Tag Archives: Patrick Vieira

The Curse of The Arsenal Captain

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Over the there have been a few curses on Arsenal Football Club.

We have The Curse of The Arsenal Number 9, which stretches back into the last millennium. Under Arsene Wenger, no one who has worn the number 9 shirt at Arsenal has ever really prospered for a long period of time. Paul Merson, Nicolas Anelka, Davor Suker, Francis Jeffers, Jose Antonio Reyes, Julio Baptista, Eduardo, Park Chu-Young and Lukas Podolski. All either failed at the club under Wenger, or were shipped out within a couple of seasons. Current holder of the shirt is Lucas Perez. The Curse of The Arsenal Number 9 has not yet been broken.

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Then we have The Curse of The Invincibles. When you sell your soul to the devil for a donut, you pay a hefty price. No matter how tasty that donut is, you are forever cursed, forever owned, by the devil. A special place in hell is waiting for you where you are fed donuts for eternity.

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And that is what Arsenal pretty much did when they went invincible. They sold their soul. Since that glorious day in May 2004, we have failed to win another title. It is as if it took half a century of luck, strength and ability, rolled it all together, into just a single season. Of course, the curse has slightly been chipped away with FA Cup wins, but until we win the Premier League title, the Curse of The Invincibles will continue to grow bigger in folklore.

Will The Curse of The Invincibles end up being like Mayo GAA? They have not won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship since 1951. The story go’s that they will not win another one until every member of the 1951 side is dead. They made the Final this year. Their 5th in 12 seasons. They have lost them all…

Then we come on to The Curse of Aaron Ramsey. We all know how this one go’s. When Aaron Ramsey scores, someone important dies. From Osama bin Laden to Steve Jobs; Whitney Houston to Muammar Gaddafi, Paul Walker, Robin Williams, Richard Attenborough, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. What will it take for Piers Morgan to be added to the list? A hat trick?

It should be of no surprise therefore that over recent years, another curse has attached itself to Arsenal. The Curse of The Arsenal Captain.

 

For an Arsenal captain to have played just 13 games in the last 3 seasons is a shocking statistic.

Current club captain is Per Mertesacker. He is out injured until 2017. With his contract set to expire at the end of the year, talk has already begun that he might return to Hannover 96 on a free in the summer of 2017. A return to his home town club, the city of his birth, to see out his career.

When you add his injury and contract situation, alongside the current form of Laurent Koscielny & Shkodran Mustafi, the development of Rob Holding and the presence of Gabriel, a case could easily be made that we might never see Per Mertesacker in an Arsenal shirt again.

Never playing for Arsenal again is unlikely, but I would be very surprised if, when he does eventually return, he plays another 10 times for the club. He certainly will not make another 10 starts, and will only break in if injuries hit. Even with injuries, Wenger might be tempted to push through Gabriel or Holding, who are much more suited to our current high pressing, defend the half way line, game, than Mertesacker.

So after getting the arm band in the summer, the curse looks likely to hit again.

A little investigation shows this curse has been going on longer than the last 3 seasons. Maybe it will get renamed The Curse of Tony Adams?

Adams captained the club from March 1988 to 2002. 15 seasons as captain. In the next 15 seasons, Arsenal have had 8 captains.

First up was Patrick Vieira. He was long consider heir apparent to Tony Adams. A foreign leader for the foreign legion of Arsenal players. When he became Arsenal captain in 2002, he was 26 and looked set to become an Arsenal legend. He then spent his 3 years at Arsenal engineering a move away from the club before finally being sold in 2005 to Juventus. 3 years as captain.

Next up was Thierry Henry. Given the armband as talisman of the team. The best player, but not necessarily the best captain. He lasted 2 seasons. Then, like Vieira, engineered a move away from the club to Barcelona. Cheers T.

William Gallas was the surprise next choice as Arsenal captain. He was stripped of captaincy after a little more than a year after giving an unauthorised interview where he revealed tensions within the squad which were disruptive to team morale, and suggested that Arsenal’s younger players needed to show more courage if the team were to be successful.

Following up from Gallas was Cesc Fabregas. At the time people felt he maybe got the arm band too early. Barley 2, the argument was that if captain Arsenal young was good enough for Tony Adams, then Cesc could also step up. A young leader for a young team. He last 2 and a bit seasons, going on strike in his last season, heading to the Spanish Grand Prix rather than supporting the team, and buggered off the Barcelona.

It then fell to Robin van Persie to be Arsenal captain. A similar situation to Henry, he was basically given the armband to ensure he stayed at the club when, like with Henry, others around him were leaving. He did stay, for one season, before engineering a move to Manchester United.

Thomas Vermaelen was next in line. He looked an ideal fit. Had been at the club for 3 seasons. Was 26 years old. Was a guaranteed starter. Was an international regular. Was captain of Ajax before he joined us. Was a natural leader. The Arsenal captaincy resulted in injuries and lack of form and 2 years after being given the armband, he was sold to Barcelona.

Vermaelen was replaced by Mikel Arteta. At the time it was a questionable decision. Many pointed to the fact he was already not a 1st team regular. His legs already going. Per Mertesacker was the fans choice in 2014. As captain Arteta started just 6 games. 612 minutes of Premier League football over 2 years. He retired.

Per Mertesacker finally got the armband this summer. An odd decision considering he was already out for the rest of the year injured. And with his contract expiring, likely to leave.

Arsene Wenger should bite the bullet now. Take the armband off Mertesacker and give it to Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman has grown as a leader this season since the Euro’s. He seems to be revelling in being the senior partner.

Laurent Koscielny should be Arsenal captain, and hopefully break the curse.

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Keenos

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Are Arsenal Fans Playing Pokemon Go?

2Gotta catch em all.

Yesterday, when all the fuss was happening over Thierry Henry turning down a full time coaching position at Arsenal, one comment really hit a cord with me.

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We have had so many top players play for us over the decades. So many fans favourites. So many legends. And it seems that every fan expects every top former player to get a coaching job at the club.

That is just not realistic. It is like fantasy coaching.

What I picture now is fans travelling around the world, seeking out former Arsenal players in a coaching position (or acting as a pundit on TV), and attempting to capture them, bring them back to London Colney, and force them into a coaching job at the club.

It is like an Arsenal version of Pokeman Go.

We have Thierry Henry over at the Sky Sports  studios in Isleworth.

Up in Salford, Martin Keown can be found in the Match of the Day studio. Somewhere in London, Lee Dixon can be captured working at ITV Sport. David Seaman was last seen at Lea Valley ice rink, practising his twirls

Go south of the river (don’t get a black cab, they don’t go that way), Ray Parlour is to be found at TalkSport Towers. For Ian Wright, you have to go to Kings Cross, Platform 9 and ¾ and get a train to Hogwarts.

And then Arsenal Go turns international.

Go to Amsterdam under the guise of coaching an Arsenal legend (we all know why you are really going their). Dennis Bergkamp is to be found. You can capture Marc Overmars too.

Down in Azerbaijan, Tony Adams can be found. Although he might not be there longer. Then get a flight to Brazil.

In Brazil you will find Edu, and if you are lucky, Gilberto might be in town as well.

A trip to New York will enable you to capture the rarest of them all. Patrick Vieira.

And then it is a return to London. Will all your Arsenal Pokeman captured, to release them all onto the Arsenal training ground.

You have captured them all.

Of course, it does not matter that there are not enough jobs to go around. It does not matter that you have to sack proven, quality coaches to make space for unproven, unqualified, ex-players. None of that matters. What is important is that they all have jobs. Every single one of them. Anyone who wants a job gets one. And those that do not, as they would rather be working in their home country for their boyhood club, they can be chained to the centre circle. A chain long enough to get around the training ground. But not leave. Like a dog in your back yard.

It is silly isn’t it?

In the past, the likes of Geordie Armstrong, Pat Rice, Bob Wilson & Liam Brady have coached at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.

Currently the likes of Steve Bould (assistant manager) & Freddie Ljungberg (U15 / U16) are at the club. Robert Pires also has a role. There are others too that did not have a stellar career.

Arsenal academy graduate Ryan Garry retired at 27. He is the clubs U13 coach. Greg Lincoln, another ex academy player, is also at the club.

Add in the likes of Giles Grimandi & Danny Karbassiyoon currently have scouting roles at the club. Steve Morrow is the head of scouting.

Steve Gatting has been at the club for what seems forever. People do not realise he is also an ex-player.

Kwame Ampadu has a 3 year stint at the club. He would have been Theirry Henry’s boss. Tony Adams has now taken up that position as his number 2.

So there are plenty of Arsenal people around the club. Some are ex-players of a legendary status, others players who’s career did not reach them heights.

But it is important we get the best coaches.

Look at Jose Mourinho. He is one of the top coaches in the game right now. He did not have any sort of professional career. Arsene Wenger did not exactly do much either. Within the club you have a man like Neil Banfield – who has been at the club for 20 years, Vic Akers (31 years), Steve Leonard (23 years) & Tony Colbert (18 years). Between them they have nearly 100 years of service to Arsenal.

Should we get rid of these stalwarts of the club. Proper Arsenal man, to make space for someone like Marc Overmars, who was at the club for 3 years, or Patrick Vieira, who spent 3 years trying to force a move away from Arsenal?

We demand the best players at the club, we should also demand the best coaches. We should not be handing out jobs to coaches who are not the best, just because they used to play for us.

Keenos

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Arsenal were right to not offer Patrick Vieira a coaching role

This morning’s news is full of Patrick Vieira slamming Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

We will ignore the fact that he rates Jose Mourinho as the best manager he played against. The one who influenced him this most. This stinks of Roy Keane rating Brian Clough above Alex Ferguson purely because of bitterness.

What is perhaps more of a discussion is whether he should be at Arsenal on the coaching side, rather than managing some tin pot team in New York?

On paper, many peoples theory is correct. The likes of Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, should all be at the club, coaching. That it is a disgrace that 3 legends are not at the club.

But lets look at it on an individual basis. Tony Adams failed as a coach and a manger. Dennis Bergkamp returned to his boyhood home town club to coach, and Vieira we will come onto later.

No player has a divine right to return to a club to coach. He must first and foremost prove himself to be a decent coach. Being a top player does not automatically make you a top coach.

By all means, if you want, come to the club to do your coaching badges, like Freddie Ljungberg has done. Take some youth sessions whilst doing your badges, and over time, prove yourself. A bit like the way a youngster has to progress from youths to senior team, proving himself at all times, a coach should too.

Steve Bould is another example of this. After retiring, he worked at the club with various youth sides for a few years before progressing through the under-18s and on to assistant manager.

The best manager around at the moment, Pep Guardiola, started off in the Barcelona B set up.

Some players are just not willing to do the work. They expect to join the club from day one, in the first team coaching set up. Or in Sol Campbell’s case, wants a Premier League managerial job without ever having coached, or even taken his coaching badges.

You have to be willing to work for it.

Alternatively, go to another club, like Tony Adams did.

If Arsenal do not have space for you in the current set up, go elsewhere. Go to West Ham. Go to Leyton Orient. Go to Portsmouth. Do a job there. Prove yourself there. Then return to Arsenal when the opportunity arrives.

Now of course, there is another argument that the more club legends the club has around the club, the better influence they have. Well at the club in recent years, Liam Bradt, Pat Rice, Steve Bould, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg have all got involved in coaching. Add in Robert Pires who is a club ambassador, that is a large group of legends who are in and around the club. It is not like we have no legends walking through London Colney or Hale End on a daily basis.

How many more do we need? I read talk about Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp, Gilberto, Patrick Vieira and more. What do you want us to do? Get rid of all the experienced, proven coaches, for a bunch of ex-players with little or no experience, just because they are ex-players?

We would end up with a coaching staff of 30-odd ex players, all contributing very little.

Yes, over at Ajax, a few years ago they scrapped their coaching system and bought in the likes of Bergkamp, Marc OVermars, Jaap Stam, Edwin van der Saar and more, but the Dutch league is very different to England. You can not afford to take that chance in the Premier League.

Look at the Manchester United side of the 2000s, how many of the 1990s legends did Alex Ferguson employ on the payroll – Ince, Hughes, Bruce and more. None.

Now onto specifically Patrick Vieira.

All I see is excuses from him. Moaning.

The comment that screams out to me first is that he “expected”  to be asked” to join Arsenal’s coaching set up.

This kind of follows the above thought line about proving yourself. Rather than expecting to be asked. Offer. Tell the club you want to do the badges, coach the under-7s. Do the hard hours. No one in this world should be expected to be asked without either proving themselves first, or showing a willingness to join.

Secondly, let’s look at his career from retiring as a player to coaching.

He retired at the age of 35 on 14th July 2011. The same day, City created the position of “football development executive” and offered it straight to him.

They basically created a job for Vieira to keep him at the club. Reports at the time were that it would be on a similar salary that he was earning at City as a player, approximately £40,000 a week.

The role was an easy one. If City were interested in a player, he would get involved, influencing the player to join the club, a bit like Zinedine Zidane was doing at Real Madrid. An easy role, no coaching involved.

Now of course, at Arsenal, we could have offered him a similar role. But look at that salary. It is crazy. City at the time had no world wide presence. They needed Vieira to try and raise this presence. There was not a similar role available at Arsenal.

Now why did Vieira take this position? Why on retiring was he not straight on the phone to Arsenal, asking to coach the under-7s, taking his coaching abdges, earning a couple of thousand a week.

Because of greed.

He took the easy, well paid job. You can not blame him for doing so. But then he can not blame him for Arsenal not offering him a role.

He walked into a (created) top job with little or no experience.

And then moving forward a few years, he started doing his badges, and became Manchester City’s new reserve team and Elite Development squad manager. If he wanted to be part of the Arsenal set up so much, why, when he decided to go into coaching, did he remain at Arsenal?

And then in 2015, he was in discussion with Newcastle United to become their new manager. He turned them down, and instead became the manager of New York City FC in the MLS. One of Manchester City’s money laundering clubs.

Another easy step sideways there for Vieira. Rather than challenge himself in the Premier League, he takes an easy job in America, where a club with the likes of Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa will not exactly take much coaching.

He will clearly hope to sit out there for a few years, then return to Manchester City as manager. another easy job.

He comes across as a man who enjoys the status quo. The easy life. The easy job. Maybe if he wanted to join Arsenal, he should have come out of his comfort zone, taken a risk, gone for the hard job.

We demand the best players in the world. We should also be demanding the best coaches in the world. None of those who are not coaching at the club have proved that the club were wrong in passing up the opportunity to offer them a job.

In 2014, the club appointed Andries Jonker as the new academy manager. Vieira had been doing a similar job at Manchester City for around a year. So to sum up, let’s take the names off the CV.

Would you rather the club offer the role to a man who has 1 years experience in the position. Or someone who has been coaching and revamping youth set ups for club and country for 25 years, including for the likes of Barcelona and Wolfsburg.

It is no contest. Jonker was the better choice. He was superior than Vieira.

Take sentiment out of your decision making. We want the best.

Keenos