Four years ago, a player probably best known in Arsenal circles for the outrageous price he commanded when transfered to Barcelona, Marc Overmars retired. Constant injuries marred what had been a great footballing career.
I guess the old dog just didn’t know when to call it quits? Because up steps Marc Overmars to play “professional” football for Go Ahead Eagles. Well, I guess so, Marc. I mean if that’s what you really want to do, good luck. It’s not likely that at the age of 35 your will alone is going to get you anything, but honestly, have fun out there old man.
Meanwhile, the rumors are swirling around Freddie Ljungberg about his imminent retirement. I’ve seen this happen before: player gets cut, claims he’s looking for another team, no one is interested in him immediately, so he says “well, I’m a free agent, the transfer window doesn’t apply to me,” and 6 months later the player usually fades away into obscurity. It’s a real shame too, I really liked Freddie, and as I’ve said before, his shock of red hair and amazing FA Cup goals were some of the things that made me an Arsenal fan. I kind of wish he’d just stayed with the Arsenal one more year instead of going off to West Ham in a huff then he could have had a proper retirement, maybe even a testimonial! But fiercely competitive people like Freddie often just don’t know when to call it quits. They’ve been so good at something for so long that they tend to over-estimate their value. That’s what happened to Freddie. And a real shame.
On the other end of the spectrum are players who both overrate their value and are not fiercely competitive. These are the guys and girls who have gotten by on inherent skill and very little hard work: people like Lassana Diarra. Put aside for a second the fact that in that link Perry Groves actually said that the sale was a mistake, Perry can be forgiven for not remembering that Diarra was quickly becoming a cancer in the dressing room with his “I deserve such and such” attitude. I’m left wondering what it is that makes half of the footballing world so emphatic about this kid. This is a guy who, unlike Ljungberg, refused to put in the hard work needed to earn himself a starting place in this Arsenal squad. A guy who was either unable or unwilling to get on board with Wenger’s philosophy; hard work earns you a spot. Just to illustrate this, I watched the Community Shield on Sunday, poor game if I ever saw one, but as my regular reader knows, I spend a lot of time watching the central midfield players: no one can question his skill on the ball, his ability to make the right pass, and his tackling ability. His skill is not in question, but his heart is. There were multiple possessions where I asked the missus “why is he walking back?” He had just turned the ball over and yet here he was not hustling to win the ball back. You would never see Flamini do that. And that’s why Wenger chose Flamini over Diarra.
Would Diarra play for Arsenal right now? Yes. Would he start over Denilson on Wednesay? We’ll never know, but I don’t think he would because Arsene Wenger despises lazy play. That’s why Bendtner won’t be a regular starter, it’s why the dreadful Eboue does get a start. Wenger prizes a player’s work rate and Diarra’s work rate was and still is poor.
Something’s amiss in the land of plenty
When I can’t watch Arsenal v. FC Twente
It looks like there won’t be any broadcast in the U.S. of the Champions League qualifier against FC Twente tomorrow. Sure, you can watch it on justin.tv and the like but a quality, large screen broadcast does not seem to be in the offing. Setanta 1 in the UK is carrying the signal, and there’s nothing in to the U.S.
I hope this doesn’t signal a change in U.S. broadcast rights because for the last two years I have been able to watch every single Arsenal match, live, and now all of the sudden this very first match of the new season is not being shown? The fan base in the U.S. is growing so fast that it has ceased to amaze me every time I see someone in a Man U or a Chelsea shirt. Killing off the broadcasts now would be bad for the growth of the whole league, let’s hope that’s not what’s going on.
I’ll update you if this changes.
The Harlem Globetrotters? Really, you just said that?
And finally, Joe Cole had a crack at the Arsenal by saying that the club plays “like they were the Harlem Globetrotters.” I don’t want to put to fine a point on it but this strikes me as a racist remark. Maybe Joe doesn’t know that the Harlem Globetrotters are a team that former Globetrotter, and basketball hall of famer, Connie Hawkins once accused of
acting like Uncle Toms. Grinnin and smilin and dancin around–that’s the way they told us to act, and that’s the way a lot of white people like to think we really are.
For some people in the United States, the Globetrotters are a joke, a minstrel show that travels to your town puts on a clown act, beats their (white) opponents, and then leaves. The only thing that the Globetrotters do, for some, is re-enforce negative racial stereotypes.
It’s never escaped my attention that Arsenal have a lot of Francophone Africans on the team and from some of the things I’ve read it hasn’t escaped others’ attention either. In fact, I think that a lot of what drives the criticism of Arsenal as a foreign team is the fact that there are so many blacks, and especially African blacks, on the squad.
I think the final proof that this is about race and not about the way Arsenal play is the fact that if anyone would garner a comparison to the Globetrotters it would be Manchester United. Christiano Ronaldo and Nani last season combined for more juggling and pointless trickery with the ball than all the players ever in the history of Arsenal football club. In fact, Arsenal aren’t Globetrotters, they’re more like the Washington Generals, the perfect example of team football.
So, while I don’t think Joe Cole is a White Supremacist or anything, I do believe that he’s expressing a sort of subliminal racial prejudice against Arsenal. And at the very least I think he should apologize.
That’s it for today.