of money to waste. He doesn’t care about who it is, just how much it can spend. So if Barnet can find some oil-prince-dickhead than why not?

    The best laugh I have ever had was when the media in my country insisted that Mouriclown IS the best manager in the (football) world.