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February 2013
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What is the Arsenal and what does Arsenal represent.

By Don Don McMahon


This essay on our Arsenal is neither intended to be exhaustive nor definitive. It is my best effort at trying (probably in vain) to paint a faint but pragmatic image of what the Arsenal is for us Gooners. It is a vision of what has been, is and will be.

As a Club it represents an open and tolerant society of members and its history, Footballers, managers, caretakers and fans dedicated to positive and constructive involvement and improvement to the Game we all adore.

As a Football Team it represents principles of fairplay, beautiful Football, restrained ambition, benevolent paternalism,  as well as a familial, unique team spirit based on a democratic and egalitarian model. The team is finely tuned, sometimes overly delicate and certainly injury-prone but valiant, amazingly resilient and capable of regularly beating the best as well as losing to the worst.

As a business it espouses a model of benevolent private ownership structured and managed by caretakers and familial interests. This is based on share values rather than dividends, an emphasis on profitability, sustainable growth and progress, frugality and discipline, and planned reinvestment in facilities such as the Emirates, London Colney and the Medical Centre.

We also do  property development and marketing of our image and goods, albeit barely adequately according to some and certainly able to be increased significantly by all measures.

In its human relations it prefers discretion, unconditional support for its players and staff, an arms-length but responsive relationship with fans and supporters, a firmness about maintaining a positive team attitude and spirit even at the cost of losing some players, a willingness to respect players needs and wishes, despite the consequences that entails.

The Arsenal is NOT racist, xenophobic or sectarian,nor does it endorse or encourage partisanship beyond the accepted limits of civilized behaviour.

We do NOT throw bananas, bagels or baguettes at our players nor do we chant ill-mannered, ghoulish and ignorant ditties, except at our manager or a particularly petrified morsel of deadwood and then only occasionally.

Apparently this is acceptable because we pay the ¨highest¨ticket prices in the EPL according to the ignorant and ill-informed pundits and media so this awards some followers the dubious ¨privilege¨ of denigrating and demeaning our team and its components before the entire world, thus proving what great supporters they are.

It is managed and coached by a group of men who, together, have more expertise, certifications and experience in top-flight professional football in their greying hair than the entire mob of moaning, groaning, whiners who try and tell them how to run the Club based on these people’s marginal Fantasy Football Manager successes.

The manager is the figurehead and icon of the Arsenal and even has a first name that seems taken from the AFC dictionary. His class, elegance, wit, savoir-faire and overall intelligence represents perfectly what the Arsenal is all about. He is tolerant of others, protective of his charges and noble in his treatment of them, to the point of seeming insanity.

When AFC do transfers and negotiations, they are perhaps at their most discrete and secretive. Unlike clubs, whose bottomless resources permit them to announce their targets far and wide, Arsene, Gazidis, the Board and the scouting team rarely if ever offer any solid or specific hints, heads-up or possibilities.

For whatever reason Wenger likes to surprise the supporters and the media and some negotiations have been so protracted, clouded in mystery and confusion and obfuscated that teams wishing to sell to us, even if we don’t want to buy, have taken to making outrageous claims about our supposed intent.

This allows the yellow media and Wenger haters (often one and the same) to latch onto such claims as gospel. We are always in a lose-lose situation with some of our so-called supporters, almost the entire media and certainly other clubs. This, in fact aids and abets Wenger’s approach to all things financial – mystery is good, uncertainty is positive and transparency is for the other guys.

Our future seems more positive than our recent past, with better financial resources, stricter restraints on our competitors financial shenanigans and rapidly improving youth talents, combined with greater access to top class transfers. As well, our world fanbase is growing exponentially and our business management, while still struggling to keep up, seems to be getting the gist of it.

In summary, our club is like an extraordinary collection of miscreants in an extended family. We have the wayward black sheep (whiny supporters), the spoilt siblings, the noble and patient pater familias, the die-hard travellers (away fans), the distant rich uncle (Stan), the creepy ultra-rich uncle (Alisher, who himself recently claimed to have been misquoted in L’Equipe), the faithful clan member (Ivan) , the child prodigies (Walkcott, Ox, Wilshere) and everything in between. That is both the joy and sorrow of the Arsenal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


The books…

The sites…


Others miss, we get one. But still the press moan

By Tony Attwood
It was all a bit of a farce.  Tottenham didn’t get Damião, Everton didn’t get Leroy Fer or  Alvaro Negredo.     Odemwingie tried to do his own transfer deal, and got turned away from QPR, perhaps because he didn’t have the right sort of brown envelope available.
But still the press manage to call our transfer a “solitary foray”.   If it is as good as our last deal with Málaga then Ignacio Nacho Monreal is going to be one hell of a “solitary deal”.

This was window when very few clubs did deals.  Newcastle signed anyone who is French and available, irrespective of quality, largely because they might go down to the second division.  Queens Park Rangers are managed by Arry Redknapp and the Brown Envelope company so anyone moving and carrying the requisite got a job.

But it is interesting that it is being said that the QPR transfers don’t have salary reduction clauses in the contracts if QPR go down.   It will be doubly interesting to see what QPR do this summer, should they hit the drop.

Aston Villa signed no one.  Which will either be a brilliant move if they stay up or suicidal if they go down.

Nacho Monreal.jpg

So, “There’s only one Ignacio Nacho Monreal”  is the new song – or maybe not.  He is a regular Spain international, he is 26, he can cover for  Kieran Gibbs and he isn’t in full back terms André Santos.  Santos was used pre-season in midfield and attack so maybe that was the idea all along.

Monreal signed until 2017 and can also play left midfield, and even left wing.  But we don’t normally play left footed players on the left wing, so perhaps not.

Our new man has played for Spain at youth level, in the under-21s and nine times for the first team where he is a current squad member, and joined wealthy but chaotic Málaga in 2011.  He signed for them  with a five-year contract for €6 million from Osasuna.
In the year in which the club reached the Champions League for the first time he only missed seven games.  He is however unable to play in the Champions League.  This is interesting since Mr Wenger pointedly said that it was difficult to sign anyone because he wanted a Champions League free player.  It was another of those lovely moments where he sends the AAA off in the wrong direction, just for fun.


With or without cheese: welcome Nacho

By Walter Broeckx


People who tried to understand what Wenger said during this transfer window knew that if we would bring in someone it would be player(s) from Spain or Germany. He openly said that those are the two countries with the best youth education system for the moment and that this was the place to search for good players. I think the record of their national teams speaks for itself as both are near or are the top in the last 10 years.


We ended up with a Spanish player who plays for Malaga: Ignacio (Nacho) Monreal Eraso. The Nacho is the commonly used abbreviation from Ignacio. A bit like someone who is named Anthony becomes Tony.


For the sake of if I will call him but his eaten name from now on, sorry nickname and just call him Nacho. After all we are going to be friends in the next seasons so as a friend I can call him Nacho I think.


Nacho is 26 years old and will be 27 later this month. So an early happy birthday to you from my part. He was born in Pamplona in Spain. Pamplona is a city in the Bask region of Spain so people from there will say he is a Bask. In fact we already have one Bask at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta who is born in San Sebastian.


For those not knowing where the Bask region is I can tell you it is in the North West of Spain. That part of Spain between France and Portugal one could say. And to make things more funny I can tell you that Santi Cazorla is not a Bask (as far as I know) but he is from Asturia and this region of Spain is also situated next to the Bask region. So we now have 3 Spanish players and all from the North West of Spain. I don’t know if that helped him for signing up with Arsenal but I think he will have two players from the same region around it so I can imagine they will be helping him to find his way at Arsenal.


And with another Bask around him, with his former team mate around him I can imagine Nacho getting the help he will need to adapt to the PL to live in London and to England.


But we are not here to talk about Spanish regions but let me add that those regions are the rather “cold” regions from Spain. Colder and wetter for Spanish norms of course. So this might help them adapt better to the colder and wetter English climate a bit.


Let us talk about football now. Nacho  is a left back who started his career at Osasuna Pamplona. The first Spanish team I saw live at my local team when it still was playing in the top of Belgium football. Still remember it was 2-2 the final score. And still remember me going to Barcelona on a holiday a few weeks later in September and (sorry to admit it now) going to see Barcelona play in the Spanish league in a home game against…Osasuna Pamplona. Final score … 2-2. Does this mean that my local team was as strong as Barcelona in those days?


He played 5 season for his local team Osasuna and then went off to Malaga in 2011. He started his career at the same time as Santi Cazorla over there. And now joins him at Arsenal a few months after Cazorla. He played 127 games for Osasuna and scored 3 goals in those games. Not a lot but left backs usually don’t score a lot.


He was the regular left back for Malaga also scoring one goal in some 42 games. So every 40 games he will score the odd goal. But his main job is to defend the left flank of course.


He also got 9 selections for the Spanish national team. If you see that players like Arteta, Michu and a few others never were called up for the Spanish team it should mean that he isn’t a bad player at all. Unless of course we think that the Spanish coach is a useless person who knows nothing about football.


At Malaga he and Santi played that well (along with 9 others of course) and so they reached the CL this season. Then their rich owner didn’t stump up the cash anymore and as a result Santi Cazorla came to us. But despite that Malaga still are 4th in the Spanish league and have topped their CL group. A group with AC Milan and Zenith St. Petersburg and Anderlecht. Finish on top of that group is rather good I would think for a team in financial turmoil.


So a player from Malaga and Spain cannot be a bad player. Well that is what I think but what do I know of course.


He should be 1,79 meter big in Spain but somehow when in English he is only 1.78. Did he shrink on the plane? But that is around the same height as Gibbs. More or less.


Of course we wouldn’t be Arsenal if we bought a player that was never mentioned amongst the 80 or so names that were linked to Arsenal. So all the media and the ITK (In The Knows) proved that they know nothing. Could call them ITKN where the last N stands for Nothing.  It also took a lot of time before all the “i” were dotted and so. Much to a desperate twitter world that I was following with amazement.


So a target that was kept under the radar of other clubs till the last minute so nobody could step in and hijack the deal and as a result we don’t know much about him. As he played a Belgium team twice this season and our TV channel paid some attention to Malaga as they played Anderlecht in the CL group (to be honest I didn’t watch them all as I am not interest in Anderlecht at all) and so I could find some people who remembered a bit about him.


Their conclusion was : a skilful player, rather fast, good pass, good crosser and very focussed. One said a typical Arsenal left back. So I think we can expect him to join the attack a bit in a Gibbs way. Not in the Santos way.


About his character I know one thing. I know he is a brave person. I just know it because he signed for Arsenal. Because you have to be brave to come to a club where a part of the supporters is waiting for the first misplaced pass, the first mistakes (and according to the medical he is made from flesh and blood so human) to be torn to pieces by the “it’s never good enough” part of our fans. So he is not just taking the other teams on but also has to take on a part of the fans who are very critical for each and every error.


But Nacho I just want to let you know that there are other supporters. There are may Arsenal supporters out there who want you all the best. Who want you to succeed in your Arsenal career. And we (and I count myself amongst them) will do all we can to help you in your career at Arsenal. We will be cheering you on even when things don’t go your way.


Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for all of us to just support you in making this big and difficult step in your career.


All the best Nacho and a warm welcome to the mighty Gunners from Untold Arsenal.