Getting away with murder – life’s a pitch

On November 13, 2008 by

I awoke this morning to see Chelsea’s Didier Drogba hitting the headlines after throwing a coin into the crowd at Stamford Bridge last night. (Incidentally, if you’re reading this Didier and fancy throwing a bit more cash around, bear me in mind – I’m skint!)

Call me a cynic but I think I can foresee how this case will turn out. Both the FA and the Met Police have promised to investigate, as have Chelsea. Drogba will get fined, warned about his future conduct and the police will decide not to take action. But before I go on, let’s not forget Mr J Carragher who was treated to a red card, a three game ban and a police investigation for… throwing a coin into the crowd. I await Didier’s punishment with interest.

We have seen it all before but there seems to be a lack of consistency in terms of handing out punishments. So do you get away with things because you are on a football pitch, are you given a fair and just punishment… or are you made an example of?

This was quite a timely news piece for me as yesterday I was walking through Kent’s flagship town – Maidstone. Now as I walked through its decaying shopping centre I came across a blast from the past and did a cartoon-style double take at the suited gent strolling purposefully through the centre, and there was a reason for this. Back in 1998 this man became a legend that would last a… er… lunchtime.

Paul Alcock is his name and ten years ago Paulo Di Canio pushed more than his luck after Alcock had waved his red card in the fiery Italian’s face. Well, no one could believe their luck! It was a story that promised to fill countless column inches for months. It gave the FA something to do and they went for an 11 game ban and a £10,000 fine.

Paolo was made an example of, had his name dragged through the mud and his family hounded. He then went on to make the headlines for the right reasons with an incredible display of sportsmanship in a fixture between West Ham and Everton when he chose to catch the ball instead of planting it into the back of an open net so the injured Everton goalkeeper could receive treatment.

For me, one of my most memorable moments of following football came at Selhurst Park in 1995, which I’m sure needs no more explanation. Some dodgepot Crystal Palace fan decided to leg it down a few flights of stairs to yell abuse at Eric Cantona as he was being led away following his dismissal. In a moment of incredible athleticism, the Frenchman vaulted the hoardings and launched a, in my opinion, rather deserved ‘kung-fu’ kick at the idiot who had gone out of his way to taunt and aggravate Cantona.

For his troubles, Cantona ended up in the dock and was given a prison sentence, of which he only served about a day. Provocation or not, fast forward to any given Saturday night. You are out with your friends and someone starts shouting abuse at you across the street. In front of countless witnesses you go and kung-fu kick the guy, the police see, you get arrested etc; my thinking is that you would spend quite a bit more time in prison and that, as someone with a criminal record, you would have a little more trouble getting a job in future.

So why shouldn’t Drogba have thrown that coin back into the crowd? My dad always said “fight fire with fire”; perhaps this is why he got chucked out of the fire brigade… but I digress. The idiot that threw the coin first was in a no-lose situation. He could commit the act without any fear of any reprisal because there would only ever be one loser: Drogba.

Didier is now the bad guy, his temperament is being called into question, the FA and Met Police are investigating, and the only person who is going to get away scot-free is the prat that threw the coin in the first place. People in the crowd think that they are in a safehouse and have carte blanche to commit such deeds because they think the players can’t touch them.

Well good on Jamie Carragher when he confronted the Luton fan who abused him during a Cup game. Good on Eric Cantona for springing a surprise on Matthew Simmons. Would these guys have been so brave as to challenge the footballers in the street? No is the answer.

I think that, in terms of what players do to each other on the pitch, they are more or less untouchable. Roy Keane tried to maim Alf Inge Haaland, Ian Hume is currently in hospital with a fractured skull and internal bleeding, Kevin Muscat badly injured *insert name of your choice here* yet criminal charges are rarely brought. (Although good on Charlton’s Matty Holmes for bringing a lawsuit against Muscat for a career-ending challenge.) How much trouble would I be in if this afternoon I entertained myself by breaking someone’s leg, elbowing someone in the face and then maybe, after a little rest, popping off to stamp on someone’s knee?

There needs to be a level of consistency in terms of what happens to players who misbehave on the pitch. Full on assaults can take place on a football pitch and people attempt to justify this by talking about the extreme pressure the players are under for those 90 minutes. Not good enough.

It’s not FA action we need on these occasions – it’s police action. A fine doesn’t hurt if you are on “Premiership wages”. It seems that the players are just hit in the pocket, given a trial by media and maybe made a bit of an example of.

So whilst some poor Met officer sits at his desk this morning pointlessly looking into someone throwing a bit of spare change around and the FA sit up in their ivory towers pontificating about another “serious incident”, let’s not only spare a thought for people like Ian Hume, lying in his hospital bed, but also wonder when on earth there is going to be any consistency when dishing out the punishments.

Not Keane

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Robbie Keane’s two goals against West Brom in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over the relegation threatened club were his first league goals since joining the club, but the goals were no-more than a reminder that Keane’s short time at Anfield has been nothing more than a failure after 16 games at the club.

These two goals against what was a poor West Brom side, reminds us all of how Keane has stooped so low to impress, when while at Tottenham he was at the top of his game every week. In fact his consistent form was the reason for Liverpool’s punt on the 28-year old.

Since his move to Merseyside, Keane has scored just four goals, two in both the Champions League and the Premier League.

Main striker Fernando Torres has been out injured for almost the entire season and with this Keane had the perfect chance to stake a claim for his place in a side that clearly has no role for him.

However he failed during this period. No coincidence that all his goals came while Torres was out. With the formation Liverpool play, 4-2-3-1 with Torres up front with Dirk Kuyt, Albert Riera and Steven Gerrard playing behind the Spaniard.

The only place he fits in is on the bench and to be honest with this side’s success already this season you can’t see him changing that front line.

Even the usually ridged Kuyt has stepped up to the plate from right-midfield. Four goals came from him while Torres was out, the same as Keane but from a deeper position.

If he can do it why can’t Keane?

I understand that there is a certain amount of bedding in time for a player, you can’t be expected to click straight into the side just like that and Keane has shown in the past that he needs some bedding in time.

But for me it doesn’t show any sign of improving. Keane has always played with a target man type of player, Niall Quinn or Les Ferdinand spring to mind as players that suit Keane. Torres even if Benitez did adapt the formation to accommodate Keane would still isolate the Irishman.

Either one of the front men would be influential, not both and I know who I’d rather have on the end of the chances.

It comes down to whether Benitez really needed to spend £19m on Keane. For me no-doubt his price tag he is worth every penny, but he’s simply gone to the wrong club. There are to many players who ruin their careers by going to big clubs and not getting consistent first team football. Keane is running a risk of becoming this very same player.

Only time will tell on how Keane develops, yes we’re only in November but if it goes to form we could see the fans less keen by May.

Olympic GB football team could be decided by contest

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The problem of deciding how to represent Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics in the football event has been debated intensely during recent months. The latest individual to offer an opinion is David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party.

Cameron believes that the best option would be to organise a home nations’ tournament. A play-off would decide which of the national teams in the United Kingdom should represent Great Britain in London in just three years’ time.

David Cameron has been vocal in his support for the formation of a Great Britain football team. This need is particularly important given that the Olympics are going to be held on home turf and should be an occasion of national pride.

Cameron proposed a “home tournament”, with the winner going “forward” to represent Great Britain. However, he revealed that even if his idea was rejected, a “representative team” was needed at the Olympic Games.

Cameron’s proposal is unlikely to convince those opposed to the idea of a representative team. All of the football governing bodies currently operating in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have spoken of their opposition to the idea. This is as a result of their worries that their futures as separate, independent entities could be jeopardised.

Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, believes that risking “the future of Scottish international football” so that an under-21 tournament can be seen at the Olympic Games is “simply daft” and unfeasible.

The president of the Irish Football Association has been even harsher in his condemnation of Cameron’s proposal. Raymond Kennedy believes that Cameron’s idea has shown the nation that he is simply “out of touch” with current opinion in the world of football.

Furthermore, Kennedy thinks that there is already “enough football” to concentrate on without the prospect of inclusion in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Kennedy thinks that there is no “need to have football as an Olympic sport” and his stance on this is unlikely to change in the future.

The reaction from Wales to the news of Cameron’s proposal has been mixed. Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd, expressed support for the idea. He can see “nothing wrong” with the idea of a knock-out tournament but revealed his preference for Wales to be represented “on its own”. However, until some form of secure representation on a separate basis has been achieved, the proposal interests the Welsh MP.

However, Albert Owen, another Welsh MP, believes that the idea would not work, although he thinks that representation will be possible at some point in the future. Owen believes that such an event would allow people to be “proud to be Welsh and proud to be British”.

Concerns such as these have prevented the formation of a team for over forty years now, as Britain has remained anxious that the formation of a representative team could impact upon the status of individual nations in the eyes of Fifa. 1960 was the last time that Great Britain fielded a football team and many individuals, including David Cameron, are keen for this to change by 2012.

Gordon Brown also believes that some kind of deal has to be made so that both men and women can represent Britain in the football event at the Olympic Games.

These Arsenal kids could be something seriously special.

On November 12, 2008 by

This blog seems rather full of Arsenal stories at the minute but they just in the news a lot. Last night we witnessed yet another display in front of the live TV cameras of the Arsenal youth set up and once again no-one will of come away unimpressed by what Arsenal have going on below first team level.

Wigan put out a first team as they travelled down to the Emirates hoping to put the Arsenal kids to the sword. Arsene Wenger has long been a proponent of using this competition to blood his youngsters and although they have yet to win the competition under his tutelage, they are the only reason to watch this tournament in the early stages and even when the big boys start taking it seriously, the Arsenal kids are still by far the most compelling story.

Last night we saw an XI with three players who could turn out to be stars in this league and the rest of them could become very good players. We’ll start with the one they paid big money for over the summer. Aaron Ramsey came from Cardiff with a big reputation and Wenger is playing it very much like he did with Walcott. Exposing him infrequently from the bench for the first team and blooding him more in Europe and in the Carling Cup. He has all the ability in the world but I have him down as only the third best prospect out of the bunch.

At two there is the Mexican striker Carlos Vela. At 19 he is one of the older members of the squad and is already a full international having already bagged four for his country. He is a natural finisher who has excellent instincts and at £125k (rising to £550k should he play 50 times for the first team) he has to be seen as potentially one of the bargains of the decade. Arsene Wenger’s scouting network must be praised for unearthing him but we still have one more to go.

At #1 is Jack Wilshere. He is only 16 years of age but he has the footballing world at his feet. He is ahead of Wayne Rooney at the same age as an all-around player and could go on to marshal the Arsenal midfield with Cesc Fabregas for years to come. This kid has it all, his vision and range of passing is quite simply sublime. I spoke to a couple of people last night who seem to think this kid is overhyped but I disagree. He is the best English prospect in the league and it isn’t even close in my book.

He won the Man of the Match award last night but was too young to pick up the Champagne. He set up the first with a quite wonderful through ball which Jay Simpson poked home. The second was set up by Vela with Simpson yet again the recipient of the assist. Vela himself grabbed the third after being put through by Ramsey and that as they say is that.

A 3-0 scoreline that quite frankly flattered the away side. Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland had been in imperious form despite playing with a bad back picked up after his first save of the night. He must’ve been in the shake-up for the MotM award had they not gone for Wilshere. Wigan will of left The Emirates knowing that they were given a footballing lesson by a bunch of kids but not by any bunch of kids – a bunch of kids who could turn out to be part of the team of the decade when the onesies (is that what we are calling the next decade?) comes about.

Newcastle unhappy with Barton treatment

On November 11, 2008 by

Newcastle United Football Club is becoming increasingly concerned that their troubled midfielder Joey Barton is receiving unfair treatment at the hands of fans and match officials. The player has impressed since his return to the pitch after a prison sentence and lengthy ban but it has not all been plain sailing for the 26-year-old.

The team’s win against Aston Villa was marred by a bizarre episode during the first half. Barton appeared to poke Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor but the referee failed to notice at the time. Today, the Football Association has revealed that it will wait for the referee’s report before taking potential action against the player. Barton also picked up a yellow card later in the match for a challenge on Luke Young.

Chris Hughton, a coach at Newcastle, believes that Joey Barton is being unfairly treated by match officials. He expressed his concern that any incident regarding Joey is going to be blown up twice as much as it’s going to be with any other player. Hughton said that he did not even notice the incident with Agbonlahor and Martin O’Neill, the manager of Aston Villa, was similarly keen to downplay the first-half incident.

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear has previously spoken of his sympathy for Barton, who has been taunted by fans since his return. Sunderland fans threw bottles at the player and did all they could to make the midfielder react angrily. However, Barton managed to keep his cool and has performed well during subsequent matches for the club.

Respect? You want Respect? Well show me some first and we’ll talk

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Well it seems as though the FA are disappointed with the response to the ‘Respect’ campaign that they have been promoting since before the start of the season. They are unhappy with the amount of times a manager has had a go at an official either publicly through the media or face to face at the end or during a game.

Surely they saw this coming? As fans we want managers to give their opinions post match and not bottle it up for a report to send to the FA. Like anyone thinks they read them and actually make decisions because of their opinions. The same referees get the same games no matter what happens. The only time a referee gets a demotion is if there is a very public incident and the media are all over it.

Look at Stuart Attwell who has now had two clunkers this season. If the media hadn’t of been all over it then he probably wouldn’t have spent a fair amount of time on fourth official duties. Mark Halsey got pilloried for sending off John Terry at the City of Manchester Stadium in an incident which could’ve easily gone either way, but because he sent off the England captain and the media didn’t like this, Halsey spent three sets of Premier League games without an appointment in the middle.

The media are the driving force behind refereeing appointment no matter what Keith Hackett or anyone else says. If the media deem that an official has dropped a clanger then the perceived public outcry will lead to that official sitting on the sidelines and not getting the big games.

FA director of governance Jonathan Hall said, We accept that it can be very frustrating for managers when an incorrect decision is taken, but no referee does so deliberately, just as players and managers do not deliberately make mistakes.

It is easy to support officials when a decision goes your way, the real test is the ability to show understanding when a call goes against you.

There are already various official channels for managers to provide their views on refereeing performances and managers are actively encouraged to use these channels rather than criticising referees through the media.

It sounds so idealistic doesn’t it? However the real world isn’t a utopia so we just have to deal with it. Officials at the top level get paid a very good salary and put themselves in a position to be held publicly accountable for their actions. If a referee makes a genuine mistake then I think most of us can deal with that but sometimes there are instances when they seem to just lose the plot.

Managers and players are accountable to criticism in the media so why shouldn’t the officials? They are part of the game whether we like it or not and if they deal with the media, players and managers with respect then they will get it back. Officials never come out and explain their decisions any more despite always being given the option to by the waiting media.

I don’t know if this is Keith Hackett’s policy but if it is it needs to be scraped and quick. Let your men come out and explain to the media what you saw and why they made the decision they did. Even if they come out and say that they’ve seen it on TV since and know they’ve got it wrong then people would accept that. Not dealing with the media makes their jobs a lot harder as they have no right to reply.

To get respect you need to show respect and where we are in terms of top flight officials at the moment is they don’t show respect. The fans, players and managers do not know why decisions are being made and it is hard to defend someone when they don’t even have the ability to defend themselves. So my suggestion is allow referees to man up and tell the media what they are thinking and I think we’ll very quickly see things change and more respect flowing both ways.

Arsenal were on fire! Police suspect it’s Arsene

On November 10, 2008 by

So the demise of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger may have been a bit premature. A thoroughly enjoyable early kick-off on Saturday saw the club beat Manchester United at The Emirates to keep them just about in the title race.

For a week or more Wenger had been quite publicly questioned by the media and even on this site. However he sent out his side in the same fashion as he always does. They went out and passed the ball and attacked United.

They didn’t have either Adebayor (injured) or Van Persie (suspended) available so they had to go with the vastly overrated Bendtner up top on his own with a five-man midfield. Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri played out wide and were both full of running getting up to support Bendtner whenever they could as well as getting back to help cover Neville and Evra.

Manchester United made no surprises in their line-up which saw seven changes from the team that started the Champions League game at Celtic. They came down to the Emirates having lost at Anfield and drawn at Stamford Bridge in their visits to the other so-called ‘Big 4′ clubs this season. A win at Arsenal though would pretty much put them out of the title race even at this stage of the season.

Wenger knew this and had his back very much against the wall. Arsenal were 2/1 to win the game at home which is the longest they’ve ever been in the Premiership era in a home game against United. They came out all guns blazing as they passed and moved with pace and precision. The away side were dangerous on the break and the game opened up and would become a fantastic advert for the Premier League.

Arsenal would take the lead when Samir Nasri’s shot deflected off the knee of Gary Neville and past a helpless Edwin van der Sar. United should’ve been ahead when some beautiful build-up play led to Wayne Rooney having a free shot from around the penalty spot only to put it high wide and handsome.

The other major incidents of the half were when Michael Carrick scythed down Abou Diaby when he was going through to have a shot on goal. The referee gave nothing when it was a clear foul and there would’ve been a debate over whether it was a yellow or a red. The other came right on the half when Gael Chichy seemed to handball a Wayne Rooney cross. The appeal was muted and stiffled but it really did look like a spot kick.

It would be that man Nasri who would double the lead as Cesc Febregas found him twenty yards out and the Frenchman rifled it past the United keeper. Theo Walcott’s role in the goal cannot be understated as his run dragged Vidic away and left a gaping hole in the centre of defence.

Rafael cameon for Gary Neville – who was absolutely awful by the way – I think we can safely say his best days are behind him and that he can’t hack it at the very top level any more. The young Brazilian dragged one back with a rasping left foot drive into the corner of the net. It was game on and Arsenal had been here before not ten days earlier when Spurs hauled them back.

This time surely Arsenal would sit back but no they attacked and went for a third. You’ve got to hand it them, they only know one way and that will always play football to score goals. This time however they held on and banked the three points and Arsene Wenger can breathe slightly easier. It was vintage Arsenal and they showed why I think they’ll win the Champions League this season. If Arsene can keep this group of players together then they can rule for a decade.

Fans Use Facebook Group to Launch Football Club Buy Out

On November 6, 2008 by

I got e-mailed this about a group of fans who are trying to buy a football club – we’ve seen this before – but what we’ve not seen is that they are trying to use the social networking site Facebook to seal the deal. If you are interested then please read the following Press Release.

Leigh Genesis Football Club could be the first football club to be bought by a group set-up on the social networking site Facebook. Fans of the club, which has recently lost its key financial backer, are being asked to sign-up and pledge to share the annual running costs and key decisions in exchange for the club.

Organisers of the bid have signed up over 700 pledges since it was founded on Friday 30th October 2008. The organizers hope to raise sufficient money to operate the team in its current division and are looking to attract at least 1000 shareholders, with the help of ‘Supporters Direct’ In addition to the senior squad the club operates two other teams and over 12 teams in the juniors section.

Although no formal approach has yet been made, the clubs staff and directors are in discussions with the group and have indicated that they are likely to accept the offer subject to conditions.

Leigh Genesis was formally known as Leigh RMI and plays in the Unibond Northern Premier Division.

The previous chairman, Dominic Speakman, relinquished his position last week as Chairman and main benefactor through a dispute with the local authority over the opening of the clubs new home: at Leigh Sports Village. The brand new 10,000 all seater stadium is almost six months behind schedule, leaving the club homeless and forcing them to temporarily play in Chorley.

Andre Walker, who created the facebook group said:

"It’s amazing to think that in the next few weeks a facebook group I set-up in my lounge could own a football club, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. The people of Leigh are committed to saving their club and this seemed like a good way to do it."

"We think this is the winning formula, it gives Genesis supporters a real say in how things are run, raises attendance and provides the funds to keep the club afloat."

Maradona named coach of Argentina

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After several days of intense speculation, the Argentinian Football Association has finally confirmed Diego Maradona as the new head coach of the national football team. Carlos Bilardo, who led Argentina to success in the 1986 World Cup, will become assistant manager.

The two men are accustomed to working with each other at the highest level, as Maradona was an instrumental part of the 1986 World Cup winning team.

Maradona was keen to speak about his excitement at joining up with Bilardo once again. The coach stated that “being alongside Carlos is an honour for me”. Furthermore, he is not taking his appointment lightly and remains adamant that he will “work every day to make Argentina have a better national team”.

The Argentinian Football Association executive committee held a meeting in Buenos Aires in order to finalise the details of Maradona’s appointment. Argentina have been without a manager since the middle of October, when Alfio Basile vacated the post.

The footballing legend has been given the official title of technical director and he will now be busy preparing his team for their trip to Scotland later this month.

Maradona’s first move after being named as coach was to appoint Javier Mascherano as captain of the national team. The reasons for this choice, according to the new coach, are simple: “he is the Argentinian player who is closest to the idea I have about the Argentinian shirt – sweat for it, sacrifice for it”.

In a moment of humour, Maradona suggested that he may have to “convince” the Liverpool midfielder to accept the honour of representing his country on the pitch.

The squad for the Scotland match, scheduled to be played at Hampden Park on the nineteenth of November, will also include Fabricio Coloccini, who has impressed at Newcastle United this season. However, notable exclusions from the squad include Esteban Cambiasso, the combative Inter Milan midfielder.

Lionel Messi, the precocious young star of the Barcelona first team, has been left out after an agreement with the Spanish club. Barcelona did not want to release the player after they agreed to let him travel to the Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite not having Messi in his team, Maradona remains confident that his side can do well in Scotland.

Although the new coach has had some experience at club level in Argentina, he remains famous for his exploits as a player. England fans will remember him from the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup.

During this match, the player scored with a ridiculous handball and later coined the phrase the “hand of God” to describe the goal. In another moment of humour, Maradona revealed that he hoped that this episode in his playing career would make him welcome in Scotland, since “the English and the Scots get on horribly”.

Maradona’s appointment has pleased many people in Argentina, where he is a truly popular figure. However, some people remain anxious that he does not have the experience to lead Argentina to the heights of success that the country is craving. Other sections of the country’s media have voiced concerns over his personal life, which has been tainted by drug addiction and obesity.

Is it time for Wenger to call it a day?

On November 5, 2008 by

Arsenal fans have had to put up with a lot this season. Some embarrassing defeats in the Premier League have been compounded by some on-pitch displays of petulance and immaturity.

Last weekend’s match against Stoke provided a showcase of both. A crushing 2-1 defeat at the hands of the newly promoted team was simply made worse by a ridiculous challenge from Robin van Persie on the Stoke goalkeeper, for which he was deservedly sent off.

Fans of the club have been quick to place the blame on various factors, including the inevitable issues arising from fielding a young side in England’s top league, unfair decisions from match officials and that old classic – simple bad luck.

However, only a brave few have dared to speculate about the real cause of Arsenal’s current problems, and the truth is closer to home than many people care to admit. You only need to glance over at the touchline to find your answer. Arsene Wenger needs to leave the club, and soon.

Stating this simple assertion out loud has become something akin to screaming a certain four-lettered word in public. Those who dare to voice this opinion over a couple of pints in the pub immediately find themselves lowering their gaze into the bottom of their glass amid accusations of being a ‘fake’ fan from fellow Gooners.

However, the reality is that only those who want the best for the north London club would ever dare to address the obvious problem out loud.

Nobody can doubt that Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager and he has changed the face not only of Arsenal but of English football as well. His undoubted intelligence has allowed his team to flourish in the Premier League and, let’s not forget, go a whole season unbeaten. However, Arsenal’s squad has obvious weaknesses which have been apparent for some time now.

Arsene Wenger may think that his young team is going to come good eventually, but surely any man is foolish to turn down money offered by the club to invest in players simply on the basis of honouring some philosophical principle.

At the end of the day, Arsenal is desperately crying out for a central defender with real experience at the top level and, if they are to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title in the near future, they need a central midfielder capable of making a successful tackle. Without these components, Arsenal’s young guns can never hope to achieve their full potential.

Of course, let’s not forget that Wenger is the man who moulded Thierry Henry into a legend in the world of football. So, why would this same man, apparently so adept at spotting and nurturing raw talent, choose to sign Mikael Silvestre?

When rumours about this transfer first appeared in the British press, disbelieving, doubtful grins spread across the faces of humoured Arsenal fans… until they realised the rumours were about to come true.

At this point, Arsenal fans were even left crying out for the return of erratic defender Philippe Senderos. We all know that the Arsenal manager has no philosophical interest in the finished article but Silvestre stopped improving and growing as a player long before his departure from Manchester United and, let’s be honest, the finished article in his case was not particularly impressive.

Arsene Wenger has outstayed his welcome at Arsenal and the club needs to make a change. Philosophical principles are all well and good but, in reality, results are what count and the club is not going to get them on a consistent basis whilst Wenger remains in charge.