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Arsène Wenger

So farewell then, Arsène.

It’s definitely the end of an era. I doubt anyone in the future will ever come close to spending over twenty years as manager of the one club.

You probably hung on two or three years too long but you did give Arsenal their Invincibles and changed the face of English football

Yet I do wonder if, in a year or so’s time, Arsenal fans will be thinking that they should have been careful what they wished for.

Memories of the Day

One Sons fan was showing a sense of humour before yesterday’s game:-

Humorous Sons Fan

Souvenirs of the Scottish Challenge Cup Final 2018. Black and Gold flags courtesy of Sons Trust:-

Sons Flags

Arsenal 2-2 Hull City (3-2 a.e.t.)

FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, 17/5/14

Not quite such a historic (nor romantic) outcome to this one. Still a shock looked on the cards after ten minutes when Hull were two up. But eighty minutes is a long time to hold out especially against a team capable of keeping the ball.

Arsenal did not really create much in the way of chances but big clubs tend to prevail in these situations.

And Hull have the consolation of playing in a “proper” European competition* next season. Not that that did Stoke or Birmingham much good – though Wigan reached the play-offs tis year despite the distraction.

*They did once take part in the Anglo-Italian Cup in the long ago.

End of an Era?

So the longest serving manager in European football is to retire.

(This apparently will leave Ronnie McFall of Portadown as the holder of that accolade, at least according to The Belfast Telegraph. There is nothing so good for a newspaper as a local slant to news.)

SrAlec’s tenure at Manchester United has certainly been a fruitful one. He has amassed a haul of trophies unlikely ever to be matched.

But how much of a turning point will this be for the club, though? Especially as he will be hanging around behind the scenes.

When Matt Busby stepped down to be replaced by Wilf McGuiness things were never the same again, probably partly becasue Busby was still hovering in the background.

It is of course an honourable thing for the club not to discard its loyal employees when their main use has been superseded but there are dangers here. United went into a sharp decline (which arguably had already started under Busby) and were relegated to the second tier a few years later, from which they quickly bounced back up.

However, it took till Fergie arrived over 20 years later for the really good times to roll around once more.

It seems David Moyes is the favoured replacement. Good timing, with him being out of contract at Everton in a few weeks.

Moyes has done an incredible job at Everton with little in the way of resources by comparison with Man U. If he is offered and accepts the job he is probably a strong enough character not to feel overshadowed by Ferguson but what if results should fall off? Will he be given the same slack from fans and board that Ferguson has enjoyed when first Arsenal and then Chelsea and lately Manchester City threatened to become top dog in English football?

It most likely won’t happen but I wonder what odds you’d get on United being in the Championship in four or so years time?

Don’t Do It, Cesc

Can anyone understand why Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas would want to sign for Barcelona?

OK they were his boyhood team, but Everton were Wayne Rooney’s and he soon enough shook their dust off his feet.

Then again Everton were unlikely to win anything (in the short term) and I suppose Arsenal don’t look like doing that either. They certainly won’t if Fabregas leaves – and Nasri along with him. Barcelona regularly win competitions; for the moment.

But Rooney was a certainty to play for Manchester United – still is (if he can bring himself to do what his manager tells him, anyway.)

That would be far from the case if Fabregas returned to the Camp Nou.

Consider. He is a midfielder: and he wants to join the club with the best midfield in the world? To get a game he would have to supplant either of Xavi Hernandez or Andrés Iniesta both of whom are at the top of their game and unlikely to retire any time soon. The lure of playing alongside these luminaries – not to mention Lionel Messi – is of course strong and he would be returning to a club and a culture with which he grew up and is familiar. But he would be a small fish in a big pond, used most often as a substitute (if at all) whereas at Arsenal he is the main man, the team’s fulcrum, and much respected.

Be careful what you wish for, Cesc. The grass may not be greener back home.

Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham City

Carling Cup; Final. Wembley Stadium, 27/02/11

This game showed that dodgy offside decisions are not restricted to Scottish lower league football. Even in real time, on television, it was obvious that Lee Bowyer was onside when Zigic played him in very early on. The television replays only confirmed it. A penalty and sending off would have been the sure result of a correct decision.

Had Arsenal gone on to win this game it would have been an injustice for that reason alone. But then maybe if they had gone down to ten men they would have rallied and Birmingham might have relaxed. As it was Birmingham stuck at it and reaped their reward through another Arsenal defensive mix-up.

Arsène Wenger seems to have a blind spot as far as defence is concerned. At Arsenal he inherited a good one but he doesn’t seem to be able to construct one himself.

Now that I’ve said that they’ll probably win the three trophies they’re still contesting this season.

Simulation

There has been a lot of talk in the football world about “simulation” – or diving as it’s more commonly known in Britain – ever since the Eduardo incident in last week’s Champion’s League tie.

Arsenal’s manager Arséne Wenger has sought to defend his player on the grounds that Eduardo suffered a horrific tackle two seasons ago and therefore has a tendency to pull out of challenges.

Why, then, did you pick him, Arséne? (Do you not have a duty to protect him from such terrors?) Also, he won’t be much cop on the field if he goes around avoiding tackles. And hasn’t your saying so made him a target?

Much comment too has been made on the fact that had the referee spotted Eduardo’s dive he would only have received a yellow card. With the simulation charge and guilty finding he faces a two match ban. This is said to be unfair.

Which only goes to show how much bollocks the average football person talks.

For which is worse? Trying to deceive the referee and failing; or actually succeeding in conning the official?

The greater punishment is just. It ought to be higher for the latter.

After all, attempted murder is a lesser charge than homicide.

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