Tag Archives: She Wore

Football comes home for England

England might not have won the World Cup, but I awake this morning thinking that football has come home.

The tongue-in-cheek song by Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds from 1996 has galvanised football in the country.

Most fans sung it with a hint of irony from the first game of the tournament. We did not think we would win the World Cup; it was one of the worst England sides in decades with a manger out of his depth.

No one could have predicted that this rag-tag bunch of lower league players and their waistcoat wearing manager would end up in the semi-final of the World Cup.

A lot of people owe Gareth Southgate an apology.

He might not be the best manager in the world, the most charismatic appointment, a tactical genius, but what he did was bring together the egos of millionaire players and made the whole greater than the individual.

The English national team has had a huge disconnect with the fans for some time.

The Golden Generation of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were arrogant and hard to like if you supported a rival club.

They thought they were superior to the normal Englishman, that the rules that govern us all did not apply to them.

Whether it was sleeping with brasses, fighting in night clubs, missing drugs test, parking in disabled bays or abusing Americans a few hours after 9/11, they were a bunch of players that were continually on the front pages rather than the back.

They used and abused women, each one as unfaithful as the next. And they underperformed massively.

Playing at Wembley also did not help.

A stadium built for cooperate hospitality has often been 30% empty, filled with people with little interest in football. The atmosphere of a funeral. England were boring.

It perhaps started at the game in Leeds prior to the World Cup.

Elland Road was buzzing. It was a proper atmosphere, taking us back to the days when Wembley was being built and the England team were on tour. It is something post World Cup that the FA should consider again.

Play games in Manchester, Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield and Southampton.

Londoners just do not really care as much about the English national team. 50% of the city is not English, and trekking to Wembley on a Tuesday night is a nightmare. A trip that most football fans in the capital end up shunning.

That enthusiasm in Leeds carried through to the World Cup as fans up and down the country decided they wanted their game back.

They wanted their game back from the suits, from the FA, from the corporate’s, from the England band and the happy clappy fans that turn out at Wembley.

The disconnect from the Golden Generation with the fans was bridged. Normality was the key.

Here we had a normal manager in Gareth Southgate. A man we had cried with in 1996. Someone who said it how it was. And he had a likeable bunch of players. Normal players. Players who had fought their way through the lower leagues.

Where as that dislikeable Golden Generation had all come through Premier League academies, been told they were going to be the best in the world from a young age and pampered, this side was completely different.

We all know the Jamie Vardy story. From non-league to Premier League champion in 5 years. And he is not the only one.

Hero of the Quarter-Final Harry Maguire has gone from Sheffield United, Hull City and Wigan to Leicester City. Whilst Jordan Pickford started his career at Sunderland, and had loan spells at Darlington, Alferton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End.

Kyle Walker was at Sheffield United, Northampton Town, QPR and Aston Villa, whilst centre back partner and Manchester City started his career at Barnsley.

Dele Alli started his career at Milton Keynes, Harry Kane had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall and Norwich. In total 51 clubs were represented in the England squad.

This morning fans in Wales and Scotland are mocking England over football coming home. We have even had EU bureaucrats celebrating Croatia’s win like it was their own country that has just made a final.

What they are missing is that “It’s coming home” was not just about winning the World Cup. It was about a return to being proud to be English, a return to the English football team being a joy to watch. A return to the country being united once more.

Football belongs to the fans up and down the country, but the England national team had not felt like ours for a long time. During the World Cup, it returned to the fans. Football came home.



Arsenal’s Messy Numbers, Cristiano Ronaldo & Riyad Mahrez, and Jean Michael Seri

Messy Numbers

Lucas Torreira finally joined Arsenal yesterday and took the number 11 shirt. This caused a lot of fuss from traditionalists who dream of the days when players wore 1-11.

11 was always associated with a winger. We then have Bernd Leno, our number 1 for next season set to wear number 19.

Mohamed Elneny, who is unlikely to start, has the number 4 shirt, whilst Granit Xhaka, who is likely to start, wears 34.

And the less said about Joe Willock wearing 69 the better. Grow up son.

I guess at least it is not William Gallas wearing the sacred number 10. That is now on the shoulder of Mesut Ozil.

And we have a proper full back wearing number 2 in Hector Bellerin. It always looked odd with Aboue Diaby in that shift.

If Cech go’s, maybe Leno will move to number 1?

I just do not like it.

Cristiano Ronaldo & Riyad Mahrez

Yesterday Juventus sign Real Madrid forward for Cristiano Ronaldo for £99.2m.

Prior to the deal, the record transfer fee for a 33 year old was when Manchester City spent £16m on Claudio Bravo.

I can see why Ronaldo has moved; he is guaranteed winning the Serie A at least once with Juventus which will put him into an exclusive group of players who have won the league in England, Italy and Spain.

With his recent tax case, Ronaldo is set for a huge windfall in the later end of his career. €120,000,000 over 4 Years is the reported salary.

Some will say that he will earn that back for Juventus in shirt sales, but that is a fallacy as Juventus do not get a percentage of global shirt sales – they only profit o nwhat they sell in their own shop.

It just seems odd for Juventus to be spending that much on a 33 year old.

As for Riyad Mahrez, whilst the £60m is not a huge sum in this day and age – and he is probably worth it – it is incredible that Manchester City have spent the same on one player as Arsenal have on 4

What is even more incredible is that Manchester City already have Raheem Sterling (£44m), Bernard Silva (£43m) and Leroy Sane (£37m) in their squad. They have broken their transfer record on a player who probably will not start week in week out for them.

The signing also continues Pep Guardiola’s incredible spending since joining Manchester City.

Jean Michael Seri

The deal taking Jean Michael Seri from Nice to Fulham is an odd one.

After being linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea for the last 24 months for over £30m, to then join Fulham for reportedly half that just feels strange.

It reminds me of in days gone past when Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez joined West Ham out of no-where.

Why was he so cheap and why did he join Fulham?

My guess is that the interest from Arsenal and Chelsea disappeared. Neither club wanting to spend on a soon-too-be 27 year old whose hype is perhaps well above his ability.

Seri has been compared a lot to N’Golo Kante, but the feeling was always that this was because he was short, African and played in France; rather than him actually being similar to the Frenchman . Kante was also just 24 when he came to the Premier League.

You have to think his agent has forced through the move, knowing that time is running down for his client to make a big money move to the Premier League. That he had to go now to secure that big signing on percentage.

It will be interesting to see if Seri lives up to the hype in England, or if he justifies why Arsenal and Chelsea decided not to go for him.


Arsenal’s shift transfer policy from experience to youth

The first few signings of the Sven Mislintat & Raul Sanllehi reign drew criticism from some people.

A few moaned that the likes of Pierre-Emirck Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were not the type of players they were expecting Mislintat to sign.

Senior pros who bought with them quality and experience, the criticism Mislintat drew for recruiting them was odd, especially taking into account Aubameyang’s electric start to his Arsenal career.

As the current transfer window opened, Arsenal were heavily linked with Sokratis, another Dortmund player. Another player closer to 30 than 25. Again, some outlets criticised, claiming that the German Head of Recruitment needs to “do more than sign his former Dortmund players”.

Mislintat was criticised for showing a “lack of imagination” in the transfer market. The recruitment of Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer added to the criticism. He was simply not bought in to buy a 34-year-old right back.

At Dortmund, Mislintat gained the nickname “diamond eye” due to his reputation for unearthing unheard of young talent from around the globe. From Shinji Kagawa recruited from the Japanese J League all the way through to Ousmane Dembélé from Rennes in France.

Instead of criticise, Mislintat should have actually been praised for showing flexibility.

Arsenal lacked experience and leadership at the back, Mislintat recognised this and recruited Sokratis and Lichtsteiner. He also added Bernd Leno to the squad – who despite being just 26 has played over 360 games.

Mislintat has added experience to the side, and that is something that should be praised, not criticised.

Amongst the criticism by a few, it was forgotten that we also recruited Konstantinos Mavropanos in January.

The Greek international looked quality in his first two games against Manchester United and Burnley, but was unlucky to be sent off in the last game of the season against Leicester City. Mavropanos might become a superstar, he might not, but he is an early example of that diamond eye.

After the recruitment of senior professional to add experience, leadership and top end quality to the squad, the club have now shifted the focus to signing younger, talented players. The types of signings Mislintat made his reputation on in Dortmund.

Lucas Torreira is exactly the type of player Mislintat was recruiting for Dortmund.

Whilst he has burst onto the world stage with some impressive performances for Uruguay at the World Cup, prior to the World Cup he was an unknown with just a handful of caps for his country.

Some will point to 2 excellent seasons for Sampdoria, but let’s be honest, who actually watched him play? And if you did watch Sampdoria, it is unlikely that you will have picked up on him as he is an invisible wall.

At just 22, he is young and exciting. Exactly what Mislintat’s diamond eye is trained to find.

Younger than Torreira is 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi.

Clearly one of Mislintat’s targets this summer was to recruit young central midfielders.

With Jack Wilshere departing and Aaron Ramsey’s contract still up in the air, Mislintat and Sanllehi clearly decided to go for exciting youth, rather than lumbering experience.

The easy option would have been to go out and get Steven Nzonzi from Sevilla.The former Stoke City and Blackburn midfielder turns 30 in December.

Torreira is one for now, who has an exciting future. Guendouzi – alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles – is certainly one for the future.

Expect the French youth international to get plenty of game time in the Europa League and League Cup. With a year’s first team experience in Ligue 1, he is ready to join up with the first team squad. As the next 12 months rolls on, he will begin to get more game time and is a potential long-term replacement for Aaron Ramsey.

The shift in Arsenal’s transfer policy from the experience leaders to younger talented stars is set to continue with the club likely to complete the signing of 16 year old striker Sam Greenwood from Sunderland.

Greenwood scored six goals and provided six assists in 15 appearances for Sunderland in the under-18 Premier League last season. And recently posted a picture on his Instagram story from outside Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.

Arsenal have reportedly beaten Manchester United and Liverpool to his signature.

Another youngster looking set to join Arsenal’s youth set up is Barcelona’s 15-year-old full back Joel Lopez.

The 15-year-old defender has been playing for Barcelona’s Cadeta A side and had the opportunity to sign a new deal with the La Liga giants this summer.

However, widespread reports suggest Lopez is set to sign schoolboy terms with Arsenal before agreeing to a professional deal when he turns 16 in March 2019 after his family had a meeting with Raul Sanllehi.

Without wishing to hype up the likes of Guendouzi, Greenwood and Lopez too much, what is exciting is that we are once more securing top young talents from throughout Europe.

In recent years we have struggled to sign the best teenagers across the continent, and have fallen behind the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in terms of quality of graduates produced.

The fact that City were heavily linked to Guendouzi, Manchester United and Liverpool wanted Greenwod, and Liverpool and Chelsea were reportedly in for Lopez shows just how well respected Sanllehi & Mislintat are.

As the pair continue to rebuild the squad alongside Unai Emery, we will continue to see a mix of experienced professionals and talented youngsters. There is a lot to be positive about at Arsenal at the moment.