The best thing to do is to kick these foreigners. That shows them who’s who.

By Adrian Raffill

On 23rd February 2008 Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor launched himself into a challenge that took Eduardo’s foot clean off the end of his leg. Arsene Wenger had barely finished his post match criticism of the thuggery that had just been broadcast live all over the world before the English football world rose to a man to condemn… Arsene Wenger.

English players, managers, coaches, journalists, broadcasters, pundits and ‘experts’ were unanimous in their opinion that Taylor was ‘hard, but fair’ and ‘not that type of player’. Wenger and his bunch of preening fancy-dan foreigners were told to stop bleating and accept that it’s a man’s game where we get stuck in and that the only way to play a team like Arsenal is to rough them up and stop them from playing.

The question was posed more than once: “what are they supposed to do, just let Arsenal run past them?” as if there was no other option available. The possibility that opposing teams might consider passing the ball around the Arsenal players themselves was never raised. In fact, hairy-handed Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys summed up the attitude of English football perfectly with his post match question to whichever brain dead moron Sky had managed to dress up as a pundit that week: “Do you think the problem was just that Eduardo was a little bit too fast for him?”

So there we have it, the English approach to football in a nutshell: when faced with a superior opponent do not seek to emulate or better him, just cut him down to size.

In the days that followed the English media, both written and broadcast, continued in the same vein and I told anybody of my acquaintance that would listen (and several that wouldn’t) that as long as English football had this attitude and approach to football the national team would never again come close to winning the World Cup.

Fast forward two years, almost to the day, and Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross shatters Aaron Ramsey’s leg in a disgraceful tackle that Arsene Wenger described in his post match interview as, er, “a disgrace.”

And what was the response of the English football world? “He should keep his opinions to himself”, replied Tony Pulis, Stoke’s English manager. Pulis was backed up by the usual suspects in the media, where the by now perceived wisdom that the only way to play this gifted Arsenal team is to get stuck in was trotted out by all and sundry.

They don’t like it up ‘em, they say – never mind the fact that Arsenal still finish 20 to 30 points clear of these nobodies every season.

Meanwhile, Algerian footballers are learning how to control the ball and pass it to a teammate. Which brings us nicely to the World Cup 2010 and the aforementioned Algerians. What was the response of the England players to the plainly superior opponents they were faced with? When the pressure is on England footballers revert to type, so they tried to out-muscle them and lump it to the big man up front.

Against the Germans for long periods of the game they couldn’t get close enough to the opposition to try even that approach. Of course now the recriminations begin and the post mortem is already identifying all the wrong reasons for England’s shambolic effort.

We can discount the little Englanders screaming that all these foreigners in the English league are preventing young English talent from coming through. Nonsense. All of the major leagues in Europe have as many foreigners as we do, but with one glaring difference: hardly any English players.

We just don’t produce players that are technically good enough to be considered by clubs in La Liga or elsewhere because they are all brought up on the basis of getting stuck in and anti-football.

There are calls for Fabio Capello to be sacked as well but although he’s undoubtedly made plenty of mistakes he’s been fighting a losing battle all along. No amount of tactical acumen and regimented discipline can overcome the propensity of English footballers to revert to type under pressure.

The problem cannot be solved from the top down but rather from the bottom up: English football needs to bring up a generation of players for whom playing the game is innately preferable to stopping someone else from doing so.

So where are we going to find such a generation of players? Who could possibly do this in the face of the mentality shown in the response to Eduardo and Ramsey’s injuries? Look no further. Arsenal’s youth policy has generated a squad of players that has won the Premier Academy League for the second year running. And guess what? Most of them are English.


There’s more, and then more again, on Untold Arsenal, the seat of all learning, the heart of the multi-verse, the answer to summer, the beacon of hope among… well you know.

31 Replies to “The best thing to do is to kick these foreigners. That shows them who’s who.”

  1. Nice article. Arsenal have always been criticised for not having more of english players in their team. Its obvious because non of them were worthy of wearing the Arsenal Jersey. But when we look into the future, we have all the talented english stars. Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcot, Afobe, etc all are the future superstars of England.

  2. Arsenal are the only team which tend to play the best flowing football and most of our players are young and more technically gifted. And honestly speakin, our players do look little fragile as compared to other premier league teams. Maybe that is a reason why they get injured so easily. If we look at the times of campbell, henry, viera, pires, etc. They seemed to be more strong. The same tackle which we had on eduardo or ramsey may produce different and much more subtle results those days. Its very sad that after such injuries, the player performs well below his potential. Very depressing to see the likes of eduardo and rosicky failing to play the same game they used to play before. Perhaps a price we pay for having more young and agile players.

  3. i still cant believe this happens and nothing is done about it. its getting more and more frustrating the more it happens. edu was going to be something but after that tackle he can barely do so much as tap it into an open net..its disgusting. and whats worse is these players get supported after a breaking someones leg. i mean ok maybe they dont have to bad mouth him but they cant come out and justify it. imagine an arsenal player tackles someone like that, we would NEVER hear the end of it. how does anyone expect this club to move forward when wer constantly under scrutiny or at risk of losing half our players. and to think despite all this they still push forward and challenge for the title. this really needs to tired of thinking “imagine if so and so wasnt injured”, imagine this, imagine that. i guess well find out. atleast i can rely on this site for some proper information

  4. Good article, Adrian. And good comment, Dark Prince.

    But whatever happened to The Arsenal’s old source of skilled footballers? Ireland provided us with much that was good many times.
    Did they receive special training at an early age? I doubt it. Maybe nowadays any natural skills are being squashed by the don’t-concede-goals attitude rather than one that says score-more-than-them.
    Hopefully Chippy knows better.

  5. Fantastic article, and well done for opening our eyes to the link to the national team and their failures.England are so far behind technically its a joke maybe a follow up article how wenger will help England with our academy which is producing ,gibbs, wilshere,lansbury, and nurture the talents off freeman and afobe.

  6. first class article. would emphasize the role of the media in all this. utter crap most of it. personally speaking, i have not purchased a newspaper since the liverpool tradgedy all those years ago and would urge all serious arsenal fans to do the same. and on a larger point think that this article reflects the sorry shape of england generally. i got fed up with it all and moved to the sunshine. Funnily enough here we get a balanced and intelligent coverage of the pship. even the commentators seem to understand the game better. (hua hin, thailand). a fresh start needed ? sure. but for me first to go would be the ball and chain media pundits.

  7. Well spoken….

    I agree 100%

    As long as the media perpetuates the lies and nonsense, Arsenal will be branded the nancy fancy foreigners, and the English teams will compete for the John Smith ‘no-nonsense’ Cup.

    I am patriotic enough to have wanted England to do well, although rationally I wanted them to lose quickly, to end the misery, if you know what I mean.

    There are lots of problems with the English game. Germany has around 35,000 UEFA accredited coaches, England around 2,000.

    The bottom line is that we are a sow at the horse show. You can dress it up in bells and bonnets, but its still a sow.

  8. Hey Biff, not bad for someone who has hair like a Bearskin
    Off course if the Arse stopped trying to get into the Guiness world record for the number of passes during a game they might avoid the odd ‘late tackle’ and move themselves about the pitch a bit more – a standing target is always easier to hit than one that is moving – I know this ‘cos I was in the forces….but that’s another story!

  9. Nice article, although title is confusing, and some people just reading the title might find it a little too racist if they don’t read further than the title.
    Might want to try a “they say…” next time…

  10. Oh, btw, I’ve heard a lot of stupid commentary over the last few weeks.

    Mick McCarthy’s awful monotonous drone is something unique that’s for sure.

    I thought the lampooning of Bendtner was interesting. The BBC hosts couldn’t stop chuckling that Bendtner considers himself one of the best strikers in the world.

    Ok, titter titter…

    Then the match commentator started talking about Bendtner’s career going backwards because he was playing so poorly……..


    Bendtner was semi-fit at best, and probably not fir to play if truth be told…….and yet the BBC decided to go on a character assassination fest…..

    Shame they didn’t turn the same spotlight on Wayne, the best player in the world, Rooney……

  11. Couldn’t agree more. There were very few ‘foreigners’ in the domestic game during the 1970’s and England failed to even qualify for the World Cups of 1974 and 1978. Beckenbauer is right. England play kick and rush football and that is never going to be enough to win at the highest level. We need to go back to the grass roots and teach the next generation to feel comfortable with a ball at their feet and not boot it around like a red hot coal. But of course that would take time, so we’ll probably sack Capello, bring in another manager to hail as the Messiah and the whole sorry cycle will begin all over again.

  12. Everyone seems to know that something needs to be done about the youth system, number of qualified (youth) coaches, refereeing etc. Sadly the ones that matter most, the FA, are too ineffectual to do something about it. They prefer paying off one national manager after then next rather than accepting their own failure. Think of what could have been done in youth development with all the money wasted on pay offs. Looking at Argentina I can’t help feeling that the role of a national manager is vastly overrated, just select the best players, let them have a great time and the results will follow.

  13. all the English players that will not make it to the next world cup should be dropped from the squad with immediate effect. the young English up-comings should be brought together now to groom them to be ready for the next world cup. because of the English arrogance they think they are too good to take part in the fifa junior tournaments so they don’t send their best young talents. most the real football stars were discovered in these tournaments eg messi, fabregas, ronaldinho to name but a few. most of the German team were groomed from the junior teams and allowed to progress. the cult of the overrated English star must be destroyed for England to progress in the football world. good players are groomed they don’t just fall out of the sky. and please stop depending on the clubs to do it for you they have their own interests to protect.

  14. Looking at Argentina I can’t help feeling that the role of a national manager is vastly overrated, just select the best players, let them have a great time and the results will follow.


    Argentina have left out 2 or 3 very good players..(Riquelme, Cambiasso)but the strength in depth is their, and they play as a team.

    Germany REALLY play as a team….in front of goal instead of getting a headrush players find the best placed player around them …..and what do you know, suddenly your banging the ball in time and again.

  15. Also the best thing that could have happened for Germany was losing Michael Ballack, aka, the ego that was bigger than the talent.

    Players like that are a pain for a team…….I’m sure England have a few of them. Schweinsteiger is probably a manager’s dream.

  16. The English media should keep on their onslaught against Arsenal, we will see who will have the last laugh. This over hype is killing the English game. England has over priced and less gifted players when compared to the south americans, other European countries-dutch,spain, italy etc. African players are even more hardworking and talented yet no over hype. England must change her perspectives about football if her game must grow.

  17. England last won World Cup in 1966. If England want to win major title, they had to learn playing basic & beautiful football or it will be another bunch of ENGLISH MONKEY running around chasing after ball. Arsenal & Wenger is their last & only hope now to save their game. But with the FUCKING ENGLISH MEDIA, I only pray very hard for ENGLISH football to remain as it is today & see other team improving.

  18. am as frustrated as ever with the lack of activity at our club and the realization that the BOD and Wenger may eventually bulge to Barca, I wish they never do and Cesc would undergo a lesson on loyalty. Of recent I have begin to dislike Cesc and can only wish that Spain get kicked out of the world cup sooner. Here’s a lad that Wenger stupidly made captain when he was not ripe for it and put so much hope on and the hope has caved in like our attempt to win trophies in the last five years. Established players are not even mentioning us in their thoughts because they believe we are going downwards and to rob salt into injury, we are showing everybody that cares to look that we are only interested in freebies. It will be disheartening to see the likes of Gallas and even Sol wear our shirt next season only because they didn’t get their presumed good offers elsewhere. Arsenal has lost its soul because the managers have blundered considerably. Can we get it back? Only time will

  19. Munaf, on what basis have you begun to dislike Cesc? Did he give interviews slagging off Arsenal? If so, please tell me where we can read/listen to these interviews. What behaviour in Cesc makes you think he was not ready to be captain? Also, Arsenal going downwards, I don’t understand, please explain. I actually think Arsenal is going to be the dominating club over the next decennium, due to financial position, youth policy and excellent manager and board. Also, you seem to have some inside info on the freebee players we are interested in; which ones? Do your sources also say that arsenal’s alleged interest in Koscielny, who is not a freebee, is not genuine?
    Curious minds need to know.

  20. Let me just make sure I understand this.

    Only one team can actually win the World Cup. And whoever does will always need some luck at some point.

    Anyone who follows football can easily identify several teams – not only on paper – but ‘de facto’ that are better-equipped than England to win the competition. We were always underdogs to Argentina, Spain, perhaps Brazil and Holland … we were never expected to win it.

    When the draw was made it seemed evident that England’s group was a relatively straightforward one to progress from – if not win.

    If England had won the group then we would have played Ghana and Uruguay and not Germany and no-one.

    England had the luck and squandered it.

    France and Italy were an even greater shambles than England … and by a long way.

    England were poor … really poor, Germany were better … a lot better.

    England weren’t tired they were fractured, torpid, poorly-led, badly-organized, self-centred, unintelligent, and lacking belief.

    We left Theo behind in favour of Lennon and Wright-Phillips … want to tell me how well that worked out? Not to mention Ledley King, Carragher, Upson, and Green. Or Johnson, Barry and Milner. These are world class players? They wouldn’t get near the Arsenal first eleven. They are not technically-gifted enough – and to win a World Cup you need to be either technically gifted or have other qualities to compensate.

    So, England never really stood a chance. As you say pass the baton to Hart, Wilshere, Gibbs, Rodwell, and Welbeck. Find an Ozil from our Turkish community and persuade him to play for England instead of Turkey (as Joachim Löw is reportedly to have done).

    But to rely on so many second-rate, technically-deficient Premier League players as Capello and the media have done and expect miracles is not a plan likely to succeed. Unless you don’t mind traveling in hope rather than expectation, that is.

  21. Nice article, Adrian. Guess it’ll be kinda ironic when the team that supposedly is ruining the English game starts producing all the players that define its future.

    And, Munaf… ignoring the fact that your comment has no relevance whatsoever to this article- Cesc isn’t fit to be captain and needs to “undergo a lesson on loyalty”? Please, just give him a break. When has he even approached Barca or said anything definite,apart from the usual rumours doing their rounds in the press? When Cesc eventually DOES leave for Barca, it won’t be the money or his “lack of loyalty” that draws him there- just the whining and distrust from supposed “supporters” like yourself that’ll drive him away.

  22. Cesc is slightly related to this though. I wonder if, having seen Ramsey’s career potentially terminated, without so much as a cough and a splutter from the football authorities, and apart from a few maverick journalists, not much more from the press, he would prefer his long term chances elsewhere….

    you wouldn’t blame him.

    Any sportsman’s most important asset is his body.

    I think the corruption in the FA goes quite deep, and it is only when all this finally comes out, that maybe some sort of remedial action can and will be taken.

    They need someone like Ian Hislop to run football.

  23. The FA have said for years that the future of the English game is dependent on the development of Youth….so we get Trevor Brooking appointed as Director of youth development who appears only to complain that not enough is being done to teach young players the basics of ball control and technique…end of story.
    Watch any Sunday league game where the grass roots are nurtured and we still have a mentality which says strength and physical presence will always overcome skill and technique. Unlike Tennis where loads of money has been available to develop youth most kids want to play Football! The only place my two Grandsons can get professional coaching is via a holiday paid soccer school normally organisd by a pro football club. Why arent these facilities available to everyschool kid with proper enlightened coaching fit for the modern game ( play the Arsenal way or not at all)
    A dismal showing at the world cup will result in a load of chest beating and the “press” extolling the need for change,,,and then what? Will the pres agree to wait for 5to8 years of developing a young England team and n ot crucify managers and players in the process…will SKY and others condemn openly bad tackles that injure or attempt to injure a player when he is too skilful for his opponent.??…answers on a postcard please

  24. Not only does Cesc see Ramsey’s career potentially ended, a couple of days later the assailant is rewarded with a call up to the England squad.

    The mind boggles.

  25. @IvoryGoonz – sorry, wasn’t my title!!

    @Baz – top point re not qualifying in ’74 and ’78. England have been batting way over their average in the last decade, especially under Sven in getting to two consecutive quarter finals which makes the following quote from ‘Arry Redknapp yesterday even more laughable. You couldn’t make it up:

    “I’m talking about an English manager because this is where we’re from, this is our country. We should be able to produce someone who can manage the England football team and let’s be honest, they can’t do any worse than what they [Sven-Goran Eriksson and Capello] have done.”

    Really? McClaren anyone? Keegan?

  26. Really good article, Adrian- you make so many good points. I am not sure that I concur with your conclusion however-
    When you are looking at Germany, both Klose and Podolski- both scorers against England-both had dire seasons in Germany. Mertesacker is no great shakes and their full backs are not noted defenders. This is not a great team- but these German players were in great condition, physically and mentally- far better than they were for their clubs in recent months. Add to that a strong mentality and collective self belief and the intelligent application of tactics- all combine to produce a winning formula. Tell me has anyone ever seen Shrek, Lampard, Gerrard, Cole, Barry play that badly for their clubs? Was it because they all can’t play without space or their preparation was crap-or both?
    When you look at the Braziliansl-just look at the improvement in their condition they are in now compared to when they played for their clubs only a few weeks ago.

    After watching a poorer technical and tactical team than England; (Australia) deservedly beat Serbia, a team which defeated Germany,surely improved preparation and motivation would result in an improved performance- for all of England’s technical and cultural weaknesses we should have done far better-is this not mainly a top down issue?

  27. goonergerry – that’s fair enough, I’m not going to argue that improved preparation and motivation wouldn’t have resulted in an improved performance – but by how much? Not enough, I’d contend, as long as the attitude in the English game remains as it is.

    Beckenbauer said the English game is going backwards. I think we’re standing still but so long as the rest of the world are advancing the effect is the same.

  28. Great article, both well written and with some excellent points. Totally agree with you.

  29. Egotism will not help the English. You invented the game but other countries have mastered it and made it theirs. England needs to go back to the basics. Stop this kick and follow, high ball mentality. Copy the Arsenal style, it is beautiful to watch. The so called English football expert parading themselves in the British media are just a bunch of quacks( sorry for my language). Underneath their criticism of Arsenal, is an avid desire that the three lion play like Arsenal. That more English players play for Arsenal but the question is where are the English players?

  30. Excellent compelling post.

    My opinion is that England needs to recognize it has a problem.

    And, instead of rediscovering the wheel utilize the strengths of England. I would argue that there are and have been major strengths in a English style. You point out a few real stumbling blocks or bad habits that England is supporting right now. First, is the selection process… JT is a moral misfit and this is the type you had leading and no wonder they failed. I don’t care who you pick on this team they were destined for disaster by virtue of off the field antics…
    Second, as you have pointed out somehow England has adopted a thuggery approach which was not always the case. As inventors get back to the basics which saw England in semi’s not so long ago and 1966.

  31. one of my favourite english expressions is ‘ you cant shine shit’ pity it doesnt appear in any of the phrase books capello is using.

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