“You’re Fucked and you know you are….”
By Simon Bailey.
I think we are all caught in one of those moments where we are living an alternate reality. You sort of recognise what’s going on, but it all feels a bit surreal.
A week ago everything was normal. Respective managers were briefing their respective teams about the upcoming matches, explaining tactics of how to avoid shaking hands. The press was full of talk of the impending fixture between the two big spenders, Sky was busy ordering extra cameras for the handshake footage, we were cheerfully discussing our team in a positive way and Legrove were doing the opposite.
See, a normal lead up to an exciting weekend of football.
Saturday’s early fixture provided some light relief with City playing Chelsea off the park in a game where the off field issues were only just surpassed by the lack of discipline shown by Chelsea on the field. The two red cards summed up their performance perfectly.
The Three 3pm kickoffs were fairly mundane affairs, with Pompey’s win at Burnley the only highlight. By now Sky had built the Stoke – Arsenal match up to epic proportions with anything other than a win for Arsenal being a title hope dashing outcome.
Anyway buoyed by Chelsea’s recent demise, I put the match on. Not too long into the game the afore-mentioned reality shift occurred.Two sides playing by two completely different set of rules had come out of the tunnel. Our side were playing a variation of the normal rules called Wengerball. This adaptation of the FA’s rules of football has been much lauded the length and breadth of the country for many years.
Our esteemed opponents were also playing a variation on a theme,.. with a twist. This variation, known as ‘Kickball’ is one favoured by teams who are bouncing in and out of the premier league, and involves an overly physical approach to the game with a peppering of heavy tackling and rotational fouling. This is the ‘Lavendar Approach’ and is used to cover up the fact that their team is shit. In addition to this common variation, Stoke have added an extra twist with the addition of ‘Throwball’, a sytem where the objective is to throw the ball into the net from the touchline.
May I add that we should all be proud to be English, because England definitely has the best throwball / kickball team in the world.
Eight minutes in it looked like throw/kickball was trouncing Wengerball. Twenty three minutes later Wengerball gained the upper hand and never looked back.
Despite the pleas of the commentators that Stoke had just played 120 minutes against Man City, they were obviously a second rate team only holding the draw with the use of the tactics mentioned earlier. The turning point for me was when Faye was substituted and gave the armband to Shawcross. With the score at one all the boy was really going for it and lost the run of himself. One crazy misfortunate moment later, one of our finest was laid out on the pitch, his season at an end.
I don’t doubt that in hindsight the challenge wouldn’t have been made. The intent wasn’t to maim or disfigure or potentially end a lads career, the intent was to play to the variation mentioned above. Go in hard, get in their faces, kick them off the park. However it’s phrased, or whatever it’s called, kickball is all too prevalent in the premier league, and although most fixtures see a bit of it, ours seem to be full of it.
As the game continued, we rallied, and as their appetite for kickball diminished, Wengerball came to the fore once more and two goals later, history was written.
Not only had we bagged the three points in the face of adversity, we broke the Stoke HooDoo emphatically.
The furore in the mainstream press and TV footie shows surrounding the Shawcross incident was, erm.. um…Well it wasnt a furore anyway. More of an exercise in making excuses for the tackle. ‘He’s a good lad’ ‘He went home in tears with his mum’ ‘Ramsay was too fast for him’ are some of my favourites. Yet again Sky used the language barrier to misquote Arsene to Pulis provoking a feather spitting response from the Stoke manager. All of this despite the fact that he broke Jeffers ankle a couple of years ago and injured Adebayor in the same fixture last season. I am not saying that he deliberately went in to break the leg, but his previous should at least have been mentioned. Along with the fact that it isn’t Shawcross that should be on trial, but kickball itself.
Back at the FA, and it’s a familiar scene; the Champagne corks were being popped again. The lack of backlash against Shawcross allowed them to reveal his name in the selection to face Egypt, and now that the press had him in their sights as the latest posterboy for English football, the focus had neatly moved from the Terry / Bridge situation.
As if this wasn’t surreal enough, a quick trip to Legrove’s post match post absolutely confirmed that all is not well. I don’t know how long we will all be here, but I am hoping it won’t be too long.
The FA are obviously reluctant to clampdown on kickball, and by this inaction are severely limiting their chances of ever bringing home any international silverware. We already have the fastest game in Europe, if not the World, and teams like Arsenal are introducing huge amounts of skill into it. If the FA eradicate kickball, then we will be playing the ultimate game. This will be assimilated by the English players, and the national squad will become a serious contender on the International stage.
This does however involve a serious change of mindset throughout the English game. A change from top to bottom. From the authorities implementing sensible and transparent rule changes, to the managers and owners of teams behaving responsibly, up to the supporters with their unreasonable expectations.
Listening to the Stoke fans singing ‘You’re fucked and you know you are’, I wondered if they were singing it to Ramsay with his broken leg or the FA with their World Cup Aspirations.
Now as we approach the next game, we have Burnley proclaiming to all who will listen (which of course is the national press) that far from Shawcross being a warning, it is the new blueprint. Burnley have proclaimed their desire to kick us off the park, less than a week after one of the most talented players these islands have ever produced, was taken out of the game.
The game is in financial, tactical and moral meltdown and only two questions remain:
1. Is there any way of picking up the pieces and starting again?
2. If so, who is going to lead the way?
Football needs fixing: Recent stories from Untold Arsenal
- Football needs Fixing: an open letter to the FA
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THE SHAWCROSS DIARIES…
- What the rule book says about the Shawcross tackle
- Why Shawcross can’t say, “I didn’t mean it” The legal implications of Shawcross’ violent assault
- It is time for a thorough investigation of all that is wrong with football
- Tony Attwood immediately after the end of the Stoke game
- Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money
- Why Stoke type thuggery is not allowed in Spain and Italy
- Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views
Extra large shirts for the gent who thinks everyone else is too small. 3XL to 6XL football fans t shirts.
Making the Arsenal – the book – described by the author as “a jolly good read”
The sound of a billion fans saying “We’re fucked” as the EPL slips into oblivion is copyright © Untold Arsenal 2010.
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