Podolski Pain and Rosicky Redemption

Podolski Pains, Rosicky Redemption and Fickle Fans……

 

I write this in the aftermath of the North London Derby.  There is plenty of material I could spin a yarn about in the space of those 90 frustrating minutes.  The fact that our defence has less meat on it than Victoria Beckham after a colonic.  The number of rash tackles from our hideously deformed neighbours.  The positive displays of Jack, The Ox, Chambers and Kos.  The sheer effort put in by supposedly lackadaisical Ozil.  Or even about why Sanchez – who is on a hot streak – didn’t start.  I will leave these for another time though.  I want to focus on another fixture.  One that seemed to be treated with a trace of disdain. 

The match against Southampton in the former Rumbelows/Milk/Carling/Capital One Cup had many telltale signs for a match that was cast to the shadows of irrelevance by most of us.  The line-up was much changed as expected, with even the Lesser-Spotted Diaby starting a match for the first time since mobile phones didn’t have to be carried in a suitcase.  The general concensus on social networks was that the re-re-re-re-re-emergence of Abou was the main focal point of a game that carried many positives despite the negative scoreline.

In a defence that comprised Bellerin, Chambers, a composed Hayden and Coquelin - we only lost to a penalty and a screamer from Nathaniel Clyne.  Seeing as Saints had much of their first team playing that has earned them 2nd place in the League table – I think this can be gleaned as a positive.  I may be grasping at straws but seeing as our defence is lacking in depth, the fact that Coquelin and Hayden can now be seriously considered as back-up enables me to stop having Jok-Kittens when I see BFG or Gibbs fall awkwardly. 

This isn’t what I wanted to examine in detail though.  First up under the microscope is Lukas Podolski.

Ah, Podolski.  Or should that be Aha……….erm.

The man that provides much of the mirth that seems to be emanate from the training ground photos we see through the week.  The man who is the self-proclaimed King of the Selfie.  The man who has a shot so venomous that Steve Irwin before his untimely demise attempted to handle it in a manner hazardous to his health. 

For a player with such a glittering Honours List for his country – a successful country to boot – his displays for us can be summed up as sporadic at best.  For every brace he scored against West Ham, he also puts in two or three appearances where he shows less enthusiasm than a horse on a tour around a Findus factory.  It is OK to say he shouldn’t have to track back as he isn’t a conventional winger.  Fair enough.  Either is Santi.  Neither is the Ox nor Ozil.  They have all shown that running back to aid our defence and hustle the opposition is an admirable trait that can be passed down from midfield to attack.  Not only is his lack of defensive work an issue, but as an attacking outlet with his shot being the main asset – surely he should be making lung-busting runs to get into the danger zones?  His perceived lack of interest is disconcerting to say the least.  Wenger’s selection has been iffy at times this season but you can see why Lukas has been used less than a tactics manual at Old Trafford this season.   Some of you may say I shouldn’t judge after one solitary start this season – but I’m not.  Last season was much of the same from our bonkers German.  He has had numerous chances to stake a claim for the first XI and has fluffed his lines with listless performances which has only served to remind Wenger and most fans that he cannot be relied upon.   This brings me to another fan favourite…….

Little Mozart.  Rozza himself.  The player who inserts so much forward thrust into our game we should call him ‘The Sexual Aid’.  In his 8 years with us – aside from being Diaby’s main Battleship opponent on the treatment table – he has been the go-to-guy for quelling threats and instantaneously converting it into a counter-attack.  Always forward thinking with an eye for a shot, he works tirelessly and without complaint.  We love him for genuine reasons. 

Against Southampton though -  he was off-key.  The penalty he gave away was undoubtedly a spot-kick.  You could see he was trying to convert defence into attack when he made the boo-boo.  He just got it horribly wrong.  It was also his first start this season so his timing must’ve been off.  It may seem to the outside observer that I’m being terribly unfair to Lukas but being biased towards Tomas.  This is bilge however.  I could have you killed for even thinking that my writing isn’t 100%, pure, Grade-A FACT.

  Tomas has time and again proved that he is ultra-effective when we are looking to hit on the break and he has the ball at his melodic feet.  He can tackle ( Saints aside ) and has the stamina of a man ten years his younger.  Compare that to Podolski who had his moments last season ( Bayern, West Ham ) but ultimately when he played he left fans scratching their heads as to why he not only failed to score but why he failed to contribute in even the minutiae of manoeuvres,. 

Rosicky and Podolski have had ample chances to perform and sway fans judgments.  For fans to call doubt on both is a sign of the times.   Pundits and journalists often comment on the lifespan of a manager and how critically short it now seems to be.  You have to hit the ground running before the axe comes-a-swingin.  It would seem the span of a footballer seems shorter.  Now all it takes is one bad game and a former hero can be tossed out into the wilderness and his legacy left to wither.

An alarming number of fans called doubt on both of these players in the post-game observations.  In a pod a month or so previously for @Goonerspherepod - my fellow podders and I stated that Podolski doesn’t really fit onto our system and hasn’t exactly endeared himself with his dearth of endeavour.  If he wasn’t such a loon in front of the camera or such a good sport in regards to Arsenal’s off-pitch exploits, would we hold him in such high regard?  If we judged him on his performances on the pitch alone – would he be considered a first-team regular or a dispensable asset?  I would opt for the latter.  I can understand why Gooners would suggest that Podolski should be on his way out of London Colney. 

Rosicky though?  A player who covers epic distances?  Who up until this season even with the inability to strike up a rhythm due to a scarcity of constant games, was able to contribute effectively in even the shortest of cameos?  A player who is willing to play out of position to enhance the chances of his team?  Fans think that Tomas should be on his way out?  Do we have no patience anymore?  Can we not abide a singular poor performance?  Can we not take into account mitigating circumstances anymore – instead we simply read the front cover and decree it’s garbage? 

If a player puts in a sedentary performance – does this now mean we have to put him in the bin with the rest of the Raggy Dolls? 

Arteta may not have the legs for the more frenetic of games, but does that mean he isn’t Arsenal class?  Flamini may require brushing up on the finer points of the technical game but do we now judge him to be dispensable as he was responsible for the goal we conceded Vs spurs?  Do we forget the fantastic shutouts BFG earned alongside Kos now that he is a tad out of form?  Do we forget completely about Rosicky being the Chief Game-Changer from the bench the last few seasons as he had a shocker in his first start of the season?  Are we becoming Chelski fans?

I’m not being defensive just because I love our players.  I just find it preposterous I have to stick up for some of them after one bad performance.  It would seem that a lot have their own agenda.  Even if Wilshere has another blinder, there are some that simply don’t like him and wish him to move on.  Ignorance is an epidemic.  If a player is wearing the Cannon, then we should support him on the pitch.  When the match is over, if he has stunk out the stadium with his funk, then we have every right to pull apart his display and proffer our opinion as to where he may be able to improve.  That is more than fair.  For some of us to resolve that a player has had his chips at our club after one game and forget his overall talent and previous performances though?  Completely forget about form and lack of appearances?  That is the same as deciding you now officially dislike pizza after having a Dominos and finding a pube on it.  It doesn’t mean you hate pizza.  You just don’t think this particular time you had pizza was any good.  In fact, you thought it was awful.

I think I’ll end on that wonderfully terrible analogy.  You catch my drift.  Rosicky is awesome. 

By @JokmanAFC

A Classic Whodunit. Arsenal style.

Each letter was scribed on the finest parchment.  Despite being daubed using a fountain pen - not one accidental blot spoiled what was the most elegant of handwriting.  Each letter had been placed in a thick sheath and had been delivered by hand in the wee hours.  Every detail had been seen to.  The invites were completed.


Now he waited……..

2130 HOURS.  SOMEWHERE IN RURAL ENGLAND


The house - or blight on the countryside as the locals called it - stood out from the rest of the idyllic setting.  Surrounded by crops of thick shrubs and groupings of mighty oak trees - its air of the modern threw up a vulgar middle finger to what lay here previously.  Where before lay a behemoth of a Victorian pile, now only the facade of the antiquated remained.  The front of the previous house had been kept looked ill at ease being the face of such a building.  Much like the skyscrapers that bullied the London skyline - the new home was predominantly glass with metal framework.  If knocking on the ancient doors you happened to take a step back - you would be of the opinion that the house had shed its skin.  This abode did not have a reptilian nature however.  Unlike its owner…….

All guests had been ushered through the doors by an almost fossilized butler.  He shuffled through what most would think of as a shrunken main entrance room given the house’s size and were led left.  Down through a narrow unspectacular hallway lined by oil paintings of tropical settings that wouldn’t look out of place up on the gaudy walls of a sunbed shop - eventually a routine white, wooden door opened out into one of the most gargantuan dining rooms you are ever likely to see.

This is where the guests now resided - impatiently waiting for the opportunity to right some wrongs.  The room was perfectly spherical and white alabaster walls were the owners choice to frame the room.  Halfway up the wall abruptly ended and a large glass dome topped the walls.  One ornate chandalier hung, sentry-like, from the centre of the glasswork.  The light that emitted from this no-doubt ridiculously priced crystal light fitting filled every crevice in the room and also served to pave the way for inquisitive eyes to peer into the sky that cackled above them.  It was rather breathtaking.

High-backed, green leather armchairs sporadically placed around the outer of the room and a table that could serve a hungry crowd sat in the centre acted as stations for where  - if the mood took you - you could look into the sky that loomed up high in a position of luxury and comfort.  Nothing else littered the space which could have been used as an oratory.  the guests grew listless as the lightning continued to splinter its white-hot dance across the heavens.

The sole door creeped open.  The staff member who had led ushered them into this room cracked a single, barked cough.  The guests, which were five in number - all bolted upright. 

In walked a man entirely comfortable in his own skin and his surroundings.  The man was dressed much like a person who had just been quaffing brandy whilst discussing hunting in a room lined with deerheads.  Adorned in tweed with leather patches in all the right places, he cradled a walnut pipe out of one corner of his mouth.  The man was someone they all should know well.  despite the ridiculous outfit - the man was Arsene Wenger.


The guests were aghast at such a shock.  They expected a demanding Board Member - a bloated fatcat who could be shrugged off or set at ease with a photograph and an autograph for the grandchildren.  The Gaffer wouldn’t be of the same ilk.

Arsene opens his mouth to speak.  It isn’t his usual measured tones….

" THE POST-MORTEM STARTS HERE! " he booms with portent.  The reverie the guests were in ( who were still standing ) due to the shock of their Boss being the one who had just walked in was broken with Wengers cry.

" I have invited you all to this house to finally get some answers.  We try and we try to work out our problems on the training pitch.  We talk and we talk about using our mental strength to overcome.  We have hit a leetle roadblock. "

The guests shifted uneasily.

" Against Chelsea, we passed well.  We moved well.  We defended well for the most part.  But leetle-beet mental block defeeated our aims.  It happens every time we play them.  I now want to get to the bottom of it and I believe the culprit of our failings - IS IN THIS ROOM TONIGHT!!! "

As if nature had an eye for timing - thunder rolled across the sky and boomed onto the glass dome which served as a giant drum.  The bass generated from the blast sent a raft of ringing into everyone’s ears.

The guests were now looking from one to another.  They started to realise this night wasn’t going to be an evening wining and dining and keeping the money-men happy.  A finger needed to be pointed and if it landed on them - the repurcussions would be irreversible.

Mesut Ozil - the club’s record signing. 

Alexis Sanchez - the supposed herald of a new dawn.

Steve Bould - rescuer of a flailing defence.

Mathieu Flamini - midfiled terrier.

Per Mertesacker - defensive titan.

" Gentlemen, this ends here.  Mesut.  I will start with you ".

The mercurial playmaker’s infamously protruding eyes seemed to sweat.  He started to sit down on one of the green chairs and immediately stood up again - as if unsure of his approach.  Arsene began his deducting.

" Please Mesut, sit.  Now, you signed with us because you feel invested in the story I am writing.  You felt that the direction that I am taking the club and the trust I place in you will enable you to become a better player and that success lights our path.  It is no shock to everyone that confidence has sometimes been a leetle-beet of an issue, but we kept plugging away.  Then the World Cup came and you showed your versatility and usefulness.  I thought I could employ you in the same fashion.  But no.  You couldn’t replicate it for me on the left could you?  No matter.  I put you back in the centre for Villa and you showed everyone what you could do.  Against Chelsea however - you didn’t perform in contrast to our opponents star player did you?  He changed the game for them………"

Arsene simply broke off mid-flow.  Mesut - still standing but unsure of his stance - was still unsure of whether the blame would fall at his feet.  Wenger had now turned his icy gaze upon another though……

" Alexis.  Poster boy for Chile on the world stage.  Top performer for Barcelona.  Impressive stats.  You had it all.  You joined us and you have given EVERYTHING on the pitch.  You have toiled.  You and your pulled up shorts have run miles to show the fans that you will leave nothing on the pitch.  Despite this though, I have found it hard to incorporate you into the team.  I have had to tinker.  I have had to change, to mould.  The start of the season is not the ideal time to do this but I have to play you.  What do I do?  You played against Chelsea didn’t you……."

Once more, mid-diatribe, Arsene cuts short.  The exasperation levels had reached fever pitch.  Eyes darting betwixt each other.  trickles of sweat foraging down brows.  Tonight would bring answers - but with a price.

" Sir Steve, a true Arsenal man. "  Bould seemed to be the only one of the party to have kept his composure.  A man with an impeccable record for the club and a renowned steel to his demeanour, surely if anyone would see through this fateful night it would be he?

" You have been an invaluable ally in times of duress and attack from outside sources.  You have been a soundboard to my ideas and a critique when I’m led astray.  When Pat left, you filled a void and you did it well.  You know however, that your raison d’etre was to work on the defence. Has your vision worked?  Has your experience seeped into our players?  Have you failed? "

Seteve Bould’s famous steely glaze slipped a little at such brazen questioning.  One eye flickered intermittently, his hands clenched into fists that had sent fear into Premiership centre-forwards for an era.  He was rattled…..

" Per, Mathieu.  You have both performed admirably for me when called upon.  Per, your partnership with Laurent was the cornerstone of last season.  Yet questions still remain over you.  Specifically your lack of mobility.  For 70 minutes you displayed why you won over 100 caps for Germany.  You shackled the in-form striker of the League in that time.  Did you do EVERYTHING in your power to stop him though?  Did the second goal fall on your shoulders as much as Laurent’s? "

" Mathieu.  You left us when we needed you most.  It took every drop of your fighting spirit upon your return to win us all over.  You exhibited great mental strength.  The position you play in is under great scrutiny and yet, I still play you despite your recent mistakes.  The spotlight is shining upon you Mathieu. "

Per and Mathieu, Little and Large, looked at each other.  Like a tree and a potted fern, they were both borne ultimately from the same seed but lacked the matching physical attributes.  They both shared the same thought at this time.  Fear.

Arsene began to pace around the large centrepiece table, with a peculiar gait.  He supped at his pipe but no smoke wafted from it.  He was ruminating.  Lost in thought.  Whilst Wenger was cut adrift on the Thought-Yacht - his charges scratched at non-existent itches and distractedly attempted to put themselves at ease. 

Arsene stopped dead in his tracks and swivelled on a sixpence to face them.  The moment was upon them.

He clapped his hands and the walking archaeology dig shuffled into the room with a silver platter.  Atop the platter was a decanter filled with what appeared to be brandy.  He lumbered with these objects to each guest - miraculously not dropping anything - and poured them each a measure.  He handed Arsene the final glass and poured the last drops.  He then without a word left the room. 

Brandishing the crystal glass, Wenger began what felt like his conclusions.  Every person in the room aside from the Boss felt everything constrict. 

"  There are cases for each of you and points that had to be addressed.  We each have our own cross to bear but it is how we adapt and fight with these burdens that makes a man.  Mental strength and spirit make up so much of the ingredients of a top, top player.  Do you think you have evidenced this? " 

The question was rhetorical yet seemed to be aimed at them all simultaneously.  It hang in the air like a fugue.  Arsene gave the question its moment - and then continued.

" So, who is to blame for such a performance?  For us to once more dominate possession but have no end product?  For us to quell a potent threat for so long only for it to rip us open when we least expect it?  Well, gentlemen, the answer is………"

Lightning streaked across the transparent roof of the room and the thunder that was akin to sitting next to Zeus if he had flatulence broke the silence.  The chandalier that had lit the whole room now lay dark and vacuous.  The whole room was plunged into an inky blindness.  Murmurs from the now slightly panicked guests who had been left on tenterhooks were being uttered. 

The lights flashed back on.  Standing on top of the table was Jose Mourinho, donning a black cape and all black suit.  Villainy suited him.  At his feet lay a butlers uniform and a latex mask and grey wig.  He was the butler.

" BWAHAHAHAHA!!! You fools!  Like the pathetic creatures you are, you gather here and question your roles.  you try to find weakness when there is no need.  you have a club culture where you must place blame.  It can never be just an off-day.  It has to be Mertesackers pace, it must be a lack of a big holding midfielder, it has got to be a failing in the defence, the attack!  HA!!!!  You ignorant idiots!  There is a reason why your beloved leader has failed to vanquish me.  It’s simply because I will not hold any scruples dearly!  Wenger will not abandon his beautiful plan to get three points.  He will try to show the world that playing football will win through.  PAH!!!  I would abandon my own children for three points!  THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE!  THAT IS WHY I AM A WINNER!!! THAT IS WHY I AM….."

Jose stopped in the midst of his boasting and preening.  He wheeled around to find his nemesis Arsene, looming over him.  Toe to toe.  Like a ferret caught stealing eggs, he appeared to choke on thin air.  Arsene menacingly stood statuesque and then, fully extended his arms, whilst placing his hands on Joses chest.  His arms shot out like an aging piston and Mourinho, arms flailing like a portuguese windmill, careered backwards.  His nefarious black cape whipped around his face - now agape in fright. 

Jose fell backwards, crashing into the plush carpet.  Much to his chagrin, the cape was now in his mouth.  He spat it out in fury.

" CURSES!!!  You’ve not heard the end of this Arsenal!!  I will have my REVEEEEEEENNNNGEEEE!!!! "

He continued to shout the word ‘revenge’ as he ran out of the room in wracking sobs.  The front door of the house slamming closed could be heard in the cavernous dining room and they all watched by the window as Jose quickly jumped into his 1981 Austin Allegro and escaped the scene. 

The threat of Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea cohorts still loom large over our landscape.  We have spent more money recently and yet we are still falling short.  We have apparently moved forward and yet our tactics haven’t changed against him since the first game.  Does the blame for the defeat actually lie with Wenger and his obsession with playing football the right way? 

Pretty much. 

Do I blame him for holding those principles highly?  that isn’t for me to say whether his principles act as an obstacle or not.  For every Chelsea game, there are many others where I beam with pride when we carve open another opponent thanks to our wonderful play which is famous throughout Europe. 

One thing is for sure though.  The return leg will be gosh darn interesting.  I must dash, I need to pick these splinters from my arsecheeks.

By @JokmanAFC

 

Who’d be a Referee?

Week after week, matchday after matchday - a certain correlation occurs.  No matter what allegiance you bear, this pattern shows itself to everyone who call themselves fans. 

Is it the vitriol aimed at whoever is this weeks donkey?  No.  This occurs but isn’t what I am highlighting.

Could it be the peals of laughter aimed squarely at Alan Pardew and the fact that he has zero talent to couple with his lack of knowledge of the game?  No, but this is also commonplace and quite frankly hilarious.

The link I speak of is the constant deriding of match officials.

They say that goalkeepers tend to have a few tools missing from the mental toolbox.  It comes with the territory.  As we experienced the delights of ‘Mad Dog’ Lehmann first hand, we can attest to this.  Think then of the role of referee or linesman.  Surely if goalkeepers are slightly unhinged then officials must spend their spare time shouting at mice and playing hopscotch on landmines.  It’s a cataclysm of a job.

It takes a number of qualifications, a huge amount of devotion to the craft and no meagre amount of time to reach Level 1 of officiating - which is the pinnacle of the trade and what Premier League Ref’s must attain - so there must be a real hunger for the game to chase this path.  They would all be aware of the vitriol and labelling they will face.  From grassroots in the local park to the North London Derby - the language they will endure would outstrip Frankie Boyle with a stubbed toe. To be able to shrug this off and maintain a cool head that is able to make split-second decisions is something most would lack.  Some of the current crop of Ref’s in the Premiership some would say still do.

It’s not a case of these unassuming men armed with whistles being simple victims of burly men screaming obscenities and hurling spittle in their direction though - the vilification aimed at them is borne from frustration at ineptitude.  Indeed - specialist chants from fans are solely for the officials ears.  It isn’t curbed to the most outspoken of spectators either.  The Referee and his band of brothers in black/yellow are a soft target - a stress ball squeezed and kneaded by all in times of pressure, fear or to simply boost camaraderie.   I’ve been to the Emirates sitting next to all manner of people and each and every one has berated the officials in their own way.  With either a conversational diatribe, a series of gesticulations or an unleashing of expletives - all and sundry feel that criticism squared at the one-man team on the pitch is fair game.

Let us use an exhibit to showcase and illustrate.  Our Champions League clash Vs Galatasaray. I thought the Ref - Gianluca Rocchi - made a solid start and attempted to let the game flow by overlooking appeals from both sides when it was a case of a slight shoulder barge or a 50-50 tussle.  I believe from gleaning opinions from most that this approach is the most favourable.  He stayed on the fringes of the game and wasn’t attempting to move the spotlight from either team ( Uriah Rennie could’ve learned a thing or two about that ).  Then there was the first flashpoint.

Without doubt, this was a red card offense.  Whether you are choosing to apply the letter of the law verbatim or using your discretion - the tackle/lunge by Felipe Melo was full of intent, two-footed and dangerous. For this, he received a yellow card.  Strike one for Rocchi.

Why wasn’t he given his marching orders?  Rocchi’s vision wasn’t impeded nor was he fifty feet away from the incident.  He was keeping up with play well and besides - Melo took to the skies about five feet before impacting upon our talented Chilean.  That’s the equivalent of a plane runway.  So he would’ve seen the full reel.  How can he then justify his viewpoint that the attempt to get the ball/break Alexis’s legs warranted only a booking?  Consistency with decisions or not, the yellow card instead of the red only served to infuriate the crowd. 

The second flashpoint was Wojicech and his sending off.  This is where consistency comes into play.  I tweeted my opinion of this incident as it happened and a few healthy but spritely conversations took place - which twitter is the perfect arena for.  I personally was of the opinion that the contact between striker and goalkeeper was minimal ( Yilmaz even lifts his legs up ) and the ball was running away from the opponent.  On the other side of this is that Wojicech is prone to these hot flushes.  His charge from his goal-line was a necessity but also badly-timed.  He also didn’t stretch his arm out to its full reach in order to grab or touch the ball. 

I’ve had the benefit of viewing the replay of it numerous times and thanks to good arguments from people on my favourite social procrastination site and the grey area that is refereeing consistency I’m completely undecided whether it was a sending off.  Gianluca Rocchi had one solitary second to adjudicate.

Yes, he has his linesman to offer up a helping hand of sorts.  He also has the aid of a man with the most futile job in football besides the defensive coach at Man Utd.  This man is the idiot behind the goal line.  Hired to judge solely on goal-line shots and penalty shouts but ultimately never contributing on either - nonetheless he is another facet to the all-seeing eye that is the match official.  So that one solitary second Rocchi had to view and decide becomes a couple of seconds with the help of his merry band of flag-bearers. 

If the general concensus on twitter was as nigh to 50/50 as I’ve ever witnessed - and we all have the benefit of action replays - then even with his own personal army of officials he was always going to offend.  Unfortunately it didn’t go our way ( colour me surprised ) but you can excuse Rocchi for this one to a degree.

The problem is though - in fact, the gargantuan white elephant in the room trumpeting loudly - is that this happens with such frequency that you could call doubt on at least two or three decisions per game.  These verdicts are jarring during the game - but count them up and they will undoubtedly contribute to more titanic outcomes when it comes time to dish out silverware and League placings.  A free-kick denied here, a wrongly called offside flag there.  Each and every team will suffer this fate and as aforementioned - it occurs every single matchday.

Another tired old cliche that gets wheeled out on its rusty axis is ” the luck evens itself out “.

It isn’t luck.  It isn’t even always bad officiating.  It can be simply remedied by what we all see every edition of Match of the Day.  No, it isn’t Mark Lawrenson’s natty choice of shirts or his tawdry mouth over-encumbered by saliva.  It is the action replay.

They can be viewed nigh-on instantly.  In rugby it is used with grace and common-sense.  It takes a few seconds for a more grounded decision to be made and therefore less complaints from both parties will be the result.  Some people will cry ” It will break up the flow of the game! “ 

When a penalty appeal is ongoing, you have the team who are appealing for it who are circling the referee and motioning not only for the golden chance from 12yds but also for the player who dished out a stray leg/arm to be sent for an early shower.  Then you have the crop of players who are maintaining that the tackler got the ball and that the Number 7 currently writhing around on the floor holding his leg is simulating.  All the while you have both managers having a game of ’ Burn the Fourth Officials Ear with your hot Breath ‘. 

In the midst of this you have the referee.  He witnessed the event but is now so covered with angry spittle that he is struggling to hold his shit together.  In his ears ringing is 60000 fans baying for blood and retribution. 

It normally takes about two to three minutes for the emotions to settle and for the game to restart.  I think this would be more than ample for the referee to consult the big screen in the sky and ask it what it thinks?  It takes far less time in the game of egg-chasing. 

The video replay should only be consulted in these matters.  Not for every set-piece or handbags at dawn.  That way the ebb and flow that MOST officials take so much care to preserve can be maintained.

Whether this comes into force is another matter.  It is discussed regularly at FIFA meetings with Blatter at the summit, but that is akin to asking a walrus about the finer points of haberdashery.  One thing is abundantly clear though.

The men adorned in yellow and black brandishing cards?  They need some help.  For all of our sakes. 

By @JokmanAFC

Podolski Pain, Rosicky Redemption and Fickle Fans

Podolski Pains, Rosicky Redemption and Fickle Fans……

 

I write this in the aftermath of the North London Derby.  There is plenty of material I could spin a yarn about in the space of those 90 frustrating minutes.  The fact that our defence has less meat on it than Victoria Beckham after a colonic.  The number of rash tackles from our hideously deformed neighbours.  The positive displays of Jack, The Ox, Chambers and Kos.  The sheer effort put in by supposedly lackadaisical Ozil.  Or even about why Sanchez – who is on a hot streak – didn’t start.  I will leave these for another time though.  I want to focus on another fixture.  One that seemed to be treated with a trace of disdain. 

The match against Southampton in the former Rumbelows/Milk/Carling/Capital One Cup had many telltale signs for a match that was cast to the shadows of irrelevance by most of us.  The line-up was much changed as expected, with even the Lesser-Spotted Diaby starting a match for the first time since mobile phones didn’t have to be carried in a suitcase.  The general concensus on social networks was that the re-re-re-re-re-emergence of Abou was the main focal point of a game that carried many positives despite the negative scoreline.

In a defence that comprised Bellerin, Chambers, a composed Hayden and Coquelin - we only lost to a penalty and a screamer from Nathaniel Clyne.  Seeing as Saints had much of their first team playing that has earned them 2nd place in the League table – I think this can be gleaned as a positive.  I may be grasping at straws but seeing as our defence is lacking in depth, the fact that Coquelin and Hayden can now be seriously considered as back-up enables me to stop having Jok-Kittens when I see BFG or Gibbs fall awkwardly. 

This isn’t what I wanted to examine in detail though.  First up under the microscope is Lukas Podolski.

Ah, Podolski.  Or should that be Aha……….erm.

The man that provides much of the mirth that seems to be emanate from the training ground photos we see through the week.  The man who is the self-proclaimed King of the Selfie.  The man who has a shot so venomous that Steve Irwin before his untimely demise attempted to handle it in a manner hazardous to his health. 

For a player with such a glittering Honours List for his country – a successful country to boot – his displays for us can be summed up as sporadic at best.  For every brace he scored against West Ham, he also puts in two or three appearances where he shows less enthusiasm than a horse on a tour around a Findus factory.  It is OK to say he shouldn’t have to track back as he isn’t a conventional winger.  Fair enough.  Either is Santi.  Neither is the Ox nor Ozil.  They have all shown that running back to aid our defence and hustle the opposition is an admirable trait that can be passed down from midfield to attack.  Not only is his lack of defensive work an issue, but as an attacking outlet with his shot being the main asset – surely he should be making lung-busting runs to get into the danger zones?  His perceived lack of interest is disconcerting to say the least.  Wenger’s selection has been iffy at times this season but you can see why Lukas has been used less than a tactics manual at Old Trafford this season.   Some of you may say I shouldn’t judge after one solitary start this season – but I’m not.  Last season was much of the same from our bonkers German.  He has had numerous chances to stake a claim for the first XI and has fluffed his lines with listless performances which has only served to remind Wenger and most fans that he cannot be relied upon.   This brings me to another fan favourite…….

Little Mozart.  Rozza himself.  The player who inserts so much forward thrust into our game we should call him ‘The Sexual Aid’.  In his 8 years with us – aside from being Diaby’s main Battleship opponent on the treatment table – he has been the go-to-guy for quelling threats and instantaneously converting it into a counter-attack.  Always forward thinking with an eye for a shot, he works tirelessly and without complaint.  We love him for genuine reasons. 

Against Southampton though -  he was off-key.  The penalty he gave away was undoubtedly a spot-kick.  You could see he was trying to convert defence into attack when he made the boo-boo.  He just got it horribly wrong.  It was also his first start this season so his timing must’ve been off.  It may seem to the outside observer that I’m being terribly unfair to Lukas but being biased towards Tomas.  This is bilge however.  I could have you killed for even thinking that my writing isn’t 100%, pure, Grade-A FACT.

  Tomas has time and again proved that he is ultra-effective when we are looking to hit on the break and he has the ball at his melodic feet.  He can tackle ( Saints aside ) and has the stamina of a man ten years his younger.  Compare that to Podolski who had his moments last season ( Bayern, West Ham ) but ultimately when he played he left fans scratching their heads as to why he not only failed to score but why he failed to contribute in even the minutiae of manoeuvres,. 

Rosicky and Podolski have had ample chances to perform and sway fans judgments.  For fans to call doubt on both is a sign of the times.   Pundits and journalists often comment on the lifespan of a manager and how critically short it now seems to be.  You have to hit the ground running before the axe comes-a-swingin.  It would seem the span of a footballer seems shorter.  Now all it takes is one bad game and a former hero can be tossed out into the wilderness and his legacy left to wither.

An alarming number of fans called doubt on both of these players in the post-game observations.  In a pod a month or so previously for @Goonerspherepod - my fellow podders and I stated that Podolski doesn’t really fit onto our system and hasn’t exactly endeared himself with his dearth of endeavour.  If he wasn’t such a loon in front of the camera or such a good sport in regards to Arsenal’s off-pitch exploits, would we hold him in such high regard?  If we judged him on his performances on the pitch alone – would he be considered a first-team regular or a dispensable asset?  I would opt for the latter.  I can understand why Gooners would suggest that Podolski should be on his way out of London Colney. 

Rosicky though?  A player who covers epic distances?  Who up until this season even with the inability to strike up a rhythm due to a scarcity of constant games, was able to contribute effectively in even the shortest of cameos?  A player who is willing to play out of position to enhance the chances of his team?  Fans think that Tomas should be on his way out?  Do we have no patience anymore?  Can we not abide a singular poor performance?  Can we not take into account mitigating circumstances anymore – instead we simply read the front cover and decree it’s garbage? 

If a player puts in a sedentary performance – does this now mean we have to put him in the bin with the rest of the Raggy Dolls? 

Arteta may not have the legs for the more frenetic of games, but does that mean he isn’t Arsenal class?  Flamini may require brushing up on the finer points of the technical game but do we now judge him to be dispensable as he was responsible for the goal we conceded Vs spurs?  Do we forget the fantastic shutouts BFG earned alongside Kos now that he is a tad out of form?  Do we forget completely about Rosicky being the Chief Game-Changer from the bench the last few seasons as he had a shocker in his first start of the season?  Are we becoming Chelski fans?

I’m not being defensive just because I love our players.  I just find it preposterous I have to stick up for some of them after one bad performance.  It would seem that a lot have their own agenda.  Even if Wilshere has another blinder, there are some that simply don’t like him and wish him to move on.  Ignorance is an epidemic.  If a player is wearing the Cannon, then we should support him on the pitch.  When the match is over, if he has stunk out the stadium with his funk, then we have every right to pull apart his display and proffer our opinion as to where he may be able to improve.  That is more than fair.  For some of us to resolve that a player has had his chips at our club after one game and forget his overall talent and previous performances though?  Completely forget about form and lack of appearances?  That is the same as deciding you now officially dislike pizza after having a Dominos and finding a pube on it.  It doesn’t mean you hate pizza.  You just don’t think this particular time you had pizza was any good.  In fact, you thought it was awful.

I think I’ll end on that wonderfully terrible analogy.  You catch my drift.  Rosicky is awesome. 

By @JokmanAFC

Toothless FFP and an Opportunity Missed…………

Financial Fair Play - when it was first formulated and circulated amongst the sport - was much needed.  The worry that first started to bloom amongst anxious rival fans like a toxic weed spread fast to the heirarchy of the game.  For good reason as well.

The owners of the few clubs fortunate enough to have deep enough pockets to be able to do the equivalent of burning £50m had bottomless funds.  Think Scrooge McDuck without the twee personality and charming storylines.  They possessed the ability to paper over any weakness perceived by the manager of the club they owned by applying a plaster-cast comprised of nothing but banknotes.  As fans of Arsenal, we noticed more than most.  The cost-cutting regime that was in place at The Emirates was pruning things a little too keenly - not only was the fat trimmed where necessary but our aspirations and leading lights were also being snipped by the frugal secateurs. 

Cesc.  Hleb.  Henry.  Nasri.  Van Persie.  Song to name but a few that were taken from us all in the name of lucre.  Those days are behind us now thankfully.  The storm cloud on the horizon that threatens the sunnier climes we now expect should have dissipated due to FFP, but it lurks menacingly due to the toothless nature and ridiculous loopholes manipulated by savvy Club Officials.  This shouldn’t be.

FFP rules state that the maximum permitted loss for clubs in the Premiership is £105m over 3 years unless the owner injects equity in which case the biggest permitted loss is £15m over 3years.  There are no wage restrictions in place as long as the total wage bill is not over £52m per annum. 

Chelses have spent just over $471m over the last five years, bringing in £188m in the same period through sales alone.  That leaves a net spend of £283m over 5years for the club that has changed completely thanks solely to Romans Roubles. 

City have a net spend of £292m over 5years taking into account player acquisition and sales only.  That leaves a lot of dosh to be sourced from sponsorship - for both clubs.  Especially considering the meagre amount Chelsea get from Samsung per year currently - which is £18m per year. The sponsorship details for City are a tad murkier seeing as they are chiefly sponsored by Eithad - which is also owned by Sheikh Mansour.

UEFA were handed a golden opportunity when City breached the rules of FFP.  This was a chance to show that the repercussions of such a flagrant disregard would be meted out with a swift dealing of justice.  Not so.  The £50m fine meekly handed to them is a slap to the face of all hard-working clubs and backroom staff.  A monetary fine given to a club that has one of the worlds richest men at the helm is like punishing a morbidly obese person for not exercising by forcefeeding them doughnuts.  The bigwigs at UEFA are to blame for this ridiculous oversight.  The best was yet to come though.

City were also given a restriction on the size of squad they could use in European competition.  A 21-man party would be allowed but not the regulatory 25-man squad that all other clubs could pick from.  Another regulation that would really have sent the gold bars flying back at the Etihad was that City would have to include eight players who had come through the youth system.  Off the top of my generously proportioned head I can think of one - Dedryck Boyata.  So for eight of the 21 to meet that criteria would have left City undoubtedly exiting the Champions League at the Group Stage once again.  Lo and Behold though - City find a loophole, manage to enlist the help of FIFPRO - the players union - and UEFA relent, lowering the eight to five.  Without even taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  What message does this send out to other clubs? 

It says that if you can get a sugar daddy, then you can whore yourself for whatever whims you desire.  No matter that your actual revenue amounts to a tenth of what you’re actually spending - don’t even think of putting the chequebook away.  You can spend what you wish as long as you have lawyers that are heavily schooled in bullshit and manipulation of the Queens English. 

The moment that sparked my typing fingers into this rant was actually highlighted by an intelligent and interesting fellow on twitter - @Orangeiceman10.  His informed points regarding the irony of Mourinho’s comments were illuminating and infuriating.  My quickdraw temper wasn’t aflame due to @Orangeiceman10 though - I was frothing because of Jose.

How does a man that is respected the world over thanks to his haul of silverware across Europe and his tactical nous manage to then reverse that by spewing bile that wouldn’t seem out of place on daytime TV?  Or from Alan Shearer? 

Jose states that he would like any club that breaches FFP to have any league titles taken away that were subsequently won.  So basically - in laymans terms - it was a cheap shot directed at City due to the cash they have spent in the last few years.  If he wants that rule put in place then you may as well scratch out every single achievement that Chelsea have won since Abramovich waltzed down Kings Road.  It smacks of irony and a blase attitude to the chaos that Chelsea have sparked since they started making player agent’s cartwheel for cash.  It is also a kick to sack to all clubs who at least attempt to run a business that doesn’t leak money more than Nick Leeson after imbibing 23 tequilas.

What maybe perceived as another egregious disregard of FFP is the stark fact that Chelsea have TWENTY-SIX players on loan.  26.  Stockpiling talent.  This is only because they don’t want others to have them.  Like a fat greedy kid at a birthday party - Chelsea have gathered up all the buffet food and hid under the table to enjoy them solely.  Surely situations such as these should have been foreseen by the people who effectively run the European game?  26 players farmed out to other clubs many of which were directly involved in players who signed for Chelsea.  It reeks of injustice. 

So where does this leave us?  We are all aware - and rather proud - of our standing in a financial sense.  In terms of income and outgoings we are in rude health.  The fact we can survive without a rich benefactor is a huge boost as well.  We need not rely on income from one source for we can generate it ourselves.  Much like the annoying Destiny’s Child song - we are independent.  What a fantastic  - and rare position to be in.  We also have enough cash to purchase needed squad additions ( though the last transfer window is best forgotten ).

The question remains though - Why shouldn’t we go to Kroenke, cap in hand, and ask for a few hundred million to not only pepper our squad with world class players but also to stop other rival clubs strengthening themselves?  It isn’t as if FFP will rein our wild cheque-writing hand in is it?  We could bust into the HQ of Real Madrid with a swagger borne from Top Gun and then simply give Florentino Perez a list of the players we want.  Without saying a word. 

Why not?  As mentioned earlier, I foresee a storm.  Due to the lax punishments dished out by UEFA - not only to City but also to PSG who have spent so much dosh over the last few seasons that they find themselves drowning in players and in dire need to offload - I think that clubs will see that their are ways and means of avoiding any consequences.  They will continue to spend their ill-gotten gains and bloat themselves to such a degree that some clubs of lower stature will be mainly comprised of rich-club cast-offs and loan players.  The situation will become untenable.  We are nearly at this point.  Wages regularly tip the scales at £200k per week and are rising.  Take into account the fact that Chelsea have a stadium that is less than 42000 and PSG have less than 49000 and you can see the maths do not add up.  Throw into the mix a few owners bored with their toys and decide to try lacrosse or haggis-hunting and take their filthy lucre with them and we have clubs who have not only muddied the transfer waters but also face the cold realisation that they may not be able to sustain the club under mounting debt. 

Who suffers though after this clusterfuck of errors and barefaced ignorance?  The ever-suffering fans.  Whether you are a fan of a cash-rich club or a club that is tightening its belt you will be affected - by proxy or directly - by the actions of these fools.

As a fan of Arsenal, we like to find scapegoats, so let’s continue in that vein.  who is to blame for this black comedy?  Is it the club for allowing themselves to be sullied all in the name of immediate success?  Is it the new owners who wish to be entertained much like a modern-day Caligula?  No.  It is Platini and his motley crew.

Platini had a gilt-edged chance to allow football to flourish on an even keel.  To let competition be fought keenly whilst the constant fret of money and income would be lessened. They fluffed their lines.  It is now a necessity that the next breach they deal with must be dealt with by swift and just means.  If not - then we won’t just  lose a competitive edge in football - we may also lose football itself. 

By @JokmanAFC

chokesngags:

Here for it. All of it.

This has turned a frown not only upside down, but vaporised it.

(Source: tomtenacious, via deeathxgrip)

Latest ink. All about my first love. UTA

Adaptability Key to Gunners success

Upon first viewing the first half of our match Vs Everton, you initial impression would be one of negativity and a head full of questions.  Why was Ozil on the left?  Why did we play 4-1-4-1?  Why when Lukaku was once again targeting Monreal on our left hand side did Wenger not play someone who tracks back with better effect to aid our Spanish defender?  I imagine that most of us have been chewing upon our misgivings since the match finished.  It’s one hell of a mouthful.

I think there are a few variables at play here.  Santi being woefully off-colour is just one.  I reckon he will start Vs Besiktas but I also think AW recognised our diminutive Hispanic dual-footed genius is still a bit off the pace and is costing us with misplaced passes.  Ozil is a talented enough footballer to play anywhere across the forward line though.  With his touch and vision, he would impact from anywhere.  At least if it wasn’t his first game back.  He didn’t really connect not only with the game, but with team-mates.  This didn’t just occur to him however, but all across our attack.  The stark contrast between the 1st and 2nd half was rather startling and served as a pertinent reminder how important Giroud is to our most effective system.  Wenger has a point though.

Why shouldn’t the cream of Europe be able to slot in where required?  Surely if their chief attributes fit, then they can adapt as necessary?  If you play on the left in our team, you have free reign to cut-in and cause merry havoc around the opposition box.  That sounds like bliss to Mesut.  The problem though wasn’t with him, it was a lack of cohesion that will be ironed out as the season progresses.  Hopefully it won’t take too long as the League has a non-stop, frenetic pace that is unforgiving to slow-starters. 

It is well documented that our current hero, Ramsey, was utilised on the wing.  Wenger has often spoke about our players getting a thorough education of the footballing varety and implemented Ramsey out wide on a few occasions.  What raised an eyebrow was at the time our Welsh demi-god was going through a crisis of confidence and form.  Fans were heckling and pundits were sharpening their already keen knives.  Wenger caught the flak as he insisted on playing him.  Look where we are now.  Wenger’s stubborn refusal to give in to the nay-sayers has paid off massively.  Ramsey aids us in all areas of the pitch and, seeing as he has gone through the darkest of dark days with form and still played through it, can influence a game even when not at the height of his powers, as evidenced in the last two League games.  If Ramsey can do it, why can’t Ozil, Jack and Sanchez?

The short answer is they can.  Ozil in the World Cup played wide when needed and had impact.  The system has been well laid for all the Deutschland players so they are familiar with most roles and what is demanded of them.  There was a bedding in period though.  Germany had to start from scratch and put down blueprints for all levels of their players, from U16 to Die Mannschaft.  Surely then, we shouldn’t judge a player and his ability to play in a position after 45 mins of a game where the opposition got their approach spot-on?

We do though.  I happen to be a strong advocate of Ozil occupying the No.10 position and never straying from there.  He is arguably the worlds best there and should have that nailed down.  It doesn’t mean that he can’t play where required.  It is all about the team.  Jack has all the tools necessary to play further forward, an auxiliary No.10 if you will.  I happen to be of the opinion that his partnership could reap huge dividends if allowed to blossom.  More on that in a later blog.  The real issue though, was the reaction to Sanchez.

Sanchez was subbed after 45mins in the Toffees game.  His movement was exemplary as ever but his attempted forays into the box were quickly snuffed out by a stifling Everton defence.  Our forward line were static at best.  He ploughed a lonely furrow in that painful half.  He was hooked in favour of our handsome, yet maligned Frenchman.  Cue judgments from fans who were of the opinion that Sanchez cannot play that role.  After one half where the whole team were decidedly poor.  Really?

Sanchez didn’t have one touch in the Everton box.  In a vain attempt to see more of the ball, he dropped deeper and a little wider to kickstart an ailing strikeforce.  In a game where we aren’t exactly at the races and trying out a system, Sanchez gamely battled but it didn’t work out.  That falls on Wenger’s shoulders.  He CAN play there though.

Sanchez at Barca was often deployed on the shoulder of the last defender.  See his stunner Vs Real for more info.  He sprinted away and once you see his heels, it’s curtains.  If he is employed in this manner, then the same outcome is odds-on.  In the Everton game though, he didn’t have a fully firing outfit behind him giving him ammunition to let fly.  We were disjointed and jarring.  Thus, apparently he cannot play there again.

I just think we are too quick to judge.  I did the same when watching it initially.  As aforementioned, if the tools in a players skillset are beneficial to a certain position, then they should be able to adapt.  these players are far from neanderthals just kicking a ball around a pristine pitch.  They understand tactics.  A period of acclimatisation would be nice, but such is the nature of our money-driven game, this luxury is often not afforded to them. 

Wenger has excelled in seeing players key attributes and finding a better position for them in order to fully exploit the players adroitness.  Lauren, from a holding midfielder to rugged RB.  Petit from CB to holding MF.  Henry from the flank to a King.  Even an aging Bergkamp in the Cup Final in 2005 was used as a lone ST.  It wasn’t pretty but we should remember that these player’s have a brain.  If Wenger thinks they can play in that position, then he usually has a point.  Ozil must start in the hole though. 

Ollie changed the game on Saturday.  We reverted to our trusted formation and we laid siege to the Toffees backline in the last 20 or so minutes.  Going back to this system also meant Ozil returned to his natural position and his touches and vision were a joy to behold.  Sanchez however, watched from the bench.

Once we click, once we have a well-oiled team and a fit Theo, Sanchez will blow all doubters out of the water.  I happen to be of the thinking that we will see him gain some much needed confidence in Europe first.  A more tactical approach from the opposition could see Sanchez once more used up top and if we play on the counter then watch Alexis fill his neon boots. 

The moral of this blog?  Don’t eat yellow snow.  Also, have a little belief in the intellect of our players.  The start of our season has been dogged but it will sharply improve.  Keep the Faith.

By @JokmanAFC

The Secret Diary of Carl Jenkinson…….

Picture the scene; I was ambling along my routine days path, sipping on a jug of gravy whilst ruminating on whether or not I could get away clean from a heist on Piebury Corner, when an unremarkable man clad in a trenchcoat and shades sat next to me.  No words.  I was startled but my needy nature meant I was more than pleased to finally have a companion to exchange opinions with and train my hamster army.  The clandestine man put a briefcase on the table, the metal clasps snapping open efficiently.  He removed a padded envelope with no markings on it whatsoever.  It was at this time the enigma uttered his only words.  ” The Red Fox only consumes the contents of a single wheelie bin “.  With this, he closed the case, stood up sharply and left the scene abruptly, rendering me quizzical but also slightly sad that my potential Sargeant of the 1st Corps of Hamsters had gone.  What might have been.

I picked up the padded envelope gingerly.  Who knew what would be inside?  Could it be the rhythm I was promised that would finally ’ get me ‘?  Could it be my wife’s Dear Jok letter?  It was none of these.  I will divulge the contents to you now.  It was an excerpt from Carl Jenkinson’s Diary.  Hold onto your hats and other assorted clothing accessories, for it’s going to get rather gusty…….

24th July -  Training at 10am.  Bouldy took the warm-up, but it’s never easy when he’s got the reins.  I was sweating by the end of it.  Jack had to stub out his fag halfway through the ten laps of the pitch.  Abou joined in but collapsed a lap in ‘cos he stubbed his toe on the grass.  Gaffer says he’ll be out for six weeks.  Gutted for him.  The new guy in my position, Matthew, seems a nice fella.  He’s copied my haircut though.  Alex has given him a nickname, it’s ‘LadyGarden’.  Something to do with his surname?  I don’t get it.  the gaffer made us play a few 5-a-sides and then we all packed up.  Mum was waiting in her car to take me home.  We went straight to the cinema to watch the Lego Movie again.  That’s 12 times I’ve seen it!  Mum bought me popcorn as well, but I didn’t get to eat it, Bouldy was hiding behind us the whole time and kept knocking each piece out of my hand as I went to eat it.  I know he’s looking out for my fitness but I really wanted that popcorn, it was caramel and everything.  Went home and mum had cooked me favourite, Turkey dinosaurs and spaghetti hoops.  Lovely.  I was going to have ice cream and apple pie for afters but Bouldy had followed us home and was giving me the death stare through the french windows.  I’m in bed now, the new Arsenal bedspread mum got me is the nuts.  Tomorrow is training again.  Still can’t believe I’m playing for them.  My dream come true everyday.  

26th July -It was a bad day today.  Yesterday was brill, we all had epic BANTZ with Yaya, Nacho and Santi when we kept trying to make Alexis do rhyming slang, seriously, it was some funny stuff.  Today though, just as Bouldy was ordering us to do 50 squats, the Gaffer invited me to his office after training.  A cold chill swept up my back.  what have I done?  My fitness is around the best at the club, I’ve stopped nicking branded stuff from the canteen and I’ve left Charlie George alone for at least 6weeks.  What could he want with me?  Training dragged after that, not even Theo’s impression of BFG could cheer me up, though it was much BANTZ.  Training ended and I trudged off to the Boss’s Office.  I sat down in front of him and he told me he had high hopes for me.  My heart sang right there.  Something by Drake probably.  He then said he’s sending me on loan for the season to see how I get on defensively.  I didn’t hear anything after that, I ran out of the office in tears.  I went straight to mums car and wept in her arms.  I don’t know what I’d do without her.  She took me to crazy golf, she let me win as well.  We then went to GAME and she bought me another Skylanders figure.  It cheered me up for a bit but I just wanted to go home.  I went straight to my room and watched Fever Pitch on loop.  I was getting texts from the boys, asking if I was alright, plus a few banterous ones.  Jokes them boys.  I couldn’t reply.  I’m going to miss them so much….

29th July -I had a day off yesterday, me and dad closed the curtains, locked the doors and watched the Anfield ‘89 DVD and ordered pizza.  Bouldy was at the door, looking through the keyhole, but he couldn’t get in.  It was just what I needed.  When I got to training today, after polishing all of Bouldy’s medals and boots as punishment for the pizza, The Boss took me aside halfway through the 5-a-side.  My team were winning 2-1 and I’d only been nutmegged 3 times by Santi.  It was good times.  The Boss told me it was a choice between Hull and West Ham.  I said to him that I’d prefer West Ham.  It’s closer to my family and they have more Nando’s down south.  The Boss said it was a good decision as West Ham place emphasis on defence and it would give him a chance to see if that side of my game gets better.  He patted my back, scruffed my hair and gave me a gold star.  I was top of the class again.  He really made me feel better.  I went home with a spring in my step.  Out of my pocket money I bought mum and dad takeaway.  I was going to have some dumplings but when I was at the counter Bouldy was there and ordered for me.  Plain rice is nice too.  

31st July -In the morning I had a car pick me up from home.  Mum and Dad wished me luck and I got inside.  It took me to West Hams training ground.  It’s going to take some getting used to.  It’s a bit rough but the boys seem to have perfected their banter game.  I had a right laugh.  Training was different too.  We were all at one end and there was Lawrence Dallaglio at the other end.  He was hurling balls from about 70yds away and we all had to see who could get the header.  The last one to win a header had to buy the Gaffers monthly supply of chewing gum.  I was about fifth.  I outjumped James Collins, who wasn’t too happy about the new boy beating him, but I gave him some BANTZ about his baldness and he seemed alright.  I finished training and mum and dad had come to the ground to pick me up!  Legends!  We went straight to Nandos.  No Bouldy in sight!  I tucked right in and told mum and dad all about my day.  They seemed really chuffed for me.  I’m chuffed as well.  This could be good for me, though the only place I want to play is at Arsenal.  I’m going to get better and come back and nail down a spot in the team.  I’m going to show the Boss that I’m ready.  I can do this.  Dad told me so.  Watch out Premiership, Jenko is coming for ya!


That was the end of the piece I had received so cloak&dagger-like from the mysterious man.  Explosive stuff.  We now know Jenkinson will be playing his little heart out for the Hammers with the aim of being better for us.  We knew that anyway to be honest, he adores our Club.  We adore him too, he has achieved the dream of all fans, to play for the Club.  I don’t think he has finished with us though.  I genuinely believe he will have a part to play. 

I’ve got to go.  A bald man in a trenchcoat is eyeballing me as I down the last bites of my fried hamwich.  He looks rather intense.  Must dash. 

By @JokmanAFC