Category Archives: Arsenal
Saying that he was bored to death after watching the Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea match, local football fan decided that he wants all teams to play attacking football all the time. He said that his decision was largely influenced by how Chelsea ‘parked the bus’ for the entire game and didn’t let Atletico Madrid score a single goal, thereby gaining a very valuable draw in the away leg of the Champions League Semi Final.
“I cannot imagine how bad the game was. It was like watching paint dry. Chelsea just parked the bus and did not let Atleti to create any clear cut chances! They just could not breach Chelsea’s defense! That is just simply unacceptable from Chelsea! They should not be allowed to do that!” he said while expressing outrage about the scoreless draw.
The football fan now wants all teams to be required to play attacking football because “that is what is most entertaining and creates a lot of goals!”.
“It is not right to play a defensive game even if the team is playing away from home. Always attack attack attack!”
The self proclaimed Bayern Munich fan then went on to give examples of clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich who generally have a lot of possession and are always shown to be attacking the ball. “I was always supporting Barcelona. They were my passion. But then after last season’s semi final when they lost 8-0 on aggregate to Bayern Munich, I just started getting attracted to Bayern somehow. Now I just support Bayern. They are the best team in the world because they keep playing attacking football all the time! It is real great to watch them.” Digressing from the topic a bit, he then went on to criticize how fans who previously supported Chelsea changed their allegiance to Man City after City started spending and winning more titles.
When asked to elaborate about why all teams should play the same style of football, he said “I mean, who wants to watch teams with different styles of football and hailing from different football cultures – aerially dominating, long ball tactics, physical game play, counter attacking tactics, extremely defensive formations stifling the opponent’s attack, parking the bus – pitted against each other? Really, who wants to watch those styles of play going up against each other? All I want to see is two possession based teams who pass the ball a lot and create opportunities from through balls or cut-ins. Everything else is just boring!”
He went a step further and said that the players should not feel proud if they win by playing any other style of football and that if a free-passing team such as Bayern Munich or Barcelona loses, they should always feel proud of sticking to their brand of football. “Take the Barcelona – Chelsea semi final 2nd leg at the Nou Camp in 2012. I am sure that at the end of the day, all Barcelona players and fans were celebrating with pride how they never abandoned their philosophy and played with it right to the end of them getting knocked out! Never mind the fact that with practically 100% possession in the second half, Barcelona were able to generate only ONE meaningful shot on target with those tactics. I am just proud that they kept maintaining possession and passing the ball around aimlessly while Chelsea did not give them even an inch of space for a through ball. Chelsea do not deserve any credit for their performance that day at all – even if it was with ten men”.
Among recent games, he pointed to the way Arsenal lost 6-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. “Hats off to Arsenal for not at all changing any of their tactics or style of football while playing away against a top counter attacking team in all of Europe! Arsene Wenger deserves a lot of credit for sticking with his attacking free flowing possession based football away from home against Chelsea. The final score line doesn’t matter at all! The important thing is that Arsenal did not stop playing their brand of football right to the end. I am sure that all Arsenal players and fans were extremely proud about that and celebrated like they won a trophy or something!”
In the end, the fan said that tactics do not mean anything if it does not involve free flowing attacking football. “The only tactics that makes a game good to watch are those that get employed in a possession based attacking game. Everything else is just simply unacceptable. Shame on all the teams who employ other tactics to beat possession based attack minded teams! If you want to beat them, beat them with free passing tiki-taka football which is very impressive to watch. Otherwise, just don’t play and bore us with defensive displays stifling even the best attacking teams in Europe! That is just unacceptable!”
Being half way around the planet from all the NaMo and RaGa and MaBa and ArKe waves during the election campaign, I have had little to no direct exposure to the ground realities in India. All my ‘information’ came from Facebook status messages, newspaper headlines quoting politicians out of context, memes, satire posts on Faking News and some input from my parents who are seeing all this first hand in Bangalore. So in order to get real information, I have had to make additional effort to look through the biased media, read a very long list of ‘expert’ opinions on both sides of the story, find compilation of statistics on so many issues that are being debated and of course, frame my own opinion at the end. In any case, the general gist of what I am hearing is this:
There is this NaMo dude who is the Uber Dude and who is expected to simply win the next election. Then there is RaGa who is going all out to let people know he has an IQ less than Timmy. New kid on the block ArKe is trying all in his power to just play spoilsport. Didi MaBa just wants to run for elections. The Left parties – wait, do they still exist?
The common thread running through all the bits and pieces of information I am getting is not regarding RaGa, ArKe or Didi. It is almost exclusively about NaMo. But before I get to that, a little bit of football.
When I started watching football, it took me a while to start supporting Chelsea. Everyone around me was either a Manchester United fan or an Arsenal fan. The Arsenal fans were mostly proud of the whole ‘youth development’ ideal that the club apparently stood for. All good. The Manchester United fans on the other hand were mostly proud of their trophy collection and were generally branded as glory hunters. I get it. Every fan wants the sport team he supports to win trophies on a regular basis. It is a very natural state of mind.
But what was different with United fans was the unquestioned glorification of the club and everything associated with it. Most of the fans were convinced that Manchester United was the only true club in England. They would quote the rich history associated with the club and also point to the massive trophy collection. They would also point to one Sir Alex Ferguson as a ruthless winner who would stop at nothing to win trophies – and all the fans were proud of his long tenure at the club. But it didn’t stop there. United was considered to be a team that was beyond criticism. Going a step further, no other team was considered to be a valid team to support. If you were new to football and were still looking for a team to choose to root for, you would be made to believe that you had no choice. You would be made to believe that Man United were the only team worth supporting and it was some kind of a default choice.
United was also the club which had the largest fan base (and still does) in India and Asia. There were definitely reasonable United fans here and there that I have gotten to know over the years but for the most part most of them were just plain cocky about it. They just refused to even entertain the idea that the club was anything less than just the best damn club on the planet. There would never be any admittance of any imperfections in any of the club’s aspects. Nobody could level any amount of criticism without getting a good amount of backlash from its supporters. Moreover, supporters of all other clubs were looked down upon as if they did not deserve to be a fan.
All this inevitably led to a lot of distaste among a lot of fans who supported other clubs – including myself. So much so, that there was a fair amount of hate brewing against United. These people were our friends who we got drunk with and whom I am still in touch with. But the dislike and hate that was brewing was directed more at the club than at the supporters. Sure the schadenfreude that we experienced whenever we saw United lose grew exponentially. But the important thing to note was the strict polarization that Manchester United’s image had created. You either fully embraced it and considered it to be the flawless club ever, or you considered that to be the most vile, cocky, exaggerated, pretentious, falsely publicized, all powerful, corrupt sports organization in the world. There was almost nothing in between. And all this was a creation not of the club. (I am sure the club wouldn’t have wanted it this way). But this big divide was really a creation of the supporters.
And now I see the same exact thing happening with NaMo in India. He is considered untouchable and beyond criticism from the eyes of his supporters. There is so much pro-Modi rhetoric that there seemed to be little that he could not accomplish. He is treated as the solution to all problems. There is not a single ounce of criticism that can be thrown at him without ten counter responses coming from his supporters. (In the eyes of the supporters, they feel they are right because they are offering the statistically proven, reasonable response to a guy who is just making wild accusations against Modi). He is considered to have zero imperfections and his supporters quote the ‘development’ that has taken place in Gujarat over the course of more than a decade as proof of his awesomeness. And just like United fans sing the ‘Glory Glory Man United’ chant, there is now also a NaMo NaMo (and many more apparently) chant/song that all the Modi supporters consider their war cry. There is even a Modi-Brigade that you can join by giving a missed call or something.
All this isolation from criticism, unquestioned glorification of his past achievements and a level of expectations never before associated with an Indian politician have inevitably generated a strong anti-Modi fan base – just like it happened with United. Endless arguments and debates – both online and offline, opinion pieces from every Tom, Dick, Harry and his brother-in-law, articles listing statistics that prove the point each side of the argument is trying to make (never mind that they contradict themselves) – all have contributed heavily to the strong polarization of the Modi image.
You are either a strong supporter and think he is the panacea all Indians have been waiting for, or you think he is the nightmare scenario waiting to happen where he ends up becoming India’s Hitler creating a Hitler Youth organization equivalent and there will be a genocide in his first month in office. The stronger the isolation and glorification, higher is the criticism and hate. Higher the criticism and hate, more is the isolation and glorification. It is like a feedback loop which just feeds one off the other but they both grow in size and content. And just like United, all this is a making of the supporters. Modi for one would have never wanted this divide. Part of it, admittedly, can be attributed to the hate against the UPA Govt and our current impotent PM. But most of the responsibility of this rests on the supporters.
I suppose there is a cut off point beyond which there would be no significant growth of pro-Modi or anti-Modi rhetoric. Perhaps that point will be reached after he is elected PM. Or Not. I for one can only hope that his supporters and haters can get to a more reasonable level of opinion. The worst outcome of this would be an American styled Democrat-Republican divide.
If you have not been able to figure out yet, this post is nothing more than an observation. It is not a criticism, support or judgment of anyone involved – from the politicians to the avid supporters and haters. It is merely a perspective which I have been looking through for a while. A lot of Modi and Man United supporters will inevitably disagree with me and some will even offer detailed explanations of their disagreement which are supposed to be interpreted as their idea of reason. First of all, do check out this thing called the Backfire Effect. Secondly, if you have you gone as far as trying to dispute what I have pointed out, you have already proven my point. So just calm the fuck down and think about it for a while.
In all seriousness, I personally want to see Modi in the PM office and am really curious what this guy is all about. And at this point, I offer no response to speculation or the possibility of a genocide happening in India as a result of his election. But really, considering his competition is a circus clown in a politician’s disguise…..
…well you get it.
When one begins to like and follow a particular sport, the first immediate, important and binding choice that he is forced to make is that of choosing a particular team to root for. Who you decide to root for, however, can and will go a long way in determining your mental state every weekend (and many mid-weeks) for the rest of your existence. Your expectations and aspirations will largely be a function of the team you decide to dedicate all your energy, passion and commitment to – week in week out – for the rest of your life. Not to forget how often you get to win the bragging rights or feel awesome watching THAT look on your friend’s face when his team loses (- very important)! Also to be kept in mind, is that there is strictly no jumping ship, and if you do jump ship, you will forever be treated as an outcast. So you see, making that one choice is perhaps as important , if not more, as choosing your life partner. Well, come to think of it, you can still change your life partner without being treated as an outcast! There is really little doubt that this one decision or choice really does go a long long way in dictating the level of happiness in your life.
When it comes to football (if you are in America, it is still football – the other game is Hand-Egg), the first tournament everyone talks about (and rightfully so) is the Barclays Premier League or the English Premier League – arguably the best league in the world, both in terms of quality of football AND the popularity. And when you first begin to watch the sport and realize you like it so much that you have begun to watch it week in and week out, you also understand that it is now time for you to pick a club to support. And one of the factors strongly influencing that choice is going to be – your friends circle.
Everyone likes to be accepted in their friends circle and nobody likes to be treated as the odd man out. And so, for the most part, any newcomer to the sport almost inevitably ends up choosing the team his friends have been supporting. This facilitates the newcomer to feel one among the crowd, allowing him to share the SAME feelings as the rest of his group – irrespective of whether the team wins or loses. And really, who doesn’t like to belong to a group with similar interests?
And when it comes to the BPL, there are really only so many teams you can support without subscribing to a higher risk of feeling crappy every weekend. As of today, those teams are Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and to some extent Tottenham. Any other team and, as pointed out, you run the risk of feeling depressed every other weekend for the rest of your life. So unless you live in England and near one of those mid-table clubs, or your great great grandfather did, it is highly likely that your friends support one of those few above mentioned clubs. And so will you.
Back in the day when I started watching football regularly (it was early 2003), I was surrounded by people who either supported Arsenal or Manchester United. At that time I tried to find out which club I would perhaps enjoy supporting. During my subsequent conversations with those fans, one thing became fairly clear.
There are many ‘reasons’ that are provided by passionate and over-enthusiastic football fans as to why one should support the club THEY do.
If you spoke to a Manchester United fan, you would learn that he supports the club for its ‘rich history’, great players, great culture of ‘winning trophies’ and also because they had the greatest manager in the world – Sir Alex Ferguson. He will also make sure to point out that United is the only valid club to support – again, for the same reasons – and that other clubs have no history whatsoever. And that this fact, for some reason that is never really mentioned, automatically makes ALL other clubs ‘unfit’ to support. And if you look around, you will find every Tom, Dick and Harry mouthing off self righteous praises in favor of United, completely convinced that all other fans are not supporting a ‘real’ club. Oh! And of course, you will also be subjected to that inevitable chant: “Glory Glory Man United!”
Now if you spoke to an Arsenal fan, you would be subjected to this inevitable lecture on how Arsenal plays the best, most entertaining, free flowing, passing football in the league. And that Arsenal is the only club that follows the sacred philosophy of investing and developing youngsters from their teenage and moulding them into world class stars. You would also be told about a particular Frenchman by name Arsene Wenger and his affinity to get young French teenagers into his squad. You might even get the impression that Arsenal is the proverbial underdog trying to make it big with limited resources. (And in all fairness, it is true to an extent). The Arsenal fan essentially tries to convince you that even though Arsenal does not have the ‘habit’ of winning trophies, it is still the ONLY club fit for supporting because of the way the club is run.
At the end of the day, you have two sets of fans, each supporting either United or Arsenal – and who strongly JUSTIFY why they do so. In all honesty, I haven’t met a single fan so far of either club who has not told me WHY he supports them. And perhaps THAT was the reason I never really developed a liking to either of them. I just could not wrap my head around the idea of having to justify my choice of team to support.
And so, back in early 2003, I never really liked either team, which meant I took turns deciding which team I hated more – United or Arsenal. (In fact, I clearly recall an event back in my Pre-University years (in 2003) when I was asked to participate in a class march which would feature a flag of our own design. And due to the fact that there were more United fans than Arsenal fans in my class, it was decided that the class flag would more or less resemble the Manchester United symbol. When I got to know about this, I simply refused to participate in the march – as a matter of general principle). But I digress.
Going back to 2003, there was this bunch of young lads just going about their business trying to finish as high as possible in the table. A spot in the Champions League was considered to be the target to aim at. And they calmly secured 4th place and eventually did make it to the UCL. These lads wore blue shirts and shorts and they had never heard of anyone by name Roman Abromovich. And neither had I. They just seemed happy playing their football and to have qualified for the Champions League. These young lads played for Chelsea FC and I was just happy supporting them.
When I was asked why I chose to support Chelsea, I realized I didn’t really have an answer. But then, in just a few months time, I would learn that the answer would be forced down upon me – whether it was true or not. And it probably had to do with a certain Russian going by the name of Abromovich who decided to spend a small fortune in building the club.
Sure, along with a billionaire bank rolling the club came good players, managers and even trophies. But the package also inevitably came with a branding. And the branding said that ALL Chelsea fans were ‘the new breed’ who were in existence only because they have a billionaire bank rolling the club’s finances. And then suddenly I was pushed into the tricky situation of having to JUSTIFY why that was NOT true!
Since then, life as a Chelsea fan has been fairly interesting. The Russian has not left and so hasn’t the branding. Sure Manchester City fans now seem to have taken over the spotlight – but I am still told that I am not supporting a ‘REAL club’! There have been a lot of ups and downs but an eventful ride nonetheless.
In my next post, I intend to write about how it has been since. All the arguments about which club is better – both online and offline- along with all the memorable and forgettable moments I had to go through and the subsequent not-so-amicable ‘conversations’ with fans of other clubs. And also more on the short term and long term consequences of the branding. All that in my next post.
Till then, KTBFFH!
Entering his 25th year in charge of Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger has released a statement that he is still trying to find ‘the right players’ to spend his money on. In a statement released to the press, Wenger said:
“It is imperative that I find the right players who will fit into my system of playing. I am ready to spend $30-40 million if I find the right player. The fans want someone who is experienced and proven. So we have been looking for the right player, who is also experienced and proven, for about 10 years now but with not much success. We will continue to look for these players because otherwise there is no point in spending money on players without quality.”
Arsene Wenger, it must be noted, has been looking to strengthen his squad since the 2010-11 season that started the downfall of the club. In spite of selling Fabregas and Nasri for a sum close to $70 million, Arsene Wenger did not make any purchases that summer which eventually lead to the team finishing a dismal 10th in the league. It should be noted that Arsenal are still yet to win a trophy since the FA Cup all those years back in 2005. After the 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford towards the end of that transfer window, Arsene Wenger had maintained his intention to spend money only on the ‘right player.’ Though he did bid for many quality players in this time, all his bids were in the range of $ 5-12 million, which does not seem to have worked even once so far. It appears that Mr. Wenger is a very strong willed human being as he continues to believe in that philosophy to this day.
Ever since Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left the club for greener pastures (read more trophy winning probabilities), there has been a steady outflux of budding stars in their early twenties heading out to different clubs every year. All of them appeared to have developed the intention and desire to win trophies at some stage in their Arsenal career and refused to sign contract extensions, thus forcing Wenger to sell them.
The list of people who have left the Arsenal ranks, since 2010, after spending their teenage years under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger is pretty impressive. Theo Walcott, Van Persie, Alex Song are among many others who have left the club in the past 10 years. In fact, players like Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere, Frimpong etc, who were just in their late teens and still learning the nuances of the game then, developed into star players under Arsene Wenger. They also left the club after they realized themselves that they were star players.
In all those years, Arsene Wenger continued to spend money on young teenage strikers and groomed them to become star forwards. As of July 2020, Arsene Wenger has signed a total of 58 teenage strikers since that 2010-11 season. 54 of these strikers have now matured into world class strikers and attacking midfielders and have moved on to different clubs and have won many trophies. Of the grand total of 4 defenders he had signed in the same period, all of them have left the club. Arsene Wenger has not signed a single goalkeeper in that same period. Wojciech Szczęsny continues to be the first choice goalkeeper today.
There have been a few significant consequences due to this continuing phenomenon at Arsenal FC.
First of all, Arsene Wenger was awarded a special Lifetime achievement award by UEFA for “spotting and nurturing young talent and then grooming them to become world class stars.” Michel Platini (yes, he is still the UEFA President), the UEFA President, had awarded the trophy to Wenger in a special ceremony that also felicitated Sir Alex Ferguson with the “Manager-who-has-served-at-a-single-club-so-long-that-nobody-remembers-when-he-first-started” award. Arsene Wenger accepted the award declaring his desire to continue running the club exactly the same way in the future too.
Secondly, Arsenal FC has been awarded the title of the Best Feeder Club in the history of Club Football. This award was constituted by all the teams who have directly benefitted from the continuous supply of world class players coming out of Arsenal with a desire to win trophies. A complete list of the teams essentially includes all trophy winning teams in the past 10 years from England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. It should be noted that some of the Arsenal players left the club to join Championship clubs, Segunda division or Serie B clubs in order to win trophies. All have been successful.
Thirdly, Arsene Wenger recently declared that, as a result of continued selling over the past decade, his available transfer budget currently stands at about $ 780 million. As revealed earlier, he has made many bids in the range of $5-12 million for what he considers as quality players, but none of them have been successful. In fact, on the few occasions that Mr. Wenger has indeed bid in excess of $30 million for players, all the players immediately signed a contract extension with their club as they believed that they had a better chance to win trophies at their own clubs than at Arsenal.
Later in the day, when Mr. Wenger was talking to reporters, he was asked what exactly constituted his ‘right player’. He responded:
“You see its not just about the ability of the player to adapt to and understand my style of playing. He also needs to have the right attitude. For instance, I cannot spend money on players who want to come to Arsenal to win trophies. That is out of the question. That is why I sign a lot of teenagers – because they do not yet have a sense of success with trophies. I get to groom them to stay that way so that they stick around when they become star players. But nowadays, they somehow get to know about winning trophies and want to leave the club.”
“So you see, I am ready to spend a lot of money on players who are good, experienced and more importantly, should not have won any trophies before and should have no intention and ambition whatsoever of winning trophies in the future. Arsenal FC is not a club that aims to win trophies. We just try to play beautiful flowing football. Our fans have understood that perfectly well and have stuck behind us all these years. We are not worried about our fans. They will continue to support us. So right now, we are still looking for that ‘right player’ who satisfies all these criteria. I am sure we will find him someday.”
In a sensational development following Barcelona’s win over Manchester United on Saturday, Michel Platini, the President of UEFA has decided to hand Arsenal a trophy for having been the only team in the Champions League to have beaten Barcelona. Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin had found the net for the Gunners in the first leg against Barcelona after falling behind for a David Villa goal early on. The result meant that Arsenal are the only team in the entire Champions League to have beaten Barcelona in either a home or away match this season. Speaking to reporters at a hurriedly assembled press conference, Platini elaborated on the issue.
“The present Barcelona team are being considered to be the best team to have ever played football. And this season, all the players have been performing at their peak. With this being the situation, it is only fair to show our appreciation to the only team that has beaten Barcelona in Europe this season – Arsenal.”
Platini also said that the trophy would be handed to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal at a special ceremony to mark the occasion sometime early next week.
“This is not exactly a trophy per se. It is more like a plaque in the shape of the words “We Beat Barcelona” and Arsenal at the bottom of the plaque. But it is definitely worth being treated as a trophy. Like I said, beating Barcelona this season has been extremely tough and for a team that did accomplish it, they do deserve it.”
When asked by one of the reporters if this is a fair thing to do, considering that Arsenal had not actually won any tournament as such, Platini responded:
“You are right that way. Arsenal has definitely not won any tournament here.” He paused for a while and said softly, as if to himself, “Damn. That was the most redundant statement I have ever made.” Then he continued, “This trophy or plaque that we are giving them should be considered differently. It is like a posthumous award. Or like an honorary degree. It is like getting inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame AFTER you are dead. It doesn’t count for anything but still we are showing our appreciation of your efforts.”
Arsene Wenger was overjoyed with the announcement. Within minutes of hearing it on TV, he called a big press conference including all major sports journalists of every newspaper in England.
“This is to let the entire football world know that Arsenal has officially ended its trophy drought which has lasted for more than 6 years. This proves that we do have a side that is capable of winning trophies. And we have won this trophy by beating the best team on this planet. That makes this trophy even better. In fact, I would rate this trophy as the best trophy I have ever won in my managerial career. We have created a separate compartment in our trophy cabinet for this special trophy. The players should be really proud of themselves. They have put in a lot of effort into this and it is good to see that in the end it is all paying off.”
“Beating Barcelona was definitely no mean feat. I had to bring in all my experience as a manager who doesn’t win trophies, in order to find a way to beat Barcelona. The boys played a wonderful game. This is such a young team with such inexperience of big games. And for them to win this trophy means a lot to them as well. Even the fans can rest assured now knowing that their beloved team has won a trophy.”
When asked about the comments made by Platini that this was not a real trophy, Wenger replied, “Well, thats just like his opinion. If he knew how hard it is to beat the best team in the world when all their players are performing at their peak, then he would have assigned a trophy even before the season started. It is definitely worth awarding a trophy for being the only team to beat FC Barcelona this season in Europe.”
Cesc Fabregas had even more reason to be happy. He said, “I am extremely happy that we have been awarded this trophy. So now that I have helped Arsenal win a trophy, I hope I will be let go to join Barcelona this summer.”
Barcelona star Lionel Messi also seemed to agree with Platini’s decision to award a trophy to Arsenal. “They play some really entertaining football. And beating us this season has been hard for even the best of teams. And considering how less money was invested in the Arsenal squad, I think it is only fair that they get a trophy for beating us this season.”
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was livid when he heard about the news. “Am I the only one in Europe who thinks this is a stupid idea? How can you award a trophy to a team for winning just one game? Irrespective of who the opponent is? We won a lot more games than Arsenal in the Champions League and if anything, WE should be given a trophy for that. This is completely unfair!”
Another team that was extremely unhappy about the development was the La Liga side Real Sociedad. Real Sociedad happened to be the only other team to have beaten Barcelona this season when they won 2-1 against the reigning European Champions in April. A statement on their website said,
“We at Real Sociedad consider it extremely unfair to not be recognized as the other team to have beaten FC Barcelona this season. Irrespective of whether this is the Champions League or La Liga, Barcelona always play to win with their strongest side. And having defeated Barcelona, we feel that we also deserve a trophy commemorating our achievement. If UEFA does not grant our wishes, we will be taking up this matter with FIFA.”
Investigations into the activities and attitudes of the supporters of one of the largest football clubs in the world – Manchester United – have revealed some disturbing news. Scotland Yard police released a report to the public, minutes after United’s victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford, in which they claim that the fans of the club are all part of a world-wide religious cult. The report brands the club to be an organization which has a strong following all over the world along the lines of any religious cult.
Scotland Yard detective and chief investigator Scott McLean said, “We have found ample evidence and proof that Manchester United is indeed a religious cult which recruits members in a typical cult-like fashion. Once people enter this cult, there is absolutely no way out of there. The existing members of the cult create an environment of severe and intense ridicule and hatred if anyone is trying to leave the cult. This makes it practically impossible for someone to return to normalcy after they have entered this organization.”
Not satisfied with the explanation, reporters asked how such a popular football club can be thought of as a cult organization. Detective McLean elaborated:
“During our investigation, we found that there were a lot of striking similarities between fans of Manchester United FC and all other religious cults. Not only the fans, but also the way the club works is quite similar to that of a religious organization. Let me give you a few examples:”
“First of all, as with every religious cult, there needs to be a God personality. Different religious cults have different personalities, characters or ideas as their God whom they worship single mindedly without asking any question whatsoever about the validity of their God’s actions. Here in Manchester United, it is Sir Alex Ferguson who is worshiped as the supreme being or in other words, as God. You can see for yourself. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, questions ANYTHING that Sir Alex Ferguson does or says. He is the ultimate truth and answer to all questions and prayers of the fans. Just the fact that he has stayed there for the longest time ever proves that he is the cult’s God and Supreme being.”
He continued, “Another example. Every religious cult has a certain purpose that the followers aim to achieve. It could be to attain Nirvana, to become One with God or in some cases, to commit suicide on a particular day. Whatever the purpose may be, all their actions and efforts, time and money are directed towards this one purpose very rigorously and without question, ready to do whatever it takes to get there.
Similarly here in Manchester United, the sole purpose of the organization is to win more trophies and increase its following BECAUSE the club is winning more trophies. The fans’ only concern and purpose in life is to support their club to win more trophies and to recruit more members into this cult. Just look around you. Why do you think United fans are widely referred to as Glory Hunters? Its in their doctrines. You cannot change it!”
“The process of recruiting members to this cult is even more interesting and cult-like. Manchester United FC widens its membership by the process of, what I call, Associative Hypnotism. What this means is that just associating with ManU fans is the first step in entering the cult. Once you associate and spend time with ManU fans, you will be subjected to continuous hypnosis ‘to support “title winning” teams only’. The hypnosis also places a lot of emphasis on the ‘History’ of a club and also its statistics in terms of winning trophies. The hypnosis also takes the form of constant ridicule of other clubs and their lack of history and/or trophies.
And as a result of all this hypnosis, the neutral football fan or even a non-football fan will get brainwashed and believe that Manchester United is the only club worth supporting on this planet due to its ‘rich history’, ‘trophy collection’ and its ‘title winning habit’. I have not come across a single United fan on this planet who was not recruited to this cult in this way.”
Detective McLean gave out more examples of how Man U is even RUN as a cult, specifically pointing out to the fact that the Glazer family, who run the club, keep the internal workings of the organization a complete secret. “You don’t find them giving interviews or even making an appearance in front of the fans now do you?” questioned Detective McLean. In spite of all these startling revelations, the Detective had kept his most chilling and disturbing discovery to the end.
“Now that United have more or less won the title, just go out and have a look. You will just simply be convinced that this is nothing but a religious cult.” Looking at the puzzled faces in the crowd, he continued, “If you get to see a Man U fan now, you are bound to see him in a state of induced-trance. Every single fan will be found chanting “Glory Glory Man United” in praise of his club repeatedly and without the realization of what he is doing. It is not unlike many of these religious cult ceremonies where you see the followers, in a state of trance, chant something repeatedly in praise of their cult and/or God. However, this is not just restricted to chanting here in Man Utd. The followers of this cult even take to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to carry out their practices which include mocking and ridiculing other football clubs.”
“This is a very scary situation and should be immediately dealt with. Otherwise, in a few years time, there will be only Man Utd football fans. Dystopia will settle in. Even George Orwell could not have foreseen this” the detective said.
In stark contrast to the mood at Scotland Yard, Sir Alex Ferguson was in an upbeat mood while talking to press reporters outside Old Trafford.
“This is incredible! Its like normalcy is restored on this planet. Manchester United are going to be champions of England again. Doesn’t that just feel so right?”, said the beaming manager.
“We are the champions. That is all the world needs to know. Our fans can once again say that and mock all other supporters for a long time now. I know for a fact that they will do so. However, I would also like to remind them that they actually have a responsibility to mock other club supporters and act cocky in general. They have to do it as a matter of general principle. It is a tradition dating back to the time when I took over the club” he added.
When confronted with the idea that he is the head of a religious cult whose sole purpose is to win silverware, he said, “Religious cults? Bollocks! We are not a religious cult! But our sole purpose is indeed to win silverware and create a big fan base. In fact, I think winning trophies is so important that people should be made to support clubs only which land trophies!”
“Really..How can you support other teams? Manchester Utd is the only club that satisfies all the criteria, namely rich history, stable management and trophy winning habit. Supporting any other club should be made illegal! Especially Arsenal supporters. They should be euthanized. They are already suffering so much under Arsene Wenger that they need to be put out of their misery. One way to do that is to support Man U so that then you can say you have won some trophies.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had just the opposite to say: “It should in fact be made illegal to support trophy winning teams. Because then you wont know the true loyalty of your support. Look at us. We got the best fan base ever. Absolutely zilch to show for in the past 6-7 years and still our supporters hold us strong! The fans dont want trophies. They just want to show their support to a team that plays beautiful entertaining football. And so I think they are content. In fact, the best teams to support and the best fans are those of mid-table. Never aiming for anything and being happy with whatever comes their way! Thats the way to be.”
It remains to be seen what action, if any, the FA will take over these allegations. In the meantime, the Manchester United cult has already doubled its size while writing this article due to their win against Chelsea FC. Dystopia appears to be already here.
In what looks to be a change of rules with far reaching consequences, UEFA has ruled that all teams playing Barcelona from now on in the Champions League will start with 12 men in their side. This judgment comes close on the heels of the extremely volatile Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Michel Platini, the President of UEFA communicated this rule to the media less than 48 hours after Jose Mourinho had made some strong remarks about the Catalan side.
“UEFA is always interested in fairplay. We go to extra lengths to ensure that we provide a fair and even platform for all clubs to perform to the best of their abilities. Keeping this in mind, it has been decided that all teams facing FC Barcelona will now start with 12 men in their side. Based on the trend that we have observed previously with Barcelona, we believe that this will eventually lead to a proper balancing of the sides and will deliver a good contest on the pitch.”
He also clarified that this ruling will stand for both the group stage and the knockout stage. He also said that this rule will come into effect only from the next edition of Champions league ruling out any possibility of a dramatic comeback by Real Madrid in the 2nd leg.
“We cannot discriminate between teams who qualify to the next stage and those who don’t. That won’t be fair. And we are all for fairplay. So we try to be fair.” said Platini.
When asked about other fairplay issues such as allowing technology to be allowed on the pitch to ensure proper and fair decision making, Platini refused to comment saying that he did not want to see PlayStation in the stadium.
This decision, has quite expectedly, brought about some strong reactions among the who’s who of european football. One of the first to respond to the new rule was none other than Jose Mourinho himself.
“Whats the point now? UEFA tries to do something after everything is over. And they are not even allowing us to enforce this rule in the 2nd leg. This only shows that Barcelona has influence even over UEFA themselves. I am the best coach on this planet. I beat Barcelona with 10 men in the previous El Classico. Now who can claim that on their resume? I don’t need 12 players to beat Barcelona! I need 11 and a fair referee! But UEFA will never make sure of that. Especially not when Barcelona is playing.”, he said.
Arsene Wenger, whose side has been getting repeatedly humiliated by Messi and Co., appeared to approve of the gesture by UEFA.
“This actually is bigger than just Barcelona. This is about playing the game on a level playing field. You cannot have a level playing field when one of the teams is bound to be reduced to 10 men AND while the other team has the best player in football history. It is plain common sense. Just look at how our boys have been getting humiliated and defeated by one, having a key player sent off and two, Messi going free to score”, he contended.
When pointed out that Arsenal could not string more than 3 passes together for the first 70 mins of the Last 16 tie when they were playing with all 11 men, Arsene Wenger only replied, “But who was winning at that time?”
Pep Guardiola on the other hand was already thinking about how to tackle the situation. He said,”We will respect the rules of UEFA. If they feel that we are not providing a level playing platform, then we will make sure that this will not be repeated. But at the same time, we have our commitment to the fans to win more trophies come what may. I am talking about our commitment to the fans that we will do anything it takes to win trophies with the only condition being that we need to play beautiful football. This will make us look like we “deserve” to win simply because we play the more entertaining football. If this happens, whatever else we do on the pitch will not matter at all!”
“So in order to honor that commitment, we will work harder because we will now need to get 2 players sent off. This means that we need to spend more time to over dramatize the tackles while making sure that it still looks real. We will probably hire a WWE superstar for this purpose.” he elaborated.
The commitment of the players to the cause was immediately evident. Dani Alves wrote on his Twitter account:
“Must spend more time training the youth in the academy to fake falls and injuries. The future needs to be ready.”
However, Pedro appeared to be disappointed with himself for being unable to get an opponent player a yellow card during the game in spite of going down clutching his face. He tweeted
“Must hold correct part of body in pain. Holding face instead of body part that was in contact doesn’t work. Sorry fans. Will do better next time.”
It is reported that Pedro was using the ‘Long Update” feature in Tweetdeck.
Sir Alex Ferguson was fuming at the rule for not being enforced this season itself.
“Why shouldn’t it be enforced now itself? Let it take effect from the finals onwards. Why should people who play Barcelona only from next season get a different treatment? This is not fair. We are a club whose sole purpose is to create a self-righteous fan base by winning more trophies and by having a rich history. You know, rich history is the only parameter behind supporting any club. And we need to achieve it by doing anything it takes. We also like to hunt for glory. We should also be allowed to field 12 players in the final. We have more or less qualified to it” he said.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager on the other hand was thinking along totally different lines.
“Roman Abromovic wants one thing and one thing only. The Champions League trophy. If this rule is enforced from next season, then we need to think of using it to our advantage. If we can get one of our players to be sent off in every single game in the next season, then we will have a case to argue that we need to START with 12 players, irrespective of whether we are playing Barcelona or not. So this way, we can start the entire season after next with 12 men and then make sure that we will NOT get sent off! I think I can finally win the Champions League for Roman.” he said.
ESPN football self proclaimed pundit Shebby Singh was already analyzing what players should be chosen for that 12th man. Speaking to John Dykes, he said,
“You see John. The teams need to think smart. They need to think out of the box. Irrespective of how many players you have on the pitch, you have to simply accept the fact that you cannot stop Messi from scoring. The only way you CAN stop that is to use that extra 12th man as an extra goalkeeper! Now Messi will need to get past not one but TWO goalies if he has to score! I think this is a very important point and all teams must give it a thought. “
He continued, “There is actually another role for the 12th man John. This thing just flashed to me. What if…what if the only purpose of that 12th man is to influence the referee to give decisions AGAINST Barcelona? Think of it John. This is actually a very good idea. Why just stop at making a level playing field? See if you can get the better hand! Get the 12th man to do what Barcelona is doing. Get him to dive, fall, fake injuries and complain to the referee everytime a Barcelona player goes past him. Then the ref has to take some action surely! This might actually lead to a Barcelona player getting sent off. Then you can substitute this 12th man with a real footballer and seize the advantage in the game! This is a very good idea!”
By this time, John Dykes was reportedly choking on Shebby Singh’s smug.
Unable to end his 6 year trophy drought with Arsenal during the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City, Arsene Wenger has mooted the idea of a 1-Team tournament exclusive only to Arsenal. Speaking to reporters just hours after his side were defeated to an Obefami Martins goal, Wenger said, “This is getting more and more difficult day by day. I have come to realize that if we are to give our fans what they deserve, then we have to think in different ways.”
Arsenal have not won a single trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, having come close on many occasions such as the 2006 UEFA Champions League final and having stayed in contention for the Premier League title during most of the seasons as well. The fact that Arsenal have not won the Premier League for a long time despite being title contenders most of the seasons have led some critics to brand Arsenal as “the perpetual title contenders.”
When a reporter asked the Arsenal manager about his thoughts on the comparison, Wenger said, “I know we have always been strong contenders for the Premier League- always. Whats so new about that? Didn’t you already know that?” When pointed out that the comparison was supposed to be treated as a mockery, he quickly responded, “Oh! Is that why Sir Alex Ferguson starts laughing every time I remind him that we are still in the title race? Next time I will be careful.”
On the very idea of the 1-Team tourney, Wenger sounded quite upbeat. “This has never been done in the history of the game! We are all very excited. Yes I know that we have just lost one more Cup final and that we should be feeling bad that we have failed yet again. But the mood in the dressing room has quickly changed! I just now informed the boys about this idea and it has gotten everyone on their feet and raring to go!”
When asked about the exact format of the game, Wenger responded, “Well we are yet to work out the exact format. But the way I see it, there will be players from only 1 team playing. We will probably play 22 players on the pitch, but all of them will be players from Arsenal. We will call 11 of those players to be from Arsenal and the other 11 players to be from Arsenal. So no matter who wins or loses, Arsenal will eventually emerge as Champions! And more importantly, we will end our 6- year trophy drought! Isn’t this a great idea?”
The Gunners manager was also showing some consideration for the fans who have had nothing to brag about for a long time now apart from their passing style of play. “I really feel sorry for the fans. They have put their faith in the club for so long now having got back nothing in return. I think it is time that we give them something back. And I think the 1-Team tournament will be the best way to go forward. I am sure the fans will love to see a new addition in our trophy collection.”
Arsene Wenger did not have to think hard when he was asked what the new tournament would be named as. “Its a no brainer really. We will be calling this tournament as The Gunners Trophy. This of course, is in reference to the fact that Arsenal will be the only team playing in the tournament! Isn’t that so creative and original?”
Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas seemed to share the enthusiasm. “I have been here in the club for so long and have worked so hard. So I would definitely like to have some kind of a winner’s medal with me. The Gunners Trophy would be ideal solution to that. I just do not know what it feels like to be lifting a trophy with my hands. I really hope this idea goes through…and I hope that it happens for more than just that.”
When pressed what he meant by ‘for more than just that’, Fabregas revealed, “Well, think about it. The main reason Arsene Wenger is holding on to me is because he believes that I can win him trophies. Now if I help Arsenal win The Gunners Trophy, then I can convince him that my work here is done. And then he can make a lot of money by selling me to Barcelona. In fact, he will make a lot more money than winning any of the other tournaments! Isn’t that ironic?!!?”
Samir Nasri, the rising star in Arsenal, chose to look at it in a slightly different way. “It will be a very valuable experience for the young boys in here without any experience of big games.” He stopped for a while to think about what he had just said. Then he continued, “Oh wait. We are all young ones here without any big game experience. Anyway, like I was saying, this trophy will give us that necessary experience and will help us mature as players with big game experience.”
On the other hand, Sir Alex Ferguson was not at all amused when informed about this in a press conference. “What nonsense is this? Manchester United is the greatest club in the world. We are the only team that should be supported in England simply because we have a rich history and we win trophies!” When reminded of the issue at hand, he then composed himself and responded, “How can a team be crowned tournament winners if there are no other teams playing in there? Here in Manchester United, we believe only in winning trophies. Trophies aren’t everything to us. They are the only thing. We work so hard to win trophies. Thats why our fans are rightly called Glory Hunters. But the only difference is that we try to win trophies in which other teams also participate.”
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti had a different view. “It is actually not a bad idea. Come to think of it, if we can implement that same idea here in Chelsea, no manager will ever get fired! I mean, all Abramovic ever cares about are trophies. If we can have our own 1-Team tournament, then we can at least make sure that we land some trophy every year. At least my job will be safe.” Then he proceeded to call his agent and asked him to begin negotiations over a new deal saying that he will definitely be winning some trophies this year.
Shebby Singh, the expert on all matters concerning football and being smug (both at the same time that is), seemed to have some very strong opinions about this idea. Speaking to John Dykes and dressed in a suit which appeared to be part of his anatomy, he said, “John I think this is a very good and a very clever idea from Arsene Wenger. It is bound to be successful on so many fronts. Firstly, it will increase the confidence of the Arsenal players who do not know what it means to win something. Secondly, this will further help in the team gaining more big game experience which will in turn help in them performing better in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup where every game is a big game. Thirdly, this idea need not necessarily be restricted to just Arsenal. A lot of other teams can give it a try too.”
“Also John, the manager is really brilliant. He thinks so far ahead for the club. First he invests in youth and saves a lot of money that way while making sure that he has a good team for the future as well. Now this idea of his makes his team gain plenty of big game experience so that they go on to win other tournaments as well.” he continued, not realizing that he had just repeated his earlier point.
When John Dykes asked another guest on the talk show if he found anything negative about the idea, Shebby Singh interrupted, “Yes John. Like everything in this world, even this has a good and a bad part. You see Arsenal can finally begin to win trophies. I mean, Arsene Wenger may even decide to keep 2 or more The Gunners Trophy in a calendar year and Arsenal will win all of them. Even though the club might become more successful trophy-wise, it is extremely important that they do not become complacent. If they do, they will just become engrossed in that trophy and neglect all the other ones.”
The Arsenal fans are extremely excited about the prospect of finally getting to brag about some silverware after a long time. One enthusiastic North Londoner said, “This is the best news I have had in a long time mate! Now I can finally look forward to Arsenal winning a trophy BECAUSE they play awesome passing football! Take that up your asses all you other-clubs-winning-trophies-by-playing-boring-football! Now when can I buy the tickets?”
It remains to be seen if this idea actually transpires into reality. The FA have been informed about the plans and further developments are awaited. If approved, this could potentially create a revolution in the world of football.
PS: My previous posts on football fake news and Arsenal can be found here.
In an unprecedented move, all Arsenal players, without exception, have demanded that they be paid bonuses just for showing up for training. While the move has drawn widespread criticism, the Arsenal players appear to be fully convinced about their stand and have even threatened not to show up for training or play any matches until their demands are met.
When contacted, the Arsenal players put the entire blame on Arsene Wenger‘s new contract in which the club retained his services for 3 more seasons while increasing his salary by 20%.
“We are not complaining about the fact that Arsene Wenger is now the highest earner at the club. It is the fact that he is getting bonuses for taking the club to play Champions League football every season that has got us upset” said a visibly fuming Theo Walcott.
There does appear to be truth in Walcott’s statement as the club have confirmed that they are indeed paying a bonus for Arsene Wenger to steer the club to Champions League qualification. When pressed further, Theo Walcott said that this was totally unfair.
“We have been qualifying for the Champions League continuously for more than a decade now. In fact, we have not missed out on Champions League action even once under Arsene Wenger. The coach is getting bonuses for doing something he has been doing all the time. And so even we the players feel that we need to get bonuses for something we have been doing all the time” explained Walcott which drew strong nods from fellow Arsenal players.
When asked why the players wanted their training to be given bonuses, Abou Diaby replied, “We did not want to ask bonuses for playing every match. That would not be fair because at the rate that we are getting injured, we cannot guarantee we will be able to play all matches in the first place. Hence we chose Training for bonus as we train almost every single day and we have been doing it for as long as we can remember.”
Arsene Wenger was non-committal in his response. “It is true that I am getting a bonus for taking the club to Champions League. But I cannot respond to what the players are asking. It is a matter between the players and the management.”
When reminded that he himself was the manager, he said, “Whatever happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.”
Experts on the other hand are already giving their ‘expert opinion’ on the matter. Shebby Singh, appearing with John Dykes in his trademark grey suit and pronounced smug, called for the football fraternity to look for the deeper meaning in this extra-ordinary situation.
“You see John what we should observe here is not just the behavior of the players. What we should not overlook is what the gesture from the board actually implies. The Arsenal board are giving Arsene Wenger a bonus JUST for getting them through to Champions League football every season. This is a clear indication of their expectations and the targets they have set themselves. If your only incentive is to just qualify for the Champions League, then who will make any effort to go ahead and actually win the Champions League?” Having so explained, Shebby Singh sat with an even bigger smug and with a firm belief that he had just made the discovery worth a Nobel.
Back in North London, the players have now taken to a demonstration outside the Emirates Stadium demanding that they also be given bonuses for something that they have been anyway doing for the past how many ever years. The players were parading with placards which read “Bonuses for all”, “Reward all who can keep doing the same thing” etc. However, Fabregas’ was parading with a placard that read “I love Barcelona!” When pointed out by some journalists, Fabregas was quick to dismiss any rumors about him wanting to go to Barcelona saying “Yes I was born there and Barca is one of the biggest clubs in the world. But right now I just want to win more trophies for Arsenal.” After a few seconds he added “Wait…take off the ‘more’ part from my last line.”
An interesting consequence of this protest was felt not too far away at Stamford Bridge where the players were getting restless after hearing the news. Having suffered a cut in all performance oriented bonus which does not result in a trophy, the Chelsea players suddenly felt they have been given a really bad deal.
Skipper John Terry was the first to complain, “You see the lads actually winning something here. We won the double last season- you know like actually lifted the trophy and stuff. And what does Abromovich do? He gives us a cut in the bonus! Says we will get bonus from next time only if we win some trophy! I guess he needs to look at Arsenal to see how the players and the coach are being rewarded. They hardly win anything yet Coach gets bonus just to take them to Champions League! Now players seem to be getting bonus just for showing up for training! This is ridiculous! Call my friggin’ agent! Rich owner my ass!”
Back in the studio, Shebby Singh was going to overdrive mode with his ‘in-depth’ analysis.
“The idea of a bonus is to give someone the incentive to achieve something that is beyond what they usually achieve. So in that sense, this bonus Wenger seems to be getting is totally invalid. You see John now what this will do to all the clubs in the long run is to make them set their standards and targets much lower than earlier. This will lead to lower performances and football as a whole will take a beating.” John Dykes had sent the program on a commercial break as soon as Shebby Singh started talking.
Meanwhile, in Milan, the new Inter manager Rafa Benitez had some very strong words to say.
“What the hell is this I say? If any of the other BIG 4 clubs do not get into the Champions League, they just get fired!!! And if Arsenal doesnt get into Champions League, the only thing Wenger is going to miss is his friggin BONUS??? This is totally unfair! Look at me. I WON the god damn Champions League and I went to one more final! And I still got fired when I failed to finish in top 4! Arsene Wenger has not won anything for the past 5 years, let alone the Champions League! And he is only missing out on Bonuses?? Even Scholari got fired- and that too even before the season got over!! This is totally unfair. I just needed more time with Liverpool. The same way I need more time here at Inter Milan too.”
It has to be seen if this protest by the North London club will yield anything for the players and if this will be the end of football’s standards being lowered every where as predicted by Shebby Singh.