Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Say it ain't so Thierry...

In a pulsating game last night, France edged out Spain in a four goal thriller. After going down to a David Villa penalty - rightly given against a clumsy Thuram challenge - France, surprisingly it must be said, stuck to it and eventually emerged triumphant. Franck Ribery rounded the keeper, and just put the subsequent side-footed effort past the despairing efforts of two Spanish defenders just before half-time. Good old Paddy then, after a storming game, headed France into the lead, while Zinedine 'have I ever looked under the age of forty' Zidane showed a glimpse of past glories as he superbly finished off a French move in stoppage time.

Zidane was superb, while Paddy showed us that he can still, occasionally, pull out a big game performance. A few more of those in his final season and perhaps he wouldn't have been let go.

Yet Thierry cut a folorn figure for most of the game. Without Trezeguet making space for him, and without any really penetrating passes from Zizou, Tel quickly became isolated and was wasted up front on his own.

It seems France could have bitten the bullet and relied on the future when their qualifying campaign ran into trouble. Instead, Domenech resurrected the past, in a move akin to us re-signing Vieira instead of relying on the youngsters halfway through last season. The result of this is the continued mis-use and underperformances of our Tel for the French. Instead of a new team being built and moulded around Henry, Zidane continues to steal the show and dominate the team, to the detriment of Thierry. Given performances like last night, this could be said to be justifiable, but considering the talents of Tel, one has to wonder if he will ever turn in a truly virtuoso Arsenal-esque performance for France.

Having said that, France are playing so well now, one has to consider them real contenders for the trophy. It seems that a performing Zidane can still carry the French team, even with an underperforming Thierry. Zidane is clearly not finished and is still good enough to drive this team to the final. And I doubt Tel will really care how well he plays on the way there, if he gets to play in the world cup final this time.

Thierry was also at the centre of the most controversial moment of the game. Puyol cut across him and Tel went down, resulting in the free-kick which made France's second goal. It has to be said firstly that it was defintely a foul. Puyol clearly backed into and knocked over Thierry. The guff that Aragones is coming out with about it not even being a foul is rubbish. The real issue is why Thierry covered his face after the foul, in a manner which suggested that Puyol had elbowed him in the face, and hence that Thierry was trying to get Puyol sent off.

I was dissapointed by Thierry's action as, ostensibly, Puyol did not go near Henry's face. But as I said before that does not mean Puyol did not foul Henry, and many players do go down clutching their faces when they're generally injured from a foul. Thierry is not a cheat. If Eboue or Bobby had done something this, I might feel there was something more to it. The subsequent assertion by some news agencies that Tel was living up to his promise to learn 'how to dive' as he said - in a fit of clouded anger - in the aftermath of the CL final is rubbish. At most, I think Tel played up the foul to ensure a free kick. Knowing Thierry from all the times I've watched him, either something has radically changed between the CL final and now or he's speaking the truth in this statement. I believe him, but i hope next time he doesn't play things up as much.

Either way, it ensures that the racist **** that is Luis Aragones is out of the tournament. That alone probably justifies Tel's actions. The need to defeat Aragones and the frustration at his isolation up front probably contributed to the incident.

Spain were rather woeful themselves, but given a formation which makes Sven look like a tactical genius this was hardly surprising. Starting Torres, Raul and Villa up front was ridiculous and was clearly a result of Aragones bottling a decision as to which one he should drop. The midfield of Xavi, Alonso and Fabregas could pass the ball about beautifully, but offered no physicality, bite, or anyone who was really going to win the ball. Near suicide when playing against a French midfield of Makalele and Paddy. Aragones was perhaps forgetting that Cesc's big performance against Juve was conspicuously aided by having Gilbs behind him. Senna should have been at the back of the midfield, and Fab should only have been included at the expense of Alonso or Xavi.

France beating Spain is still, despite Anti's vision, a shock to me and it seems that yet again Spain have bottled a great chance to make real progress in a major competition. Having said that, at the next Euro Championships they'll be a major force due to the youth of the team. One wonders what the future of the French team will be, post Zidane, Makalele and Thuram and with players such as Vieira entering real decline.

France may be sacrificing the chance to build for the future in order to give themselves a real chance in this competition. The results of this gamble will probably not be seen until the next major championships, but for now it seems to be working.



DB10 said...

To be honest I thought it was a bit off of Henry to act like he was elbowed, but then I said to myself 'fuck it - puyol kicked him all over the place in paris, and aragones called him a black shit'

In the end maybe Henry did make a meal of this one, but we know he's not that sort of player and I think extreme circumstances made him call for extreme solutions.

Up the gunners.

legrandesaucisse said...

Don't you feel gutted that he did it though? Amongst all the Robbens, Van Nistlerooys, Drogbas, Pires' etc etc of this world I genuinely respected Henry for his fair play and thats why he is so respected (apart from being the best striker in the world). He just seemed to be the last player I would expect to do it. Seems a shame but Aragones deserved some retribution absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Do not like player diving,whoever it is.Inexcussable.You hit the nail right on the head with your comment about that clueless cunt that is domenech. Why RE quality players like micoud(werder) and rothen not in the team. Coupet is top five goalkeeper in the world yet is still behind barthez. What is this the 2002 world cup revival show!

Goonerboy said...

Have to agree with the comments. I must say that my near unconditional love for Thierry has blinded me somewhat in this issue. He shouldn't have done what he did, but 1)There was some justification 2) I hope he realises not to do it again.

Domenech is the luckiest coach in the competition. He actually looked amazed when Vieira scored last night, as if he hadn't been mentally prepared for victory.

And what Barthez is still doing in the team only he knows.

Anonymous said...

How the fuck was that a penalty, he went down as if Thuram had stuck a knife in his back. The Spanish were cheating all night so I thought it was smart of Henry to do what he did.

Anonymous said...

How can you say you believe TH and then say I hope he doesn't do it again?
We have all seen the replays. At best it was a minor tussle.
Unfortunately he will always be remembered for this.
We expect better of the Arsenal captain.

Goonerboy said...

I can say I believe that TH wasn't diving, I don't believe that he didn't play it up to get a greater advantage. There was contact and it was a foul.

As for the pen - Thuram stamped on the back of his ankle in front of the ref. Penalty.

Anonymous said...

as you point out, wasnt a dive as he was fouled, but it was still cheating as he was trying to get puyol carded. for all the reasons posted above you can understand why he did it, but we really shouldnt try to justify cheating. i think it was a moment of madness that was quite out of the ordinary and is forgivable, but lets not say its OK because then have no right to rinse drogba, robben and van nistelrooy, etc.

Anonymous said...

'many players do go down clutching their faces when they're generally injured from a foul'

From personal experence I can tell that if you get kicked in the balls you don't hold your head!

Anonymous said...

Two things I'd like to say:
(1) Henry did not dive, he perhaps over-reacted but if you watch replays he is clearly fouled. There are tons of players who have done the exact same thing (some even to win penalties) and yet you do not hear any criticism of them - Joe Cole versus Sweden for instance?
(2) WHY NOT criticise the English players who dive?? Gerrard? Joe Cole? John Terry? Even Rooney sometimes?? When Gerrard tripped over a defender and was given a penalty in the friendly, he was called 'intelligent' for drawing the foul.. so why can't we call Henry intelligent here??? And this is Henry's first time!!!!! How about Joe Cole who dives 2-3 times a match!?

Anonymous said...

Some people have tried to justify Henry by the actions of a bunch of mafia funded chavs. What they seem to forget that WE ARE ARSENAL.

Anonymous said...

What comes around comes around..nice one tel.. thanks Puyal u ugly c..t for fouling tel..those bastards kicked us all over the field in the c.l final...remember? cbreeze norway:)

Anonymous said...

Amazing how ignorant you all are. And continue to be so. He was never called a 'black shit'. The only people who could possibly believe this are the self-interested (i.e. people who want an axe to grind before, say, a Spain-England friendly, or a later match involving Henry and Aragones) or those completely ignorant of the Spanish language.

And yet it persists to this day. You all make me sick, defending what was one of the lowliest examples of simulation and gamesmanship in this world cup, and then trying to justify it with an ignorantly self-righteous stance about a supposed racist comment that never took place. Sickening.

Goonerboy said...

Er, it did take place. Please enlighten us with your Spanish language skills if you know better.

Anonymous said...


In Romance languages articles and adjectives can stand alone, and thus take on the qualities of a noun, unlike in English where this is grammatically incorrect. A quick example, in Spanish you can say "El azul es mío." whereas in English you cannot say "The blue is mine." The inclusion of a noun or pronoun, usually the pronoun 'one' is needed to make the sentence correct. Thus you'd have the sentence, "The blue one is mine."

Now, his exact words as spoken in Spanish were, "Reyes, eres mejor que ese negro de mierda." And many interested parties, without stopping to think about it, translated it as 'black shit'. Meaning that the word black is the qualifying adjective, describing the noun shit.

This is summarily incorrect. "Negro", as used in that sentence, is not an adjective but a noun, and stands by itself for reasons I explained in the first paragraph. Meaning that the correct translation of that sentence is 'Reyes, you are better than that shitty black (guy/player/whatever noun you want to insert).'

Some of you will probably shrug it off as being of no difference, but there is a massive difference between calling someone a "black shit" (which in spanish would be 'mierda negra') than there is calling someone a 'shitty black player', because in the second instance he is refering to a shitty player who happens to be black. This, 'de mierda', is an expression used in Spanish all the time: atasco de mierda, mando de mierda, etc, as an emphasizer, yes, with generally negative connotations, but certainly not racist. The translation of those phrases I just read would be 'shitty traffic jam' or 'shitty remote control', and never 'remote controlled shit'.

Also found it funny how almost 2 years later certain people and papers keep railing on about this when a few days after the incident, players such as Finidi, Eto'o, Jones, and Mendoza, came out saying how laughable it all was. But that was hushed up quite nicely by The Sun and co.

You can accuse of him being poorly spoken, choosing his words poorly, or whatever, but of racism, never.

Anonymous said...

It begs to ask, why reference that he's black. It was obviously an important enough distinction for him that he noted it. All Aragones needed to do was apologize for hs poor choice of words. Instead, he poured fuel to the fire. Apologists like you strike me as a curious supporter of the distinction.

Anonymous said...

But the fact is no player got sent off, nor penalty given. It just one harmless freekick which Spanish team fail to defend and Aragones use the freekick as a reason which are completely ridiculous.

We Gooners should stand up for our man more often, i don't see any Scousers ranting about Gerrard's dive during England WCQ campaign, because the fact is both (Henry and Gerrard) are not a cheat. It just happen.

Anonymous said...

Actually he did apologize both publicly and privately through Reyes. And he showed himself to be more of a man than the diving, cheating, lying Henry. How would you react if you were painted as a racist and made to apologize, because of the disgusting British tabloid press pressure, for a non-existant racist comment? Time to find smaller horses eh