Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Why I’m up for the Czechs tonight + boardroom thoughts

Good morning to you as the rains return. Yesterday was nice, somewhat warm, and occasionally sunny. This morning it’s lashing down, grey and miserable. And it’s the longest day of the year too. Oh well.

It was a Euro 2012 free zone last night and I have to admit I kinda missed it. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the international game, it’s nice to watch football without the tension and nervousness there is with every Arsenal fixture. Being able to appreciate, but most likely laugh at, all players equally is quite enjoyable and not really caring who wins or loses is quite liberating.

Tonight sees the first quarter-final and it’s the Czech Republic against Portugal. For this one I’d certainly have a preference for the Czechs, even if Tomas Rosicky is very unlikely to play due to his Achilles injury. Portugal have too many players with too much history. Nani and Ronaldo, obviously. Postiga’s a former Spud, Meireles has silly hair and plays for Chelsea, and then there’s Pepe.

If he were set upon by a pack of wild honey badgers – and as we know honey badgers simply don’t give a shit – then devoured slowly and painfully as his entire family looked on while dozens of teenagers in hoodies filmed it on their mobile phones, it wouldn’t be enough of a punishment for him. Some might suggest this kind of hatred for someone I’ve never met is irrational, but it’s based entirely on what he does on a football pitch. And time and time again he’s proven to be one of the most idiotic, cheaty, nasty characters in the game.

Plus his head looks like someone just pulled a condom really tightly over his skull and when he screams it’s like bad face-melting special effects from a 1980s movie. So, for those very well thought out reasons, I’m hoping for a Czech Republic win tonight, which will also ensure the time-honoured tradition of Ronaldo blubbering at a major tournament continues.

For those of you with a love of stats, 7amkickoff takes a By the numbers look at the group stages of Euro 2012. Some interesting ones, like:

9 – Tackles by Andrei Arshavin for Arsenal in the Premier League last season
5 – Tackles by Andrei Arshavin for Russia in Euro 2012

Make of those what you will.

Closer to home and Matt Scott reports in the Telegraph that Premier League rule changes will make life more difficult for Alisher Usmanov and Red and White holdings, even if they get to the 30% mark. Realistically though, it makes little difference to the current set-up. I don’t think it’ll stop Usmanov buying shares, and the current board’s position is more than clear when it comes to his involvement or having a place on the board.

In an ideal world a plurality of ownership, with disparate voices on the board, would be the way to go. Perhaps four men with 20% each and the remaining shares in the hands of smaller shareholders and fans, but the reality is we have two men who own 96%+ of Arsenal Football Club. Added to that reality is that there is little or no relationship between the two, neither has any intention of working ‘with’ the other, and those who suggest Usmanov should have a place on the board for the sake of the club ought to ask if the Uzbek would be willing to accommodate Kroenke if the situation were reversed. I think not.

And while the current board certainly have work to do there is, at least, a measure of stability there now. I don’t believe for one second that Usmanov would simply pump free money into Arsenal Football Club if he were given a place on the board, and the bigger issue is how could we expect two groups (KSE and R&W) to work first and foremost for the benefit of Arsenal when they’d each try and outmaneuver the other. I think most people will accept that there’s obvious dislike between the two sides, so is making them work ‘together’ really the best thing for Arsenal? It’s like putting a mongoose and cobra in a cage and expecting them to become friends, and ultimately, given his shareholding, Kroenke is under no obligation to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

As I said, it’d be far better if Arsenal weren’t the battleground for two billionaires, but it is what it is. I think the best we can hope for is that Usmanov’s presence ensures the current board maximises the resources we have to bring some success (in terms of silverware) to the club. They still have plenty to prove. Does Kroenke really want to be the guy who took over a club and oversaw the departure of the club captain and best player in consecutive summers? Hopefully we’ll see more evidence of their re-focus this summer, with lessons having been learned from last, but the bottom line is the desire for billionaires and their easy-to-make promises is directly proportional to the trophies we win.

If we’d had a couple of open-top buses in the last few years this wouldn’t be such an issue. And look, I know the fact we haven’t had them is why it is an issue, I’m not blind to that, but there is a bigger picture to look at and it’s not just as simple as Usmanov coming in with a bag of cash and everything ending up happy ever after like some kind of fairy tale.

Beyond that not a great deal happening, other than the rain of course, so we’ll leave it there for now. Here’s to some Pepe related misery later on (misery for him, not misery for us because he’s happy), and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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