Friday, March 31, 2023

Giants, roller-coasters and acid tongued Germans

Tim Stillman column - Arseblog

It’s turned out to be something of a landmark week in the history of our great club. So much so that our first win since we were all small microbes in the sea appears to be a distant memory. The ownership of the club has altered this week and we now know that that process was precipitated somewhat by the sad death of Danny Fiszman. The fact that Fiszman spent the last hours of his life safeguarding his stake in the football club we all love is an epitaph to the man to which no words can do justice.

Upon the transferring of the majority shareholding to Stan Kroenke earlier this week, I mused that I hoped that any success the club achieves in the next ten years will see outgoing figureheads given their dues. Make no mistake; though Stan has been a prominent figure at the club since 2007, he is very much moving into the picture at the tail end of a long hard road. Fiszman was one of the trailblazers of that nettle strewn path. I recall reading of the hours he had worked back in 2001 when the club had to engage a fraught battle for planning permission.

Then again, in the summer of 2003, with the spades already in the Ashburton Grove soil, the funds dried up and the club had to once again throw hands to get the monies back on track. Fiszman was at the forefront of that fight and his forbearance was one of the reasons that we have this wonderful stadium that we all take for granted. It’s not just the aesthetic and comfort properties of the new stadium that make it such a fitting legacy to the man, but the prudence with which it was erected that makes Arsenal the by word for a well run football club.

How many times have you heard Chairmen of other clubs refer to “aspiring to the Arsenal model”? Fiszman was one of the leading lights that has opposing eyes cast enviously towards Arsenal. Quite simply, he sped up the evolution of our football club and I hope his death can serve to unite Arsenal fans a little more and help us appreciate how fortunate we are to have the club we love in the hands of great men like Fiszman. I am minded of a famous quote from Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Our condolences to the family and friends of a giant of Arsenal Football Club.

Of course, we now move into a new era at the club as Stan Kroenke becomes our majority owner. Bloggers more knowledgeable than I on such matters have said enough on the issue without me flattering myself by overly regurgitating their sentiments. I have to say I am slightly uncomfortable that we lose the plurality ownership but Stan, from the outside, does appear to be a benevolent dictator. I think he sees Arsenal is such a profitable venture because of the way it already runs, so I wouldn’t expect too many changes just yet.

I would venture that the club’s marketing strategies might become more aggressive and Kroenke certainly brings expertise in the area on his CV. Given his interest in satellite and broadband, I would also suggest that Arsenal TV Online might begin to look like something remotely worth having in the coming months! Bottom line is that Kroenke is investing and he’ll want to see returns and there’s plenty of suggestion that, given Arsenal’s commercial revenues are 10th highest in Europe, there’s room for expansion there. He seems to have the trust and confidence of longer serving board members, so let’s hope that’s a good sign. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Last weekend saw a welcome return to winning ways and it was a quite spiffing weekend away in Blackpool. The weather did us an incredibly good turn as four of us took the journey up on Saturday morning- an option that most of the 1,800 strong traveling contingent seemed to take up too. Having tackled the Big One rollercoaster (which was a bit steep at an Ayrton) early Saturday afternoon, a quite heroic afternoon and evening drinking session, that would have had Bacchus himself chundering bits of dried kebab onto the curb, took place. Even if every local cab driver appeared to have a commission fueled proclivity to take us to the local brothel, a good night out was enjoyed by all.

If you’re ever in the town, be sure to issue your cab driver with specific co ordinates. As we sought a local taxi at 2am in search of more booze, we issued the instruction, “Take us somewhere lively and that’s still open.” Not a fantastic leap of logic on the driver’s part to drive us straight to the bordello (without telling us that that’s where he was taking us I might add). It was still something of a surprise! Before you ask, none of us indulged. (My Mum does read this column after all). We were left merely to trot off to a local takeaway to munch on a kebab. That’s not a euphemism….

The next morning, we blew the froth off of a couple of hangover slayers in Manchester’s Bar which was packed to the rafters with gorgeous Gooners. The sight of Jens on our arrival into the stadium was a curious one but one greeted by the throng of traveling Gooners. Within minutes, an acid tongued missive delivered to Abou Diaby for not picking up his man at a corner was met with a chorus of approval. But most didn’t spot that after the third goal, he ran about 40 yards out of his goal to congratulate Diaby for his part in the build up. You might call that astute man management.

The result was the desired one, but you rather get the impression that there were still a few cracks visible. I hope the result gives us the wherewithal to Polyfilla them over for the last seven games. I commented last week on our poor shooting accuracy against Blackburn and our profligacy was apparent in abundance again against Blackpool. Some shooting practice needed on the training ground methinks. Liverpool’s defence is hardly likely to be quite as porous come Sunday.

That about wraps it up from me this week, with United otherwise engaged we have a real opportunity to apply some pressure with a win on Sunday. If you’re going, lend the boys your larynxes. Up the Arse!

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

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