The Mailbox attempts to move beyond geopolitics by comparing Patrick Vieira’s swift impact at palace to Mikel Arteta’s at Arsenal.
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Something tells me I’m into something good
If the Arsenal’s fans want a convenient scapegoat, there’s the BBC, who put up a video of Olivier Giroud’s “iconic scorpion kick from every angle” earlier. Not sure it’s possible to pin a video up on the changing room wall but if anyone can, it’s Patrick Vieira.
*Before the season, Vieira’s appointment was questioned, because he lacked experience and managerial pedigree. What people forget is that Palace only really reach their best once people have written them off; in this respect, Vieira has truly embraced the Palace way.
*This was a good showcase for how far Vieira has brought this team. He has always spoken of his respect for the platform he inherited from Roy Hodgson, but this was a whole other level. Palace had sod all possession and didn’t win a single corner, but still managed more shots on target than their opponents (5-3). Their new approach still begins with the defensive organisation Hodgson prided himself on, but with attacking impetus that creates plenty of chances, instead of just one or two and then shrugging when they aren’t converted.
*A minor detail but it was wryly amusing that the first goal came courtesy of a mistake from Ben White, fresh from looking not quite as good as Marc Guehi in an England shirt. You can take the defender out of Brighton, but not the Brighton out of the defender.
*On the other hand, Guehi’s centre-back partner Joachim Andersen had a banner game. He got on the end of Conor Gallagher’s free kick for the first goal, and played one of the best passes of the season for the second: a first time, diagonal ball that split two defenders and hit Jordan Ayew in stride perfectly. The Ghanaian was in the side because of an injury for Michael Olise but took his chance wonderfully. He’s not quite a “scorer of great goals but not a great goalscorer”, but he can see from his satnav he isn’t far away.
*Amid all the talk of Palace’s high profile signings, Jean-Philippe Mateta, who was signed on loan by Hodgson and permanently by Vieira, is quietly making a huge difference to their play. He is an effective target man but he is also very mobile, so he can be involved in more phases of the same attack.
*Overall, just wow. One of the recurring stats for Hodgson was that Palace could not beat the teams above them in the league; this season? 4 points from Manchester City and the Arsenal and 3 off Spurs from the traditional elite, plus 6 off Wolves, the only team between the Eagles and the European places. The best part is these points have been deserved, because we’ve outplayed some of the best teams in the league.
Whatever happens here on in, it’s been a really good season, but the best part is that it feels like the start of something, rather than the culmination.
Oh dear, Arteta
* Watching both managers in the dugout, it’s incredible to think that Vieira is the manager on half Arteta’s wages, and a budget not even 25% of Arteta. Makes you wonder how a non-entity like Arteta is managing a club of Arsenal’s stature, whilst Vieira is at Palace? To be clear, Arteta isn’t good enough for Palace. Because if you asked Palace fabs to swap Vieira out for Arteta, less than 1% would. Says it all.
* Patrick Vieira has only been in charge of a Palace team that narrowly avoided the drop last season, for several months. In that time, he’s transformed their style of play, outplayed a richer Arsenal twice and taken 4 points off them, and taken 4 points off City (Arteta has never managed a single point off Pep in 3 years). How has Vieira managed this in such short time?
* Arsenal fans have spent years claiming you “cannot compete with teams with superior financial resources”. Given Arsenal have vastly outspent Spurs and have a larger wage bill, how are Spurs ahead of them, and odds-on to finish the season ahead of Arsenal?
* Antonio Conte took over a shambolic Nuno Spurs mid-season that Arsenal had beaten. He signed just two players and took over the same squad that was widely mocked under Nuno. Suddenly, Conte looks odds-on to finish ahead of Arsenal in top 4. There’s zero doubt Spurs will walk that NLD at home (Son + Kane v Tavares LOL). If Conte manages this in just a half-season, without a summer window or preseason, what does it say about Arteta, who has had three years, a preseason, millions of pounds and total authority? How has Conte had such an impact that quickly?
* Mikel Arteta spent more money in summer than any club in Europe. He ejected Arsenal’s highest paid player and attacker without signing a replacement, a foolish decision (Vlahovic had no interest in Arsenal, obvious). He’s reduced to playing a comically blunt Lacazette until season’s end. Why are many Arsenal fans pretending “if you’d offered us 5th place at the start of the season, we would have bitten your hand off”? How low are standards at that club, that yet another season outside the Top 4, despite playing just one game a week, season over in February and spending more than any club over summer…acceptable? Why wasn’t Arteta able to man-manage Aubameyang to perform for the final six months before getting rid in summer? Mind you, I guess Barca is the kind of club Arsenal rejects join eh…
* How much more money, and how much more time does Arteta need to look like a quality manager? Zero points against Liverpool, Citeh and Chelski this season. Brentford, Palace and Brighton have each managed more. Vieira already looks a far more accomplished manager. Conte is clearly far superior to Arteta. Moyes is doing an excellent job at West Ham with a far smaller budget. All are getting far more out of their players and squad than the sum of their parts.
Why, after 3 fruitless seasons, is “the future bright” still? Why is Xhaka still there?
* Whereas Arsenal fans might be happy to wait 18 years before being relevant again…how much more time do you think Bukayo Saka, Gabby Martinelli and Odegaard etc have to wait around for Arsenal to become serious? So all the crowing about “young team” is going to be an action replay of Cole, RVP, Cesc and Nasri all leaving to join the big clubs that win. History repeating itself…
Stewie Griffin (Spuds have Kane + Son. Moura can come on. Arteta is relying on Nketiah. Nuff said)
…Is it too reactionary to say that we’ll not get 4th place. This is just awful. Almost as bad as Brentford on opening day of the season.
Kenneth, frustrated in Dallas
I understand the world appears to be on fire at the moment, but I have what I think is a fun ask of the Mailbox. When Brazil were beaten 7-1 by Germany in 2014, I understand Thiago Silva was suspended, but that result has always colored my opinion of him as a defender. I know it makes no sense, but his suspension made me doubt his leadership qualities. I think that result may have also caused me to think (in that sort of racist, but not really racist way) you don’t build your spine around Brazilians that it has taken this iteration of Liverpool to dispel. So my question is this: are there any completely idiotic takes or imperfect memories of a player that cloud your judgment of them or a larger group they are part of to this day?
Now back to the world we live in. In America and England, it seems the writers of the past like Hemmingway and Orwell captured two sets of people who don’t seem to exist anymore. Their contemporaries were tough and self-sufficient. Now there seems to be large groups of both nationalities who complain constantly and embody weakness and self-pity. A grandparent might describe them as white trash over here and low class there. It seems to me that other countries don’t have this sub-set of their populations that are making a mockery of past writings. When I read Orwell describe Brits as lovers of gardening and queues, I picture Harry MaGguire wildly running around some Greek island with his mates pissing in the locals’ back gardens. It seems like we’ve let our great pasts down more than any other countries where I have enough friends to have some insight. To put it bluntly, we love a “never again” sticker, but that’s about as far as we’re willing to go so we keep buying things we don’t need.
Niall, Bethany Beach
General Manager of Common Sense
Sincere apologies for answering my own letter, but my GMoCS senses were also triggered today by your rumour that United might think of paying £76m for a player (Abraham) who 8 months ago was not even on their radar at £30m, just because he has scored a bunch of goals in a totally different league. (GMoCS hat on ) “No! That’s not how it works! He is the the same guy you fools! This is why you fritter all our money away every year!”
One more, anyone else remember when Villa recruited Alex McLeish as their manager straight from Birmingham City? Literally every single GMoCS worth their salt fell off their chairs the second they read it. Surely impossible we thought. Nope…. Where was the GMoCS??
Anyhow, any other budding GMs of CS remember any other good examples? And you are not allowed to play Captain Hindsight obvs, that’s not the point.
The last word. Hopefully…
Well aren’t Tim and Shz bringing a lot of helpful discourse to the table? Between Tim’s Torylicious Middle-England defence of the indefensible, and Shz deciding that no Briton can hold an opinion on anything ever. Really useful stuff chaps, well done. If you could let us know when we are allowed to comment, and what comment we should make, that would be swell.
Christ. What a f*cking ridiculous argument this has become. First we had the ex-pats counting their blood money and telling us Qatar isn’t actually that bad and, you know, people die all over the place and car accidents and stuff. Now that wonderful discussion has moved on to that glorious old favourite, whataboutery. Because how on earth can I, or any other citizen of this country, ever dare hold a negative opinion of anyone or anything? Don’t we know what we did? Oh hang on. Tim said it’s fine. Tim said we didn’t really do much wrong back then, and certainly not now, and if anything were just innocent victims of those bullying mean Irish.
Honestly, the back and forth between these two has been incredibly depressing. What an utterly f*cking useless exchange. Between Tim’s almost insane depiction of Britain, both historic and current, and Shz declaring that British people are not entitled to take a stand against something they find deplorable because someone voted for Tony Blair in the 90s. Nothing encourages discussion and change quite like forbidding people to speak, or ignoring reality.
Could the pair of you take a moment to appreciate that you’re both operating on a plane of bullshit that helps nobody? Shz, by shutting down comment from every (sorry, EVERY – I know you love a bit of capslock) person here, you do nothing more than engage negativity. Has covering your ears and shouting ever lead to a helpful resolution? Also, let’s be real here: the historical and present shames of this nation run deep and wide. Your literary screaming about the poppy, the fucking poppy, is a waste of a paragraph. And bringing up James McLean takes us dangerously close to disingenuous obfuscation bingo. This nation has done untold damage globally, has lifted itself on the blood and bodies of slavery, and has citizens who hold vast, unimaginable wealth directly as a result of raping civilisations, both literally and metaphorically. It is run by the descendents of those evil, greedy people. You really don’t need to bring footballers the Daily Mail hate to make that point. But, and this is the most important point I will be making, NONE of that removes my right to protest the way Qatar treats it citizens and guests. As soon as you start suggesting otherwise, you are on the wrong side. Because not only is it a f*cking idiotic response, it is also incredibly dangerous. You are refusing to allow a voice to someone due to the actions of another. Not really the position from which to claim the moral high ground. Feel free to respond with stuff about Churchill and Victoria and the rest of them, as though I am sat in a pith helmet drinking quinine in the Madras sunshine. I don’t mind the suggestion that I’m not allowed to protest or hold such opinions because, for the time being at least, I still live somewhere that allows me to do so. I’m not sure the average Qatari has the same luxury. And Shz, that is also something you need to remember when telling people they need to check their privilege/passport before protest. There may well be something rather distasteful about citizens of Britain slamming other national governments – there certainly is when our government do it – but we are in the blessed position of being able to do it. When a million people marched in opposition to the gulf war, the law protected them and their right to do so. Yes, maybe each and every one of those people should have stayed in and self-flagellated over the truly disgusting history of this country, but that doesn’t diminish the protest, nor does it mean that none of those marching were also enraged by our history and present of slavery, invasion, and slaughter.
This has already gone beyond the point of publication because my god this is a long’un, but we’re into cathartic territory here. Now Tim. Tim. What the f*ck are you doing Tim? I almost hope you’re another Millwall Marxist, because the idea that someone actually believes the semantic nonsense you’ve written is less upsetting than the idea of there being yet another racist in the world. It’s exceptionally grim reading. The more you read, the worse it gets. I’ll try and move through it quickly, for fear that lingering will allow the stench to settle on me.
1. The kind of pathetic response I’d expect from a hate-filled kid on 4chan. Britain certainly made up for that time in the shadows though, by invading most of the planet and committing genocide.
2. Oh f*ck off you absolute c*nt.
3. Others have addressed this bizarre pity-party better than I could.
4. We are literally selling bombs that are being deployed against children. We just used £400m of ringfenced humanitarian funds to pay off a debt. If this country is a leader in the anti slavery movement, why isn’t there even the slightest hint of this country paying back the trillions made from the torn backs of kidnapped people?
5. When you invade a nation, destroy its culture and history, often banning traditional practice in the process, it has an impact that lingers. But the increasing number of ex-commonwealth nations tells its own story, as does the rising total of those voicing their desire to follow suit.
6. Poppies are worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces community. Literally the words of the British Legion. Also that’s a really weird way of saying WWI.
Grim grim grim. This shouldn’t even be a f*cking debate. Qatar has disgusting laws. Britain has done and continues to do disgusting things. Citizens of both should be angry at both. It’s not either/or. It’s not Qatar bad UK good. A person can vote Conservative for decades but that doesn’t mean they will never realise what a c*nt they have been. Seriously, the pair of you should read back what you’ve written and ask yourself if you feel you’ve done anything helpful. Because, between banging on and on about the gulf war – as though that wasn’t widely and massively criticised and protested at the f*cking time – and making spectacularly false claims and statements that imply Britain has just been quietly sat here, being picked on by the bigger boys, you’ve both done f*ck all except expose your own issues.
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