Farewells

While a new season is about to start, I find myself having to make a decision I have put off at least once before. When I was asked to join forces to help create the charter for 1886, I was honored. I was equally honored when asked to be a regular contributor.

I can speak for my colleagues in saying that the most important achievement for any of our posts is that they support football in general and Arsenal in particular. That more than anything has been exciting and has made every post worthwhile. Let’s be clear, some of my posts were, frankly speaking, shit. However, I hope I have contributed a few that were worth your time.

Nothing lasts forever though. Recent events at 1886 have convinced me that something different is needed. Perhaps a different personality, a different approach than what I bring is best for this blog.

I have taken the decision to part ways with 1886. I wish it nothing but the best. It was fun and a good experience. Thanks for the support, we all appreciate it. Keep the faith.

Chat later,
Agent 86
——————————————————————————
Echoing my colleagues thoughts, it is time for me to move on from this blog as well. I’ve been blessed with having enough time to write about Arsenal freely. However, I’m about to embark on the first step towards my ultimate career ambition. That is going to take up more of my time than I can probably even imagine.

My goal with this blog was to provide objective analysis with a keen affinity towards Arsenal. I am an Arsenal fan until I die. I don’t take that label lightly. I care deeply for our club, and don’t necessarily care all that much about any other football club. I tried to provide a dose of reality for Gooners and fans of other clubs. Sometimes I was successful, other times I was flat out wrong, and a few times there were disagreements.

I tried to write with passion, because anything less would not be worth anybody’s time. There are frankly many Arsenal blogs out there.

This blog will still continue, but El Cunto aka The Informer will be the main man. He’s entertaining, scandalous, intelligent, and capable of carrying this site forward.

Thanks to everybody who read even one word I wrote for this blog. We didn’t have a legion of fans, but I know there were a handful that was devoted to this blog.

I’ll sign off as “The One Who Shall Not Be Named.”

NYC North London Derby

Talks have been held today via e-mail with the chairman of the New York Spurs Supporters Club.

They are interested in playing in the first NYC North London Derby.

Discussions are still at the preliminary stage with nothing concrete having been decided.

However, the game looks as though it will be a 5-a-side match played at Chelsea Piers.

The age bracket will be over 25 years old.

It will be a charity match with teams wearing their clubs jerseys.

The referee will be neutral.

More details will appear soon.

Keep It Arsenal

New Season Countdown Continues/More Conversations With Dante

I couldn’t stand the sight of Clown No. 1 raising the Emirates Cup. I’m glad we won but the ceremony had an air of cheapness about it though. It felt like I was watching also-rans from a beauty contest bonding on a night of commiseration. The sad outing was led of course by the homeliest of them all, the unwelcomed poodle walker.

When I see that clown and his understudy, I think of the car bumper stickers that say ‘MY OTHER CAR IS A PORSCHE’. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a world class No. 1 and those two clowns were just getting some air time to keep their voices fresh. My frustration mounts as we get closer to Liverpool away.

El Cunto asked why that guy is still at Arsenal. I wonder that everyday. Everyday!

He reminded me that my earliest disapproval of the clown didn’t come after failing to hold a lead with only 38 minutes remaining in the Champions League Final. I said he wasn’t good enough and had to go as far back as February 2005, after Man United went to Highbury and embarrassed us 4-2. In Barcelona, he could have made himself an Arsenal legend. He could have shown that being down a man doesn’t mean you have to lose the game. He could have shown some serious spine. He failed miserably.

Two near post goals does not make people remember you for anything but failure. Well, except those who argued with me that he was good enough for Arsenal and that we could win the league with him. And then there were those who said that the goals were not as bad as I was making them out to be. One prominent and very, very successful blogger argued that the goals were not scored at the near post.

That’s when I knew I’d better be more picky about whom I discuss matches with.

The season following the CL disaster, Clown No. 1 and Swiss Miss conspired to lose another final. Two in two seasons! I doubt many people have placed the level of blame on this guy that he deserves for stunting the growth and bashing the confidence of the young players. I state with no hesitation that had we won either or both of those finals – especially the League Cup Final vs. Chelsea because the kids got us there and many featured in the final – the level of belief and resulting thirst for more success could have made all the difference. Instead, we have a group still struggling for identity, a group short on focus and confidence, just like the most fraudulent of goalkeepers to ever wear the Arsenal top. As El Cunto so correctly pointed out, if your spine is weak, so is the rest of your team. We’ve had that motherfucker at our club for too long.

I seethe when I write anything beyond a few sentences about him. I better move on to another topic. Arsene, PLEASE do something.

I caught up with Dante earlier this week. I could sense the excitement and eagerness in waiting for the new season to start. I could also sense a bit more bite this time from the man who always looks cool but can spew venom with the best (or worst) of ‘em. By mid November, I expect him to be fully lathered and spitting fire.

Dante: We are 11 days away from the start of the season and I cannot wait! One trophy down four more to go (League, UCL, Milk Cup, FA Cup)!

Agent 86: [Thinking; I used to be just as optimistic in past seasons. I want the new season as much as anybody but not with that set of keepers we have right now.]

Yeah, man! It’ll be a very interesting season.

Dante: This is how I saw the Emirates Cup:

Wilshere and Fimpong are BEASTS!!! I know I have said it before but they both keep on impressing me. Yes, Wilshere made a mistake when he was obstructed by Fortune but it came to nothing.

Agent 86: I’m glad you brought up Wilshere. El Cunto has tagged Wilshere as a showboat. I don’t see it. The kid has poise and focus way beyond his years. Our colleague (he who shall remain nameless) at 1886 made a good point, ‘what Wilshere did was not uncommon for a young player in the early stages of his career and certainly Arsenal players [young and old] have been criticized for not hoofing the ball and trying to play their way out of danger’.

I’m not worried about Wilshere being a showboat at all. I’d need to see more than just a questionable example of what might not even be showboating before indicting him.

Dante: [With almost uncontrolled enthusiasm] But that VOLLEY!!!!! And the kid has an attitude. Love it!!! We need attitude in the squad.

Agent 86: We used to have attitude. We used to have swagger. You can’t quantify them but they make a big difference. Imagine what teams felt like when they saw Henry and Pires with Bergkamp standing not far away. We need to get that back. We have a few players who can get us there but only time will tell. I have to say I really like what I see in Frimpong. I know he’s still a pup but…

Dante: Frimpong does not let anyone have time on the ball. He doesn’t dribble much but hey, if he loses the ball he will get it back!

The first goal against AC Milan impressed me for a few reasons;
1. Gibbs shielded the ball extremely well while having a player draped over him then to send Arshavin off to the races, this was very good to see from the 20 year old left back.
2. Arshavin; what can I say? What a run! I don’t know what was better, watching that run and final ball to Chamakh or rewinding back to where Gattuso looks like he has been thrown out of a speeding Ferrari. PAAAAAHHH BOSS!!
3. Chamakh’s finish; well taken! He did the right thing and looked calm in front of goal.

Agent 86: [My turn to emote.] YES! Gibbs showed tenacity. Arshavin showed strength. Chamakh showed a good finisher’s cool. It was the first really telling highlight of the (pre) season for me. It was all there – industry, strength, and skill.

Dante: Issues I had with the games against both Celtic and Milan; in both games, we looked tired after about the 75th minute.

Agent 86: To be expected! They’ve been training really hard and some guys played in both Milan and Celtic matches back to back.

Dante: When Frimpong went off in the second half of the Milan game we lost our possession edge, similar to the way we do when Song is unable to play. Theo cannot cross to save his life! He is dangerous but anyone with that much speed is dangerous with or without the ball. Only positive I can take is that he must have got the same treatment about defending Arshavin did because I saw him next to the right back a few times when the ball was in our half.

Agent 86: On current evidence, I’m convinced Theo is not good enough. I don’t know if he’ll ever get there. He plays like a really good athlete who took up the game later than the other kids. He’s got some ability but like it or not, Chris Waddle made a good point about the football brain.

Some Blame Wenger for bad coaching where Theo is concerned. I don’t. I just feel he is what he is. Wenger coached Alex Song. He coached Robin. He coached Cesc. They haven’t turned out too badly. Theo does track back though. I’ve seen him do it regularly.

Dante: For Celtic’s second goal I have two different gripes. Djourou is not ready yet. I have faith he will be later on, but not to start the season with. I know Koscielny will partner The Verminator but no one else has been bought so I shudder to think of Djourou being thrown in early on in the season.

Agent 86: On Djourou; I refer you to what El Cunto posted Monday.

Dante: This passive and active offside **** has to stop. There was a Celtic player off side, being played offside by the whole back line. The ball was played into his general area he ran for it becoming active in the play then stopped, turned around and walked back. Flag never went up another Celtic player ran on and then poor marking after that did us in. What’s the point of playing offside when the passive player can pretend to go for the ball and stop, essentially dummying the defense????

The silly way to fix this is to make all passive offside players signal this by having to stop and re-tie their shoe lace on one shoe before joining the play. The easy way is to take this whole passive verbiage out!

My thoughts on Cesc are as follows:
I’m sick and tired of this!!

Agent 86: I have been for some time. I am disturbed by Barcelona’s latest that Wenger was ready to sign for them in 2001. Yeah, right! They’ve sunk to the depths of _pur_ with this almost signed bullshit.

Chat later, Agent 86

Més que un club: They’re Assholes

- The picture above is from an event that Cesc Fabregas attended two days ago. It was in his hometown and he told his adoring Spanish fans that he hoped to see them “more often and closer.”

- I’ve stated this as recently as a few days ago. I do not have a problem with Cesc Fabregas wanting to leave. Do I want him to leave? Of course not. Do I understand why he’d want to go home? Of course I do. A great man once said that Cesc’s penalty kick against Barcelona cemented him as an Arsenal legend, even if it was his last kick in an Arsenal shirt. I’d agree with that. He helped keep the club stable and in the Champions League when we could not afford to be major players in the transfer window. That will become apparent in the years to come, when we’ll be financially healthy and winning numerous trophies.

- What do I think happened? I think Barcelona has strung Cesc Fabregas out to dry. Read what Wenger said after the match against AC Milan in the Emirates Cup. “Barcelona gave up a long time ago.” Their actions don’t speak to that of course, with their daily regiment of unsettling Cesc and Arsenal now as routine as a roto-rooter inspection at Captain Caveman’s house.

- Today, Andres Iniesta, World Cup hero himself, appeared on Barcelona television and made his views clear. Of course, this was just a week or two after he stated that Arsenal should be respected. It’s as if they have nothing better to talk about, they only won the first World Cup for Spain.

- Captain Caveman wrote on his blog that he never said the quotes about Cesc and Arsenal, that an English paper fabricated it. Well, given their history of phone-paper sex they’ve conducted, why should I believe him? I’ll never forget the Champions League Final where Thierry was systematically hacked by Captain Caveman, who looks like a deformed Bret Hart, and Rafael Marquez. If they got the yellow cards they deserved, the match could have been very different.

- Next up is the Lionel Messi aka The Fake Argentine aka Barry Bonds. “When a player wants to come, and a club want a player, a deal can always be reached. And I am still confident he will arrive this summer.” Messi should ask his newly elected President how feverishly they’re working to deliver Cesc this summer, cause like I pointed out above, Wenger said they’ve given up. “I think Barcelona have acted in the right way. Yes, of course Barca players have come out and said we want Cesc at the club, but what’s the problem with that? Of course we want him to come home.” Hey Lionel, I’d like to invent a time machine, go back to 1956 and make love to Brigitte Bardot for hours, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Barcelona are broke, they’re desperate, and they’ve lost the battle. They’re playing Real Madrid’s game of using the media to pressure us into a sale. In other words, they’re acting like scumbags. The only way we sell him is if they pay us what Cesc is worth. Because we know this, Cesc will not put in a transfer request and he will play football to his utmost capacity when the season starts. I am not one to think that Cesc will give it less than his all.

- Finally, the cherry on top of the BarcaShit Cake was from their former president Joan Gaspart. He claimed that Wenger wanted to come to Barcelona but Peter Hill-Wood refused to allow that. Well, if I believed this was true, which I don’t, what is the purpose of saying this out loud? If you’re a gentleman, you don’t kiss and tell. Barcelona have a few gentlemen in their ranks, but it’s mostly a pompous club filled with talented, pampered babies. They’re an incredible footballing side, but this current crop have no class. But people always like winners, look how many bandwagon fans the New York Yankees have (I forgive you Emmanuel Eboue, but only you). I’m sure Wenger enjoyed listening to that.

- We’ve ripped Barcelona off before, and we’ll rip them off again when we’re ready. I guess they have a right to be upset at us, Overmars, Petit, Henry, and Hleb in recent memory. You know what those players have in common? They all love Arsenal more than Barcelona.

- Back to Messi for a moment, he also revealed this:

“Cesc told me about his recent chat with Arsene and the respect Cesc has for his current manager is huge. He says Arsene has the best footballing mind in the world, and that he owes the boss everything for the player he is today.”

Do not underestimate what Arsene Wenger means to Cesc Fabregas. Do not take Arsene Wenger for granted. In the rambling pleas for Cesc to return to Barcelona, Messi revealed something that was private and illuminating. It was clearly not an easy decision for Cesc to declare to Arsene that he wanted to leave. He expected Barcelona to make it easy for him by agreeing a fee that he’s worth. Instead, they’ve faxed two offers and conducted a public courtship of him while never seriously wanting to sign him. For his sake and ours, I hope they stump up the 50 million pounds that Cesc is worth and everything can be resolved.

- And if Barcelona can’t come up with the money, what part of FUCK OFF do they not understand?

Why is Almunia still at Arsenal?

A sad sight yesterday was watching Manuel Almunia lift the Emirates Cup for Arsenal. Sad because another season beckons with this back-up keeper starting as Arsenal’s number one.

To win anything, a team needs a strong spine. The goalkeeper is the starting point of that spine. If you have an average goalkeeper, you’re defence will not be filled with confidence. A back four that lacks confidence will leak goals.

With Fabianski as Arsenal’s number two, away games to Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers will turn into a crossing fest, leaving Arsenal with no points because they have goalkeepers who can’t punch or catch a cross.

Fabianski is the worst goalkeeper in the Premiership. Almunia is not far behind. With less than two weeks away until Arsenal travel to Liverpool for the season opener, there is no sign of any goalkeeper being signed by Wenger.

That’s disturbing.

Mark Schwarzer says he wants to play for Arsenal – well so do I and millions of other Gooners. The fact is Mark, you’re not good enough. You’re no better than what Arsenal already have. And at 38 you’re the “cougar” of goalies.

A lot of Gooners are more concerned about Cesc Fabregas joining Barcelona than a world class goalkeeper joining Arsenal. When I mention Almunia being Arsenal’s number one, they shrug their shoulders and say: “He’ll do.”

Having a goalkeeper who last season cost Arsenal 18 points, will not do. In fact, both Fabianski and Almunia need to be sold or loaned out.

Neither one belongs at Arsenal.

Other pieces of deadwood should also leave – Johan Djourou and Theo Walcott in other words.

Walcott hasn’t changed. He’s fast but has no end product. Someone said that he got two assists yesterday. His first assist was a shot that was so crap that it turned into a cross – if Vela didn’t have great instincts then Gooners would have been moaning about how shit Walcott is instead of celebrating a goal.

It’s been four and a half years since Walcott joined Arsenal and the man still can’t cross. He also has no moves to get past a player – other than speed – and his shots are off target most of the time.

Ryan Smith for Kansas City Wizards is just as good as Theo Walcott.

Johan Djourou is fast becoming Arsenal’s Titus Bramble. He’s been at Arsenal since 2002. Yet in eight years, he’s only played 46 times. True, he’s been on loan to Birmingham City and was injured for all of last season. So fans are willing to give him time. I, however, think that it’s time to sell him. The man will become a liability.

Wenger says that he’s looking for two more signings.

Let’s hope that a goalkeeper is one of them.

Keep It Arsenal

El Cunto

Arsene Speaks

Arsene’s post match comments were telling. He has said what I have been thinking for weeks. Cesc must make it clear that he is at Arsenal and end the madness.

That alone won’t make Barcelona or Barcelona’s players stop making annoying comments about our captain but it will go a long way to help us all move along, even if only temporarily. Arsene has been fed up with all the chatter but what can he do? “There are a lot of things I don’t master in football and the rumours are one of these things.” He went on to address the tapping up question as well, “They [Barcelona] certainly have a case to answer but it is always the same – how can you prove it?”

So the door remains open for the player to set the record straight. “Cesc has five years to go and that is it…Who can stop the speculation? Only Cesc maybe, I don’t know, maybe not even Cesc.” Quite unsettling!

Common sense says that Xavi, Puyol, and Lerch (with his fucking US navy style buzz cut) should realize that they cannot afford the player. Until such time – and even then there’s no guarantee that we’ll sell – you’d think that they’d go about their business. You’d think that they’d be more worried about the upcoming campaign. Jose Mourinho is not an ordinary manager.

I used to have time for Barcelona. Some great players have worn their colors. They are Real Madrid’s bitter, bitter rival, a status that would endear almost any club to me but that doesn’t make up for acting low-rent and classless.

In other news…

Wilshere’s football instincts were glaring yesterday.
The new signings looked comfortable.
Eboue is to be respected – if Sagna goes down with injury, I won’t fret.
There were no injuries, not that I’ve seen reported anyway.
Wilshere/Frimpong got good experience against Seedorf/Gattuso.
Randall may have given Arsene the green light for a permanent loan.

I was exchanging thoughts with Supah Strikah after the match. He felt that Fabianski might have done better on Pato’s goal. He felt that he didn’t take charge. I commented that it might be harsh to blame him yet I understand the sentiment very well. Let’s be clear. When ever a goal is scored against us, as long as those two clowns are in the nets we will always feel that they could/should have done better. That’s the kind of reputation and support they’ve earned.

Interestingly, Arsene made this point about the goal, “You can’t fault him [Fabianski] for the goal and he did everything else well. The only thing is there wasn’t much command on the free kick. From outside it looked like no-one took charge of the organisation and that’s a little bit down to goalkeeper.” I would add that organisation is also a captain’s job. And it was a bit disappointing to see the taller Djourou mis-time his header and then Vermaelen (captain for the day) beaten to the ball by the admitedlly dangerous Alexandre Pato. Vermaelen can and will do better. Djourou? I’m not so sure.

A fellow Gooner reminded me that he predicted Chamakh would “hit the ground running”. He seems to be settling in nicely. I need to see that, as my confidence is beginning to wane after years of supporting this group unequivocally. The addition of an effective striker is a good thing. Big ups Yardie! You’re right so far.

I just had a vision of Chamakh going nuts when we play Scum, making their shit stadium what Arshavin has done with Anfield. Hopefully our new striker will continue where Bob left off and score against _pur_ for fun, where ever we play them. Having ‘almost signed Rivaldo’ once, now they can claim the same about Luis Fabiano. To compensate for losing out on another Brazilian, Harry Redknapp has bought Anapka, which is a bit baffling. Why do you need another donkey when you’ve got Dawson and King?

So we wait on additional signings as time ticks away. All is not doom and gloom but I’d be really happy if Arsene plugged a few gaping holes. El Cunto said he’d take Friedel. I would too.

Celtic today! The Boss says he’ll play his best side. Oxymoronic since Clown No. 1 will be in goal.

Chat later,
Agent 86

No Surprises

We’ve been prepared for this moment ever since Cesc burst onto the scene and announced himself as a super prospect when he started playing alongside Patrick Vieira in 2004. I had heard a story that before Cesc signed for us at the age of 16 that he begged Barcelona for an opportunity to prove himself and his pleas were rebuffed. Now, I don’t know if that story is true or not, but I don’t remember Barcelona pitching much of a fit when we initially signed him. It’s only after his cerebral brain proved to be old enough to play in one of the top leagues in the world at the age of 18 that Barcelona claimed outrage. Regardless, the fact that Cesc would want to return to Barcelona was never up for debate, it was a matter of when.

- Hopeful Gooners wished upon a star that he would stay until he was 30. Most Gooners might have imagined him leaving to replace an aging Xavi. Pessimistic Gooners thought the date was right around the corner. Having just watched the Arsenal Season Review of last year, the last couple of months probably made Cesc more anxious to leave than ever.

- Consider what happened. We were destroyed by Messi in the Champions League. Fabianski singlehandedly exploded a grenade in our face. Barcelona repeated in La Liga. Spain won the World Cup. Pique and Puyol whispered sweet nothings into his ear for the last three months.

- On a complete side note, the subject of Cesc’s controversial transfer when he arrived at Arsenal was not controversial at all. In England, anybody aged 16 can sign a professional contract with anybody they want. Not all of Barcelona’s famed players come through La Masia at a young age. Puyol was 17 when he joined, Busquets was 17 when he joined, Pedro was 17 when he joined, Jeffren was 16 when he joined, and Messi was 11 when he joined but from a foreign country and mainly came over to enjoy human growth hormone treatment. There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but what is the difference with what we did with Cesc and what Barcelona did with those players? Nothing. So, when they claim that Cesc isn’t worth more than 35 million pounds because they reared him, it’s code talk for “we’re broke”.

- My colleague stated that he wasn’t bothered about Barcelona players talking about their desire for Cesc to join Barcelona. I’d agree with most of that, but I don’t appreciate it when the line is crossed. For me, the line gets crossed when Puyol starts to almost refer to Arsenal as a “prison” and when Xavi says Cesc “deserves better than Arsenal”. The people of New Orleans deserved better. Cesc is being paid 90,000 pounds a week and plays for one of the most glamorous sides in Europe. I don’t mind them talking all the time, but it feels like a systematic ploy to drive the price down. Talk about Cesc all you want, just don’t slander our club. Puyol claims we should “show more class”. Well, Wenger said he wouldn’t complain about Barcelona’s constant stream of Cesc foreplay, classy enough for you? They must all have their separate days in which one of their teammates will talk about Cesc. Keep talking, it’s not as if Wenger is listening.

- Perhaps the thing that really bothers me is that there’s clearly truth behind these words. Cesc does want to leave. There’s no doubting that. His respect for Wenger and the fans are what’s preventing him from going even more public or handing in a transfer request. All we had heard from Cesc is that he had a conversation with Wenger that was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to go through. We can infer all we like, but Wenger is not talking about it. Instead, Arsene is adamant that he’ll stay. Taggart did this two years ago with Cristiano Ronaldo.

- My colleague has also raised the point that this saga has done harm to our team. He’s asked whether or not Cesc will be fully committed and whether or not the other players will fully trust him. It’s a valid thing to consider, but I think once Cesc knows he’s going to stay for the year, he’ll buck up and give it his all. He’s a true professional and he’s not going to sulk; he simply respects Arsenal too much. Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers a few years ago. In his first game, he was booed at Staples. Regardless of that, he played to his full capacity and the team performed so well that he rescinded his trade request and started a run of three consecutive Finals runs culminating in back to back Championships. That saga tested me fully as a sports fan, because that was the same summer that Henry left Arsenal. When the word circulated that Cesc wanted out, I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t crushed.

- As much as we do not want to have an unsettled player on our squad, what is most important to me is establishing a hard line of negotiation. Quite simply, we hold all the cards and Barcelona knows it. Take a club like Lyon for example. Jean-Michel Aulas is amongst the best transfer operators in the business. He extracted 26 million pounds for Michael Essien and 26 million euros for Diarra. Both players stated that they wanted to leave and he still got those fees. To accept anything less than 50 million pounds is an insult. There are only a handful of players who have a higher transfer value than Cesc Fabregas. I do not mind him leaving, but I do mind him leaving for less than he’s worth.

- If that doesn’t happen this summer, then it’ll happen next summer. Something inside me (and this 100% pure speculation) thinks that this may Wenger’s final season. That’s not to suggest the board will fire him. It’s also not to suggest that if he wins, he’ll come back. I just have a feeling that he wants to have his squad together to mount a challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League and that’s why he’s desperate to hold onto Cesc. Let me repeat that I’m just making a guess and that I hope he’ll stay for many more years. But if that was the case, it would signal his intention to go out with a bang.

- Either way, this whole Cesc saga has been a chore. What I know is this. If we don’t get proper value for Cesc, it’s bad for the club. If we sell him for the proper amount, we can replace Cesc (Ozil and Hazard come to mind, not on a one for one basis, but just talented players who are out there). If we keep him for another year, I know that Cesc will be as committed and will want to go to Barcelona with a Premier League medal in his wardrobe; that’ll have to be good enough for now.

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