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According to that ever reliable bastion of truth and knowledge Wikipedia, whipping boys were first established in the 17th Century in England. The term derives from a position held by a close confidante of the King`s eldest son. The idea emanated from the philosophy of the Divine Right of Kings. Since Kings were apparently chosen by God, it went that nobody was fit to punish the King`s son except for the King himself. But obviously the monarch was often too busy chopping off heads and eating boar and goose sandwiches to discipline his next of kin. Teachers and carers were not worthy of bestowing punishment upon the young Prince, so they appointed a 'whipping boy` to act as an avatar of punishment and scathing for his Princely friend.

Though the Royal Family still hangs around like a bad smell in England, the whipping boy tag only applies in a metaphorical context. (Rumour has it that they`ve had trouble filling the position in a literal context since Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi). In the Arsenal lexicon, the term "whipping boy" has come to mean "player what we don`t like much and fink should be sold." A number of current squad players have had this visage thrust upon them. Alex Song was given a generous 45 minutes in an Arsenal shirt before the Red Section (you know, the ones that tell you how they think you should support the club?) cried "Off with his head" from the gallery at Craven Cottage. Philippe Senderos is apparently the only defender in Christendom that has ever had a hard time with Didier Drogba. Denilson has bore the brunt of the crowd on his back to the point that he is suffering a terminally gammy vertebra. Apparently, in a paltry 28 appearances stretching over 2 years, Mikel Silvestre managed to sleep with the significant other of every match going Gooner. Emmanuel Eboue was condemned to the guillotine until we worked out, that, err, he`s not actually that bad. (Of course, those guilty of humiliating him so publicly are the very ones that now "ironically" fete him as a cult hero and wear hilarious tee shirts in his honour. Guilt can do funny things to people). Nicklas Bendtner likewise was dissed and dismissed by the masses- largely on the basis that he wore pink boots and had a rubbish haircut. That was until the end of last season when, ooh looky here, he`s playing regularly and, what d`ya know? He`s scoring an absolute fecking truckload of goals! Well bless my effeminate boots!

The last 18 months has seen Manuel Almunia`s bleached blond barbigerous features in the stocks. To the quite unbecoming point that nobody gave a rat`s arse about the fact that his early season loss of form last year might just have been due to a quite tragic family bereavement. Yet those super uber fans at Red Action organised a "show of support day (?!)" for Cesc because his Granddad was ill last October. Who knew compassion was commensurate with quality? Now Arsenal have failed to sign the desperately average Mark Schwarzer (who Arsenal fans had mystifyingly convinced themselves was the answer due to the fact that, errr, his name ain`t Almunia.....or Fabianski) we can expected the extended disco version of "worst goalie ever" from N5. Every goal conceded will be his fault, of this there is no doubt. Every save and cross claimed will be quietly forgotten as eyes drop to the floor and feet shuffle, but the next time someone pounds the ball into the top corner from eight yards, the guillotine will be prepared as the blood thirsty masses rush forward to dip their hankies on the blood that is shed.

But who will join Manuel in the stocks this season? The new boys usually get a season or so of "youngest child" treatment whilst the cellophane has only just been taken off and they`ve still got that lovely new smell. There was potential for a while for Sagna and his crossing to begin to test some tempers until, well until we started scoring quite regularly as a result of his raids down the right. Fabregas will be psycho analysed, as every misplaced pass or shanked shot points towards Catalonia; but he still won`t quite reach pariah status. Andrey Arshavin has always been a bit of an idle wayward genius, but people are apparently only making this observation now that Hasbro have released a new line of G.I. Joes to burgle our miniscule attention spans, but there will always be just enough moments of genius to keep us swooning. My money on the next prime candidate would be Abou Diaby. Capable of the sublime and the ridiculous- usually in the same passage of play- Diaby could be a couple of shinned passes away from becoming the doyen of the Gooner voodoo dolls. A certain level of resentment does seem to be bubbling under the surface, but having just walloped the ball out of play under no pressure and caused a clenching of teeth; Abou spoils our fun minutes later by beating three players in one movement before rapping us a verse of "We Ain`t Goin` Like That," causing us to sheepishly return our sharpened knives to our jean pockets. But a bad run of form for Diaby could see him cast asunder.

Carlos Vela might well be an outside bet after a pretty ordinary season last year, anymore indifference from the mercurial young Mexican could see him on the receiving end of some acid tongues. Gael Clichy has been a feature of the toy box for some time and his plasticy sheen has been weathered with supporters; with the newer and shiner Kieran Gibbs competing for a space at the summit of the toy chest, expect Clichy`s every solid performance to be held up as bona fide evidence that Gibbs should be subject to our whims. One thing is for sure, whilst Manuel will be the undisputed whipping boy in chief, we Arsenal fans need a deputy to bear the cross of the entire team`s ills. We need someone to blame for global warming, the economic downturn and to bear our frustration when one of the golden boys messes up. (I.e. the next time Vermaelen once again gets too tight to Drogba and gets massacred by the Ivorian who scored four goals against Arsenal last year under the Verminator`s watchful eye). Who`s your money on?LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday August 31 2010

Time: 8:41PM

Your Comments

I half expect Vermaelen to get crucified by the end of the season. A lot of supporters completely ignored his shortcomings (every player has them) last season because he was a fresh face. Last season we could pin the blame for goals on Gallas but now we have Kos with TV. So my prediction is TV will be this season's Gallas and Kos will be last season's TV.
It will still be our keepers, no doubt about it. The Liverpool match proved that to me. Despite being beat by an absolute rocket into the top corner, Almunia was at fault for the goal. By my recollection, it was a typically (for that match) lazy pass by arshavin inside our own box that was the cause. Also, Wilshere could be to blame as well for not being prepared for the pass, allowing Mascherano to collect it instead.
What an absolutely **** class post. About time we (gooners) showed some class and got behind our boys. (BTW, I was at the Wigan game, when Eboue was booed - the booing was not coming from the Red Action section of the ground (My Season ticket is in Orange Quadrant Lower))
Also, your point about Fabregas is one that I mentioned in the forums about a month or so. I'm looking forward to seeing the media headlines of how Cesc is so clearly thinking about Barcelona when the logical explanation will be that he's just hit a bad patch of form.
*a month ago
Most gooners will get behind the team - the transfer window just closed and people are still reacting, give us time to bitch and rant and whinge. The overwhelming feeling among gooners was that we needed to do something about the keeper position. And as for Cesc...the player who asked to leave for Barca, who all summer long we've tried to keep from Barca, about whom we had to endure media hype and taunts from pundits, Barca players, spuds and the like about how much our captain wanted to leave us...and who just won the fkg world cup, ffs! A wc and Euros winner...and his manager fails to go all out in a determined effort to strengthen in our weakest position, a very key position, one that no trophy winning teams can do without strengthening. (Never mind the weakness in the DM position). So just exactly why should Cesc have stayed? On another point: we've made good money selling and loaning out players this summer (plus money from Reyes' sell-on fee with him winning the Europa league). We've lost 9 players, we haven't added, we've just replaced. I'm not criticizing AW for letting Gallas, Silvestre & Campbell go but we did lose something very important with the loss of all 3: each one of them (yes, incl. Gallas) regularly talked to and advised/taught the younger players. Gallas apparently even took them to some events. Our young players grew up watching all 3 winning trophies. None of them know Koscielny or Squilacci. But that's not something AW could do much about.
I totally agree with most of what you've said here. I have mentioned before that I have (many a time) been in arguements with so called Gooners for booing their own. I still feel we should've signed a better Goalkeeper (and when I say better I don't mean Schwarzer). I know that isn't really your point LD, but it's still frustrating!
"We haven't added, we've just replaced." I think with the 25 player squad rule, there wasn't much else we could do. The question is have we replaced with players better than those that have gone? Time will tell, it strikes me May is the time for that sort of post mortem, not September. I happen to think sorting the defensive aspect of the whole team was more important than just replacing the keeper, it's important we don;t expose the keepers as much as we did last year. Has that happened? Nobody knows yet, so why not wait until the end of the season before naval gazing? I get the impression people want things to go wrong, just so that they can say they were right. Arseniger admits on another thread that he wants to see Almunia concede 3 against Bolton just so his criticism can be justified a little longer. I think that's the mentality inhabiting most Arsenal fans right now.
Little Dutch
"Who`s your money on?" -- how about the manager himself? / Having just re-read this snarky article, to repeat, the transfer window JUST CLOSED and people are still reacting having hoped and believed all summer long that the manager would strengthen in our most vulnerable position! I really have to question an article attacking the fans for hoping and believing that this would happen after they've just been disappointed and are still absorbing the news. It is PERFECTLY reasonable for gooners everywhere to have hoped for--actually, ASSUMED--that our goalkeeping problem would be resolved. A responsible manager who wanted to keep his world class captain and who wanted to address the most obvious problems we had last season would've addressed the problem with a SERIOUS effort and a willingness to spend money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire or that assumption--and absolutely nothing to apologize for. It beggars belief that a club of our class has not addressed this seriously. It's a joke and a shambles. It has nothing whatsoever to do with trashing Almunia and not backing him -- it has to do with an intelligent, informed, accurate awareness that he's a good keeper, not a trophy-winning one -- END OF.
"Who`s your money on?" -- how about the manager himself? / Having just re-read this snarky article, to repeat, the transfer window JUST CLOSED and people are still reacting having hoped and believed all summer long that the manager would strengthen in our most vulnerable position! I really have to question an article attacking the fans for hoping and believing that this would happen after they've just been disappointed and are still absorbing the news. It is PERFECTLY reasonable for gooners everywhere to have hoped for--actually, ASSUMED--that our goalkeeping problem would be resolved. A responsible manager who wanted to keep his world class captain and who wanted to address the most obvious problems we had last season would've addressed the problem with a SERIOUS effort and a willingness to spend money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire or that assumption--and absolutely nothing to apologize for. It beggars belief that a club of our class has not addressed this seriously. It's a joke and a shambles. It has nothing whatsoever to do with trashing Almunia and not backing him -- it has to do with an intelligent, informed, accurate awareness that he's a good keeper, not a trophy-winning one -- END OF.
Did I miss something? Is this article actually about the transfer window or our transfer business? Aside from the fact I mention that we didn;t sign a goalkeeper, I don't believe it is.
Little Dutch
Surprised Wenger didn't move for a keeper! Hopefully Almunia can cut out the mistakes and you'll do good!
Vanilla Ice
Also, AW's actions/comments on keepers this summer have been mystifying. He's made openly critical comments about them, made it known he was chasing keeper targets, undermining our keepers' confidence, then signs no one.
And btw, LD, if we win one trophy this season with Almunia or ANY of our keepers, even the CC, I will take back every word here and everyone here can gloat and crow all over me and I will enjoy every moment of it because nothing would make me happier than to see me proven wrong. I'll made that a firm date here on this blog, in fact.
Why would I, or anyone else, take any pleasure in doing that? Like I say, I know there are plenty of people who value their own ego ahead of the fortunes of the team they support, but I think that's totally the wrong way to go. I don't want to gloat at Arsenal fans if we win something anymore than I want Arsenal fans to gloat when things go wrong. I'm not in competition with anyone here and I don't want anyone to be in competition with me. I want Arsenal to do well and I hope most Arsenmal fans want the same. I have my own opinions as to how well we can do, but I'm sure as hell not going to try and make it difficult for the team by howling at every player I don't rate. I'll make my judgements in May rather than making up my mind how we are going to do and venting on that basis. Really, the article doesn't address any of the points you have raised. The point of the article is that Arsenal fans have made a habit of targetting their own players recently and I'm just wondering aloud who will be next.
Little Dutch
Y'know I've tried to write this article 3 or 4 times myself and could never make it work - certainly not as well as you have LD. It isn't about whether we rate this player or that player or whether we think the manager is making the right decisions - we'll all disagree about different aspects and we always will - but the extremes to which we take our discontent and are prepared to forgo the mildest attempt to entertain some rationality in our judgement of the club and its players defies logic. As supporters we'll always have a fair degree of emotional investment and our views will always be coloured that way - but we shouldn't be entirely blind to that either and the negative vibes we create around the club when we wallow in that emotional excess. The club is big enough to cope with it and the players if they are strong enough will overcome the negatives too and with the essential following wind will triumph. But at times that must be despite the support and sadly not always because of it.
In Almunia , I trust. Till he *****s up atleast/
Brilliant, brilliant post LD. You are so right in this article. I'm personally tired of whipping boy syndrome. Who doesn't get frustrated at times at a player who's having a bad game... but I really don't understand this perpetual doghouse a certain segment of Goonerdom seems to have to have at least one or two players in, at all times.
Personally, I always thought Scwarzer was much less reliable than Almunia and a worse shot-stopper. But if Schwarzer was going to be our number 1 this season I would back him to the fullest. Some Arsenal fans seem to take a different approach they almost have this self-defeating attitude where they hope our goalkeepers do badly so that at the very least it can change the managers mind or the very worst so that they can feel vindicated about their judgement.
I hope Almunia has the season he had right after he replace Mad Jens and had people screaming for him to be England's #1. I doubt that he'll ever get that kind of support again, but I can hope that he has that type of season. He knows his grip on #1 is quite tenuous and theoretically that will spur him to greater heights. Who knows. OT- Eboue was booed for being absolute *****. He deserved that booing. He wasn't putting any effort into the game. Lets face it Wenger admitted it by subbing him out. How often have you seen a sub subbed out w/o injury? Since then he has shown a much much better work ethic and garnered support from most of the crowd. I admit I still cringe a bit when I see him in the first 11 but that's because I think we have better, not that I think he is bad. As long as a player puts in the effort the fans support him. Witness Eboue's ressurrection in the eyes of the fans or the different opinions voiced by supporters at the games between Bentdner and Adebayor who both had less than stellar introductions. The Dane won most over by being all over the pitch constantly (like Chamakh this season) while Ade lost fans with his petulance and laziness.
irrespective of who plays we all should just get behind the team, that does not mean we can not whinge here and there about this player and that player as our emotions dictates, but not to the detriment of the team and definitely not by booing. I will never forget the Portsmouth Arsenal game. I really appreciated the Portmouth fans and how they kept cheering their team despite the scoreline. Then when they gave Henry a standing ovassion, I had goose pimples just absorbing it all. They just went to the stadium to be entertained and have a good time.
I think it's completely revisionist to suggest the booing changed Eboue as a player, so far as I recall, it was the red card at WHL that marked a sea change in Eboue's performances. That would suggest it was the manager that gave him the nudge, not the supporters. In the cases of Bendtner and Song, it wasn't them trying to prove the fans wrong that improved them, it was the fact that they came into the side as young players and were judged far too quickly; their improvement was natural not nurtured by us.
Little Dutch
I'm sorry Bergkamp4Life I think you are talking absalute rubbish when you say that Eboue deserved to be booed because he was not putting in the effort. Eboue tried as hard as anyone if not harder to please the crowed and that was in someways his biggest proplem, he kept on trying to do to much and his resurection is down to the manager the players around him and those of the fans that get behind their players no matter what the popular view of them is.
I detest the booing of our own players. I NEVER have and NEVER will boo any player in the red and white of Arsenal. However, like alot of Gooners, I am AMAZED that we are heading into another campaign with Almunia / Fabianski. As much as I get behind the team when travelling the length and breadth of this country and Europe, my heart sunk yesterday with the news that we hadn't signed a new GK. Now, I personally think that we'll have a decent season IF everyone stays fit. I really believe that we are capable of pushing Chelsea and Man United ALL the way, and we just might come up with a trophy. The thing that somewhat depresses me is knowing that somewhere along the line, our GK's will continue with their blunders, and we lose BIG matches because of it. AW's ambivalence during this summers transfer window is going to come back and bite us ALL in the arse. We will ALL suffer because of it. We are going to fall into our usual goalkeeping merry-go-round with a depressing inevitability this season. Almunia makes a huge mistake but keeps his place. The next game sees him make another howler and costs us the game. We are told by AW that he has a ' virus ' and is replaced by Fabianski. Now it's his turn to make a blunder, but this time it's in the CL and we suffer a shock defeat. Fabianski keeps his place for the next PL game, but his nervous error leads to a goal and we draw, having lead with 5 minutes remaining. Now Almunia is back.....and so on....and so forth.....
Cockney Rich
The idea that the booing of Eboue somehow made him a better player is nonsense. He was always a good player the issue was one of confidence. Once he became the appointed 'whipping boy' of the time his confidence was compromised to the extent that his performances were affected. He became the whipping boy because the team had started the season poorly and someone has to be the focus of some section of supporters ire - a single reason for a more general failure. As Eboues performances displayed his lack of confidence then so the discontent increased along with the booing. When he took Eboue off against Wigan Wenger said "Yes it was a difficult decision. I felt he had completely lost his confidence and could not keep the ball anymore. I wanted to keep the player on to get the boos right, but when it goes as far as that it becomes a danger for the result and it is a relief for the player to come off." In other words the actions of the supporters risked negatively affecting the outcome of the game. Fortunately Silvestre and Almunia took the scapegoat roles and Eboue was left just to play football - and show just what a good player a confident player can be.
It was absolutely to do with confidence that Eboue lost form (lest we forget that Wigan game was also his first game back from a two month lay off). I remember in our first season at the Grove when he was playing really well, there were several demonstrations of a confident player. I can't access YouTube at work, but try and look up an effort he had against Slavia Praha from the touchline, which was inches away from being one of the best goals ever. Against Porto that season there was a moment when the ball was heading out of play and he spun in the air and kept it in, bringing it down perfectly with his heel. Witness the week he hit three inch perfect crosses for Henry headers in seven days. That was a player playing with confidence; a confidence that was slowly eroded. Don't get me wrong, he was responsible too; his feigning injury and bad temper made a rod for his own back. But that's why WHL was the turning point for me and not the booing, he hasdone so little of the bitching and whingeing since then. Three weeks later he scores two against Blackburn and then the supporters adulation began.
Little Dutch
Amos - Eboue was having a wretched time in the games leading up to the Wigan incident. He really was on a run of poor form and it showed very clearly. Yet AW insisted on selecting him and another poor display was too much for the fans to take. Would AW have been better to drop him and give him time to recover without any fuss, or throw him in against Wigan and let the crowd ' slaughter ' him ?? I know that EVERY player gets a confidence boost from playing, but we had a virtually full squad at the time and I don't feel that there was any need to select him having seen what an awful run of games he was having.
Cockney Rich
Why make up your mind already what the keeping situation is going to be for this season CR? If you start the season expect 'howlers' then you'll find them in every game. If you were to watch Schwarzer or Given or any number of other keepers with the same level of scrutiny you'll find the same or greater level of mistakes. Start to watch Almunia with the same sort of preconceptions that you have about someone like VDS and you'll see that in general he doesn't make more errors than he does. Lehmann made far more howlers and more glaring ones than Almunia has ever done but Lehmann had the self assurance (or delusion if you like) to believe he was the greatest in the world - and that (plus the fact that we won a trophy in his first season) was infectious enough for supporters to believe it too. He is already a decent keeper but Almunia could be even better if his confidence allowed him to be. We might even see that he's better than Schwarzer or Given if we're prepared to.
Great article. I couldn't agree with it more. Some fans need to stop thinking they know better than AW and get behind the team. As LD has said, judge the team at the end of the season, not now. I think Almunia could be a trophy winning keeper, keepers can improve well in to their 30s. We've made a solid start to the season and Koscielny and Chamakh look like good signings so i'm feeling more optimistic than I have for a while.
Eboue was in a poor run of form at the beginning of that season, but he had been injured for 6-8 weeks prior tot eh Wigan game. You could question the manager for throwing him in on the left wing, but Eboue came on because Nasri was injured. It ws early in the game and Wilshere was on the bench, so he could have brought him on. But this was nearly two years ago and Wilshere still looks raw now, I understand why he put Eboue on. Though it being a home game against someone like Wigan, you could make an argument for putting Wilshere on on the left. As for Given, never been convinced by the guy and Citeh's game at Stoke in the Cup last season should be all the evidence we need that Given is no improvement on Almunia.
Little Dutch
Eboue couldn't have been in that bad a form in the games leading up to the Wigan incident - he hadn't played for 6 weeks before coming on as a sub in that game. The whole team were playing poorly Eboue was just the easier target.
I honestly get the contention that we culd do with a better keeper, it's not mystifying. But I can't get on board with a blanket statement like "we'll never win a trophy with him in goal." It just doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny. When we won the F.A. Cup in 2005, Almunia played in every round bar the Final. In the 2002 F.A. Cup Richard Wright played every round bar the Final. In the 2007 Carling Cup, Almunia played in every round and, though we didn't win it, neither of the goals Chelsea scored in the final were down to him. Lukic wasn't an amazing keeper and we won the league with him in 89. Being part of the 89 team has glossed Lukic's memory somewhat, but people forget Lukic was also our no.1 goalie in the mid 80s too.
Little Dutch
Amos > I'm not bothered about Schwarzer. I do think he is a SLIGHT improvement on Almunia, but he was never really at the top of my ' wish list '. If you are being honest, and LD, you will both admit that when the final whistle went against Fulham back in may, your first words were ' I bet a new keeper is first in this summer '. As I have stated before, I didn't want AW throwing shed loads of cash around. However, I did want him to march confidently into the transfer market and say " Right, I'm having him ! ". Job done, new GK to strengthen our team. Almunia, at times, I can JUST about live with. But Fabianski as back up ???? Fetch me my pills ! Amos, even someone as intelligent as you could NEVER argue a case for Fabianski surely.
Cockney Rich
We also won the league in 2002 with Richard Wright and Stuart Taylor playing for more than half the season between them. Have we seen enough of Fabianski to be sure he won't be a good keeper? Before the Porto game most were crying out for him to get a chance - so in the space of what was it - 5 games? Should we now write him off as a no-hoper? Maybe we should but I'm pretty sure you could find a 5 or 6 game sequence in most keepers careers which wouldn't allow any more confidence than we have in Fabianski.
I won't lie, I thought we'd buy a new keeper. But I always felt the first priority of the team was to sort the defensive aspect of our game out. That's not necessarily just through personnel, the team dynamic needs to be able to shift when necessary so that the likes of Barca, Chelsea and United don't bumrape us on the counter attack quite so joyfully. I wanted to see the midfield busting a gut to get back and play a better pressing game, for the strikers to press defenders, for the team to take pride in a clean sheet even when we're 3-0 up. We've made personnel alterations in defence and time will tell if they are good enough and if the team dynamic has become more versatile. I can't make much of a case for Fab anymore, I think there's a good goalie in there somewhere, but I think it might have been just as well for him to go out on loan, get some games and get his confidence back. I am surprised we have the same 4 keepers, I really expected one of them to at least leave on loan regardless of whether we signed someone or not.
Little Dutch
Teams have won trophies with far worse keepers than Alumnia (not sure about Fabianski ... lol) but it just makes it that little bit harder. I'm coming down on the side of Tim's article, but maybe with one or two reservations. I hate the way Arsenal fans act like babies when things don't happen the way they want them to, we should never ever boo our own players unless they behave like Adebayor, in which case it's entirely justified, but as with the whipping boys, sometimes people who try to fairly and constructively criticise a player are treated like some kind of supporting demon just for pointing out that out of our players is playing very badly. When I criticise Almunia, it's not because I hate him or have some perverse need to moan about at least one of our players (And yes I do know we have fans like that) it's because I believe, he is just not very good. I hope to god he has the season of his life (as I do with all Arsenal players every year) but at his age, and considering his misicule improvements he's made since he's been here, I'm not massively confident. But the window is shut and we have to get behind him, because anything else will just make matters worse.
Fair point oh the 4 GK's LD. I really thought that a loan deal for Mannone was on the cards to a decent Championship side. I was torn between loaning Szczesny out as well, or keeping him to allow him time training in and around the first team on a daily basis. The frightening thought is that maybe no Championship or League 1 managers considered Mannone good enough, and therefore never approached us ! I honestly thought that AW calling Szczesny back from Brentford meant that we would sell Fabianski. Maybe january will see at least one 'keeper leaving us.
Cockney Rich
As much as I am close to outrage that we didn't sign a keeper (especially Given) and I'm gonna wear an expression approximating to that of someone chewing a wasp when I next see Manuel Almunia wear our gloves, I absolutely ABHOR the booing of your own players. I was very angry at Eboue's disgraceful treatment and if I was standing next to someone heckling our keeper, I'd give them a piece of my mind! I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to see us concede goals to prove a point (ego is right, LD) and personally I'd love it if he went this season without conceding much. Team comes first and although I was very disappointed yesterday, what's not done is not done. It's time to move on and get behind the players wearing our beloved Arsenal shirt.
Criticism of players is a normal part football supporting. We all do it and sometimes players do play atrociously badly - but at times we tend to focus general disenchantment with the team onto a single simple perceived failing and magnify that failing beyond any rational consideration. Demonising supporters for offering their criticisms doesn't really happen - at least not anymore than those supporting the club uncritically are demonised - those that set up facebook pages claiming Almunia is 'the worst keeper ever for Arsenal' and/or take part in orchestrated booing creating a hostile environment in our own stadium towards our own players and team shouldn't pass by without being told that it isn't very bright to do so though.
I think if Almunia can use Saturday as a starting point and work from there he could get us through the season. He looks pretty determind against Blackburn, it was pleasing to see. As with the comments of others though, it's not seeing Almunia in goal that's the worry, it's now that the window is shut and we didn't sign anyone, it wold be NOT seeing him in goal which scares the bejesus out of me.
"Demonising supporters for offering their criticisms doesn't really happen" - I think it does. Some Arsenal fans are infinitly more positive than others, and they have spent so much time defending the team against unrational idiots like you'll find on Le-Grove, that it's become ingrained into them so that anyone criticising anything is automatically from the same mould. I'd like to think that my criticism of Almunia is based from what I've seen on the pitch, I'll give credit where credit is due (as I did last Saturday) but I'm not going to hold off on saying he made a mistake simply because other people are getting on his back.
I really feel the most critical thing we need to focus on is how we collectively defend as a team. I haven't seen much of Valdes in Barca's goal (but he's Spain's number three I think), but I'm pretty sure that if you put him in Arsenal's team, it won't necessarily make us into a trophy-winning side. Every goalie makes a howler; it's the nature of their role that their mistakes are often costly. Our losses against Man Utd and Chelsea at home last season weren't to do with Almunia. As we all know, those teams just ripped us apart in the outfield. Same with Barca - in fact, if it wasn't for Almunia we'd have been 4-0 down at half-time.
LD agree, but as always it will be the boss if we lose a few games. I too thought perhaps we would have a new GK; but were there any on offer who would have been available better than the one we have? I too remember the comments on Ces being not suitable for captain, yet within two seasons everyone crying for him not to leave us. I got angry last year at our performance against the scum, because all I want to see is effort. I really think with more generosity Swiss Tony could have made it, but the fans put him to the sword. The tears of fans about us not winning a trophy for five years is crap. Twice during that time we could have without the injuries have won two/four bits of silver. We came within a whisker of winning Carling and CL (both of those games laying with ten men. The trouble is the fans of Arsenal today are spoilt. My father was spoilt during the 30's by the Arsenal team. This year as in every-year I've supported the team, (over 63 years) I know we will win. I can’t wait to pick up my winnings from the bookies. Go you gunners.
I think Almunia is an ok keeper just not good enough to be Arsenals number one. I dont think over a season he will win you points like a Hart, Lloris etc. Before someone says what is cosnidered to be good enough for Arsenal i think you have to compare our keeper to those of similar sized/ambitious clubs. I think VDS at United, Cech at Chelsea, Reina at Liverpool, Hart at City, Casillas at Madrid, Valdes at Barcelona, Cesar at Inter, Buffon at Juve, Lloris at Lyon are all considerably better than Almunia. That is the kind of goal keeper a club like ours needs and deserves
If there is a tendency to lump all dissenters into a LeGrover category than it's no greater than any positive view is enough to qualify as an AKB. The tendency to do either is much the same as the tendency to take player criticism (or uncritical faith I suppose) to an absurdly extreme degree.
David Seaman said: "Both Almunia and Fabianski did not end last season well. "They both made mistakes in high-profile games that effectively cost them the chance of some silverware."It means if the quality of someone like Mark Schwarzer becomes available, then Arsene needs to look at him."He is a great player, tried and tested and can make saves that win you games. He is a world-class goalkeeper." And Bob wilson back at the end of April had this to say on the keepers. Who better than Seaman & Wilson to comment on Arsenal keepers
Great article. Diably does give the ball away too much and sometimes in dangerous situations. Having been picked by "Mad Ray" in the WC, some might not tear straight into him though. All in all these fans would always find something to moan about; they seem to think that because we won a few things a few years ago that we should be swatting aside ManU and Chelsea every week. Makes me think they haven't been gooners for very long.
LD you said "The point of the article is that Arsenal fans have made a habit of targetting their own players recently and I'm just wondering aloud who will be next." but these actions are not recent, there has always been fans who are critical of their players..maybe because we have a bigger capacity or through the WWW its become more noticable... another point is that i am not a red action member but i dont like the way you seem to target them, at least they are pro active, they get of their butts and try and makes thing happen, like it or not,its a lot more positive than being just another keyboard crusader lastly...ive always maintained that almunia is not good enough for Arsenal, and i have said on this forum that we will not win any silverware with him in goal...this does not mean that i want us to fail,i want him to prove me wrong, and i will always support my team....
I realise they're not recent actions, they go back to the 30s with the likes of Bryn Jones, which I've acknowledged in numerous articles before. I think largely RedAction do some good work, I know they have been incredibly active in the whole 'Arsenalisation' project, both at the Grove and in getting the banners on the North Bank, for which I applaud them and have done so very publicly. My issue is that I feel sometimes their members can be incredibly pious and I don't want anyone to tell me I'm not "a true fan" because I don't stand for the whole game and because I don't sing 'Stand up if you hate Tottenham' or because I don't have the name of a teenage footballer I've never met on the back of my Fly Emirates sandwich board. I'm not a fan of prescribed football supporting. The bating of Song at the Fulham game, emanated very clearly from the Red Section. I do also find something a bit creepy about a special designated day for a player because their Granddad is ill- particularly when those sympathies weren't extended to Almunia in more unfortunate circumstances. So far as that's concerned, I don't think there's anything to be especially pro active about! I don't say that everyone that doesn't rate Almunia wants him to fail, but I think a large section of supporters do- even if only subconsciously.
Little Dutch
As for the keyboard warrior comment, what I offer here is only opinion, not affirmative action. I'm not looking to influence anyone per se, just read it, digest it, offer your comment. I'm not trying to hand down an aspirational blueprint.
Little Dutch
I really don't want to go down the route of arguing about "to boo or not to boo" etc etc This crops up from time to time and I always defend people's rite to do what they want to (within the confines of the law, of course) and I have had long winded debates with most people here about it. from reading some of the comments about how the booing made him a better player or the other a worse player I think the main point is being missed...booing isn't for the players most of the time, it is for the fans and club manager. How else are you to let him know you aren't happy? Write him a sternly worded letter? Fact is, some players (like Eboue) bring on the booing themselves with possible the worst 25 minute cameo in the history of Arsenal football club as well as tackling his own players, diving, cheating and faking injury. he deserved it, he got it and he isn't anywhere near the same player (I am not debating that it changed him, just that he HAS changed). The "red action idiots" that booed Song and Bendtner are also the same that supported Bendtner vociferously when he missed 6 or 7 good chances last season at home to.....? Burnley wasn't it? So they are not all as described and often are happy to support a player giving it 100% even if he's having a shocker of a game. The general reason behind or success or lack of (depends on your view) is the manager. If you don't like Fabianski (I think he's f*****g terrible) don't boo the lad, he doesn't pick himself, let the manager know you are not happy about his, obvious, terrible choice in GK's. Quick mention to Chelsea fans who booed Drogba relentlessly until he stopped cheating so much (he still does, but not to the same extent), it goes to show that a reaction form the fans CAN have a positive impact on what happens on the pitch. Even if that fan reaction isn't a positive one. Look on the bright side, we could of just lost 1-0 at home to the league whipping boys Wigan and seen our players booed off......
Having said all of that though, nothing would work better for Almunia than an extra loud and long cheer for him when his name is read out at the Bolton match. It will give him a nice boost, as like it or not, we're stuck with him so no point making him feel bad about it, that is all down to the manager and backroom staff's inactivety.
yeah its true, they can be up themselves if we dont act accordingly.....personally i cant be bothered to stand up because i hate tottenham....for me i dont give a rats backside about tottenham......yeah i was at fulham,and i was in the middle of red action, and they were booing song,so it seemed was a lot of other supporters, and i did stand up and turn round to my fellow peers and question their logic...alas it fell on death ears... i tell you who needs to question their sanity,it is the D&G brigade on The Herd...jesus if you swallowed what a lot of their members had to say you would believe that we are in a relegation dogfight...some of the "told you so" actually want us to fail...
sorry "deaf"
Good piece.
There is absolutely no point in booing anybody in your team, it is entirely counter-productive and serves only to worsen the predicament of the player. The team will not improve as a result of persecution which seems to be a concept beyond the comprehension of some elements, but it is not a new phenomena. Almunia is our number one keeper now and therefore we must back him unreservedly. It is frustrating, though, that criticism of a player through a forum like this causes such a rebuke, particularly when the club manager itself had identified the position as troublesome. Would anyone deny that we could improve the position of goalkeeper? A primary function of a manager is to identify weaknesses in a team so that appropriate action is taken whether it be to replace the team member, or as is now the case for us, to support the weakness so that they perform to the best of their ability. Any (decent) fan will do this as well, and provided it is done constructively, it is not being unfaithful. I don’t see why this should be construed as “whipping the boy”. Arsene failed to solve the problem so allow people to be disappointed
Sir Henry
well you could argue that he has tried to resolve the problem by making the defense in front of him a better unit
In the season Eboue was booed, he actually started very well as I recall..he played on the left away at bolton, scored, and was man of the match..played very well away at blackburn in the holding role..was also the best player in a terrible performance at fulham..he got injured and returned to a cauldron of hate....great article.......
Anon 1
As an arsenal fan, i want to retract my statement about us winning 5-3 against Bolton with Almunia conceding goals with 10mins to the wnd of the game. It was an act of anger after AW told us he is going to do something about the goalkeeping. He left out Almunia towards the end of last season, replacing hm with Flapyanski which ultimately showed what we have in the bench. The Porto away game, blackburn A, Wigan H and more recently the Legia A game. He has made a big blunder by handling the situation with a 2Million transfer kitty. He could have gone for the Fulham, Villa, Everton, goalkeepers if all he wanted was an EPL goalkeeper or an Akinfeev, Eduardo that were available. I am his supporter but for the first time, he has disappointed me with his transfer stingyness. We paid so much for Arshavin when we needed it, why not for a goalkeeper now? Was Schwarzer his only option? Was he even serious about the situation? Is over exposure to AFC account is hindering us . All he needed to do was identify weak positions, the alternatives out there in ranking and make the changes. We have made profit again this transfer window.
I would agree with you 61NA but if Arsene felt that he had solved the problem by improving the outfield defensive unit then he wouldn’t be looking for a new keeper. Don’t get me wrong, his signings have been entirely appropriate this summer but it’s this last vital square on the board where he has failed. Along with new defenders and a different defensive approach he MAY have done enough, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I didn’t want us to be going into this last season with Cesc wondering whether we can “get away” with a known single point of failure.
Sir Henry
Arseniger, appreciate the fact that you have have retracted your last statement. We have not made a profit this transfer window though the investment into the squad has not been much. Kos - 9 million + Squillaci 4 million + signing on fee of Chamakh maybe 1 million - Sale of Eduardo for 6 million = Investment of 8 million approx.
You really are a bunch of illiterate twa ts
Do you believe? Do you really believe? Or is it just blind faith that makes you arrogant enough to assume you will get a top 4 finish this season? Spurs are gunna get yer, as are Man C!!!
You call us illiterate? What in the name of Satan's portion do the article or 99% of the comments have to do with Spurs, Man Citeh or finishing in the top 4? Get over your inferiority complex. Just because you're obsessed with us, doesn't mean anyone here gives a rat's a-hole about your small club.
Little Dutch
I know Almunia has cost us points. I have been *****ed off with him on numerous occasions, but he isn't as bad as everyone makes out. The number of goals we conceded last season were not because we had a dodgy goalie. It's because we didn't defend well as a team. The goalie is the last line of defence, not the whole unit. I think LD and Amos are spot on. We need people to blame when things go wrong. It's a tale straight from the garden of Eden, it is as inherent to our nature as the tendency to breathe. Someone must be blamed when things go wrong and Almunia is an easy target. People complained about Sagna's crossing, Clichy's rustiness and only ever slightly about Gallas. TV even if he'd skinned his own team-mate and then chipped Almunia was the Golden Boy. In a leaky defence we barely blamed the defenders for being dodgy only the goalie was at fault. You can be disappointed about Wenger not signing a goalie but I don't think Almunia is as terrible as everyone intones and we have missed twin bullets in not signing Schwarzer and Given. They are average goalies who look good in teams that don't or didn't have real quality. At Arsenal they would obviously walk on water because they are not Almunia even they were doubly worse. Szczcny is Arsenal's Number One in waiting. He is the reason we have no new goalie. Support the team and forget about what we didn't do. We will win something with Almunia and unlike LD I'm not diplomatic enough to turn down your wager, Julie. Humble pie tastes bitter sweet.
Mart61, there's a time and place. This isn't it. Why must every conversation turn to how worried we should be about being overtaken? We don't obsess about nonentities and we will not start now. When your team is worthy of thinking about we will discuss it, but that hasn't happened yet nor do I believe it ever will.
I apologise, Julie. It was Jaelle who the wager is for. :)
Top class blog entry! Here is to hoping Almunia proves everyone wrong.
nasri's nostril
Dutch, you are the mutts. Even if one doesn't agree with every word you say one cannot help but be blown away by the way you say it. Your conviction, and your love for our fantastic club shines through. Bless you fella.
the small club thats bigger than you.
gottcha! At least it showed your true colours! Feck off, we will rise you will fall. with an Arseas a manager.... Up your Arse an all
Did you know that this season is the 50th anniversary of the time that Spuds won a title - 50 years! I suppose you must do with a username like yours. A half a century ago! Some big club that! You weren't even a London club when you won it! Still you would have seen the far, far, far more successful London club win it a couple of times at WHL since then - and a few other times elsewhere. Tiny Tots indeed.
OK smart arse, explain,'not aq london club' not that it matters. you are so aware of tottenham history, maybe you would understand why you lot are such a lot of toss ers. I have no idea of when you won the ltitle. BUT, I do know that you ********s should never have been in the football leagues top flight in the first place (check your history(. You are not there by right. you are there cos of some snotty *****! ***** You forever! Lets chat agian after we knock you out of the league cup, beat you *****s in the league and progress further than you in the CL. Anywat, if nothing else, I've wound you up!
What a hoot! You sound as though you have succeeded only in winding yourself up mightily there. Ticking like an alarm clock you are. It's a fact - you weren't a London club when you won the title so very, very long ago now. As for your history you need to do some more research - perhaps get someone to read it up for you. The good thing is that having got here we've stayed here - you've struggled most of the time - relegated a couple of times - even flirting with relegation pretty recently - somewhere amongst that parade of failed managers who've run adrift in that shabby, rundown part of the land that you lot infest. Yeah - lets see if that idle boast you make every season for such a long time is anymore true now than it has been for so, so many years now. Tiny Tots indeed.
strong words there mart...i bet you will have vanished by May,so we wont be able to remind you this day of bravado.....Wigan is only the beginning
I am not saying at all that Eboue was changed by the supporters booing him. What I am saying is that anyone has the right to boo a player who is not running, is intercepting passes to teammates, and is blocking their runs all of which occurred in that game. I was commenting that the fans were won back over to his side after he got his head together and started playing again. Armory - I would strongly suggest that if you do not cringe when you remember his performance that game that you look up a recording as it only sticks in my mind as the worst performance* by a Gunner in the 15 years (yes I am younger than many of you so have not been following as long) I have been a fan. I am not saying he was crap then morphed into gold, just that he had a torrid game that I wish I could forget and many thought that was the end of him in an Arsenal shirt. To those who read my post saying the booing changed him, sorry, not my intention. It was along the lines of I hope that Almunia gets the support this season like Eboue now does. ***Fabianski has had some howlers but overall no game quite that bad. Adebayor was lazily caught offsides on a regular basis but again wasn't as bad in my opinion.
I didn't know there were degrees of 'tragic family bereavement'. Anyhoo, if you pays yer money, you can boo. What sort of prissy, pretentious crap it is to suggest otherwise, and it is nobody's business if you do or don't. Players should accept it or get a real job.
Yeah - you're boys deserved it last weekend lj - none of them would be able to get a real job though.
" are so aware of Tottenham history..." For the umpteenth time Spurs fans, you can't argue "History" with Arsenal supporters, coz you'll end up losing like Wigan at your ground last season, OK? Try something else, like the 5-1 CC thing, whatever, something where you'll come out on top, just not history, coz there youg et so lost in our shadow it's not even funny. And as for awareness of other clubs' history, we're aware that both Forrest and Villa are former European Champions, we're aware that Derby and Huddersfiled (sp?) town are former English top flight champions, and so on. Clearly we aren't bothered by them, are we?
OK smart arse, explain,'not aq london club' not that it matters. you are so aware of tottenham history, maybe you would understand why you lot are such a lot of toss ers. I have no idea of when you won the ltitle. BUT, I do know that you ********s should never have been in the football leagues top flight in the first place (check your history(. You are not there by right. you are there cos of some snotty *****! ***** You forever! Lets chat agian after we knock you out of the league cup, beat you *****s in the league and progress further than you in the CL. Anywat, if nothing else, I've wound you up! Mart61 -- And you called us illiterate? Now run along and play with the other trolls.....
I'd suggest there are degrees of family bereavement in my experience. Besides which, Cesc didn't suffer a bereavement, Almunia did, that was kind of my point Einstein.
Little Dutch
'.....QUITE tragic family bereavement.' Nothing to do with your glum skipper.
You've made a lot of really awful points on this board; that has to be comfortably the worst. THAT was all you could come up with? That was what moved you to comment in the whole piece? Wow, what a lonely man you really are. I wouldn't have bothered. Try changing the emphasis on quite when you read it professor.
Little Dutch
Au contraire... I could come up with more but I do not wish to disabuse your adoring coterie of their conviction, any more than you do when they shower you with unalloyed praise.
"I could come up with more." So what you're saying is, that was your best point? Well thanks for sparing me whatever gold it was that didn't make the cut! "The wise man speaks when he has something to say, the fool speaks when he has to say something."
Little Dutch
Un sarcasme gracieux vaut mille insultes, as your manager might quote.
Our manager could say it in a number of different languages. But however you say it, its still all bollox.
Very patriotic of you to promote the use of french though lj - given that the State opening of Parliament begins in the language - and as it is incorporated in the Royal Coat of Arms of the UK. Our German Queen married as she is to a Greek would be proud that like Arsenal Football Club you are happy to embrace our mixed heritage.
I take it from your response that English is not your first language.
I take it from your responses that Rubbish is yours.
Ignore Amos
I should do really - but you're such an easy target. A bit cruel of me I suppose.
Ignoram......... no, I'll let you work it out.
Are you really that self-obsessed that you've been worrying whether your post was intentionally misunderstood or not? As I said - an easy target. :)
Yeah, I'm dealing with a veritable R.D. Laing
I think you're much too simple for anyone to bother to help.
I feel much better knowing you think that. Almost McMurphy'd.
It's good that you are deriving some benefit from your time here. Pity it's such a bore for everyone else though.
I'm not here, Kierkegaard.
You're not all there either.

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