Tag Archives: players

Attack on Kola and Ozil – The Ripple Effect

The recent knife attack on Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and their wives was thwarted thanks to the selfless bravery of our Bosnian defender.

The long-lasting effects may well cast more harmful ripples however.

The CCTV footage showed how the assailants pulled up to Ozil’s vehicle on a moped and brandished a large knife. Kolasinac then exited the car and Ozil drove the respective partners to a position of safety while the left-back aimed to either stifle or incapacitate the criminals.

Thankfully, no harm was done. Well, at least physically.

This footage will no doubt have spread worldwide via social media. Professional footballers will have seen this and the violence on show could act as a deterrent to any prospective moves to the Premier League.

Do we see footballers in other nation’s being attacked by blades? Aside from the volatility of South America, can we say anywhere in Europe has seen similar recently?

This is not to say that knife crime is more prevalent in London or the UK as opposed to Europe, but simply that this sole act occurred in our capital rather than in Italy, Spain or Germany.

Footballers lead a lavish lifestyle and are on the highest of pedestals. The barrier between player and fan is higher than ever before. These sportsmen are now fully removed from everyday life and the fleeting moments that they take part in fan activities or social media interactions are pretty much the only times they put their feet on the same ground we walk on.

This attack could well pull that drawbridge up a little further, distancing us and them even more than before. Players have the ability to seclude themselves in their own world. Their houses are like resorts, they attend exclusive events and venues, and the streets that we share? They will be less and less frequented.

What of potential signings thinking of relocating to the UK? This potentially has a dampening effect, as perception is everything. The news stories that hype the supposed torrent of violent crime on our streets, now exacerbated by our players being nearly killed while attending a restaurant? It will do nothing for enthusiasm to sample the delights of the city.

The reason why the video made such a splash is because of the seriousness of the potential repercussions. Should Sead Kolasinac have failed in his heroic efforts? It doesn’t bear thinking of.

Sead and Ozil

With such riches to protect and these men recognised anywhere they go, it does mean that for the more nefarious of us Joe Publics, these professional players do have a target on their heads. It is easy pickings and ripe pickings at that.

The days of players liaising with fans like they did in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s? That is a thing of the past, and the moat that sees us look longingly at the greener grass of celebrity sportspeople yawns ahead of us, growing wider each year.

We can be thankful that both players and their wives were unharmed after this attack, but the threat of further incidents of the same nature potentially could ripple outward for quite some time.

Dick Law’s Transfer Window Deadline Diary

Posted on Goonersphere.

31/08/17 – 0430hrs

I thought this would be a good idea. The Transfer Window has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, and anything from behind the scenes could make a small fortune. Just imagine, there could be a movie – The Diary of a Football Transfer Guru!

Anyways, the reason I’m up so early is it’s the last day of the window before it slams shut and doesn’t open back up until January. That means everyone will be up and at ‘em today. If it’s anything like the last few years, it’ll be frantic and relentless. Perhaps not a patch on the famous window of 2012, but who knows?

I’m at my breakfast table and I’ve got my bowl of Coco Pops and have Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on the TV. Their spirit and faith towards Master Splinter never fails to inspire me before a big day. My phone is already ringing. It’s Ivan……

31/08/17 – 0515hrs

Ivan has given me the list of targets for me to meet up with and work my charm. There are three, and they could be huge signings for Arsenal! I’ve finished my Coco Pops and I’ve had a shower, now it’s time to dress the part.

No transfer mogul is complete without the obligatory power suit. One that says “I’m all about the details, you won’t get anything past me,” but also “I also own a subscription to National Geographic Magazine.”

I don’t. I buy Wordsearch books.

So, my suit is on and my Peter Griffin tie completes this amazing business ensemble. The tie sprinkles in a bit of the unknown you see, it puts them off-kilter a bit.

Now, just to call my PA, Maurice, to book the flights to Paris, Southampton and Monaco, then I’m ready!

I’ve thought of everything. Let’s go and make some deals!

31/08/17 – 0620hrs

I’ve seen every airport lounge, sampled every Toblerone you can imagine – did you know they do a mint one? – but Heathrow is always the beginning of every journey. It’s special, and the staff there are great to me. They know me now, and they often help me to carry my things. They have a quick turnaround of staff though, they often forget to come back with my stuff!

Queues are the enemy of any passenger at the airport, but not for Dick Law! Thanks to my high position at Arsenal, I get Business Class everywhere I go! The plushest of seats, extra legroom, all the Fanta I can drink! It is the fact I don’t have to queue though, that really makes the difference. This is vital, being the jetset, business-type that I am. Hold that thought, Ivan is on the phone again…..

31/08/17 – 0630hrs

Just ended the call from Ivan, and that is the end of my mammoth Haribo scoffing session. Apparently, if I want to eat sweets, I’ve got to do it on my own bank card, rather than the club’s dosh. Stan has been watching the club accounts you see….

Anyway, there’s been a slight mishap. Maurice didn’t actually book the flights to Monaco. So, now I’ve got to queue up with the rest of the plebs. I’ve told Maurice to contact the Chairman of Monaco to let them know I’ll be delayed a little, but it shouldn’t make too much difference.

Once they meet me and listen to the words I spin, they will be entranced. Then, they’ll be a Gunner!

Arsene will be so pleased, if I get even one of these deals over the line, then I’m sure to get more coupons for the skateboard I’ve had my eye on for ages! Arsene makes sure I get coupons for my good work, and I want that skateboard!

Let’s do this!

31/08/17 – 1200hrs

After queueing, then the delay on the runway, then waiting to get off the plane, then passport control, then stopping to get Toblerone, then the cab to meet the Monaco chairman, I was four hours late.

The Chairman wasn’t there when I got to the meeting point. He had left a message with a member of staff though, telling me that the player has joined elsewhere.

Darn it! I had some great lines stored up to woo these guys! I have to phone Maurice and reinforce how important the next two meetings are. Before I do though, Ivan is on the phone….

31/08/17 – 1300hrs

I’m back at Monaco airport, and I’m just about to go in for my Business Class flight to Paris. Ivan wasn’t pleased about the missed meeting. I told him that it was down to Maurice that I missed everything, but he didn’t let me speak. He just kept shouting at me. It was only when I started to cry that he stopped.

Anyway, this next meeting is maybe more important than the last. We’ve sold a few players recently that means we need new ones – the Szczesny deal was all down to me! – so Paris needs the finest Dick Law that I can be! Mum always says that appearance is just as important as words, so I’ve got toItomake sure I rinse out the jam stain on my Peter Griffin tie when I get into the Executive Bathroom!

Paris here I come, I don’t think you’re ready for the Dick whirlwind!

31/08/17 – 1304hrs

Maurice didn’t book my tickets – again. It means I’ve got to queue up again and get in with the rest of the cattle. I’ve got ten minutes before I do all that, so I’m in the bathroom getting rid of the jam stain and I’m doing my mouth exercises in the big mirrors. Annunciation is a big thing, and I want to impress the big cheese’s at the Parc Des Princes with my big words. 

Annunciation is one of them, I’ll slip it in there somehow!

Now, I’ve got to go, my flight is near and the town that was inspired by Blackpool and their Tower is calling!

31/08/17 – 1605hrs

The flight was bumpy, they didn’t serve up any Babybel, Maurice never booked the transfer from the airport to the stadium offices – and I was mega late again.

The staff at the club tried to find the Chairman, but we eventually found out they had flown back to Qatar and said they won’t be doing business with people who can’t grace them with proper timekeeping! Charming!

Their loss, they didn’t even see my Foghorn Leghorn impression! That was the dealmaker for sure!

Ivan is ringing again, this might take a while…..

31/08/17 – 1700hrs

Ivan threatened me. He said if I don’t get this last deal done, then I can kiss goodbye to that skateboard I want.

I’ve got to get cracking. I’ve got all the talk, all the skills, I just need to get to Southampton. Best call Maurice and make sure the flight is booked, as well as the transfers. I’m not going to miss this one. This deal will go down in history, and it will be all down to Dick Law, transfer expert extraordinaire!

31/08/17 – 2300hrs

I missed the flight. I missed the meeting. According to Maurice, it’s because he’s invisible and can’t touch the keys on the keyboard. It never stopped him when we were kids though…..

Anyway, that means the three players have moved to other clubs, and Arsenal have missed out.

Worse still, the skateboard is gone. Ivan has sent me a Whatsapp with it sawn in half. I cried a little, so I ate one of my toblerone’s to cheer myself up. I suppose I best get to bed, It’s been a long…..

Wait a minute!

I’ve just got a text saying a player has stated his interest in joining The Arsenal! All I have to do is get back to Southampton, and we can talk!

I’m going to get a cab, this could change everything!

01/09/17 – 0002hrs

I got to the meeting, I did my impression, used my big-boy words, my tie sparked a conversation – it went perfectly!

We quickly progressed to negotiations, and this is when my intellect comes into play. They wanted £25million – I hit straight back with £3.


They didn’t like that! After a long argument, they then came back with their second figure.


I smashed it straight back with £1.50 and a slice of Millionaire Shortbread.


That was when I was asked to leave.

I’ve asked Maurice to ring me a cab, but that was a while ago.

It’s getting quite cold and I forgot to bring my mittens that my mum knitted me.

Ivan is calling my phone….

Arsenal’s Closed Window

We thought that this time would be different.

Even though we had seen it all before.

A fantastic start to business, which put us in a prime position to finally close the gap on the regular challengers for the title. 

Then, the inevitable lull in proceedings, which then led to the demise of hope.

In the previous few seasons, we had gone out early and purchased players in June/July. Not just any players, but of the ilk to push us forward. 

This season’s incarnation of the annual false dawn was Alexandre Lacazette. On a singular basis, the Frenchman is a fantastic addition to the squad and his talents will benefit our team undoubtedly. 

One purchase does not make a team though, only a very glittery band-aid. 

Sead Kolasinac was another player who joined, but the lack of monetary fanfare in the form of a blockbuster transfer fee resulted in less hype surrounding the bulky Bosnian. His skills though, are of the highest order, and I think we have all seen from his pre-season and early Premier League displays, that Kolasinac is an absolute bargain.

A defensive addition, allied with the striking purchase we all craved. Sounds like a recipe for success, no?

The stormclouds on the horizon in the last few years refused to dissipate though, and it all stemmed from the inadequacies in our team which have cost us dearly. 

If we are all able to spot it, how can Arsene Wenger repeatedly refuse to remedy the situation?

The faith he shows his players can mean an extra 10-15% torque from their engines. Players want to do their utmost for someone who has their back, and Wenger always backs his men. The trouble is, the arm round the shoulder can also be constricting and problematic. 

Some get too comfortable, some refuse to push the envelope for progress. We now have a squad that has a capacity for wonderful things, but they rarely find any consistency, they also just as rarely struggle to hit the heights they – and we – know they are capable of.

So, the transfer window enables Wenger to finally rid us of this blight, to use his extensive knowledge of the European game to acquire players that are a perfect fit for the apertures we have in our squad.

Virgil Van Dijk, Jean-Michel Seri, Julian Draxler. Just three names that could replace players that wanted to leave this summer, and not just replace them, but better them. 

Van Dijk is sought after by Chelsea, Liverpool, pretty much the whole Premier League hierarchy. The clamour for his signature is evidence enough that the Dutchman is of the required standard. With Shkodran Mustafi angling for a move in nearly plain sight, why did we not move for Southampton’s star man?

Not only this, but with Gabriel sold to Valencia in the same window, this left us with an injury-prone Koscielny, a retiring Mertesacker, an inexperienced Holding and Calum Chambers, where the jury is out. 

Of course, the transfer fee would have been gargantuan, but Mustafi would have brought in at least half of the transfer fee, so the price cannot be baulked at. 

Then there is Julian Draxler. The German started well at PSG, but the wheels fell off and he is now out of favour in Paris. The fact he was offered to Borussia Dortmund underlines Draxler’s availability. With Alexis practically being photographed shaking hands with Sheikh Mubarak, the left side of our attack was open. 

Why didn’t we go for Draxler?

The fee for Alexis would have been pretty close to that of Draxler. This was a no-brainer. Of course, Lemar was our chosen man, but the fact he too slipped through our fingers typifies our transfer policy in the last decade or so.

Our central midfield is an itch that Wenger doesn’t seem to be able to scratch. When bereft of Santi Cazorla, the mixture of defensive duties and attacking instincts is usually the blade that slips under the ribcage of our title credentials. 

Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny have all played alongside each other in various combinations, but none seem to stick. Coquelin has the passion, but zero technical ability. Xhaka is a fantastic long-range passer and for making connections, but he is lazy in his defensive tasks. Aaron Ramsey is a fine attacker, but needs a player to sit back when he roves forward. Elneny is a solid 7/10 player, but is simply squad-filler.

Wenger has been sitting in this ticking time-bomb for seasons, and a mixture of belief in his men and apparent beligerence has led to us all suffering the results on the pitch.

We need a midfield destroyer. We need that same destroyer to be able to offload the ball further than three yards without losing it. 

Why didn’t this get seen to? 

Instead of pushing our team on in this window, we have made a profit. Just what the team needs, a healthier bank balance. 

For the first time, we are in September as I write this and I have zero confidence in our team doing anything this season. Treading water with the occasional splash, but until the problems are seen to, we are hindered.

Our squad is strong in terms of numbers, but even the most optimistic of us could see what was needed in this window.

And yet again, we have a window closed on us whilst our faces are pressed on the glass, dribbling over the wares we were promised but are well out of our reach.

Wenger is responsible for this error, and it could cost us dearly as slipping down the ranks means a less desirable place to play for transfer targets. 

The players we have, need to repay what Wenger has given them. Hopefully, that will be enough. It has to be. 

​CL Final Shows Gulf In Class

Posted on Goonersphere.

A Champions League Final is not normally a hive of frenetic action, sandwiched by thrilling passages of play.

No, European club football’s crowning glory is usually poster child for tedium and anti-football. Y’know the types of games I’m referring to – just picture a game involving a Jose Mourinho team in an important fixture and you’ll get the idea.

It is completely understandable though. Since the European Cup transformed itself in the early 90’s, the current format has gone from strength to strength and is now the pinnacle of all achievements for any club on the continent.

So for a team to play ultra-cautiously in fear of losing is just another effect of the Champions League gravity ensuring everything in its orbit is affected.

The latest Final though, in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, was markedly and pleasantly different.

Both finalists – eventual winners Real Madrid and beaten finalist Juventus – went at each other with vigorous enthusiasm, and the first half especially was a joy to watch. The ebb and flow of the game was akin to a tennis match, but don’t for one moment think that the defensive arts were maligned. With each attack, the defence for both teams were the craggy rocks which the marauding waves crashed upon.

Juventus’s almost mythical defence of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini were eventually found wanting in the face of the Real forward line, but Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos also had a tough time tracking the movement of Paolo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

All parameters of skill in football were crammed into the ninety or so minutes, and what became increasingly apparent as the minutes whizzed by was that Arsenal – and the Premier League – are miles behind the level on show.

The Premier League’s biggest strength – it’s physicality and fizzing speed – is also its biggest flaw. It means that the technical ability that Real and Juventus possess and dole out on the pitch can slice through the crash and bang that PL sides bring to the table.

We have players in every PL team that can play in this manner. Some clubs have more than others, but the bottom line is that it isn’t just the Champions League finalists that have climbed above our best sides.

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, PSG, Monaco, Barcelona. These teams, if drawn against one of the big PL sides, could slice us to ribbons on demand. Of course, Dortmund have seen better days, and PSG haven’t been at their best, but five English sides making the Last 8 in the last SIX seasons pretty much underlines it.

There are matches when English teams can raise their game and occasions when their play is breathtaking. At their best, they can stand shoulder to shoulder with these Euro giants.

The problem is though, is that they are standing on tiptoes, and this can’t be maintained for long.

We have some of the best coaches. We have the most money. We have the platform to grow and become giants, like we once were. 

There are other factors. A lack of a winter break leaves English teams with less capacity than their Euro brethren, and the frenetic nature of our League means stamina becomes an issue.

These are not the main reason though, and that is why this summer will be a big one for the big boys of the Premier League. 

These clubs are now the richest on the continent, and despite this, they still don’t possess the best talent that money can buy. Suarez, Neymar, Dybala, Higuain, Bale, Ronaldo, Reus, Douglas Costa, Lewandowski. These men are at the very top, and none play in England.

Hell, Real Madrid couldn’t even fit James Rodriguez onto their bench!

We have Ozil, Sanchez, Hazard, Aguero, Pogba, Koscielny, Kane. These players can hold their head high amongst these esteemed names, but on the whole, we have a huge amount of catching up to do.

On the pitch, and off of it, we will see a big change. This summer will be the start, as silly money gets chucked around so City, United, Chelsea and hopefully Arsenal, attempt to claw back their shortcomings.

The CL Final may just serve as a wake up call for the Premier League big clubs. 

Who Picks Arsene’s Replacement?

Published originally in the Gooner Fanzine.

In any form of democratic hierarchy, the process of replacing the person who sits atop the pyramid is a ritual of sorts. If it was a political framework, then the Prime Minister / President is sworn in by voting from the citizens of the country. If it is a monarchy, then the crown is destined to sit on the head of the person who is on the nearest branch of the family tree.

Whilst the rules may vary somewhat dependant on the setting, it is a serene and traditional means of seamlessly transferring power. 

Football could really do with taking a leaf from this book.

Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal since 1996, is nearing the end of his mammoth tenure at the club. Transforming the Gunners from faded London club to a prosperous outfit with genuine promise, Wenger has overseen the chrysalis and hazardous early years since Arsenal first moved into the new stadium. 

There was an Arsenal before Arsene and there will be after he is long gone, but it is undeniable he is responsible for dragging our club to where we now are, and that is expectant of success each season. His own achievements have ultimately been his downfall, as he now seems unable to muster what is fundamentally required. 

Wenger is now on borrowed time, and a future when he is not at the helm is a tangible prospect. How does a club decide who comes in and attempts to take the reins which have been in the hands of one person for so long?

The routines of the club behind the scenes and the setup is now like a well used car. The floormats and driver’s seat have indentations from the same driver. The steering wheel has lost several layers in two positions. The car still runs, but will it respond kindly to another person in the hotseat?

It must, or the scrapheap beckons.

So, how does Arsenal choose who takes the wheel next?

A lot has been made of Arsene choosing his own successor. Let’s face it, whether you support him or not, there are few who know the club as well as Wenger does, so surely he is best positioned to decide who is best for the role? He also knows football inside out, so he would have the best idea for who manages Arsenal?

What of the Board? In nearly all instances, the distinguished members of each club’s Boardroom are the ones who hold sway over the comings and goings. They may or may not be footballing men, but they more often than not are well schooled in one thing – and that is business.

Football has changed inexorably in the last decade, and clubs have distanced themselves from the community-based outfits of yore. They now deal in multi-billion pound growth charts, and each arm of the club needs to be a well-oiled machine in order to maximise opportunity and stay one step ahead of the pack. 

If democracy was truly utilised, then the fans would have a voice that would be heard. We are after all the blood of the club, and without us, then the sport would die. So we should be able to put forward our suggestions, no?

Well, anyone who is privy to social media can well attest to a large percentage of fans not actually knowing a whole lot about football. For every supporter who grasps common sense and just wants what is best for our club, there are always others who would bring in Jose Mourinho if given half a chance. 

No, all the parts of the equation are incorrect so far. Arsene Wenger should not be able to have the decision on who replaces him. The Board are not truly schooled enough to decide who is the best man for the job, and us supporters are a fractious bunch at the best of times.

So who decides?

How about an Arsenal Thinktank of sorts? Luminaries from all generations of the club who have served our club with distinction and want what is best for Arsenal? Men and women who are steeped in our ways and who know the current layout of the sport in general?

People like Tony Adams, Alan Smith, Frank McLintock, Lady Nina Bracewell Smith, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, David Seaman and the other members of The Back5, Liam Brady, Charlie George, George Graham, Bob Wilson, Kelly Smith.

People of this ilk care deeply for the club like us fans. They also know football very well, like Arsene Wenger. They also are well versed in the art of business as they all have different plates spinning in their lives. Soreally, they represent all parts of the equation.

They could really help the Board make an informed decision. Arsene Wenger deserves to be able to make a suggestion, and it should be listened to. But the decision is too big to be made by one man.

The future of our club rests on the next few years. Let us make sure we look to our proud history and the men and women who made us when we have to make the choice. 

The Cup Final – Who’s In YOUR Side?

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

Due to my valiant attempts at recreating a home improvements show in my new abode, my Goonersphere Podcast appearances have suffered. Not having appeared since December saw at least three people tweet queries regarding my return ( one of those was me ) and my good name used as a plaything by my pod compadres.


This week saw my shining return. It was genuinely great to be back and to talk about our wonderful club with people who may not agree with you, but at least take your opinion on board, unlike a few on certain social networks. The japes ran thick and fast and we had plenty to pore over in regards to events on the pitch. Continue reading The Cup Final – Who’s In YOUR Side?

The Temptations that can Befall a Young Idol

Originally featured on Goonersphere

The stereotypical image of a young footballer who plies his trade at the highest levels of the game, stumbling out of a nightclub or being papped puffing on a shisha pipe, is one that edifies the very fans that idolise these spoiled ‘men’. It shows children that the life of a footballer is one of fun and pleasure – that all they can wish for can be theirs. It also shows another facet of a pro-footballers life that isn’t so apparent to starry-eyed dreamers. It is evidence that no matter what choice you make, if you are up on a pedestal then the media want nothing more than to send you sprawling. If you leave yourself open to interpretation, then the repercussions could be huge.

Many would argue that the privileged existence that is a Premiership footballer renders these risks moot. If you are earning upwards of a Kings ransom each week, then the world is your oyster and you should work that little bit harder to earn it. Why would you want to go to a nightclub and risk your career when you can play golf, go on a break or even learn to fly a plane. The choices that are available are mind boggling.

Cast your mind back to when you were 18-24. If you are currently that age – firstly, know that I and everyone else upwards of that age bracket hates you.  Secondly, you know how important your friends are. To everyone else who has unfortunately grown out of that age, we can all admit that, as the responsibilities of an adult grow heavier and the demand for readies is an ever-present blight, friendships and your social circle become less than imperative.

Try to keep that viewpoint in mind as I take you on a little trip. One evening in the life of a Premiership footballer. We’re going to play a little game.  Answer honestly and we will recap at the end.  What would you do?

Continue reading The Temptations that can Befall a Young Idol