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July 2021

Arsenal 26 Reading 5; the crowd and catering report

By Tony Attwood

The headline relates to the goal attempts.  No wonder most of us who were able to go, enjoyed the game.  Arsenal 26 attempts Reading 5.  Quite a score.  The possession was 70% to us.  It was rather nice to be there.

Except of course for the AAA and their eternal “Wenger Out” calls.  Their numbers decline week by week, as the momentum sways even more (among those who attend) in favour of Mr Wenger.  And we are getting a few fractious scenes in the stadium too, as the pro-Wenger majority stand up and be counted.

Actually talking of standing up Drew tells me that in the lower tier of the North Bank the stewards made a concerted effort to make people sit in the first half – maybe because all the Reading fans were seated (although I can’t be 100% on that because I sit directly opposite the away fans).

The AAA’s main problem was Gervinho, one of the players who they have barracked throughout the season.  Yes he has had a highly inconsistent period, but still there are many of us who attend now who believe we should support our team.

But as you’ll know Gervinho scored the sort of goal which because of the speed of the arrival of the ball can go right over the bar off any forward’s foot.

Arsène Wenger said in the press conference after the game, “Our only regret was the number of goals. But I enjoyed the technical and creative side, and overall this is the basis for a good finish to the season.”

There were also complaints that Mr Wenger’s “stupidity” had left us woefully short of midfielders, and the AAA created “midfield crisis” talk before the game, but few were fooled.

We had Rosicky, Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Arteta and Ramsey available today and the word is that Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere are not very far away.

The really key point that Mr Wenger made was this, “Gervinho lost confidence because he played in a very negative atmosphere for a period. Strikers need confidence, and with his game even more so because he takes the ball forward, always provoking. When he has his confidence back he’s a very dangerous player and for me he was the best striker at the African Nations Cup.”

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It is rare for Mr Wenger to refer to the AAA even obliquely but it is clear that he has had enough, and I agree, blame should be put where blame is due.  The problems the club has had have been exacerbated by the AAA’s ceaseless moaning.

But there is something else I noted, and indeed Stefan who sits next to me brought it up.  Arsenal’s style has changed.  We are moving back to a much earlier style in which we keep the ball, try and go one way, if that is blocked, come back and little and go the other way.
Some prat commentator on Sky said we were back to trying to score “the perfect goal”, but that was nonsense.  Cazorla’s goal was the perfect goal, and that “try left, try right, try the middle, hold possession” approach which did us so proud for so long is showing its force again.
As for perfect goals, we actually saw two: for number 3 from Gervinho’s pass (with him having run half the length of the pitch with no support) was also perfect.  Just that inch beyond the keeper’s foot, utterly on the ground.
As for the catering, we swapped our normal approach and bought very acceptable pies in a nice shop on Holloway Road, before moving a little further along to take up our regular position at the back of the Coronet.  Even the wine tasted ok today.  And thanks to Drew, Emma and Gavin for perfect company today.  A nice day out.



69 comments to Arsenal 26 Reading 5; the crowd and catering report

  • marcus

    Stoke drifting close to the drop now.

  • nicky

    A nice post as always but we could have done with a bit more about the pies.

  • arse_or_brain

    hi tony, great read and as positive blogs should stick together heres a link to another great one

  • Adam


    That site has become a daily read for me since someone else left a link to it on Untold. Wish I could write like some of them fella’s, but we are all a work in progress.

    And yes the positive minds need to align.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This team is just starting to get going but eventually the extremists and haters will be marginalised or in some cases sent back to the lane. Btw , anyone notice that German outfit we just did rather well against in their ground, they hit hamburg for nine yesterday. They seem like quite a good team. Not directly anything to do with us of course but I thought worth a mention.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes have seen that story but do not believe it and such things can be used against us if we don’t get them. Two of them are the type of players we are well stocked with already and keep hearing the striker is a done deal for utd? I would look to distressed Spanish clubs when we do sign. But signings or not look forward to the rise and rise of the likes of jack…and Ramsey, referees permitting

  • marcus

    The experiment is over. Can you build a very good team on a shoestring. Yes.

    Can you win titles on a shoestring when the boots are on the other feet – (refereeing reference)? No.

    AW will build a title winning team now and pay whatever it takes. He actually promised to relinquish the job if he finished outside the top 4…but we hope that doesn’t happen

  • Shard


    “He actually promised to relinquish the job if he finished outside the top 4”

    I must have missed this, and it doesn’t seem like something Wenger would do. Do you have any link, or do you recall when and where he said it?

  • marcus

    He said it at the start of the season some time

  • pedantic george

    I don’t think Arsene ever said that Marcus.
    I could be wrong ,but that would be a first

  • Pedantic George


  • shotta

    Speaking of the AAA, since Wenger cannot do it himself, blogs like this is where we should name and shame the buffoonery of celebrity prats like Piers “Martin O’Neil” Morgan. Good job Tony. Positive vibes.

  • Shard

    The best description I ever read about Piers Morgan is ‘Big M, small organ’.

  • bob

    Mr. Attwood,
    It’s indeed very good to see the midfield doing well and show it’s potential. However, you do erase recent history to trumpet this midfield at this stage of the proceedings when, in fact, we were competitively out-of-it before the January window in no small part to the very lack of a skillful enough midfield. And predictable it was, way back in August (remember?). And your covering up for it would erase from history that this (then) sub-par midfield was a large part in what set us well back in the pack. WE LOST TIME to stay competitive. Yes, it was “stupid” – in the sense of Reckless gambling – to bank the entire season on (1) the return of the injured (wilshere, rosicky, arteta, diaby) in time and in good enough form to make a contest of it; (2) to presume that ramsey and (as you continue to do today) coquelin would finally flourish; (3) the ability of arteta to provide a consistent enough midfield defense that would compensate for Song’s departure (something you then absolutely refused to advocate against; lest, imo, you got out in front of the club’s official zero-balancing at close of window). Their DELAYS in coming back, let alone in good enough form, and their INABILITY to stay fit were both predicted and predictable, and AFC gambled and lost that gamble: in the sense that these were significant factors in our dropping so far back, so soon, from actual epl cup competitiveness. (Add to this the widely understood [except here] absence of the requisite clinicality in the last third – especially in the big games against the big opponents (as opposed to woeful Reading) – and we were quick non-factors in this season’s race; except, that is, to gift the Rednose XX to Lord Football when we could have said NO. Then again, I’m sure insideright will return, studs up, to say it was all a quid pro quo to get Manure on side with us on FFP and give Gazidis a place at the dinner table.)

    But you would perfume all to most of this in the name of unity, which is both right and wrong. Right: because we must indeed win 4th place. That money is vital, if only to take away the ingrained poverty-pleading and get us a world class clinician or two. Wrong: because we do need to admit first, then to learn from our mistakes, so we can flourish. Ffs, we cannot straighten up and fly right if we do not acknowledge any wrongs and advocate that we correct them.

    You exalt the badge with blind, tribal love; and, to your credit, you are up front about it, argue well, and take the slings and arrows. I love AFC enough to want us not to repeat these mistakes, yes stupid and reckless mistakes (from exactly which room in the mansion is the abiding AFC whodunnit), so that we will have learned some precious lessons; and – this very summer – do the affordable and purchase the quality in depth that it will take to knock that miscreant off his vulture’s perch, overwhelm the Dean’s and the Dein’s who wound us, and bring a glorious humbling silence the non-stop nuremburg rally at OT next season that has for too long assumed first place as its birth right.

  • Robl

    Bob, Song is not fit to tie Arteta’s boots. Arteta is a disciplined, cohesive team player and great reader of the game. Song is just another Flamini. Not replacing him has meant players like Ramsey getting far more playing time, helping secure our future.
    To be a great player you need the right attitude And Song is in my opinion in the Pennant/JET/Bentley/Helb mould – all the skill but total bell ends.

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Tony. It is interesting that Wenger has commented on the “negative atmosphere”, created by the AAA.

    To comment further on the midfielders – I agree we have one of the best group of creative midfielders in the EPL. We have pace, trickery, vision and creativity.

    However we do not have much height in midfield, especially without Diaby. To complement the existing midfield we need a defensive midfielder, or box to box player, with height, pace, attitude as well as all the football skills. Such players are hard to come by, but lets hope AW can ferret one out during the summer.

  • Robl

    @Bjtgooner, Thomas the Belgian?

  • bjtgooner


    A very good possibility – and he comes with a ferocious shot.

  • Pedantic George

    No chance of TV playing MF IMO

  • bob

    Can’t tie his boots? Are you serious? Now it wasn’t either (Song)/or (Arteta) until right now, in your one-eyed characterization of Song. It could have been both here, and to very good effect. Your bluster of an excuse for getting rid of Song did not compensate for the too frequent loss of cover (and intimidation factor) for the backline. And Arteta’s high completion rates of safe passes has not yielded goals, as did Song’s creative overheads, etc., plus his forward runs (a la AW’s offensive mode, that you surely despise). Looking forward from August to now, both Song and Arteta – in their best places – would have put us in a far better place. And to say that Ramsey was not mostly a liability (until these last two games) is equally blind about our point-dropping mediocrity. How many of Aaron’s profligate scoring miscues and errant passes did our side have to endure for you to now trumpet his seeming maturation as a silver lining for having become a non-factor in this season’s race?

  • bob

    “To be a great player you need the right attitude”
    Ok, so you actually know that Song’s attitude was wrong? That he couldn’t/wouldn’t make the necessary adjustments to his game as our situation would dictate? You know this? And if becoming a great player is the actual (as opposed to your rhetorical) criteria for keeping someone, well, then…we’d be a bit short there, mate. Ramsey’s work rate is first class. In Aaron, I haven’t seen the return to potential greatness you presume going forward. In Song I saw that potential. Fact is, we don’t know the secret yet of what happened there. In that vacuum I wager that he was allowed to exit in order to zero the transfer balance, nothing to do with your “attitude” issue with him.

  • ARSENAL 13


    People hated Song in the beginning, dint they. Only in the past 2 seasons the liking towards him changed. Even with Song in the line up (a big rock of a DM) we conceded more, thanx to his adventurous foray into the offence when not required.

    Why not give Ramsey the time he requires. Lets not forget he had a potential career threatening injury. He was trying hard to make things happen, but now (this year in general) he has relaxed a bit and has a more simple approach. And also, he has returned better than any other players who suffered big injuries.

  • elkieno

    Arsenal 13: well said, all these ppl saying we lost song that’s bad, Wenger out etc, forget that they use to berate him for his blind runs forward, forsaking his primary job of defending in front of back four. Also the pedestrian ways in which he would jog back when they counter.
    Arteta much, much preferred.
    Never pleasing everyone..

  • bob

    Nope, i din’t berate non of ‘is forward runs. Excitin’ stuff dere, mate. An’ You forget lovin’ ‘is overheads to Theo and RvP, eh? me, i Neva wanted AW out, buddy. Still don’. So don’ link da 2 points wit me, k?, buddy.

    An’ yus knowz dat Song kudn’ matuur, but Arin wud, fur certin? Wow. U d’man.

  • bob

    Arsenal 13,
    Oh, you mean WE conceded more because of SONG? He’s THE one reason you now remember to pick out of the memory banks? Ever here of scapegoating? You mean it was Song’s fault we conceded (where are your stats?) with no defensive backtracking or support: (a) from (out of position) Arshavin and (funky) Santos on the left? (Hello-where are they now?); and with only occasional to spotty help on the right, that is when Sagna wasn’t injured, so that many a time it was Djorou and the then new Jenkinson bein’ on da right? And lo, you find it convenient and accurate to put Song in the crosshairs? And, in case you forgot, there was no buys in that x-fer window two January’s ago when many of us (even) here was screamin’ how thinly stretched we was what with 4 simultaneous competitions and the injuries starting to fall like dominoes. Remember that? And (in parens) do you mean that Song wasn’t an impressive hard man when needed. No intimidation factor there? And was he protected from the refshite? You didn’t like his defiance at the very english 12th menacity from the hives of riley? really? Let me ask like this: is there something special about him that makes you actually put the blame at his feet in particular, whereas you anoint Aaron as the key to the future? And you actually feel we are better without him, this season? And conclude that we really wouldn’t have needed him before we dropped enough points to be safely out of contention before even this January didn’t strike? Selective memory here, amigo? Or is it you jus’ don’ fancy ‘im for your special reasons, whatever they are…?

  • ARSENAL 13

    Well, It wasnt his fault that we conceded more. But he wasnt a saint either.
    The point I am making is that this team would have performed same with him. Forget him. He is no more a Gunner. May be we can do better without Song Van Nasrigas. So were shipped off. That project has finally come to an end.

  • Shard


    Regarding Song. It’s true none of us know why he was sold. You attribute money as the reason for it, while his lack of positional discipline and poor attitude is cited by others. Note that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive positions.

    I was loathe to say it was due to his poor positional play that he was sold, and to some extent I still am. But if we say that Arteta is playing in Song’s position, and we presume that Wenger is happy with Arteta and the job he is doing, then it must be acknowledged that Song wasn’t doing the same role as Mikel Arteta is doing right now.

    Of course different circumstances and all that. Maybe Song was allowed the freedom to roam forward as much as he did. But I think it is reasonable to assume that we’re playing the way Wenger wants us to play now. Song might not have been the best player in that regard in the manager’s opinion.

    I always liked Alex Song. I still like him. None of this is meant to berate him. I must say I didn’t necessarily feel he wasn’t doing his job. But lots of people, even the less reactionary ones do. As such it is a bonafide position, and as I said, Arteta’s current play seems to suggest that Song wasn’t doing what the manager wanted from him (or it was felt he couldn’t do that role this year) Of course, the money on offer would have played a role too as selling Song for a lesser amount might not have appealed.

    Having said that, I think we do need a slightly more physical presence in there for certain games. So I would join in the demand for a ‘DM’, because I think it could help the team. At the same time, I think players like Coquelin and Yennaris have shown a lot of potential and deserve a chance in the team too. Similarly for the AM position with Eisfeld and Aneke. But I suppose with Arteta and Rosicky in their 30s, their chance will come if they stay patient and keep developing.

  • bob

    Arsenal 13,
    I don’t try to sanctify Song or anyone else. Moreover, let’s try this out on the “question” of being “a saint” or not (as if that could have anything to do with professional football):
    “We’re such great actors because we’re afraid to let people know who we are. We’ve been trained by our agents how to do interviews, how to present ourselves.” This is from the recent brilliant interview with gay ex-footballer Robbie Rodgers who has had to hide his identity and is an expert in matters of concealing one’s identity within this sport. If the agents are doing the training as part of the player’s self-presentation, then who can or cannot be said to have an “attitude problem” (except for Joey Barton and ilk when they encountered players of non-european descent).

  • bob

    p.s. that would be Robbie Rogers, and here’s the eye-opening analysis and interview:

  • bob

    I’m glad we’re sometimes still around to pick up a thread here and there! Cheers 🙂

    On Song, I agree that attitude and money aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s a good point. But what sways me against attitude is that no other player (i.e., from the inside) has uttered a complaint or good riddance against him. If he was bad enough to be rid of, I think that surely something would or could have come out. But all that surfaced was spoken by Bacary Sagna (who softly and publicly verbalized his discomfort over his and others departure – which the press seized on – and thereby marked and continues to mark him – according to some in the press [and yes, here in some UA comments] as ALSO having an “attitude problem” [i.e., like Song]).

    As to whether AW felt that “Arteta’s way” or “Song’s way” is what AW felt should prevail in our midfield, I think it’s fair to wait and see whether Arteta is continued there; and/or who, if anyone, AW/AFC decides to bring in (or promote) to play the position. If the person is more Song-like than Arteta-like, I would conclude that Song was moved along for money. As usual, it’s wait to the next transfer window to gain (sometimes) any clarity on the previous window. Anyway, more to come no doubt!

  • bob

    p.s. in any case, I think that keeping Song would have meant having (at the very minimum) quality ensurance at the ready for a midfield that was and continued to be injured, was therefore unready, was not-yet-gelling, and surely did not (or could not) consistently protect the backline. That is, AW/AFC overestimated (or disguised) the readiness and quality of the list of names bandied about at the time as our more than sufficient midfield. That laundry list was (in the summer and in January) and still is being waved like a triumphal flag. It’s not a done deal. And the injury curse (forseeable then and now and for the future?) went unabated (witness: wilshere out, diaby down and out, ramsey perhaps coming into full bloom, cazorla happily just now – with our far fewer games due to the eliminations – rested enough to finally be a Consistent blessing).

  • bob

    A last idea on this (my swansong):
    I think that with RVP and Theo up front, Song was encouraged to roam/foray/ravage forward. That is, to try and overwhelm the oppostion with more offense than the occasional defensive lapse would cost us. In that context, Song’s “offensive tendencies” (which offend some, whilst exciting others – and sometime the same person!) shouldn’t now be held forth (not that you are) as THE football (non-money) reason for getting rid of him thatfast.
    Anyway, c’est la guerre….

  • WalterBroeckx

    off topic: After losing the triple a few weeks ago now also no double for the little boy inside either.

  • bob

    If you would, how to say “the little boy inside” in Dutch?
    Perhaps, this time around, that could be translated into as many languages as “the great turnaround” was last season hereabouts. Anyone out there with a translation?

  • bob

    …that is, in time to coincide with RVP’s exalted return and intended victory lap at the Ems.

  • Matt Clarke

    Google translate has it (“the little boy inside”) as,

    “de kleine jongen binnen”

  • Matt Clarke

    Although, a likely better source (, quotes,

    “Kleine jongen in mijn binnenste schreeuwde om Manky United”

  • Shard


    If Arsene brings in someone like Song, it just proves that he wants someone to complement Arteta, not replace him (I believe Coquelin can replace Arteta eventually) It doesn’t prove that Song was sol for money, since the player coming in will also cost money, and perhaps more than Song was sold for. I’m reluctant to say why he was sold because we’ll never know either way, and it doesn’t matter now. Oh, but I do agree about his forays forward. Not necessarily because of Van Persie and Walcott, but because we had no Cazorla. Nor Wilshere it must be remembered. Ramsey seemed drained, and Rosicky just came back towards the end. Song was very important for us last year. No two ways about it. All the same, I don’t think keeping Song would have made us champions or challengers. Nor, for that matter, am I sure it would have happened if we’d forced Van Persie to stay.


    A question for you. Which of our young players would you like given a chance next year? Would their presence have an impact on who you bring in (or what positions you buy in)?

  • A. Stewart

    Never understand why people call Song undisciplined.

    Tell me, wasn’t Arteta playing in exactly the same role last season as this season? Therefore, Song was not intended to be our DM. Feel free to question the merit of that decision, but the point was Song was tasked with being our creative midfielder in the absence of Fabregas, Nasri and an injured Wilshere (plus Diaby), and he did quite a good job at it (of course RvP had a lot to do with that, but Song was showing hints of having such attacking ability in his locker from before ) While still being the only physical midfielder and STILL being our best midfielder in a defensive sense.

    People need to get over what they think Song should have been doing, and analyze what he was tasked/encouraged to do by Wenger ( pretty sure Wenger said as much about Song’s intended attacking play)… Doing what you are tasked to do is actually being DISCIPLINED.

    Thank Goodness Song was able to do what he did last season, because I shudder to think of who else could have provided the service that he did last season..

    Before last season he was tasked with a more defensive role and stuck more to that area of the pitch, again showing discipline, as he also did when being tasked with a sporadic CB role.

    Not to mention for a player who played almost every game..he never got hurt, was always available and hardly ever got sent off (he knew how to play on a yellow)…Not only was he reliable from a fitness point of view, but also from a discipline (i.e. cards) point of view.

    People like to say Song directly cost us so many goals by being out of position or with niggling fouls, yet can’t name any/or more than couple at best (and again that’s for a player who played ALL THE TIME).

    I’m not here to sanctify him either, but I’m not buying this attitude thing either as leaving no recourse other than to sell him (there are so many other options, disciplinary options etc to be taken before selling a player, and a key play under contract at that). Aren’t Managers paid to deal with things as they arise, if a manager sold a player every time there was an issue/dispute, there wouldn’t be any players playing today!

    But consider this, we never really heard of Song’s attitude, one that was so rotten that the only option was to sell, before he was to be sold, and predictably we haven’t heard of it, FROM ANY ONE INSIDE THE CLUB, no leak, not even an unnamed source, no departed player, nothing since. By all account Song has always been a quiet guy at AFC (yes he had some problems with this NT), well liked, and never was in any trouble off or on the field!! Never was in the paper for the wrong reasons, was a hardworking and dedicated family man from he was very young, never had a bad word to say about the club, and NEVER took a shot at the club since leaving, even though he easily could have by feeling disgruntled. Yet all of a sudden we are to believe he was the second coming of Balotelli and such a bad apple in an instant?

    Perhaps he wanted an improved contract, which player doesn’t these days? And by what he was reportedly paid in comparison to many players on the team who contributed so much less, he deserved the modest (reportedly around 70k) he was seeking. And don’t bother with he had years to run on his contract angle, because as we see, the club had renegotiated so many contracts with years to run in recent times.

    No-one knows exactly what happened, but it’s a very mysterious sale, I’d love UA to dig a little deeper on this. Personally (and I could be very wrong) with time winding down in the transfer window and at negative transfer balance, virtually the ONLY player with any value that could be sold for a decent fee(that wasn’t injured or coming off rocky form) was Song. And unfortunately for the chap he had to go.

    Sorry for the length but I feel very strongly about this issue.

    Regarding the match, good game, glad to see Gervinho contributing statistically, he’s a very dangerous player if for nothing more than he causes havoc with his unpredictable play, I think he needs to get a little more in control of his movements and play, he seems a little out of control at times, if he can refine his play and his finishing and final decision, he will be a very very good player.

  • bob

    A. Stewart,
    Very well argued on Song, imo; and lo, we’re left in the mystery.
    A possible answer is it would have been the last of the clients of dein the lesser. (song switched to dein earlier last year, well before the summer – which, btw, i do hold against him). But few had also then realized that vermaelen (I think) is actually the last of darren dein’s client. That said, however, even as dein has asset-stripped us, there seems to have been a willing counterparty to the transaction: he’s also helped AFC bean counters to earn their xmas bonuses by replenishing or adding to or zero net-xfer balancing the club coffers (via transations of our biggest with the world’s Biggest). To my guesstimate, there’s been a quid pro quo thereabouts that both agent and a faction of club accountants/mgmt would have both enjoyed. If Vermaelen leaves, that will be another such transaction; and it has me wondering aloud now whether Tommy V. – another dein-based Captain – is absent from the line-up now for (just) cause? It may be that LK is back to his near-best, but another current mystery is what exactly is it has happened to Tommy V., and why, and whither he goest and when…? Is he injured? on strike? being warned? stated he wants out? doing Dein’s/his bidding? being preserved so that both sides can benefit from his departure? the plot sickens….

  • bob

    Matt Clarke,
    Beautiful link on the wee one within! Cheers 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    The translation in correct Dutch is :
    “De kleine jongen binnen in”

  • bob

    Thanks, Walter.

    Alright then, so far here’s a start:
    …my inner child
    …De kleine jongen binnen in
    …the wee one within

    Any other languages out there?

    These could be held up on signs by fans to greet the man-child himself on his/her/its returns to the Ems – studsup – to humbly applaud us for having given him the gift of the Rednose XX.
    Why not?

  • Adam

    @A.Stewart & bob, just a guess but maybe he was represented by “you know who” and AFC used him to get the point across to the rest of the squad that Arsenal won’t be fuc*ked with anymore.

    So Song ends up a lesson learned if not earned.

  • A. Stewart

    Thanks Bob, and interesting take on the Dein angle and Vermaelen. But like you alluded to, to me it’s somewhat hypocritical to publicly value profitability (seemingly over sporting success) as much as AFC does these days with our recent “sustainable” model that is based largely off player sales, and then on the other hand curse the parties that feed it. Such as City (as AFC has been on the largest beneficiaries of their spending), or Dein facilitating these huge profits off key player sales that feed the model, and that the model wouldn’t exist as we now know it, without.

    On to Song, I just find it disturbing that so many in an effort to give the club a free pass on a very murky sale, just bought hook line and sinker rumours about Song’s character without seemingly any curiosity.


    Many players angling for a move, thinking they’ve outgrown the club, angling for more money etc..find ways of getting their noise heard in the press..Song never made a peep.

    Also many players who feel wronged take a parting shot at the club, it’s all too common these days, Song never said a bad word about AFC, never openly flirted with other clubs like many gooners gone, who are still revered etc.

    As you stated and I agree, if there a very disruptive player, one as alleged in Song’s case so disruptive that to render the situation irreconcilable, then surely some information or details would have leaked out before, during and after the saga, yet this situation popped out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.

    Something just doesn’t add up. The player’s name was never in the news for the wrong reason in many years as an AFC player, never had off-field problems (nor on field really), always spoke kindly and appreciative of Wenger and the opportunity given to him, and was always well spoken about by team-mates.

    It’s very difficult to accept that Alex Song left the club with NO CHOICE other than to sell, one of their better and constantly improving players. I mean seriously clubs just don’t discard players (especially those key players well under contract) so quickly because of contract grievances, or even far woes transgressions. Usually there are chances given, progressive discipline if necessary, dropping a player, whatever it takes BEFORE settling for the only recourse being to get rid, and in this modern age of instant leaking of information etc, it’s curious that in all these years of being a well thought of person, he never had bad press warranting progressive discipline, never mind selling.

    It also goes against a lot of what Wenger has complained about recently, in that he spends time developing these players and then they leave when they should have stuck around coming into their own. Yet he just gets rid of a player who fits that bill perfectly (one he showed faith in when few did, and who developed leaps and bounds, and who by all accounts wanted to stay)?

    Makes no sense.

    It’s pretty well known the club (and many of its fans) is proud of its record of profitability/no losses in the transfer market, and to me it seems as though they didn’t want to blemish that transfer window with a very rare net loss. Of course on the back of another disappointing season but great profitability they can’t come out and say we want to sell one of our better players to maintain profitability, so a cover was needed, and had to be done through leaks from surrogates, correct me if I’m wrong someone (and I’ll stand humbly corrected if needed), but to date the club to the best of my knowledge has never given an official clear explanation of the Song sale..

    Some say why does it matter now, I say it matters not because it was Song individually per se, but if what many suspect is true about that sale it matters because it alludes the club’s policies, and will happen again and again if not exposed.

  • Mahdain

    @bob i strongly think that the main reason for Song being sold was Darren Dein. He must have filled his head with venom of big paychecks elsewhere hence maybe Song forced his way out. I guess we will never find out unless Wenger himself comes out and speak about it…

  • bob

    But Tommy V is also repped by we know who. If Song’s fate was an object lesson to players, what then to make of the current co-Captain Tommy V mystery. Or do you not find any whiff of anything awry thereabouts? interested in your thoughts, for sure…

  • Mahdain

    I remember reading somewhere that Dein was offering Song to other clubs while waiting to negotiate(or negotiating?) a new deal with Arsenal. That may have prompt the sale though as always we might never know if that really was the case

  • Mahdain

    Tommy V has the same agent as horseface (Voss) but we all know who is calling the shots with them i.e Dein the Lesser. Lets hope Vermy decides to give him a middle finger as Theo did and stays on.

  • bob

    A. Stewart,
    Fully agree with your passion and clarity on this.

    I agree with you on Dein’s proven whispers in the ear having their intended impact. A question is whether Song was manipulated by Dein into wanting to re-do the contract (especially when the unpaid likes of Arshavin and others too painful to mention were drawing even more money than he was asking) and then AFC right there so fast to say, oh no, you’re outta here. And straight off to one of Dein’s (and AFC’s) favored destinations, Barfa. And this just after a couple of weeks of tapping-up by Bousquets and Pujol to set the scene. I wonder whether those x-cesc boy toys have apologized to Song for having lured him to a place on the bench. There’s a number of dirty players in this it seems to me. But the worst scenario would be that Dein and someone(s) at AFC had this scenario in place (for their mutual benefit) and Song fell into a trap (which appealed to his combined vanity and anger at being paid so comparatively little for so much output whilst the non-players at AFC did just as well or better)?
    I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this Untold mystery….

  • bob

    The young guns that have most excited me have been Ryo and Eisfeld. Then Ryo is seriously injured at Wigan. Really upsets me that loss. Eisfeld yes, and maybe Campbell. If healthy, they’ll be taken along on another (we’ve disagreed on this, but to me an overall harmful) Asia-Africa tour and will see some time, but I don’t see much coming out of it. To overcome the splash-money (purported to be on hand) that must result in one big name (to mollify the fanbase), I suspect that they’d have to make a quantum-leap in their development and create a groundswell among the fanbase for their inclusion. But if I were a betting man, I’d say maybe one of the three get a spot on the bench and the other two loaned out for further seasoning (or is it basting, like a turkey, for another sell-off?)…
    What do you think, Shard?

  • Adam

    bob, I’m of the opinion that Song’s agency went looking for an improved contract, using Barcelona’s interest as a bargaining tool. Song uses the same agency as Fabregas, TV uses the same agency as RVP, But the consensus of opinion (and that’s all it is) is that Dein comes in at that level between player & agency as a consultant or even if he doesn’t they’re still proven tactics to get a player a pay rise or move.

    The agencies I refer too are Kick & Run sports management and SEG (sports entertainment group). Both use the media as an advertising tool to the detriment of squad stability.

    K&R, Their clients include Clichy, Adebayor, Fabregas, Song. Do you see a pattern emerging. This agency currently has no Arsenal players.

    SEG, Their clients include RVP, TV. And it’s up to TV how his Arsenal career goes but he has got on my nerves recently.

    I personally believe that Arsenal have had enough of this Kick & Run agency.

    Mondial sports is another agency that concerns me and they got the signature of Oxlade-chamberlain recently but he is contracted to us until 2018 (protected period until 2016). This agency is massive and they can spot talent as they have some excellent players on their books. But again they use the media well.

    At the moment Arsenal seem to prefer Base soccer, Goalkick sports management, key sports as well as others individual choices.

    Another agency we have a lot of history with is SEM (sports entertainment management) who Darren Dein used to work for. Yet these boys moved into the takeover business along time ago and have influenced football from behind the scenes for some time now. They started out as agents to Arsenal’s players via Jerome Anderson’s relationship with David Dein. You will more than likely find that it’s these boys behind a lot of the takeovers in English football along with the likes of Pini Zahavi. So what started at Arsenal some how came back to bite them.

    All this though bob is still only opinion and my ramblings.

    I feel some more articles are on the way?

  • Shard

    haha..basting.. I guess by now the Arsenal chaps are master basters 🙂 aka a wunch of bankers 🙂

    If I’m being honest, I’m really torn on this. I want some top signings to be made, but I would love some young players to make the grade as well. The ones who are closest in my view are Miquel, Yennaris and Eisfeld, and maybe Gnabry. Ryo, sadly has been injured all year and needs to get fit. With him and Frimpong, I fear that due to injuries, their development has stalled enough to prevent them from making the grade at Arsenal. I hope I’m wrong.

    I think the signing we’re definitely going to see is a striker.
    We should also be signing a goalkeeper, because I think Fabianski will leave. And I think we need a GK to challenge Szcz anyway. Martinez takes the No.3 slot.

    We’re less likely to see an AM (even though I think we need more creativity) We could also move the Ox in there with Gnabry, Eisfeld and Bellerin able to play RW.

    I think we might sign a DM who can also play CB (Song-like), which would allow the likes of Miquel, and Yennaris to occasionally fill in one of the two slots.

    I think expecting more than 3 signings would be too much so in summary, we’ll sign a GK, DM (who can cover at CB) and a striker. We’ll give the likes of Martinez, Miquel, Yennaris, Eisfeld and Gnabry some chances to impress. Which to me, would be a more than decent squad. Now if we could just finish 3rd this season 😀

  • bob

    Thanks, your institutional info is greatly appreciated. Dein’s interfacings and brokerings have been part of the chemistry but in the black box, in the evidence of things unseen, and yet reported. We can’t specify his hand at work (by design), and yet he’s widely regarded as transnational uberagent who does the business. Yes, it’s consensus and not gotcha empirical, but his role in the departures of our top players is based on more than smoke, if less than smoking gun. Your K&R agency find is really interesting; but not (as yet) a Dein connection, eh? 🙂 Last thing: do you flat-out reject the idea that Dein is/has been found to be useful by some (unnameable) elements at AFC who see in Dein an ability to get a “decent” (acceptable) return on the sale (ROS) of our best? That is, Darren Damien Dein as a useful broker who ensures that everyone gets something out of the asset-stripping operation (my contention), and thereby makes it palatable if not (for some as the “selling club”) desirable?

  • bob

    sorry, meant (for some AT the “selling club”….

  • Adam

    bob, are you stating that Arsenal use Dein to get the best out of a deal?

  • bob

    I so hope for that clincian/poacher/predator with the killer touch in the final third as the purchase that excites. If that unsettles some who will have (even) less playing time, then that is what the finishers have and their coaches are either more or less adept with rotations and assuaging bruised egos. The hurt feelings are part of this well-paid profession and come with the ruthlessness that it takes to compete at the very top. So yes to the striker! (as we’ve agreed since last August).

    And yes, of course! a Song-like (but not Song-lite) will do very nicely at DM, please. Now, not that I think that it will happen (lest all the secrets come out), but just as a thought experiment, if AW wanted it (or not), would you want Song back to re-kindle and continue his development track (whether as starting xi or from off the bench)? It’s a tough one to find and replace methinks, but I’m not paid the big bucks to do it. Its difficulty (that balance) is one reason why I’ve been so upset because I think Song was coming into greater inegrative balance at the position and his departure became a self-inflicted wound that hopefully will be filled this summer.

    And I did forget about your man Gnabry – yeah, he’s on my favorites list too! The youth potential does seem not bad at all, but, of course, and as ever, we can’t know how consistently good anyone can be in this massively inexact science. I love the idea of the young prodigy or late bloomer who makes it (wilshere) big; but it is an addictive idea that rarely comes to pass. So, I guess, I don’t want to get cold feet about the splashing for quality (including quality in depth), now that there’s the purported 70M war chest. (Of course a severe decline in attendance, because of the economy, would presumably kill the dream.)

  • bob

    I am not stating it. In the absence of transparency (as you well can appreciate) I am floating “it” – this extended idea – as a hypothesis: That Arsenal is not a monolith. That there are competing views (factions) of what is the best way forward on a given trade or trades at ye old HQ. And that what Dein can deliver in terms of ROS (return on sale) is (and has been) well understood. And that a decision must be taken to unload or (rarely) to say no; and that for some of those in the decision-making seats (yes plural, not just one), that unloading at a profit, or zeroing out the transfer balance, can be reason enough to deal with Dein (as Plan B), or, for some, to intend to deal with Dein from outset (as Plan A). I’m saying that this is a huge, cutthroat business and we should face the facts that Shame is neither a convenient nor a viable operating principle for a pro sports business. And that Dein is not necessarily just a predatory figure; but sometimes becomes, for some at HQ, a necessary evil. I don’t think we will have seen the last of him either. He brings players money and players (like Song, which as I’ve said is the piece I do hold against him) are free to switch to him as their interests dictate. If AFC has now taken an absolute stand against K&R and/or DDD, then I would have genuine respect. But I cannot be sure and do not, Adam, invest that kind of faith in the Board, Gazidis, SS or AW. I love the latter, but he’s not lasted all these years by being transparent to a fault. The problem is that there’s not a lot to go on because we’re shut out. But I do think that a lot of football business success involves the acute ability to successfully lie to a proven more-than-gullible fan base. So that’s my current (evolved or devolved as it may be) thinking on how it works: in sum, ruthless pragmatism and the ability to perfume it as principle. I’m not wedded to this, nor especially wish to defend it; but it’s what I’m honestly thinking these days and wish it weren’t so, but I think it’s so.

  • Arvind


    @Bob: Thanks for that link on Robbie Rogers. It was a fantastic read .. and big big props to the guy for having the guts to do it. I just wish the world wasn’t so vicious.

  • bob

    Yes! I’m really glad it touched you, Arvind. It is a fantastic read and RR is a role model for being such a truth-teller. And to then say how much the agents rehearse the players to hide whatever they may really be thinking is alone worth the price of admission. And his courage to come out now, and to explain how dangerous it really is to do so in football, is really speaks volumes about the backwardness (to put it politely) of the dominant culture of football at the moment.

  • Arvind

    Yes that’s so unfortunate. The ‘rehearse and fake’ bit… not only is it fake and an utter falsehood (albeit probably needed, but that’s another topic), I think it is a dis-respect to the fans (who by the way have their own set of neanderthalistic problems) and a terrible way to learn life’s lessons.

    All these young men and women will retire by 35 (bar a few) and will then believe that…that is the way to lead life. Pretend. Fake. Do whatever. Maybe that is far too cynical a viewpoint…but these things depress me a lot.

    Yes football is in a bad state..certainly. Really..what would you expect with Mr. (‘Women should wear tight shorts’) Blatter at the helm?… but they are more a symbol of why the world is in such an awful mess…everywhere.

    p.s.. Aren’t you somewhere in the USA? NYC? If I remember? Let me know (via Tony/Walter maybe if they’re fine) … could meet up sometime someday. Never know.

  • bob

    I’ll ask Walter soon. be well.

  • bob

    To expand, millions of fans have fallen in love with agent-manufactured and reheared images of players who they/we think we actually know as people. What an emotional wasteland…

  • A. Stewart

    @ Adam, forgetting for a second who Song’s agency was and hypothesizing about the club issuing a backlash specifically because of his representatives…

    I have a few questions:

    1 – On pure merit(contribution/production/improvement), do you think Alex Song deserved improved terms?

    2 – Considering the previous question, do you think Song deserved improved terms considering he reportedly was:
    a) On less than many players who didn’t contribute near as much as him, or practically didn’t play at all etc.
    b) Wanted a pretty modest package in the range of 70K.

    3 – Like many players who have come and gone before at AFC (and all over football for that matter) wanting improved terms, did Alex Song destabilize the club, hold them at ransom, publicly angle in the media for his contract, openly/disrespectfully flirted with other clubs with controversial and strategically placed/damaging public comments? (and when he did leave did he take parting shots at the club?)

    4 – Hasn’t the club before and since Song’s departure improved the terms (length/pay) of several players (some of which arguably contributed much less than Song) with similar/more time to run on their contracts?

    I know what my answers are to these questions and it’s difficult to think the club would in essence spite a player who: has constantly improved; was one of their most productive players; most fit/available player (a big deal at AFC); was until this thought as a model humble pro especially in this age of excess; versatile; very experienced (including internationally) but still young; and who by all accounts WANTED TO STAY;… simply because of who his representatives were to send a statement?

    It further makes less sense since one of Wenger’s chief complaints is that he has been hard done by young players he invested a lot of faith in that should in his view stuck around to realize their potential as they start entering their prime and thus repay that faith. Yet Song fit that bill perfectly as the type of player he should want to stay.

    I think the easy thing to do is make Song/His agents the easy target here for blame, and toss accusations of greed, bad attitude around, rather than take a deeper look at the club’s perhaps (imo) profit-driven motivations for his ultimate sale.

    The players are always the easiest target, the machine isn’t..And note, I’m not necessarily thinking it was Wenger’s doing, perhaps he was forced to cash in? Who knows…

    I hope one day Song speaks up and shed some light on what happened, unfortunately (or fortunately) it just seem like his character to do so. Even depsite being painted out of nowhere as almost the second coming of Balotelli.

  • A. Stewart

    And just need to mention, wanting an improved contract does not automatically an evil/disruptive/greedy player make.

    There seems to be this “oh well he/his people wanted an improved contract” acceptable justification for his sale..

    A player, or any worker in any profession wanting to increase their earnings especially commensurate with their value and in-line with what peers in their organization earn is pretty normal and acceptable, especially when gone about the right way, and more importantly especially when deserved through performance, attendance and reliability.

  • Adam


    I’m working my way through your comment.
    1. Yes, I like song and would have liked for him to have seen out his career at Arsenal.

    2, Im not sure on all the players’ wages but song deserved a general’s wages as that’s how I saw him (our general).

    3. He seemed a chap who just got on with his trade.

    4. Agree, but again I don’t know what truly went on? And how much some players earn.

    I do agree with what you’re saying, I’m just putting options out there and my own opinions are not set in stone.

    I’m interested in the background of football and I have noticed the ebb and flow of certain agencies dealings with Arsenal. I’m always open to being wrong, however I have noticed that some agencies are now favoured when we renegotiate contracts and other players who have been with the same agents have now been moved on.

    I see that as influential and worth mentioning. I think what it comes down to is transparency.

  • Shard

    A. Stewart

    We don’t really know whether Song wanted a new contract, and whether the reports of his demands being 70k per week are accurate. But let’s say they are. The same report also said that he demanded the pay rise before the transfer window shut. That, in my view, is blackmail, and not behaviour commensurate with an employee who wants to stay. That is an employee holding his company’s dealings to ransom while making his demands.

    As I said, we’re not sure whether the reports were true or not, and as such I don’t put much value on them, but you are selectively quoting from those reports.

  • whoosh what a nice atmosphere,the kids are enjoying themselves in front of their dad and mum.The sewer rats are no more,the morons are quaking under the sewers as it was in the beginning it is now,ooh what a world. Gunners give us more we are just enjoying and learning what we never knew keep it up.