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July 2021

Its not all about winning penalty shootouts you know – those Germans can think a good game too

Regular readers of this blog (and those like ‘the man from Row 15’ who like to comment when things are not going so well), will know that occasionally I like to pontificate on the more cerebral issue of philosophy and what it has to offer us humble followers of the beautiful game. In previous posts we have looked at the Stoics and at Aquinas and Anselm and first of all at Mr. Wittgenstein and his views on football. And so, en homage to the latest (world class) recruit to the swelling ranks of the Arsenal midfield, this week’s post is dedicated to the great German tradition of philosophy.

Anyone who is familiar with the work of messers Cleese, Palin, Jones et al will of course recall that glorious football match between the rival philosophies of the Greek and Germanic republics.

Whilst there are many to choose from ‘Nobby’ Hegel is perhaps the most influential of the German philosophers, whilst at the same time his work is almost impenetrable. Indeed, Marx once remarked that reading his mentor’s work was like watching Stoke play away from home – it was as if he had “parkte den Bus“.

But if we persevere with Hegel we find that the key message he has for us is in the value of history. By studying our history we can better understand our place in the world. This is, of course, a big problem for Chelsea and Manchester City fans, who have no history, but I digress.

History, Hegel argued, is a process that shapes our lives and the choices we make within them. True freedom is not (as many Enlightenment thinkers argued) about being free to choose this or that path without interference. This is a fallacy Hegel wrote, because we are in fact being controlled by the ‘historical forces’ that govern our own times (i.e TESCO, UEFA, FIFA, PGML and MOTD).

These ‘dark forces’ shape our decision-making and effectively force or trick us into choices we don’t wish to make. So, instead of accepting this partial freedom, Nobby says that we must seize control of these forces, take over and use them to our advantage if we really want to be free.

Marx understood this when he told us to shake off our chains and challenge the power of international capitalism (based at the Etihad). We see this ideal come to fruition when Wilshere and Ramsey jettison the handbrake and release the power of St. Cazorla, the Mighty Ox and Theodosius Walcott.

If the Arsenal are to truly break free of the chains that bind us it will someday be necessary to reconfigure the seating arrangements at Nyon in Switzerland and lock a certain M. Platini in the basement until he learns to behave himself. So while Hegel might have metaphorically parked the bus with his writing his message is one that all Gooners can happily sign up to.

I’d like to finish with a much less confrontational German philosopher, one who is perhaps more Ozil than Podolski if you will allow the analogy. Alexander Baumgarten was born in Germany in 1714, indeed before there was even a Germany (which shows great foresight in my opinion*).

Baumgarten developed the ancient Greek theory of aisthesis (sensation or perception) to reflect the growth of commercial art in the modern world.   Thus, he argued that there was such a thing as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ art, defined what we call ‘taste’, and gave the world aesthetics.

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In doing so he influenced many that came after him (but rarely anyone from Stoke) and especially a certain Frenchman who grew up near the German border at Alsace-Lorraine. If you take a look at the masthead of this very blog you will see that it reads: “I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art.”

How true Monsieur Wenger, how very true.

More next week from your resident Dr Blacksheep63

*suggestions that his mother placed a large towel somewhere in northern Europe is a scurrilous piece of unsubstantiated gossip however.

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The sites from the same team…

39 comments to Its not all about winning penalty shootouts you know – those Germans can think a good game too

  • WalterBroeckx

    Sorry for going off topic in the first comment but as you were talking about Germans you must have a look. Unless your pissed off by us signing Özil of course.

  • Walter,

    I have seen that video used in different contexts but it kills all the time. One of the most memorable scenes in film history ever (due to YouTube views of course). Quentin Tarantino is one badass director!

  • colario

    On Tuesday evening I met up with a friend who of course knows of my love of Arsenal. His first words to me were of congratulations. I was ouzzled. Did he mean for Sunday’s result, Monday’s outcome or both? It was for Sunday’s result he didn’t know about Monday. When I told him he was in awe.

    I have an internet friend who is a life long spud. We talk football but we keep the conversation clean and respectful.
    For example I didn’t gloat about Sunday’s result, my comment was on how it came about and expressed my doubts for the return in March.

    Thanks for the link. As much as I would like to send him the link you’ve given, I don’t think I can its just a bit too strong.

  • Mick

    Walter that is so funny, can’t stop laughing.

  • That was great viewing; hilarious.

  • LRV

    I am really cracking up; and it is your fault Walter. Ho ho ho, Ha ha ha!

  • LRV

    Ho ho ho, Ha ha ha! I am really cracking up; and it is your fault Walter.

  • blacksheep63

    funny as this is Walter a few words of caution, this film has been used on many occasions to poke fun at various clubs/situations but this one, in its juxtaposition of Daniel Levy (a Jew) as Hitler might not be in the best of taste. The reference to Bale as ‘monkey boy’ is also a tad dubious. People were half halfheartedly signing that on Sunday and I think its a bit close to the knuckle. We can enjoy beating Sp*rs and signing Ozil and stay classy. No offence intended nor any accusations made, I’m sure its all good innocent fun, just an opinion

  • blacksheep63

    Bootoomee, Downfall (the film in question) isn’t one of Tarantino’s, it was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. It is brilliant though!Perhaps you were thinking of Inglourious Basterds?

  • Darsh

    Hegel probably would have gone even further, in that not only do these forces shape how individuals think, but also produce individuals. In terms of football, how we even think football is the proliferated terms used and so forth.

    We need some Heidegger! He was on another level to Wittgenstein

  • Florian

    Oh my, I can’t believe it! The Levy association will make sure this link will not spread too far, but the “Almunia on crack” and the lasagna comments made my day!

  • blacksheep63,

    You are right! My bad 🙂

  • Arvind

    Didn’t see the link but I’d like to follow up on blacksheep63’s monkeyboy comment. For a league, country and world which is so sensitive to racism..monkeyboy is very very close to it. Specially if you look at people throwing bananas on the pitch and making monkey noises and all that. I for one find it very ugly and wish Arsenal fans would stop doing it.

  • greencardusa

    I understand our euphoria and the joy of gaining an advantage; but this form of gloating is low – has neither taste nor aesthetic. It celebrates the depths. The blog as usual is enjoyable, but the distracting comment I can do without.

  • bob

    “as you were talking about Germans…”
    That’s a pretty sorry segue to the off tropics.
    While the link-up is very clever and it’s subtitles are well timed, I cannot see any but the most extremist of neo-nazified Germans linking Levy and Adolf H, just to make a triumphalist football point in the bubbly spirits of the moment. Perhaps the film re-maker was drunk with victory, as Adolf H. had been in his early days. Can’t decide whether a red flag or two yellows are in order.

  • bob

    “Unless your pissed off by us signing Özil of course…”
    No, I love (repeat) the Ozil signing. Not at your best here…

  • Shard

    oh come on… There’s nothing wrong with the film clip. It’s just a bit of humour. If it rubs someone the wrong way that’s on them. Humour, like anything else, that doesn’t push the boundaries, is stale. This one doesn’t even do that. It’s not a new concept or anything. It’s the sort of thing used in many contexts. I also remember seeing one after Lasagna-gate, where ‘Hitler’ was incensed that Yossi Benayoun had scored the goal that knocked them out. And I found that funny too.

    It’s not meant to offend anyone..Except Spurs fans, in a certain context.. It is not racist. It is not disrespectful to Jews. Nor does it trivialise everything that happened during the second world war. People need to relax about such things rather than look for ways to find something (potentially) offensive.

  • Shard

    BY the way… I like the article. 🙂

  • AL

    Really funny clip, hilarious.

  • bob

    When it come to this exercise, as with the diCanio’s coming thing from a few months ago, we don’t feel the same way about our respective historical wounds. We all have places where we draw lines and this one has crossed mine; just as you and others will draw lines at what offends your sense of what’s moral. This one has crossed my trip wires; and I say it, rather than be silent when it awakens real echoes (not paper or academic ones) that matter.

  • Shard


    Yes. Everyone draws the line differently. Say it by all means if something offends you. I have no problem with that. But surely you see the irony in calling someone who comes up with a video like that a neo-Nazi? You’re the one basically calling for censorship and demonising someone else’s viewpoint.

    It is a long established ‘meme’ ,so to speak, to make Hitler a joke. (Which by the way, doesn’t trivialise his crimes. It takes this powerful symbol he made himself, and turns it into a joke. An absurdity. Not that I particularly agree with doing that, but for a different reason)

    As you acknowledge, the link up and subtitles match quite well. To me that is all that it is, and what makes it funny. If you think it does anything else, that is your view. But just because I don’t agree with you, doesn’t make me a neo-Nazi, even if only by implication rather than accusation. That is what I take exception to, and not wanting to bring all of this up, all I said instead was to lighten up. You don’t have to agree with it, but you don’t have to resort to name calling either. Especially because clearly, the intention was not to hurt the sentiments you cherish.

  • bob

    My words were meant to comment on the “speaking about Germans” segue that Walter used. I did not intend to calling him a neo-Nazi, but was objecting to his using a reference to Germans
    (which I cite at the beginning of my posting) as a segue to this offensive video (imo). So this now is to clear up my unclarity on that point. Where I’m coming from is that I know quite a few fantastic Germans (real friends) and none of them would have made any such link in any video because of their sensitivity to their own history. That’s what I meant. And I didn’t call or imply you were a neo-Nazi either. So perhaps you’d lighten up on that implication that my unclarity may have cast. What I disagree with is your seemingly anything goes when it’s funny; because to me, not keen on post-modernist views (whether you identify as a post-modernist or not), history has a weight that still lives and lingers and meanings that still live and linger, and I know we both know this. Anyway, I hope this clears something up.

  • bob

    p.s. a further clarification of my pov: to say that it’s “only funny” is as much an interpretation as for me to say that it’s humor attached to AH as Levy carries social meanings for many people; even as for many people its humor stands in a separate realm independent of social history.

  • bob

    p.s. my last: today, the German state censors Nazi speech and public demonstrations. I do favor that, because of the history. I recognize the dangers of this position and don’t like what this can lead to. So yes, there’s an irony; but I don’t see a way out. This because I also recognize the dangers of absolute free speech in that it can easily lead to a nihilism which trashes everything as a joke, opening the gates to no standards at all. Anyway, not having another way to discuss this with you, perhaps you’d wish the last word on my above; and then we could agree to drop it in this thread hereabouts, and go back to football and its (not so tame) ramifications.

  • Tasos

    Experience Sundays NLD again, and again, and again……

  • elkieno

    Walter: Comedy is in the ‘mind’ of the beholder…
    Tasos: That is brilliant!
    All: COYG!

  • Brickfields Gunners



    SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
    DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
    SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
    DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”
    SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
    DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
    SON: “Oh! (With his head down).
    SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow $50?”
    The father was furious.
    DAD: “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior.”

    The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
    The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
    After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think:
    Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $ 50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

    DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”

    SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
    DAD: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.”

    The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
    SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!”
    Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

    DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”

    SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do.

    “Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
    The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness. It’s just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. Do remember to share that $100 worth of your time with someone you love? If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family and friends we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our family.

    Some things are more important.

  • WalterBroeckx

    That really touched me Brickfields. People will understand why in the future.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Loved that clip , Walter – many thanks ! And have promptly forwarded it to my nephew who is a long suffering Spud – that should brighten his day !
    Here’s more to make you guys laugh ….

    Men & Women

    1). Women are unpredictable. Before marriage, she expects a man. After marriage she suspects him, and after death she respects him.

    2). There was this guy who told his woman that he loved her so much that he would go thru hell for her. They got married – and now he IS going thru hell !

    3). A man inserted an ‘ad’ in the classifieds: “Wife wanted”. Next day, he received a hundred letters.
    They all said the same thing: “You can have mine.”

    4). When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: either the car is new or the wife.

    5.)It’s easy to tell if a man is married or not.Just watch him drive a car with a woman sitting beside him. If both his hands are on the wheel, you can be sure he is married.

    6)A man received a letter from some kidnappers. The letter read, “If you don’t promise to send us $100,000 I swear that we will kidnap your wife.”
    The poor man wrote back, “I am afraid I can’t keep my promise but I hope you will keep yours.”

    7)”What’s the matter, you look depressed.””I’m having trouble with my wife.”
    “What happened?”
    “She said she wasn’t going to speak to me for 30 days.”
    “But that ought to make you happy.”
    “It did, but today is the last day !”

    8)WOMAN –
    When she is 18 – She is a football, 22 men going after her….
    When she is 28 – She is a hockey ball, 8 men going after her.
    When she is 38 – She is a golf ball, 1 man hitting on her.
    When she is 48 – She is a pingpong ball, 2 men pushing to each other.

    9) MAN –
    At 20 – A man is like a coconut, so much to offer, so little to give.
    At 30 – He is like a durian **, dangerous but delicious.
    At 40 – He is like a watermelon, big, round and juicy.
    At 50 – He is like a mandarin orange, the season comes once a year.
    At 60 – He is just like a raisin, dried out, wrinkles and cheap.

    10) Marriage Humour –
    In the beginning, God created earth and rested.
    Then God created man and rested.
    Then God created woman.
    Since then, neither God nor man has rested.

    ** Click here to find out all about durians – the king of fruits .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks , Walter – this next one should make one all warm and fuzzy . Enjoy .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks , Walter – this next one should make one all warm and fuzzy . Enjoy .

    Number 4 reminds me of AKBs !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    No man is an island onto himself……..

    In Remote Tasmania

    Brian had been in Police work in Chester Wales for
    25 years.

    Finally sick of the stress, he quits his job and
    buys 50 acres of land in the hills in Tasmania as
    far from humanity as possible.
    He sees the postman once a week and gets groceries
    once a month. Otherwise it’s total peace and quiet..

    After six months or so of almost total isolation,
    someone knocks on his door. He opens it and a
    huge, bearded man is standing there.

    ‘Name’s Cliff, your neighbour from forty miles up
    the road. Having a Christmas party Friday night.
    Thought you might like to come at about 5:00…’

    ‘Great’, says Tom, ‘after six months out here I’m
    ready to meet some local folks Thank you.’

    As Cliff is leaving, he stops. ‘Gotta warn you. Be
    some drinking’.’

    ‘Not a problem’ says Tom. ‘After 25 years in the
    business, I can drink with the best of ’em’.

    Again, the big man starts to leave and stops.
    ‘More ‘n’ likely gonna be some fighting’ too.’

    ‘Well, I get along with people, I’ll be all right! ..
    I’ll be there. Thanks again.’

    ‘More’n likely be some wild sex, too,’

    ‘Now that’s really not a problem’ says Tom,
    warming to the idea. ‘I’ve been all alone for six
    months! I’ll definitely be there.. By the way,
    what should I wear?’

    ‘Don’t much matter. Just gonna be the two of us

  • Shard


    I’ll explain why I’m against a ban on Nazi stuff some other day. Like you, I have a problem with Hitler as a joke figure, although for different reasons than you, but this problem doesn’t stop me from finding things funny. I agree that history has a weight. I disagree that this weight should always rest so heavy so as to preclude humour. But as you say, let’s leave this for now. We’ll talk about this some time later.

  • HenryB

    I am an addict!

    Yes, I am prepared to stand up and admit my weakness.

    My addiction is football, including the frustrations of the transfer window and trying to glean info about who we have or have not bought.
    I also think long and hard about football tactics, strategies and the whys and wherefores of when and who to bring on or take off when substitutions are necessary.

    I am not good at any of it. But I am an addict and love it all.

    Then there are the witty, wise and knowledgeable bloggers, endemic to all blog sites, who sail through all these matters with ease, and explain everything the simple addict like me needs to know.

    And do you know what? The more I read their explanations, the more I realize that for every problem or concern I have, however complex, there is someone who has a solution and an explanation that is simple, neat, and usually wrong.

  • Shard

    Henery B

    I find it offensive that you are mocking addicts…

    But you are funny 😀

  • Shard


    I find it offensive that you are mocking addicts…

    But you are funny 😀

  • Shard

    Apologies for the double post. I thought I’d caught the spelling mistake in time..

  • HenryB


    I would not dream of mocking football addicts, after all I am one.

    It is said, men laughed at Copernicus, men laughed at Gallileo, men laughed at football addicts, but who’s laughing now? Not me.

    No, I was gently pointing out the myriads of bloggers who teem through the blogs and have all the football related answers, including, if asked, the meaning of life the universe and all that, and fulfil their enjoyment by telling the less intellectually endowed addicts, such as myself, the answers.

  • Pat

    I just watched the interview with Mesut Oezil on Arsenal Player. Very, very enjoyable!

    Arsene Wenger gets the full credit for his signing.

    He seems like a decent man, unassuming but fully aware of his own talent and potential. Says Arsenal’s technical, attacking game is what attracts him. One touch football.

    Says he is sure we can win things this year.

    Come on Mesut!