Tag Archives: Dennis Bergkamp

Would Bergkamp or Henry have survived the “Twitter era”

Yesterday I wrote about “The mystifying criticism of Matteo Guendouzi”.

The jist of the article was simple.

19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi ran the game against Newcastle. No play had more touches, no player played more passes, and only Aaron Ramsey had a great pass accuracy. Despite this, and Arsenal winning 2-0, some fans went on Twitter to criticise him immediately after the final whistle.

Two responses to the Guendouzi blog got me thinking.

It is frustrating about how kick we get on the back of youngsters who are still making their way in the world. They are given no time to develop, to establish themselves in the first team. People, and mainly Arsenal fans, expect every teenager to already be as good as Cesc Fabregas. It is a high bar.

I can not think of any teenage midfielder to have been good as Cesc Fabregas when he first came through. And there will probably never be one. If we are using his ability as the bar to what is good enough, we are setting unrealistic expectations of these young lads coming through.

One of the reasons why fans get on these young lads backs quickly is Twitter.

Again, absolutely spot on.

Twitter has changed the way fans view game. It has provided a platform of instant response, which in turn leads to an increase in expectation.

Every poor performance is Tweeted about thousands of times. Fans on the players backs the second the final whistle has blown.

Twitter, social media and 24 rolling news has put us in a “fast food era”. Everything has to be immediate, now, perfect. There is no room to develop, no room to progress, no time for someone to have a poor game.

It makes me wonder whether Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry would have survived the Twitter era.

Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 on the back of a poor campaign with Inter Milan for a club record £7.5million. Inter Milan shipped him out, happy to get rid. Nearly 25-years-later, people would be moaning on Twitter that we had spent a club record on another sides reject. A flop.

The media were on Bergkamp’s back from the day he signed, with Alan Sugar quoted as saying “If Bergkamp thinks he’s gonna set the world alight he can forget it.”

The start of his Arsenal career would have gotten even more people on his back in the current era, as he failed to score in his 1st 6 games of the club.

At this point fans would have been all over social media calling him an expensive flop. Media outlets would be running stories of “the worst signing in the history of the game” and Sky would have spent an hour discussing his poor acquisition on the Sunday Supplement,

Bergkamp went on to become an Arsenal legend and is one of the greatest players to grace the English game.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

Like Bergkamp, Henry arrived from Italy after a poor season. This time for Juventus.

He only spent a year at Juventus, who dumped him after just 3 goals in his 19 appearances. Pace to burn, he struggled to defensively disciplined teams in Serie A.

He joined Arsenal for a club record fee (like Bergkamp).

If we bring his transfer into the modern era, fans would have been on Twitter moaning that we had spent a club record fee on an ineffectual winger. At 22-years-old, he certainly was not a youngster. What a waste of money, fans would have said.

And imagine the outrage when it transpired that Arsene Wenger was planning to use this average winger as a striker, as a replacement for Nicolas Anelka – the most exciting teenage striker on the planet.

And mirroring Bergkamp, he struggled in his opening games.

In 1999 blogging was a new thing. The internet was a new concept. But even back then there were Arsenal blogs. And I recall one slating Henry and Wenger. Bemoaning the fact that Arsenal had gone big on a failed winger and were not playing him upfront.

Had this happened in 2019 rather than 1999, this complaining would have been many times louder, many times more viscous. You would have had people offering to drive him back to France.

Henry’s first 8 games went by with 2 yellow cards and no goals. He finally broke his drought against Southampton – also the side that Bergkamp scored his first goal against.

Imagine in the current era, Arsenal spending a club record fee on a winger who had flopped in Italy, converting him to a striker and then watching him struggle to score in his first 8 games. There would be uproar.

Henry went on to become Arsenal’s record goal scorer and one of the greatest players the world has seen.

Both Bergkamp and Henry arrived at Arsenal having flopped in Italy. Both for club record fees. Both endured tough starts to their Arsenal career. I doubt either of them would have been given the chance to shine, to become the legends they are, if they were signed now.

Fans would have been on their back before they had even kicked a ball.


Victory Grows Through Harmony – Does everyone need to remember the values of The Arsenal?

Someone recently said to me “Unai Emery is neglecting the clubs values.” I responded by asking “what are the clubs values.”

I thought it was a simple question, but the response was also predictable; “if you do not know the clubs values then can you really call yourself an Arsenal fan.”

The question was the rephrased as “which Arsenal values do you believe Emery is neglecting” and again the response came back as “as an Arsenal fan you should know,”

This went in circles 5 times until it hit me, the person making the original statement did not have a clue about Arsenal’s values; he just said it is a throwaway statement without knowing how he was going to justify it.

It then got me thinking; what are the clubs values? What are our principles and standard of behaviour?

I imagine the original Tweeter was talking about playing the Arsenal way.

The “Arsenal Way” is an awful statement. Something made up. Just like the “West Ham Way” or the “United Way”. It means nothing.

Some will argue that the Arsenal Way is how we play football. Free flowing, possession based, attacking football. But this is not the Arsenal Way. This is the way we played under Arsene Wenger for about half of his tenure under him.

The double of 1998 was built on defence rather than attack. Under George Graham it was “boring boring Arsenal”. Attacking football certainly is not one of the clubs values.

So I attempted to come up with some club principles, and felt that there was evidence of Arsenal values.

The first is in the club moto Victoria Concordia Crescit. I like many have it tattooed on myself. It stands for “Victory Grows Through Harmony”. The history on this can be found over on The Arsenal History Blog.

Victory growing through harmony. It is fairly self-explanatory. That we succeed in life by working together, working with each other, rather than working against each other.

Before Emery had even over seen a game, he participated in an interview where he highlighted he knows exactlywhat VCC means.

He spoke about how the club, the team, the media and the fans need to work together to get success. That the 4 were legs of a table. That without one leg, you may not succeed.

I imagine he used this analogy during the interview process, and it is a analogy we can all get behind.

The problem is many fans have forgotten about Victoria Concoardia Crescit. They have forgotten that victory grows through harmony.

It started under Arsene Wenger. Fans so willing to crate divisions, labelling themselves and labelling fans who disagree with them. There had never been such a huge division between many fans. We were certainly not working as one to hold up the table.

And that has continued this season.

Fans are constantly arguing with each other. Whether it be over Unai Emery, over Mesut Ozil, or over foreign supporters. It seems some just want to see an argue online all day, creating divisions. Extreme views fuelled by a desire for retweets and followers.

I am not talking about fans disagreeing or having a discussion with differing view points. I am talking about those fans who deliberately go out there and try and be divisive.

Also those fans who are quick to insult someone who has a different view to themselves.

Just because you disagree with me, does not give you a right to label me as a “paedophile” or an “overweight 50-year-old alcoholic wife beater”. Likewise it would not give me the right to say “your view doesn’t count because you are foreign”.

Victory Grows Through Harmony. Fans seems to have forgotten that.

The second club value was something that David Rocastle said.

Fans clearly forget who they are and who the represent.

They forget that on social media, when they have an Arsenal AVI or “Arsenal” in their bio that they are not only representing their views but also The Arsenal.

Recently we have seen a rise in the mainstream media writing “Arsenal fans react” articles. They pick and choose half a dozen extreme tweets in response to something that has happened and use this to create a representation of all Arsenal fans.

We also have the embarrassment of Arsenal Fan TV.

The media and fans of other clubs use them as a stick to beat us all. They act like the characters and actors on the YouTube channel are the voice of the fans. That they represent the fans. They do not.

Look at racist abuse.

When a player is racially abused by someone in the crowd, it is not just that fan who gets hammered, but the entire fan base. We have seen it with Chelsea, whose entire fan base has been labelled “racist” due to the behaviour of a few.

Whilst people will argue that their views represent themselves, and not the club they support, they should remember that when Tweeting or commenting under the guise of being an Arsenal fan, that they are representing the fan base.

Some Arsenal fans, with their abuse of the likes of Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have clearly forgotten who they are and what they represent,

“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.”

Arsenal’s greatest ever player, greatest ever captain, Tony Adams uttered the above words. I feel some of our players have forgotten about that.

In an era of football when players can have a larger following than clubs. When fans support a player instead of a club – and will move their support when the player moves – some players have ended up chasing personal glory rather than team success.

Wenger said in his final year at the club that we will see more and more fans supporting players over clubs. It already happens in American supports, where fans (usually not local) follow Lebron James above the club he plays for.

They supported the Cavs because of him, then moved their support to Miami Heat, now support the Lakers. For them supporting the individual is more important than supporting the team.

Mesut Ozil (24m followers) has a lot of this type of fans. They supported him at Madrid, now support him at Arsenal (14m fans) and will follow him to PSG or China or wherever he plays next.

Ozil is a global superstar. I understand why he attracts many fans like this. But the problem is he, amongst others, tend to end up playing for themselves, playing the PR game for themselves, at the detriment of the club they lay for.

I go back to Emmanuel Frimpong. He became more interested in his social media status than playing for The Arsenal. He was last seen playing for a club in Cyprus.

Players need to remember that if they play for The Arsenal, if they perform for The Arsenal, then fans will remember them.

The likes of Ray Parlour and Dennis Bergkamp and two great examples of this.

Completely different amount of talents, but both are Arsenal legends. Both played for the badge on the front of the shirt, and the name on the back became legendary.

The final value comes from a Denis Bergkamp quote.

“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.”

As a fan you should not be supporting a club for the trophies. Or because they are a “global brand” or due to a single player. You should be supporting them because you have found a place where you belong.

If Arsenal drop down the leagues, end up in the Conference, with XI local boys, no global superstars, you should still support the club.

It is the fans around you watching the game alongside you that makes the club, not the trophies or the players on the pitch.

If you only support the club due to the success, or just to the brand, or due to a player, you will soon disappear if it hits the fan. You are not really a supporter, not really a fan, if the only reason you support The Arsenal due to trophies or a player.

Personally, I think we can all become better fans, more respectful fans, and as a result a more successful club, if we remember the 4 values of the club:

Victoria Concordia Crescit

Remember who you are and what you represent

Play for the badge on the front, and they will remember the name of the back

Do not support your club due to trophies or players, but because you have found a place to belong

Have a nice Sunday


As Arsenal are changing, some fans also need to change

A great man once said “do you like Arsenal? Or just Arsenal with trophies”.

I was reminded by what Dennis Bergkamp said as I scrolled through social media on Monday following Sunday’s disappointing draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It was like suddenly we were transported back 12 months ago, with the fan complaining, moaning and criticism that defined the end of the end of the Arsene Wenger era.

One comment I saw that really resonated with was that this Arsenal was the Arsenal they fell in love with. That their Arsenal “were a winning Arsenal not just making up the numbers”. This was amongst many tweets that I read they made me realise that some of our fans will never be happy unless we are winning trophies.

But it is not just trophies that they want. It is these trophies. The Premier League, the Champions League.

These same people complained that winning the FA Cup was not good enough. So it is not that they only love Arsenal with trophies; they love Arsenal with league titles.

We all spent 6 months or more (I saw one idiot saying he has been Wenger Out since 2001!). That change has come.

Arsene Wenger. GONE. Ivan Gazidis GONE. Majority of the coaching staff. GONE. And in his come Unai Emery, with his own staff, alongside Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat. Change has happened, and Arsenal have moved forward.

But some of these fans have seemingly not moved forward. They demanded “Time to Change” but they have not changed themselves.

They are on to the next one. Criticising the players, already on the managers back. Moaning that the club did not spend enough money, and demanding Stan Kroenke to put in his billions or leave.

And it is billions that Kroenke would have to put in.

We have all read the stories about Manchester City and the £2.7bn investment that Sheikh Mansoor has put into the club. It is with that huge investment that has enabled Manchester City to have one of the strongest 25 man squads seen in the game.

Yesterday Arsenal looked short on the bench. On game changers. Manchester City’s starting XI was without Kevin de Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus & Ilkay Gundogan. These 5 players would start for every Premier League side. And City brushed aside Manchester United 3-1 without them starting.

These fans who are moaning will not be happy until we win the title. City is what we need to match, need to beat, to win the title. I think anyone who would expect an owner to put in £2.7bn, to write it off, are completely unreasonable. There are two sides in world football doing this at the moment. City and PSG.

The fact that fans also think Kroenke has the spending power to compete shows how naive they are when it comes to business, and net worth.

Forbes estimate Kroenke to be worth $8.5bn (£6.5m). But this is net worth, this is not how much spare cash he has under his sofa.

This worth is tied up in hundreds of investments. From personal homes and ranches, to various sports clubs around the world. The recent buy out of Arsenal shares valued the club at £1.8bn. That is 27% of Kroenke’s net worth.

For Kroenke to be able to put up the kind of money Manchester City have spent, he would have to take huge loans against his businesses. Against Arsenal.

Would you be happy Kroenke mortgaging Arsenal further to the hilt to win a league title? I certainly wouldn’t.

Imagine the outcry if it was announced Kroenke was taking a £1bn loan out against Arsenal to spend on transfers, salaries and more. It is that kind of action that could make Arsenal the next Leeds or Portsmouth. Where you are in debt up to your eyeballs.

Matching Manchester City’s spending power is just not realistic.

“but Liverpool are challenging”.

You are right, Liverpool are unbeaten and just 2 points behind Manchester City after 12 games. But last season they finished 25 points behind them in 4th place.

They were also in 4th place the year before, 17 points behind champions Chelsea (and just 1 point ahead of Arsenal). So how about we judge if Liverpool have put up a title challenge once we are in the business end of the season.

Also, by putting Liverpool as the example of a side competing makes it even more silly that fans are already getting on the back of Emery.

Jurgen Klopp is in his 4th season at Liverpool. He has had 6 transfer windows. Spent over £380m. It we are going to compare Emery to Klopp, should we not give the Spaniard the same time the German has had before becoming critical?

In his 3 completed seasons at Liverpool, Klopp has led them to 8th, 4th & 4th with no trophies won. It is odd that the fans who are moaning that we currently sit 5th. That Arsenal without trophies is not the Arsenal they love; yet they praise a Liverpool side that has not won anything in a decade.

Most sensible fans would have known that it would take Emery more than 6 months and one transfer window to fix Arsenal.

We are still a left back, a centre back and 2 wingers short of being a side that would compete for second (and another £2.5bn off a team that could be champions).

Klopp has had the time to build Liverpool in his vision. He has spent big on the likes of Allison, Virgil van Dijk & Mo Salah. Arsenal will make these signings as time goes on. But we can not expect us to go out and spend £250m in one transfer window to immediately close the gap.

A final thought is right now fans will say but what about Leicester.

It is about time the fans realised that Leicester was a one off. And one of the main reasons they won the league was because of Manchester City’s failure.

Leicester won the league with 81 points. City got just 66 points that season.

To put that into perspective, Arsenal got just 3 points less (63) last season than City did in Leicester’s title winning season.

I am of the feeling that for teams to finish above City, you firstly need them to have a poor season. You could have a brilliant season, get 85+ points, and City will be near or above the 90 point mark.

Emery needs time. The new Arsenal regime need time.

If you are not willing to give the new management team time; or demand that we replicate Manchester City style spending, then you clearly do not love Arsenal. You only love Arsenal with trophies.