REASONS FOR THE CURRENT ABSOLUTE BLOODY BOLLOCKS UP AT WOOLWICH ARSENAL

DEFENCE

It’s the worst defence we’ve had in some years. That Larry Costerley, a 33-year old-who has recently returned from injury, is our rock, really speaks to the failed recruitment policy. At right back we have a kind of multi-purpose midfielder being asked to step into the glass slipper of Harry Bell. It is not that Ainsley Maitland-Niles is bad. No scion of the Hampshire Maitland Niles’ is ever a bad egg. Even Bunny Maitland-Niles, British Expeditionary Force deserter had his moments. I was at Harrow with Pongo Maitland-Niles, and his brother, Catsmeat Maitland-Niles. Both sterling chaps. Young Ainsley is cut from the same cloth. Willing, but easily distracted, and a propensity to forget to do the basic things well. Like passing. His backup in that position is a venerable Swiss grandfather whose only discernible skill is his mastery of the ancient mystical art of Shit-Fu.

We currently have a centre half, in the person of Mr. Seamus Masterson, number 20, who cost us somewhere north of 35 million of your guineas. He tackles like Billy Vunipola on psychedelics. He’s on his arse more often than an infant school class in a world record arse-sitting attempt. He slides in like a walrus down a slide at a zoo. I’ve known blind horses that have more positional sense. Every time I read his name on a teamsheet my bottom twitches like a rabbit’s nose. He’s an absolute rotter. He’s not even one of those ‘old fashioned’ players who seems like they’re from another era, like Andy Carroll at West Ham. I’m not sure what era this chap could play in. Or even what dimension.

Perhaps there’s an as yet undiscovered planet somewhere, on which they play a version of football, perhaps with a dodecahedron ball, and three goals, on ice, where he would be an acceptable centre-half. It has been long enough now. He needs to be sold, or given away, or perhaps some kind of ‘dunderhead’s dowry’ could be offered to anyone who would take him off our hands. When one finds oneself yearning for the glory days of Igors Stepanovs then one really does have a problem.

TACTICS

Do we have any? I mean by Jove, one could forgive the manager for his early season shufflings. But it is now FEBRUARY. We do not know what formation will make an appearance until the match kicks off, and sometimes it’s not even clear then. We seem to have mastered only one attacking move: the Patented Webbley & Collingwood Overlap Manoeuvre. Sometimes it seems as though we are confecting buildup play so we can activate the Patented Webbley & Collingwood Overlap Manoeuvre. I wonder if half time talks consist entirely of the manager talking about the Patented Webbley & Collingwood Overlap Manoeuvre, whilst pointing to a blackboard on which is written ‘The Patented Webbley & Collingwood Overlap Manoeuvre: How to Achieve It’.

ATTACK

I don’t just mean the strikers. They seem like thoroughly decent eggs, and Mr. Lakeshead in particular has improved greatly since his arrival. I mean our chronic lack of eGF, or Expected Gentleman’s Favours. We have two thoroughbred strikers who thrive on chances in the box. How many touches in the second half, when we needed a goal, did we have in the box yestereve against the mighty BATE Borisov? 14. FOURTEEN TOUCHES IN TOTAL. I’m not suggesting that we should recall Mr. Orwell, but something has to change. Our reliance on wingbacks to create chances is not working.

As the ancient English footballing proverb goes: “If ye cast a wing-back afore’ard twenty times, ye look like a syde going down the shytter.”