Saturday, March 11, 2006

By God that Pardew's wrong! Arsenal and Foreign players.

Yes, the oh so Englishman with the French surname - Pardew is clearly a corruption of Par Dieu 'by God' as East Lower pointed out - deigns himself fit to critique Le Boss.

Wenger's staunch rebuttal made me proud to be a gooner. It also made me laugh when he pointed out that Pardew wasn't too concerned about nationality when he took out Aliadiere on loan. Perhaps the reason he then refused to play him was because he realised he was French when he turned up. Or maybe he saw him play....

Arsene posited a sharply informed view of the problems of European integration as a whole. We can't have rules that are supposedly there to work towards greater European unity and freedom of trade, and then complain when Europeans come here and work.

In many ways the whole issue of European players in English football mirrors the affirmative action problems in the US: should Arsene pick the best players he can, or should he favour English players for purely nationalistic reasons? Arsene's answer is simple and correct: he only ever picks the best players he can for the team, regardless of their passport. It seems ludicrous to suggest that we should judge whether a player should play for our club on the basis of their nationality. Is Pardew et al. suggesting we should play weakened teams to help out the national team? How will it really help English players develop if they are given an unwarranted leg up? The current national team is the best I've seen since 1990. If anything, I would suggest, the increased competition for places from foreigners has meant that the calibre of English players playing for top level clubs has improved. For instance, I'm sure Joe Cole has vastly improved due to the standard of players around him - mostly foreign- and the coaching of his present manager - Portugese. How will it help top level English players if their domestic team mates are there primarily by virtue of nationality, not ability? The increase in foreign players in the premiership has, therefore, improved the standard of our national team.

Arsene doesn't have - contrary to what the insinuation of the attacks on him seem to be - some form of evil masterplan to drive English players out of the club and/or destroy the national team. If Arsene feels a player an English player is good enough for the club he plays them. If fit Ash would have played against Madrid; if not for his plethora of problems so would have Sol. Now imagine if Chelsea had Terry and Lampard injured: they would probably have only Joe Cole starting, and that's not a given. I wonder if they would they have been criticised in a similar manner. Arsene has just paid up to £12m for a 16 year old Englishman? Why? because he recognises him as a great talent. That Walcott is English is inconsequential.

Also, one can perhaps forgive Arsene for not trusting English players. He took a gamble on a young Jermaine Pennant: he refused to act in a professional manner and was hence sold. Did you see Senderos mouthing off in the press, drinking, and generally causing trouble when he was dropped? No. He took it like a professional and he's beginning to become a rock again. David Bentley? Good, but I agree with the sale - he never showed enough to covince me he was Arsenal quality. That Arsene took a similar decision with Quincy at the same time was glossed over by Arsene's detractors, who chose to mould the Bentley decision into this ridiculous anti-English agenda Arsene supposedly has. Also - remember Franny Jeffers?

I see Pardew has backtracked a bit this morning, which I'm pleased about. Maybe he'll choose his words a bit more carefully next time. I have a lot of respect for what he's done at West Ham, but he should not criticise a fellow manager in this way.

The Arsenal Football Club is not England, does not field mainly English players, but it is an English club. It is based in London. It has overwhelmingly English supporters. At a board level, it is run mainly by Englishmen. It has recently pumped money into the redevelopment of Islington, and has built a new ground that will significantly bolster the London, and hence national, economy. It has a superb youth academy which produces swathes of English players. Some we keep; some we don't. But, last time i looked, David Bentley did not cease to exist when we sold him. Only he, Pennant, and the other young English players we let go can show whether Arsene did the right thing. Arsene did not let these players go because they were English - he let them go because he felt they were not good enough for the club.

English footballers will always arrive at our club of sufficient quality to make it as first team regulars, who will also hopefully go on to play for England. The hightened standard of play they will enjoy due to the foreign influence in the club will improve the standard of their game, benefitting English football .

I'm proud to support a multi-national team that is based in London. We are an English club with players of diverse origins. Consequently we have fans all over the world. Why is that a bad thing?

In future, I would hope individuals choose their words more carefully, and put more thought into their comments, before they try to belittle the achievements of our club.


Anonymous said...

You have it all right. I'm an Arsenal fan from Los Angeles, Ca. and I saw this sort of provincial thinking up close. I grew up watching mostly Mexican League soccer. Chivas of Guadalajara, while generally not the most successful team in the league, is still arguably the most beloved because of their staunchly anti-foreigner stance. I guess Chivas, or in this case a small-minded team like West Ham, would rather be liked by the ultra-nationals than be successful and cosmopolitan club like Arsenal or America of Mexico City.

I add that I support the shirt and not necessarily the guy behind that shirt (wherever he's from).

Goonerboy said...

Thanks for the post.

Another example is Athletico Bilbao who only field Catalonian players. The obvious comparison is with Barcelona. It's interesting that this has happened in a very fiercely nationalistic area of Europe.

I think its slightly anachronistic to expect top level clubs to field teams that are mainly of the home nationality of the club. I would like Arsenal to have one or two English players as first choice: but only if they are good enough for the team. I'd love Kerry Gilbert to come through, as he's looked so promising thusfar, but only if he is the best out of him Eboue and Lauren.

I always support the players, unless they've done something truly reprehensible, but you're right - you support the club first.

Ian Grant made some very good comments about all of this on ANR today:

'Following the furore, if you can call it that, over the lack of English players in the Arsenal team on Wednesday, the proponents should be reminded several Premiership clubs including Chelsea and Man U aren't English owned. And at the end of the day, the power and the money which runs the team lies with the owners.

Pardew should also focus on where some of the money came from to buy some of his players.'

Anonymous said...

Athletico Bilbao = Basque

Goonerboy said...

What's the Catalan team I'm talking about then? Or is it that Bilbao only play BAsque players?

Goonerboy said...

Yes, it is Bilbao, and it is only Basque players.

Anonymous said...

No, Wenger only fields Black forign players, so dont get your hopes up about him fielding Kerry Gilbert too soon pal. In a recent Premiership game, Wenger took 16 players too the game.....not ONE of them was British. There is something wrong there. In my eyes, Wenger is anti English and doing it on purpose. Get him out. It emmbarresses me, Im glad Pardew had the guts to say that in this Politically Correct world of ours.