Women in Football – McL’s Story

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A 4-year-old girl told us (myself, male relatives and their, mostly male, friends) that she wants to work in football when she grows up. It melted my heart, I know how badly I wanted that when I was younger. Unfortunately, the men started laughing and ridiculed the young girl’s dream. Heart breaking. This led to tears and a conversation no one should have with a four-year-old; a conversation where you explain she can become whatever she wants to when she grows up, just like her older brother, and that women can do the same thing men can, because until then she never even considered she couldn’t do the same things as her brother. (“Can I play for Arsenal like Ramsey?” – “No, that’s a men’s team, but if you are good enough you can play for the Arsenal Ladies just like Alex Scott.” – “I want to be (Jordan) Nobbs”).

Like every young girl I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, though this changed every other week. I went from wanting to join the Marine Corps, like my dad, to wanting to become the next Ashley Cole, to wanting to be a vet, then a lawyer, a star rugby player, a world champion kickboxing… the list is endless really. Unlike many young girls my family never told me I couldn’t become any of these things, they allowed me to dream and encouraged me to train hard and study harder. Despite my family’s encouragements the outside world wasn’t as friendly and didn’t hesitate to crush my dreams by telling me only boys could do that.

Thankfully I take after my father and I’m ridiculously stubborn, so when I was eight I replied to one of my aunts, who’d said I couldn’t do something, to watch me prove her wrong (I was playing football and rugby and I had just joined a kickboxing group at that time, I thought I was unstoppable). Anyway, the Arsenal Ladies were already there when I grew up and films such as Bend It Like Beckham and She’s The Man were part of my teenage years. This may seem like a small detail, but seeing women play football/rugby in front of an actual audience was what inspired me. It was exactly what I needed to train harder and to never give up. The same for female politicians, leading actresses, singers, CEO’s etc. Just one woman making it to the top can make all the difference. Slowly I started to realise I could become whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, as long as I worked hard.

I grew up playing football/rugby and I was kickboxing too, I was one of the very few girls who did any of these three sports so I was mainly training with boys. Soon all the things people told me I couldn’t do were forgotten, because I could keep up with the boys and when I was old enough I applied for the army and completed infantry training, unfortunately I had to quit because of personal circumstances. Throughout these years I have been called every name in the book and I’ve heard so many sexist remarks and comments that I think I can say I’ve heard them all. It was hard to stay motivated when you feel the whole world’s laughing at you and no one is taking you seriously. Eventually I gave up my dream of working in any professional sport because, frankly, it wasn’t worth all the crap.

Eva Carneiro being appointed as physio of Chelsea’s first team inspired me to apply for jobs within men’s sports, something I’d always wanted to do but was too insecure and scared to actually do. Now I’m in my early twenties, I was one of the first and am still one of the few female managers and event organisers at my company for six years now and just last summer I started working as a sports psychologist, with clients who work in football, athletics, American football and rugby. I may not play for Arsenal’s first team, nor am I a Marine, and thank God I don’t play rugby for Ireland’s men’s team, but I am making a difference, I am successful, and all that while working in a “men’s world”. And maybe, if I’m very lucky, I can inspire one young girl, who’s been told she can’t do something because she’s a girl, to do whatever she wants to do and become damn good at it too.

Throwback: Tina scored for England…and Arsenal

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Before the Hand of God came the Fist of Colin

Arsenal 1 Nottingham Forest 0 27th September 1980

Someone else’s Mrs, a fat lip, a smashed Jag and lamp-post, and letting the winner in at Highbury

Back in the early 80’s being an Arsenal fan wasn’t easy, add Terry Neill our blarney merchant of a manager in the deal, and it was a lot harder.

But we went because we loved the club, and meeting our mates for a beer, fish and chips and a mental afternoon singing on the terraces at Highbury.

This game stuck in my memory for two reasons, Continue reading

Cruijff vs Ajax: The Supporters and their Call

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After discussing the background story and Cruijff’s own words, let’s look at the reaction of those who matter the most; Ajax supporters. Oh, and they’re furious and call for a boycott.

What happens when you mess with club legends? The supporters get annoyed. What happens if you continue to do that for years? They get furious.

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President of Ajax’s supporters club, Daniël Dekker, wrote a statement on the supporters club’s website:

As an Ajax fan, you have to try hard to still make some sense of this all, once you’ve succeeded in that, you can form an opinion on the current crisis at Ajax. And often that opinion will be based on incomplete information. So much has been written and said, once again.

The conclusion, unfortunately, is that our beautiful club has yet again turned into a complete mess, organizationally. The former footballers, the wise commissionaires, directors, advisers and board members, every single one of them has looked in a different direction in their own way. Obviously not on purpose, or consciously. You wouldn’t dare to think that, or would you?

It’s been like this for years. We go from incident to report and it keeps repeating itself. Lack of management, no supervision. Bad contract and agreements. Lack of structure. Despite Johan Cruijff’s plans have been crystal clear for quite some time now.

Hardly anyone learnt something from the recent past. The most shocking is the comment from the managers that “it’s so sad for the supporters when the club gets bad press.” That is the kind of rhetoric the supporters stopped buying a while ago.

Only Hans Wijers and Wim Jonk actually took responsibility in this situation, by leaving and blowing the whistle respectively. And Wim Jonk will soon find out that being right and actually being right according to others have been two completely different things for ages at Ajax.

The management should not have allowed to let it get to this point. Us supporters deserve better. We are absolutely done with people who continuously push our club further down. The solution is actually quite simple. Forget your personal preferences and put your ego’s aside. Choose, together, for the execution of Cruijff’s ideas. As agreed on before. Make sure there is the appropriate structure and responsibilities. Whether Cruijff is in or not: we and our supporters believe this is the way it should be executed.

Make your actions known to you fan base, act upon this with full commitment and hold onto that as a club. Be transparent. Then the management of Ajax will be believable for us supporters again in the future.

Ajax-fan Robert was furious, as he took to twitter:

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Meanwhile several supporters clubs have collectively called on Ajax fans to boycott the first half of the next game:

Us supporters want to make a statement to show we do not agree with the managerial chaos at the club.

Call to Ajax supporters:

After discussing this with Ajax supporters clubs we, AFCA Supportersclub, call on you to leave the Blocks Zuid 1 (South 1) and Zuid 2 (South 2) completely EMPTY during the first half of the next competitive game. To make this happen the entrances to these blocks will be “blocked”. We expect full cooperation from everyone in these blocks. We request you follow our instructions, so that the blocks will be filled during the second half and their won’t be any issues getting in.

This is the only way that we can show that we, supporters, find this current situation completely unacceptable. To use the words of a former footballer: Cut the sh*t out!

Here’s to hoping their message comes across, and that Ajax realise the beauty of the club is partially their loyal, and vocal, supporters core. Alongside the  numerous legends the club gave the world throughout the years.

EvaMcL3

Cruijff vs Ajax: His words

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The background story posted yesterday, was just the first of four posts. In this one, I’ve summarised and translated Cruijff’s column. The media reaction, and fan reaction, will follow shortly.

“I quit”, both the headline and the first sentence of Cruijff’s column published on Monday. Though not a complete surprise after his Thursday column (in which he was furious over the Jonk situation), it still came as a shock to most people. Why? Cruijff and Ajax are two things that appeared inseparable. Ajax is his first love, the club where his playing career started, the club he loves more than most. Cruijff isn’t just a club-legend, he is also one of the club’s biggest fans.

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“For years I’ve realised that the core of my vision isn’t followed withing Ajax. In addition, the feeling that this happens on purpose grows stronger. And I won’t play games.”

“Of course this is a raw deal. After all, I’m not a board member, and I had good faith that everything would be in good hands with experienced board members and supervisors. That they would also help and guide the footballers, who, like myself, aren’t familiar with meetings, supervising and so forth.”

Cruijff hit out at five board members; Dolf Collee, or more to the point whoever appointed him. The appointment of managing director Dolf Collee, who is supposed to prepare Van der Sar for the most important post within the board of directors, is a travesty according to Cruijff. “Based on what? He too, let this happen for years.”

The new president of the supervisory board Leo van Wijk wasn’t safe either. Cruijff blames Van Wijk for not using any of his recommendations, such as giving the head of the academy a seat in management so the individual would have more input. “Along with Tscheu La Ling we went through Ling report, and (Van Wijk) fully agreed on what it reported and said. To then do the complete opposite.”

Most of the shots were aimed at Hennie Henrichs, president of the management board and practically the president of the club, Cruijff didn’t hold back. “Henrichs ditched five club legends just to cover the advisory board. There is not place for such a mentality at our club. Therefore, I hope that a solution will be reached that will make Ajax, Ajax again. Perhaps by buying all the shares or something.”

The other two at the receiving end of Cruijff’s shots were Hans Wijer, (former) president of the supervisory board, who “failed his job” and supervisory board member Theo van Duivenbode, who was supposed to be behind Cruijff.

Cruijff finished his column with advice for the remaining former footballers: “In conclusion, the five players. Go and sit together soon, and look at yourselves. Make sure you fix this. It just won’t happen under the umbrella of the Cruijff-plan anymore, because my name is no longer attached to it.”

Cruijff also gave a short update on his health, he was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year: “The first cure of the illness treatment is done and I haven’t experienced any adverse effects. We are on the way and thankfully football provides enough distraction.”

-EvaMcL3

Cruijff vs Ajax: Background Information

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Almost everyone knows, football-legend Johan Cruijff has walked away from his first love, Ajax. In this post we’ll briefly discuss the background, then we’ll show a summarised and translated version of Johan’s farewell column, before going into the reactions of the Dutch media. Last but not least we’ll give you the reaction from the supporters.

Overview of roles at Ajax:
Frank de Boer – Manager Ajax
Dennis Bergkamp – Assistant Manager Ajax
Wim Jonk – Youth Trainer Ajax
Edwin van der Sar – Marketing Director Ajax
Marc Overmars – Director of Football Ajax

In 2010 Cruijff was extremely critical of the first team’s performance under manager Martin Jol, in 2011 he made some changes which meant the end of supervisory board president Ten Have’s role at the club. Branded the “Velvet Revolution” by the Dutch media, Cruijff gave the power to former footballers; Frank de Boer, Dennis Bergkamp, Wim Jonk, Edwin van der Sar, and eventually, Marc Overmars.

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Cruijff is very passionate about changing the club’s youth set-ups, and trusted Wim Jonk, and Ruben Jongkind, to take care of it. At the academy, De Toekomst (The Future), there was a drastic change in training methods, with most of the attention going to personal development. Even though the flood of performance coaches helping at the academy wasn’t what Cruijff had in mind, according to a former board member.

The “velvet revolution” ran into serious issues earlier this year when Jonk refused to talk to the other four members of the technical hart at Ajax, despite efforts from individuals such as Van der Sar. Jonk was agitated with the expensive additions to the team, which are blocking the way for the development of their own youngsters. Last week was the beginning of the end, the club’s management fired Wim Jonk. Jonk, however, is refusing to leave.

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According to Cruijff, Jonk’s firing was equal to placing a bomb under his revolution. In his column last Thursday, Cruijff already informed everyone that he was to continue his role at Ajax merely as an adviser because Jonk is fighting his resignation. Cruijff said: “It can’t be that the whistle-blower gets killed off, while the rest continues down this road under my umbrella. Be upfront and just tell me, we are not interested in your plans.”

To add to all this, the Ling-report was leaked shortly thereafter (13 Nov). Tscheu La Ling was hired last summer to analyse the club’s issues. Cruijff put a lot of faith in Ling, whose report was a real wake-up call. The report slams the buying policy at the club, the (lack of) communication at the club, the delegation of responsibilities and the limited influence of trainers, when it comes to the club’s policy and the first team’s policy.

In the shareholders meeting, also last Friday (13 Nov), the supporters of the club, who own 73% of the club, weren’t exactly lining up to save Jonk’s job either. The meeting went smoothly, was over and done quickly and it would appear that the shareholders are getting sick and tired of having to discuss the same repetitive issues every time. Note, this does not mean they wanted Cruijff to leave, but more on that later.

Lots of drama, and we’re not even at his announcement from last Monday (16 Nov) yet.

EvaMcL3

Behind The Scenes: Focus in Sports

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The post on confidence in sports got a lot of attention, over 8500 views as I’m writing this, for which I’m very grateful. It also led to a lot of questions, half the questions were mainly people questioning what “a chick for crying out loud” –actual words used by Sean R.- knows about professional sports, the other half on focus and motivation in sports. Unfortunately, I can’t answer those questions in 140 characters or less, and replying to everyone separately would take too long. When it comes to my experience within the field of sports psychology, I work with (semi) professional athletes, have a Master of Science degree within the field and experience as an athlete (look at that, I can answer it in 140 characters or less). Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s look at the importance of focus in sports.

What is focus?

Generally focus is misunderstood, a popular description of focus is the ability to focus on one particular subject/object/thing for a long time. Unfortunately, that is incorrect. Another common error is claiming that focussing and thinking are the same thing. Focus is the ability to give your undivided attention to one cue and ignoring/paying zero attention to other cues within your field of attention. Thinking is connected to the personal involvement in the sport, as in how important is the sport to that person. One of the most important differences between focussing and thinking is that athletes use failure to correct the problem when focussed, whereas failure will hurt an athlete’s confidence and cause frustration when they are thinking.

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A person can choose to focus on a lot of different things, for now I will divide them into two categories; cues that are of importance and in relation to performance, and cues that are irrelevant and unrelated to performance. In football, focussing on cues related to the performance means cues related to your technique, team tactics, the score during a game, and even in some cases cues related to your opponent and their tactics. Focussing on cues unrelated to the athlete’s performance means focussing on things that will harm your ability to perform, this can include anxiety, going through your shopping list during a game, thinking about the stuff people other than your coach and teammates said/wrote about you.

Focus Style

Partially thanks to J. Taylor, we can now identify two different styles of focus. A focus style is, in his words, a preference for paying attention to certain cues. An athlete’s dominant style will become more evident when the athlete is under pressure.

There is the internal focus style, this is for athletes who perform best when they are only and consistently focussed on the game during training and matches. They need to maintain a narrow focus, because they are usually easily distracted by cues irrelevant to their sport and their performance. Once distracted, these athletes tend to struggle to narrow their focus onto the sport again.

Then there is the external focus style, these athletes perform best when they only focus on the sport when they’re about to start training or about to start a match, apart from that they prefer to broaden their focus. These athletes usually over think, they tend to become negative and suffer from anxiety.

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Athletes with an external focus style tend to run into issues with their coach, simply because most coaches in professional sports believe that athletes who are not completely focussed don’t take their sport seriously. Unfortunately, these athletes perform best if they don’t pay too much attention to their sport, and allow their natural ability to take over. Mario Balotelli is an excellent example of an athlete with an external focus style, he cannot perform under the management of coaches who force him to continuously and consistently think about football, he’s a player who performs better when he allows his natural ability to take over.

Improving and controlling focus

The first step in improving focus as an athlete is to acknowledge and recognise cues and triggers. Pick out the cues and triggers that help your performance, avoid and ignore others. The next step is to understand the focus style, external or internal. This will help to understand what an athlete has to do. Athletes with an external focus style can become too focussed on themselves, which can lead to anxiety or too much pressure. Athletes with an internal focus style can have issues narrowing their focus after being distracted, possibly leading to frustrated athletes.

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What’s up next should be used after establishing personal goals, which will be discussed in the next piece on motivation. This is from the same J. Taylor as mentioned above, the four P’s:

  • Positive: Focus on positive things that improve and help your performance and avoid negative things.
  • Process: Focus on what makes you perform best, e.g. techniques/tactics, and avoid distractions.
  • Present: Focus on what you have to do right here and now to perform, and avoid thinking about the past. You have control over the present and can’t change the past.
  • Progress: Focus on your own development and improvement and avoid comparing yourself to others. Athletes develop at different rates, as long as you’re steadily progressing towards the goal you want to achieve, you are on the right track.

Practice makes perfect, just like technique and confidence require practice and training, focus does too. Each athlete requires a different type of practice, but there are options for all types of athletes. Pre-performance routines tend to improve the focus of athletes, as does relaxation. Some athletes require visualisation and imagery in order to focus on the task ahead. Every athlete is different, but with the help of psychologists and coaches athletes can determine which tools they need to and can use.

There’s only so much information I can put in a blog post, so I’ll leave it at that. Special thanks to J. Taylor (Ph.D.) for sharing his insight and knowledge. Remember, positivity gets you further in life, that’s a promise.

-Eva

Behind The Scenes: Confidence in Sports

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Arsenal and France NT striker Olivier Giroud was booed off the pitch, not by Arsenal fans (which has happened in the past too) but by French football supporters; his fellow countrymen. Unfortunately, many of those fans, French and Arsenal, took that opportunity to shout abuse at Giroud via social media. Giroud isn’t the first, and unfortunately won’t be the last player who had to deal with this, but it did inspire me to write this.

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Now, this is not going to be a rant about how idiotic football fans can be and why one shouldn’t abuse athletes and simultaneously expect them to perform well (give it a few months and I’m sure I’ll upload a rant on that exact topic though). Instead of ranting, I’m going to try and explain a concept to all of you, it’s quite a simple concept, yet often misunderstood. Let’s talk about confidence.

What is confidence?

People talk about it all the time, “feeling confident”, this is not exactly true though. Confidence is not, and will never be, an emotion. Confidence is a belief, which makes it a thought. Confidence is not something you’re born with, confidence is something that requires time, focus and training, much like an athlete’s technical abilities. The dictionary definition of confidence is “a firm belief in one’s powers, abilities, or capacities.”

Confidence is important because you will not perform to the best of your abilities unless you believe in your own abilities. Confidence is unstable and can change based on a wide variety of factors. When this happens, athletes may feel like they’ve lost their confidence, because they lost control, this is only true if they believe they’ve lost it. Years and years of thorough research in the field of sports psychology teaches us that confidence is the single most important (mental) factor in sports, confidence is the key psychological factor between a successful or unsuccessful performance.

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Confident athletes are able to perform at the highest level week after week. They are positive, motivated, focussed and emotionally in control. They will remain confident even if they didn’t perform to the best of their abilities. They have faith in their own abilities. Then there is arrogance, arrogant players expect success simply because they believe they feel that they deserve it. Arrogant athletes can face too much pressure from themselves, which can lead to a fear of failure, causing them to underperform.

Losing Confidence

All athletes, including the confident and arrogant ones, can lose their confidence when something challenges their belief in their ability. Failure is the biggest challenge athletes face. Failure will make athletes lose faith, it will disrupt their confidence and, with that, their performance. Which leads to a vicious circle most athletes struggle to get out of.

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After failing to perform, athletes will start questioning their own belief and abilities, turning into their own worst enemy. Then, before the next performance, they’ll feel nervous and scared. This will damage their confidence more, because they will start feeling physically unwell and no one has ever had a great performance when feeling unwell. It also creates a string of negative emotions, which damages their confidence more, and will also ensure a poor performance.

Besides hurting their confidence, negativity and not feeling well can also ruin an athlete’s focus. Low self-esteem, hardly any confidence and a lack of focus leads to a lack of motivation, because they won’t be able to enjoy themselves and that will hurt their performance even more.

(Re)gaining confidence

In short, confidence is a belief and a skill that can be trained. All athletes will go through periods where they lack confidence, some will regain their confidence quickly, others will need help to become more positive and in time regain their confidence. (Re)gaining confidence is something that any athlete needs to mostly by himself, they need to (re)gain their motivation, their focus and, eventually, their confidence will follow.

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However, as I mentioned before, there are many factors that can influence a players confidence, one of those factors is the amount/lack of support from their fans. Much like being booed off absolutely shatters an athlete’s confidence, the undivided support from fans will help (re)gain that confidence they so desperately need in order to perform and satisfy the fans.

I won’t bother going into more detail about confidence in sports now, I do sincerely hope those who read it will choose to support the athletes they want to perform well, instead of continuously hating on them. Positivity will get you further in life, I promise.

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-Eva

Blog: ITKs – A Love/Hate Phenonemon

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So the transfer window is still open and as usual the ITKs (“In The Knows”) flood twitter with their nonsense and fans, as usual, lose their minds when their fantasy information turns out to be false. This has become scene we see every transfer window and it makes me wonder what it says about us as human beings when we continue to fall for the same thing every single time.

It is an accepted fact that we have evolved over the centuries and our level of intelligence has increased during that time to make us the most intelligent beings inhabiting our planet. One of the most intelligent of us, Albert Einstein, defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

Why have we not learnt anything from previous transfer windows? Considering the previous paragraph, I am left with more questions than answers. Are we insane? Are we devolving? or is there another explanation for our behaviour during the transfer window?

I am unable to offer an answer, I’m afraid, however I do make the best of it and propose we all do the same. I fan the flames, adding to the madness and then just watch the inevitable meltdown when an ITK turns out to be wrong. Those who hung on to their every word explode with righteous indignation, flooding everyone’s timeline with their mind-numbing stupidity. The chaos is glorious, an unrestrained outpouring of raw emotions as people breakdown and unleash all their fury in CAPSLOCKED emphasised rants aimed at the ITKs, their clubs, the managers and the players. It is a glorious picture for those amongst us who, to quote Alfred Pennyworth, want to watch the world burn.

To say I enjoy the ITKs activity is a bit of a false truth but I do confess to enjoying the fallout. Therefore, in closing, long may the ITKs live, long may they continue to destroy the lives of the less intelligent amongst us and long may we be entertained by them.

Le Phantom Menace

Blog: Arsenal – One Piece Away From Greatness?

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The English Premier League season has finally arrived, and with it, comes the hopes an aspirations of all the top clubs in England, as well as their excited fan bases. One fan base in particular seems very excited about the prospects of this season, and what it could mean in the grand scheme of things. Arsenal FC have gone over a decade since last winning the EPL title, and have gone nearly a decade since their deepest run in the UEFA Champions League when they lost 2-1 to Barcelona in a night that will always weigh heavy on the hearts of Gooners all over the globe. But in the past two seasons, Arsenal has began their ascent closer to where they were pre-trophy drought when the club was winning trophies regularly at Highbury under Arsene Wenger. This current squad has a lot to offer, but are the Gooners missing that one special player to truly take them back to the top?

The Here and Now…

For the past few transfer windows, Arsene Wenger has added pieces to this Arsenal team to form one very cohesive unit capable of some of the most attractive football in Europe. First in 2012, the Frenchman went and captured Santi Cazorla from Spain to add to his midfield’s attacking flair. What Cazorla lacks in size and brute strength he more than makes for in technical ability and field awareness. Cazorla is the model Spanish player of this generation, and his game is reflective of it. Then 2013, Wenger went out and signed German Super-Star Mesut Ozil from Spanish giants Real Madrid. As great as the Santi signing was, grabbing the likes of Ozil from the Spanish giants was Arsenal’s biggest coupe in years. Arsene had his world-class number 10, a player capable of creating something out of absolutely nothing. Signing Ozil was a clear statement of intent that Wenger had access to funds to really build something special. Then during the World Cup summer of 2014, while relaxing and enjoying his time on the beaches of Brazil, Wenger went and scooped up Chilean wonder-man Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

The Blaugrana considered Sanchez surplus to requirements, and their trash became Arsenal’s latest treasure. And with the amazing season Sanchez had in his first campaign in England, Arsenal maybe owe Barca some more millions. And this summer (so far) Arsenal have their biggest and possibly most important acquisition yet, goal keeping legend Petr Cech. One area that Arsenal were sorely lacking in was in the goalie position. Without a top-notch goalie it is very difficult to win silverware on any level. So the signing of Cech was massive. Petr Check not only brings a wealth of knowledge with him to the Emirates,  but he brings a trophy winning mentality from his years at Chelsea. Cech has competed at the highest levels and won numerous awards in England. He brings the sort of command and presence that was lacking in the other mega signing I mentioned. While all the great players Arsenal have brought in the past few summers have been the pieces needed to build a juggernaut, Cech’s arrival would be the architect who puts the pieces together on the football pitch. In just a few pre-season games we’ve already seen what he brings to this Arsenal side and how commanding he is. And he was just what the doctor ordered for Arsenal. And with the players Arsenal already have in the squad like Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlan, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and many other very good players, this team is on the precipice of something special. But there is one position that Arsenal need to really secure this summer in order for the footballing world to really be put on notice; the number 9 position.

A Striker’s Striker…

Legendary Arsenal front man-turned pundit Thierry Henry has been beating the drum for Wenger to go out and sign a real world-class striker. Henry came under fire last season from some Arsenal fans (my self included) for his comments on Olivier Giroud not being good enough at striker for Arsenal to win the EPL. It wasn’t so much that I disagreed with everything that Henry said, I just felt the timing was poor for such comments when Giroud was on such a good run of form. After Henry’s comments on Giroud, Giroud seemingly forgot how to play striker properly and his form dipped convincingly. But that being said, a world-class #9 starting for the Gunners in the mode of Thierry Henry would really catapult this side to the next level. Giroud can be an impact sub and can even start in most circumstances as the team presently stands. Theo Walcott has been biding his team to be a striker for the club for years, and Danny Welbeck is an England International who still has years of service to give to the club. But even if I think trio are capable of scoring plenty of goals, a striker like Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski or even Alexandre Lacazette would definitely be an upgrade for Wenger’s side. Any of those three strikers would be ideal for this Arsenal with Mesut Ozil behind them, and Alex Sanchez/Theo Walcott on the flanks.

Benzema would be the ideal candidate because of his movement on and off the ball. He moves like the sort of player Wenger has always coveted in his forwards. He’s good in the air, great with the ball at his feet, finds open spaces and is always making darting runs into the box. He would be an excellent follow up to Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie. I personally think Madrid would be crazy to let the likes of Benzema go, but Madrid have been known to make decisions that leave their supporters puzzled, so anything is possible.

Lewandowski would also be a great capture. From reports I’ve read, Lewandowski doesn’t seem to be high on confidence for the German Champions under manager Pep Guardiola. How true that is, I am not sure. But as they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Lewandowski reminds me more of a Ruud Van Nistelrooy type of in the box poacher, but he would be an excellent addition if available and would only add to Arsenal’s strike force.

Finally, the young Frenchman from Lyon, Lacazette. In truth, I don’t know much about Lacazette outside of a few performances I have watched. From the little I’ve seen, I think he could do the job in England, and with his pace and poacher ability, he could be a Samuel Eto’o type player for this Arsenal side. Lacazette’s goal scoring record in France speaks for itself, and it may be time for him to take the step into one of the bigger European leagues. If recent reports are correct, and Lacazette may be unhappy at Lyon, this would be the perfect time for Wenger to get his young striker to add to this team.

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I know I am in the minority of Gooners who thinks that if fully healthy, this current Arsenal side can win the EPL. But, I would be a fool to deny what a world-class striker would bring to the North London giants. Arsenal fans are very optimistic coming into this season, and that is the first time I can say that as a collective, there is a lot of positivity being a Gooner. Imagine what signing a player like Benzema or Lewandowski would do to raise morale even more. That would be a frightening proposal to all Arsenal opponents. Something we have haven’t seen since the mighty Invincibles era. And that would be quite the sight. Only time will tell, but there’s still time to make it happen. And as always, “In Arsene We Trust.”

-Frantz

Promotion: Hull City AFC – No To Hull Tigers

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Hull City have been relegated from the Premier League, so before anything else I want to give a big virtual hug to all their loyal supporters. We will continue to support Hull City supporters who have combined powers to create the peaceful campaign No To Hull Tigers.

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Hull City’s owner is trying to change the name of Hull City AFC to Hull Tigers again, despite the FA ruling against it in 2014. Supporters are coming together to peacefully and respectfully protest the decision of the owner of the club. You can read more information about the No To Hull Tigers campaign on the website of Hull City Supporters’ Trust.

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You can follow Hull City Supporters Trust on Twitter and Facebook. You can follow the No To Hull Tigers campaign on Twitter and Facebook. You can join Hull City Supporters’ Trust HERE.

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