I’ve been in Cardiff for a couple of days, having managed to tie together a couple of meetings with today’s game.
I’ve driven past the hotel where the lads are staying, and if I were writing in the pop press or for ITV or BBC I’d be “sampling the atmosphere”, but in truth there hasn’t been any.
I saw a youngster walking along the shopping street with an Arsenal shirt (Nasri on the back) on saturday afternoon but that’s about as exciting as it got. The Bay is all very lovely and modern, lots of restaurants and very innovative building designs, but there’s not much awareness of football. (The wind off the Bristol Channel was something else however and I think it was snowing last night).
But as is the way of the world you can always rely on the old timers remember a thing or three, talking of past links between the clubs, and of course Cardiff’s future with a new stadium opening next season opposite the crumbling relic that they currently use.
I last saw Cardiff against Arsenal sometime in the early 1960s (I might still have the programme if I were to hunt for it), and the ground hasn’t changed since then. Not a pretty sight.
The current talking points are (in no particular order), ticket allocation, whether the Lord Wenger (whom the locals rather disrespectfully call “Wenger”) puts out the kiddies team, Aaron Ramsey and Terry Burton.
Ticket allocation has annoyed just about everyone in the city. While I used our two silver memberships to get tickets online (total time taken about 1 minute 30 seconds), season ticket holders at Cardiff have been on the phone day after day just trying to get through. I appreciate that the club doesn’t normally have sell outs, but surely it wouldn’t have taken much preparation to get sorted for the occasions when they do. They were in the cup final last year and so presumably had to make arrangements then.
So there’s lots of regular supporters who have not got tickets, who are mumbling darkly (or possibly in Welsh, which I don’t speak, but which more widespread in its use year by year).
As for the team, while I think we are all fairly sure that’s its pretty much the regular crew, with minor changes to allow for two games in a week and West Iceland at home next weekend, there is chitchat here that the little ones will play, and Cardiff might just get one over us, as Burnley did. I haven’t disabused them.
Ramsey (who I thought might have been seen as a one season wonder who ran away) seems well respected – and is expected to be a mainstay of the Wales team for years to come. (Of course I tend to talk to people of an older variety, so I don’t know what the young tearaways will be chanting at him assuming he plays – which everyone does assume.)
Terry Burton is doing some of the talking – as in talking about how he single handedly brought Tony Adams through, and what a lovely quiet lad Ramsey is, and how it was he, Burton, who told the Lord Wenger to buy Ramsey, and how it was he, Burton, who told Ramsey not to touch Manchester Bankrupt with a barge pole. Or was that a Graham Poll. I forget.
Anyway, it’s overcast with bits of blue, but not raining and not too cold, and I have no idea where we are supposed to park, so we’ll be leaving early – but just before I toddle along, there’s this Arshavin issue.
According to the Times a week ago, the deal had died then, because the Leningrad team had invited Arsenal to visit them to discuss the matter, but Arsenal didn’t turn up because “we never received the invitation”. Which seems rather unlikely.
Since then everyone with a bit of space to fill has been saying the deal has to be settled by yesterday, or else it is all off. But it didn’t seem to be settled – and it must be Sunday afternoon in Leningrad by now, and not only has no one said, “deal is done” no one has said, “we failed to reach agreement, so that’s that.”
So, who knows? One interesting thing is that the Lord Wenger has been doing a lot of talking up of Denilson of late – both in terms of how brilliant he is as a defensive midfielder and how under rated he is. I’m 100% with this, but I really don’t want everyone in every other team to know. Let Cardiff, the Everton Dictatorship, and West Iceland all think that he’s just there until we sign someone proper. They’ll spend most of the game wondering how those build ups never quite get the ball through to the front two, while wondering who that little boy from Brazil is who just seems to pop up here and there.
The only problem is, when everyone is fit again, we are going to have a hell of a problem keeping everyone happy in the midfield. They can’t all play every week.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009. (PS How many other blogs manage to do an on-location commentary before an away game? I know I haven’t said anything very exciting, but still, I am on the scene. As it were.)
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