Monday, 30 April 2012


I suppose I should mention tonight’s much hyped ‘showdown’ between the two Manchester Clubs. It’s a big game of course and in the last twenty odd years of the Premier league there have been a few of these games, generally involving Manchester United. Chelsea and Blackburn have been involved as have Newcastle but in all honesty there have never been any games that come close to those great clashes between Arsenal & Manchester United.

The intensity and quality of those games were always something to behold, for both clubs. Vieira v Keane, Ljungberg and Giggs, Henry and Van Nistelrooy, Keown & Campbell, Staam & Ferdinand, Wright v Schmeichel, Dennis and Cantona. So many great games and great memories; even reflecting on the games we lost I have to say those games were simply unmissable.
Punch ups and Pizza, amazing goals and contentious decisions, managerial mind games and misdemeanours. Oh how I miss those days.

Coming back to tonight I have never had any antipathy towards Manchester City and still don’t in terms of the club and fans as a whole, however what I would say is that the story of the current Man City challenge is perhaps a timely reminder of the nature of the modern game and the effects of money upon it.

The blueprint was laid down when Abramovich arrived at Chelsea with this impressive CV:

Allegations of blackmail
Allegations of Bribes
Allegations of illegal share-dilution
Arrest for theft
Allegations of loan-fraud
Antitrust law violation in Russia

Don’t get me wrong, it is naïve to think that anyone with the wealth of Abramovich would be squeaky clean, never the less this plutocrat changed things by bankrolling Chelsea so that they turned from a team in blue from a big city who where in the shadow of neighbors in red, to being League winners.

Perhaps then Arsenal Vice-Chairman David Dein summed it up best when he said "Roman Abramovich has parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and is firing 50 pound notes at us"

The same financial impetus arrived at Manchester City, courtesy of Sheikh Mansour, and we have seen another team in blue from a big city who where in the shadow of neighbors in red, becoming League contenders.

The thing that irks somewhat about Man city is that they seem to make allowances for players that smack of a lack of sense and decorum. The tolerance of Balotelli’s oafish behaviour and the allowances made of Tevez, the bickering between team mates and the petulance of players during substitutions all point towards a culture of Big time Charlies. Similar perhaps to Chelsea when Mourinho left. Add to the mix Nasri, who ill advisedly criticised the Arsenal supporters, Adebayor and his antics and you have a club that have become somewhat unlikable. Should they win the League rather than Man Utd I won’t really care if I’m honest. More of a concern would be that it proves once again that money talks and it talks loudly in this league. Arsenal are the quiet ones of the big clubs and maybe we need to clear our throats over the summer and start shouting.

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