Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Talking Arse...


While most writers are concentrating on the Viera v Fabregas showdown that stood out as the central theme of last nights game between Arsenal and Juventus, the UK press have typically missed a much more interesting point, one that goes to the heart of the weary clich├ęs and prejudices still inherent in the British game.

West Ham manager Alan Pardew, not a man to miss an opportunity to talk a lot of tosh, said last week that he was disappointed that Arsenal rarely fielded a team featuring any players from England. The valid point used to justify such talk is that no English players means bad news for the international team and fine, I’ll give him that.

But there is a suggestion implicit in such criticism that foreign players are merely talented mercenaries, with no regard for their clubs; that they lack the same passion the fans have for the team.

This was proved to be utter nonsense in last nights dazzling performance by the London side as a team who featured no Englishmen, led by a French manager did the English game proud by sweeping a tough Juventus team aside in a swashbuckling 2-0 win.

The team spirit and the passion to win was obvious, the players’ appreciation for the fans and for what the win could potentially mean for the club plain for all to see.

Now of course the papers are all full of praise for a young side who have done English football proud, a marked lesson in how all can be forgiven in football so long as you win.

The bottom line is that a team of foreigners can become just that, a team, as has been proved time and again.

But in the English game, there is still this lingering, jingoistic belief that English is somehow always best, or at least preferable.

By Pardew’s logic, a team of 11 Englishmen would have gone out last night and it would be ok if they got stuffed as it would have provided English players with valuable experience.

I doubt you’d get a single Arsenal fan to agree with that one. It is the fans who truly underpin the clubs identity afterall.

Here’s last nights team sheet, North London heroes one and all:

Jens Lehmann (Germany), Emmanuel Eboue (Ivory Coast), Philippe Senderos (Switzerland), Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Mathieu Flamini (France), Aleksandr Hleb (Belarus), Robert Pires (France), Jose Antonio Reyes (Spain) (Robin van Persie (Holland)), Gilberto Silva (Brazil), Thierry Henry (France)

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Lol, not a single English player in site. Rule Britannia!