By Walter Broeckx
Last weekend Tony and I got together in London, and as a treat Tony agreed to show me one or two of the public houses known to be frequented by Arsenal supporters.
It was an education for me to see the traditional English pub, and I really wanted to know what local people thought about Arsenal and its players.
What we decided to do was to work our way through the squad, asking the locals what they thought of each of the regular members of the first team.
We started with Almunia and the general view was that every shot on Arsenal’s goal is bound to go in as he really is the worst keeper the EPL has ever seen. Sean thought that view was going too far, and said 75 % of the shots on Arsenal’s goal that went in without any doubt. The consensus was that he should be sold to the Spuds as soon as possible, although one dissenting voice said that he had actually been placed with Arsenal by Barcelona, on the basis that they will take him off our hands if we let them have Cesc back. 0/10 points from the jury.
Sagna was universally considered no good although not quite so “no good” as Almunia. He can’t cross said Harry (not that Arry). The others agreed. On my question if he could defend a bit as he is a defender they said : … well maybe, but he’s French. That said it all so they gave him 1/10. He should be sold to the Spuds. Jacko (not that Jacko) said that Sagna had a dog called Bertram.
Gallas, it was agreed, could defend a bit but he tended to fall to pieces when it mattered. And he would be off to Paris or Lyon or Bordeaux at the end of the season so who cares if he is good. Score 3/10. Tony asked if anyone had noticed him playing centre forward in the matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, but the general agreement was that it was Tony’s round, so he didn’t press the point.
Vermaelen? I asked. Obviously a matter of interest for me, what with me being Flemish. He’s too small for a central defender they all said. But he scores a lot of goals I tried to say but they wouldn’t have anything of it. No, no they said, a defender’s only job is to prevent goals and Arsenal concedes the most goals from the top 3 so he’s not good enough. 3/10 was the verdict. He should be send back to Ajax, where he was captain. Tony, returning with the drinks, said that maybe he could go to the Spuds, but one chap got up and said, “You taking the piss mate,” and Tony spilled his beer on the floor. It was a sticky moment.
Clichy at left back. Non, said one who had heard that I was not a native English speaker. Hearing I was Belgian he assumed I spoke French like Poirot, he felt pleased at his contribution to linguistics. The view was that Clichy will never will become good. If a player cannot perform on the highest level after being out for 3 months he is not fit to wear the shirt. 2/10 was the word. Give him to the Spuds. “Zut alors,” said the guy who had said “non” and everyone congratulated him on his fine linguistic skills.
Song as defensive midfielder. IT was agreed he had got better, but there were memories of that game against Fulham. “You have to take a broad view,” said Alex. “It is not good just looking at the last match. He is too slow, he is unknown and he hardly has cost any money when he came over. So how on earth can he be good?” 3/10. “Do the Spuds buy Africans?” I asked. No one knew. “Anyway he’ll be out for months because of his yellow card record,” said Doug.
Denilson I tried as the next and they wouldn’t mention his name. Totally unfit to wear the shirt. 0/10 like Almunia. He got a bad back injury I tried. I even tried telling them he scored every 3 games he played in, but they looked at me with the look how you look at one who really doesn’t know anything at all. “Even Arry wouldn’t have him,” was the view. Tony tried to talk about how he is a uniquely Brazilian player like Gilberto, but it was quietly, and ungrammatically, pointed out that if Tony didn’t leave this discussion to the big boys, he would be invited to step outside. I pointed out that it was raining, and got some very strange looks.
Diaby was my next on the list. Always injured and will never become good enough was the view. But when he played this season he looked rather good I insisted. So again they gave me the look of someone without a brain. Can he stay fit for the whole season they asked? Who can? I replied but it all didn’t help. They gave him 3,5/10, and suggested Fulham might be interested.
Then came Cesc and surprise surprise they all gave him 10/10. He really was world class they said. But he is off to Barcelona anyway so we just are a feeder club nowadays. Sold to Barcelona. (Tony then pointed out that Barcelona were only after Cesc because the Spanish blame the British for talking down their economy, and saying that they are in total crisis. Apparently they don’t want Cesc, but they want to get their own back on the Financial Times who say that Spain’s finances are the worst in Europe. I was so worried for Tony’s health I went to buy another round.
Rosicky was always injured so they gave him 1/10. And Eduardo never would be the same again so he also got 1/10. Both are to be given to the Spuds.
Bendtner I tried as the next on the list but he was not good enough and never would be good enough. I tried to argue he was voted player of the year in Denmark but they looked at me and said : “Denmark” you got to be joking. I left it like that and the guys muttered a lot about “bloody Froggies” not knowing anything about football, and how we ought to have an English spine to the team, and that you don’t win anything with kids. But because Bendtner was still young I gave him a 2/10 when they weren’t looking. Their view was that even the Spuds would not have him and he ought to go back to Le Havre or whatever the capital of Denmark is called.
On to Arshavin. 1/10 was the general opinion. He is unhappy with the tax regime they said. I said that this could be the case but I was asking about his performances on the pitch. But as he would be off, to any place on earth as long as he doesn’t have to pay 50% tax, and they wouldn’t give him anymore. Besides he doesn’t get on with Wenger. Even Arry doesn’t want him as he is only 3 feet 6 inches tall.
I kept the best for last and asked about Van Persie. They said that I was lucky that he was the last on the list and only for that reason he got 2/10. But he was doing very well before he got injured I told them. That’s the whole point they said he is always injured. He never ever plays. Keep him to keep the physio busy. Glass ankles. Get rid of him and save the club money.
I thanked them for their goodwill and co-operation and found Tony shivering outside in the rain where he had been standing for the last 15 minutes singing Bob Dylan songs to passers by. He had collected 37p.
So it will be hard to avoid relegation this season I fear. I think the pundits were right at the start of the season about us. We are hopeless and this will be the worst season ever for The Arsenal. I left the pub and looked back to see the name so I could put it in my article. It was named The Good Moaning pub. And I wondered had I heard this name before? I then read a little sign next to the door and it said: “Only one MP, one banker or one reader of Untold Arsenal at any time in this establishment.”
I asked Tony, “Is that a typical English pub?”
“No,” he said, “Some of them are quite unfriendly.”
RUMOUR OF THE DAY
Arsenal are to sign Algenon Fitzgibbon-Beater, captain of the world-beating Eton Wallgame team. “I’ve never played football,” said Alge, “but I am sure it will be spiffing.” In an interview with the Financial Times he blamed Spain for the collapse of the Euro and noted that his father’s finance company based in Gibralter was having a difficult time of it.
Arshavin has to wear a gas mask in London because he doesn’t like the smell of garlic in the dressing room.
Arsenal will sign the grandson of Butros Butros Ghali next summer. “I have never seen him play, but the name is so silly it will be funny to hear the announcer shout it out,” said Arsene Wenger.
AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT….
Why did Arsenal move to Highbury and not somewhere else?
Making the Arsenal. The story of how the modern Arsenal was made. A must for every Arsenal fan with a sense of humour.
From Man U to Mansfield – how football is falling apart and what three guys have done to stop it. Read here.