Feed on

The team was waiting worriedly for me as I stepped into the impeccable strategy room in our hyper-train. A wave of sadness, mingled with nostalgia and pride brought tears to my eyes and I made no attempts to hide them. Over the last few years the team had learnt to accept my changeable moods, probably more than I myself have been able to. Maybe my derelict old age, and my consistent refusal of any life-extension therapies, and willingness to suffer physical pain and discomfort, made me too much of a curiosity, a relic. Quite a few of these players were not even born when I first took on the role of the first team manager from Mikel. Whenever I think of Mikel, my thoughts immediately get drawn towards the memories of the man who was boss to both of us, and I still have trouble fully realizing how singularly, extraordinarily, trend-breakingly unique we are. After Arsène had left there was consensus among everyone in the footballing world that there never, ever was going to be a manager who could serve a top-level team for such a long time. Little did they know!

I walked around the compartment for a while without saying anything. The upholstery made from cactus leather, the polyfoam chairs made from reprocessed plastic wastes in ocean, the red-and-white interior walls, the 3-D simulation zone – the realization that this would be the last time I would ever see any of these broke my heart. I couldn’t speak a word, just nodded towards Bukayo to take over.  Unlike me he was in perfect shape, had replaced almost all his organs in the last ten years and had gone through multiple gene therapies. He would be able to carry this team forward for decades to come. That had been such a reassuring thought, but right at that moment I was overcome with a helpless sense of jealousy as I imagined Bukayo, nimble as ever, training with the team, pacing the touchlines all through the match like a graceful jaguar.

While my jaguar friend, my ageless assistant, was walking the team through 10 minutes of time-sliced simulations of the likeliest configurations in the match, the train had started moving. This 2500 Km journey would take our train around three hours through the hyperloop tunnel.  Last year in an interview I was asked, that after eleven years of first team football with Arsenal, followed by four years with Barcelona, more than twenty years at the forefront of environmentalist movements, and back again in football as Arsenal’s longest-serving manager, which of my life’s work I cherished most? I didn’t hesitate to answer that all of us who had participated in the global movement that pushed to pass the law banning all forms of fossil fuels forever couldn’t possibly think of anything else. But in my own private world I must admit that this train – our very own Chapman Express – was as dear to me as any of the things that others think I have achieved.

The idea for this train was not really mine, but Matheiu’s.  After his Levulinic acid-based oil alternatives won the market all over, he was quick to invest his money back in the club that always retained a special place in his heart: Arsenal. After buying out the American owners, he brought in experts from various fields as advisors to different aspects of running the club. Elon was one of them, and in his typical manner he pushed us to become the first football club to own and operate their own hyperloop train. Mathieu enthusiastically went with it, sponsoring the whole effort, giving me the chance to design the interiors. I am still very much grateful to him for that opportunity. Other than us, there are only five other clubs that have their own train and none of them – if I may say so – come even close to the combination of efficiency, comfort and aesthetics that the Chapman Express compartments have.

The navigation map showed we already left the French tunnels and were looping through Bay of Biscay. Porta Delgada in Azores was still more than an hour away. This will be the 4th time the beautiful São Miguel dome will host the WCL (World Champions League) final.  We had played in two of them, and unfortunately lost both. But the São Miguel dome remains my favorite, closely followed by the serene Tuvalu dome. We won our final there three years back. It is a much longer journey though, and unfortunately no hyperloop tunnel is yet ready, so we needed to fly there. But even in a Concorde it was a long flight, and nowhere as comfortable as these rides in Chapman Express. The rest of the seven such mega-dome footballing venues around the world – all in places where man-made islands were built to emerge above the risen sea water – I had never felt close to, even though the architecture of the Maldives dome with its organic lines and a slowly pulsating interior always reminded me of the city of my childhood. And it was the club of my childhood we would be playing against today in the final.

Bukayo was re-simulating the last ten minutes of the fourth quarter of the play, from 110-120 minutes. This is where we had often fallen out in recent years, our third array of substitutes never being able to pick up the breathless tempo. It had been a complete enigma to me, as they come to field with fully fresh legs and should be fine, but never could seem to move the ball fast enough and lose out in the transitions in counter-counter-press. I had given up on this and asked Bukayo to figure it out. He is still so incredulously fit, and almost as impatient for the team to score goals as he was in his playing days, I suspect one of these days he might just try to bring himself in as a substitute around 100th minute. Pity I wouldn’t be around to see that.

The train started to reduce speed as the loop tunnel came above water. At this speed it was safe to activate the glass windows in the train, and I turned them on all at the same time. The bright sunlight filtered in through the transparent walls of the tunnel. We all looked at the magnificent towers of the São Miguel dome. I had been lost in my own reveries for much of the trip and missed most of what Bukayo and the other assistants talked about. I realized that as the train approached the stadium I would now need to summon all my emotional reserves to come up with one last rallying cry. But I had nothing left to say. The game had passed me by, I couldn’t always even recognize all the players in my team, and to be honest I felt that the world too had passed me by. It seemed just yesterday I had felt myself truly alive in the middle of all the ebb and flows of technology, geopolitics, sports; throwing my life at every opportunity that came my way to move us all forward to a direction of sustainability and peace that the self-serving cynicism of the early twenty-first century couldn’t even dare to imagine. I had always been optimistic. I still am, but I no longer feel I have anything left to contribute. I had stopped explaining to everyone why I had chosen not to use all the advancements of biotechnology to renew myself. As I grew older I started losing passion for the ideas through which I had always engaged with the world, and without original ideas to shape my life and without any true drive to live I just didn’t see any point of carrying on. A happy hedonism was never my way.

Someone said, “Boss, it’s time.” It brought me back to where I was just then. I felt irresistibly tempted to tell them all that this would be my last pre-match talk, this would be the last time I would watch them, this would be the last time I would participate in any of the rituals of football’s eternal bond. And I could sense the weakness of self-justification building up in me: maybe knowing that this would be my final match would inspire them more, would help them find that extra bit of magic that I had never known not to be needed in winning a final. After more than sixty years I could still remember Santi’s curler in the Wembley sunshine in 2014. I was not even on the bench, but the elation of that magical moment had still retained its power in my faltering memory.

But I knew that would be wallowing in self-pity, and would not help the team at all. I chose my words carefully, and simply talked about Arsène. I talked about the Arsène they didn’t know too much about. Before he was the great FIFA president who rid football of institutionalized corruption — who worked with world powers to create these seven football islands all over the world to help and support populations under severe threat from rising seas, who helped to create football-based education and welfare programs that today have presence in the remotest corners of the planet — he was our manager, my boss, our footballing visionary. Arsenal ran through his veins as much as football did. And he never shied from reminding us of our extraordinary privilege to play for this club, and our great responsibility to bring smiles to the face of so many, and our unique opportunities to express the greatest of human facilities – creativity, innovation, selflessness – through our profession.

As the teams entered the ground and the young manager of FC Barcelona shook my hand reverently, I again realized what a great privilege it was to end my footballing life managing the team I love more than anything else, and against my own childhood club.

Anyone reading this does not need to be told about the details of the match. In one of the most exhilarating finals in the history of World Champions League Arsenal won 5-4 against Barcelona with an iconic 118th minute goal that I knew Bukayo had been training the team for: 32 passes, two elaborate decoy runs down the flank, and a trademark right foot finish from our peerless no. 9 Alexandre Aubameyang, who had by now broken all the records set for us by his great grandfather.

As I am finishing this last chapter of my book the day after the final, I can’t recall a single moment of the trophy celebrations that followed after the game. But looking at all the media while getting ready to disappear forever, I see myself in all the footage: laughing, crying, being thrown up in the air by the players, even breaking my own rules of not drinking and sipping from a bottle of champagne, throwing arms in the air with Bukayo and all the other assistants.  I am surprised how it doesn’t really feel that strange to see myself doing things I don’t remember having done. And I feel no pang of remorse or nostalgia, no hunger for one more adrenaline ride of a season, no cravings for the next trophy.

I feel ready. To lose myself in obscurity. To not have to be. Free. __________________________________________________________________

• Editor’s note: The above are excerpts from Hector Bellerin’s soon-to-be-published autobiography  “A Life in Red and White”, reproduced here with the approval of Arsenal Football Club, the book’s copyright owner, per Mr. Bellerin’s direction. Mr. Bellerin’s disappearance the day after Arsenal’s magnificent triumph in 2079 World Champions League final remains an act as enigmatic as the man himself. Arsenal’s most successful manager and the spiritual heir to Arsène Wenger and Mikel Arteta started his career as an outspoken activist, but after becoming Arsenal’s manager he became famously inscrutable and enigmatic. We wish Mr. Bellerin, wherever he might be, everything that he was looking for.

114 Drinks to “A Mid-Atlantic Farewell”

  1. 1
    Pangloss says:

    Um… First?

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    A tour de force Dr Faustus. Magnificent. Worthy of Ursula le Guin (who as everyone knows is a Gooner).

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    A whole new genre Dr F
    – science footyiction?

  4. 4
    Pangloss says:

    Had I but typed up and submit my drink before refreshing. C100 has chosen the very words I had in mind to describe this epic.

    Coulda, shoulda, woulda…

    A quite extraordinary effort Dr Faustus. Congratulations. I look forward to the sequel.

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG and C100 in the previous drinks: I note that Rules draws attention to a review (albeit seemingly from the 18th century) mentioning the “rakes, dandies and superior intelligence’s who comprise its clientele”. I will leave it to you to decide which category you fall into, if indeed not all three.

    Now to read Dr F’s masterwork…

  6. 6
    scruzgooner says:

    dr. faustus, i can only hear this in my mind: https://www.trollfootball.me/videos/view/its-tony-adams-put-through-by-steve-bould-would-you-believe

    brilliantly done. i consider it a privilege to have put it on site.

    sums up what we’re trying to achieve here, and from strength to strength.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    And a masterwork it is. First-rate, Dr F. You have created the most optimistic of dystopias.

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned @5. I have absolutely no doubt that a TTG and I have fallen into all three categories. Just not necessarily in the same decade. 😜🧐🤓

  10. 10
    ATG says:

    Well played Dr. F

  11. 11
    TTG says:

    What an imaginative and enjoyable piece. Top quality stuff Dr.F !

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    A step or two beyond my expectations. Imaginative, footballistically and culturally relevant, and fun. Loved the part about Flamini, who, coincidentally, I was thinking about today. Thank you, Dr. F.

  13. 13
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. Scruz, thanks a lot for posting.

    Countryman, I didn’t know that about Ursula Le Guin. I must (shamefully) confess I haven’t read a lot of her works. My favorite writer of this genre is the great polish author Stanislaw Lem.

    Happy to have been able to put something up that you all enjoyed.

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    It was fun to read Dr F like some
    of Le Guin’s short stories.
    There’s a connection with Lem
    for Le Guin – she once refused
    an award because he’d been
    kicked out of some writers
    guild (sorry it was a long time
    ago and I don’t remember

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    I decided to check rather than
    lazily leaving it to the monks…

    Le Guin refused a Nebula award
    in protest at Lem’s honorary
    membership of the SFWA being
    revoked. Lem it seems had a low
    opinion of US SF writing in general.

  16. 16
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    That is absolutely superb stuff Doc. The idea is great and the execution masterly. I could not wait to find out who our hero was… Hector, of course!

    There is a bottle of whatever you want behind the bar for you. Enjoy it sir.

  17. 17
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Personally I thought it had more than a little of J.G. Ballard in it. Which is high praise indeed.

  18. 18
    Countryman100 says:

    Dr F. Sorry to have to tell you that Le Guin being a Gooner is a total flight of fancy.

  19. 19
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Ballard is definitely a gooner Doc. 😉

  20. 20
    bathgooner says:

    A wonderful piece, Dr F. I am speechless.

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Everyone still alive and kicking, I hope.

  22. 22
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Bath, NBN, bt8, Pangloss, TTG, GSD, Matt, Countryman, scruz, ATG …

    Thanks Matt for that bit of history … I have very big gaps in my Sci-Fi readings.

    GSD, that’s high praise indeed.
    And no, I am not falling for that Gooner fan thing anymore. 🙂

    Thanks countryman. 🙂

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F: As a physicist and sci-fi author, you might enjoy this historical piece on Soviet-era sci-fi writing in Bulgaria:

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, Ballard has just got over an injury
    and returned to training last month,
    though not JG I must admit, whose
    return would have to be more on the
    miraculous side of things.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned for the link – Nikolov
    made me laugh out loud with his
    101st Law of Robotics.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    Sad that today Nikolov is most honoured for his translation of Tolkien’a Lord of the Rings into Bulgarian, a saga with no robots.

  27. 27
    Trev says:

    Strange times – strange days – strange tale, but in a good way.

    Very clever idea, excellent execution – well played, Sir 👏🏻

  28. 28
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks a lot NBN for that link. Great read. Had no idea about this fascinating era of Bulgarian technology and science excellence. Cognitive computing — including AI — is an area of my personal and professional interest. The extraordinary puzzles about artificial intelligence that makes so much of the Sci-Fi of that era enjoyable can now also be informed by all the great progress made in neuroscience and biological theories of consciousness made over the last few decades. We ourselves are automatons to a certain extent. 🙂 Anxious about the automatons we will create outwitting us …

    Thanks Trev for the kind words.

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@28: we have to worry first about what we will all do all day when the robots make all the drones.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    For anyone who read the BBC report on how Euro Club Index’s simulation of the rest of the season concluded that Liverpool were 100% nailed-on certainties to win the Premiership title, here is the predicted full table:

    League Odds

    We are predicted to win 15 points from our last ten games and the neighbours the same number from their last nine, under which scenario we end up eighth, a point and a place behind them.

    Their methodology clearly make no allowance for the Spurzing it up factor.

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    Spurzing it up factor = much goodness for Arsenal

    Spurzing it up factor multiplied by Mourinho at the helm factor = Arsenal rocketing skyward, Spurs plummeting into the cesspool. 🤣🤣🤣

  32. 32
    Brendan says:

    Hello Just thought you might like this and I know my father would like me to tell you.Smug wasn’t something he did😂
    He distributed all his homebrew equipment with brow beating instructions to use it and now he is I’m sure nodding sagely with all of us with homemade beer and cider and wine bubbling away in half a dozen homes.Self isolation needn’t be dry.🍺🍺🍺🍺
    Thanks again Goonerholics My mother loves being told himself isn’t forgotten.
    God rest David Faber and look after yourselves everyone.Good people will be needed.


  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks for dropping in Brendon. All the regulars here would wish to be remembered to your mother. She can be assured that you father is never going to be forgotten here. His generosity and foresight in distributing his home-brew kit has found its time and purpose. The world moves in mysterious ways.

  34. 34
    Pangloss says:

    Brendan@32, please tell your mother that we’re trying. God knows we’re trying…

    It seems like the most fitting way to honour his memory.

    UP THE ARSENAL indeed.

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ned, I scrolled down that Euro club index
    link and it seems they predicted Liverpool
    to beat Athletico and Dortmund to beat
    PSG – clearly they were Sprurzing it up
    all along !

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    just read arseblog’s current piece. i have to say, dr. faustus, it doesn’t have a patch on yours. with all due respect to blogs. 🙂

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

  38. 38
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I had a dream last night that I was watching Arsenal play live in the stadium in a league game but simultaneously watching us play live on television in a Eurpoean game. I was so confused how it was happening but I could not seem to focus enough on any individual players to see who was making up the teams. Amusingly the only one I could make out was Ozil. He was in the European game.
    Then I woke up and remembered that we are not playing any matches at all. Booooo.

  39. 39
    Countryman100 says:

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    Hello Brendan, and yer ma. Himself is by no means forgotten. The spillchucker still calls him cab though. 😉

  41. 41
    bt8 says:

    Blogs done really good, imo. Dr. F just done a bit better and more imaginative.

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@38: You probably need to lay off the pickled onions last thing at night…

  43. 43
    bt8 says:

    Wonderful homage to Arsene Wenger by Dr. Faustus late in his piece, in the voice of Bellerin his protege.

  44. 44
    bt8 says:

    Just reread both pieces to confirm my opinion @41 Confirmed.

  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks scruz. Thanks bt8. I liked Blogs’ parallel universe piece. Cole appears prominently, just like Saka does in mind. I think marauding left backs always leave a very strong impression on our footballing memories.

  48. 48
    bt8 says:

    Yes Ned you are correct again. The Irish Times story was originally in the Guardian but referenced the even more original story in La Sexta, a Spanish publication that is new to me, and the one Arteta spoke to.

  49. 49
    bt8 says:

    Finding myself near the left corner flag, sending in a perfect cross from my relatively uncultured left foot for the marauding attacker known as …

  50. 50
    TTG says:


  51. 51
    TTG says:

    All Hail the assist master!

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    Well in Thunder Tiny, a thunderous half ton.⚡️⚡️💥💥

  53. 53
    OsakaMatt says:

    And to think I used to find mere
    interlulls long.
    All the best to those locked in,
    down or even up I suppose.

    I am just wading through Drood
    by Dan Simmons but cannot
    recommend it for the locked in.

  54. 54
    Dorset Mick says:

    Having to self-isolate, I’ve ordered a bulk delivery of Wild beer, and will be rereading my favourite books – A dance to the music of time, Blue Rose trilogy, everything by Kingsley Amis, P G Wodehouse, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, and will binge on Amazon’s excellent Bosch, Justified and Hunters. Don’t know about food, though.

    My wife, however, has different ideas, and is suggesting gardening, DIY and French polishing instead.

    I’d appreciate any advice anyone can offer!

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    Mick, two of the wife’s three recommended activities sound more than a bit dicey to me. Stay safe!

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    Surprised to learn that the Invincibles’ first-choice team — Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Gilberto, Ljungberg, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp and Henry — started only two league games together, v Liverpool and v Leicester in 2004.


  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    DM@54: Certainly don’t polish any French.

  58. 58
    Dorset Mick says:

    bt8, and everyone else, stay safe and take care of yourselves.

    NBN, the only French thing in our house is wine!

  59. 59
    OsakaMatt says:

    And definitely don’t French any

  60. 60
    North Bank Ned says:

    DM@58: That needs to be polished off.

  61. 61
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@59: Oh, nurse!

  62. 62
    OsakaMatt says:

    It’s good to see The Arsenal
    doing some practical things
    like providing club cars to help
    the NHS and various other
    initiatives you can see on the
    People will remember who
    helped and who didn’t same as
    any other neighbour in the
    N5 community.

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    I know not everyone is able to access The Athletic. For those who can this is a lovely, very Arsenal story, by Amy Lawrence.

    Unwritten: The man who lived at Highbury (and showered in the dressing room)

  64. 64
  65. 65
    bathgooner says:

    Arseblog’s interview with Cesc Fabregas on his latest podcast is a superb piece of ‘journalism’ undertaken by a football blogger. An excellent listen with sensitive questioning on key episodes in his career that are honestly answered by a genuine fan of the club with some regrets about his departure. A must listen!

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@65: Blogs has put in the hard yards over what are now many years and has established his credibility, much as the Guv’nor did, too, in his way. Reputations are hard won but easily lost, a point lost on much of the so-called professional media these days, and especially the sports media.

  67. 67
    scruzgooner says:

    bath@65, i just listened to that. i’ve been so pissed at him for leaving, for so long. this gave me cesc back. his passion for the club was so evident, and his reasons for leaving so true. what a shame we couldn’t get the xabi deal across the line. i feel better this evening for having listened to it. cheers.

  68. 68
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I was gutted when Cesc left. And gutted when he went to Chelsea. But i have struggled to dislike him the way I dislike RVP.

    Listening to that interview was a chance to hear his side of the story. And it’s totally fair. I shared all of his concerns about our club and although Wenger’s first fifteen years contained much success if we had been ruthless in the transfer market I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest we could have won six or seven league titles and at least one CL. So many missed opportunities that cost us.

    It is a wonderful interview from Blogs. Nicely done that man.

    And I do love Cesc. He’s a diamond. I shall look forward to when he returns to us as a coach. He is an Arsenal man, even if some do not see him that way.

  69. 69
    bathgooner says:

    Exactly my reactions fellas. That interview clearly shows, though it wasn’t expressed in this way, that Cesc himself feels that despite playing for Barca and the Chavs, he has Arsenal DNA. His frustration in 2011 comes through loud and clear. His regret that he had to force his way out is evident as is his sense that he left too soon but that he had given so much emotionally and physically that he simply had to leave at that juncture. His abiding love for the club and respect for Le Boss is palpable. Welcome back, Cesc. Thanks, Blogs.

  70. 70
    OsakaMatt says:

    It was interesting to hear Cesc’s point
    of view and that there were things
    he wasn’t proud of, same for most of
    us in life I’m sure. He did a lot for us that
    he can be proud of too, great player.

    I’ve never blamed anyone for leaving
    since Stapleton, it’s up to them really.
    In Cesc’s case he made his choice,
    forced it through with his behaviour
    and now regrets the way he did some
    of the things that happened. Fair enough
    I suppose but it didn’t change my view
    that we were right not to take him back.

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    I’d forgotten that Charlton Heston
    is sitting in his spaceship smoking
    a cigar in the first scene of Planet
    of the Apes.
    I did remember that he wasn’t a
    very good actor.

  72. 72
    Esso says:

    Cheers Dr F!

    As regards Fabregas; I think its a superb interview and he comes across well. However he is dead to me. Don’t forget he tried to engineer his departure a full 12 months before he did actually leave. I haven’t. Not to mention the Spanish GP fiasco. He’s far from blameless in my opinion. No desire to see him back within my club ever. But that’s just me.

  73. 73
    TTG says:

    I hear both arguments on Cesc and can see both points of view. I also didn’t get as annoyed with RVP as some. At the time both players were in or coming to their prime our club was starting to slip away as a contender for honours. Cesc clearly had unfinished business with Barca and he had shown his ambition and ruthlessness by turning his back on Barca at 16, moving to a foreign country and accelerating his development. Given his emotional link to Barca and the interest the6 showed in him it wasn’t difficult to understand why he would want to go back. They were the best club side in the world then, Guardiola was his idol and an extraordinary coach and players only have one career . I loved firms I’ve left to improve my income and career prospects. That’s what Cesc and RVP did. As Esso says we all disagree on this because they both are dead to many fans.
    I think we should have taken Cesc back and sold Ozil . RVP only ever stayed fit for two full seasons but they were wonderful seasons .I think what hurt is that he went to United and almost single- handedly won an average team the title . He had no emotional link to the side he went to like Cesc did . But he wanted a medal…and he got one . It seems to me now that RVP identifies as an ex- Arsenal player much more than a ManUre one . Interesting that the Arsenal DNA in Cesc is as strong as the Barca and much stronger Chelsea stuff .
    Let’s remember why they left . Arsène had lost a bit of his mojo and Gazidis was profoundly ineffective and neither player could see us getting back to where we were. And they were right .

  74. 74
    bathgooner says:

    Spot on TTG@73. I couldn’t agree more on every observation.

  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    What Bath said @74.

    And this was one of RVP’s most wonderful moments:

  76. 76
    North Bank Ned says:

    Senior non-league football in England below the National League has cancelled the rest of this season and declared all results null and void. No promotion or relegation. All clubs will start the new season, whenever that is, in the same league and division they started the one just wiped out. Non-league clubs who will have been denied a promotion don’t have the resources to take on the FA legally over such a decision, but Liverpool does, so I wonder if authorities will have the bottle to follow suit with the top leagues. (Yes, that was a rhetorical question.)

  77. 77
    bt8 says:

    RIP Michel Hidalgo. I was pleased as punch when France broke the German/Brazilian stranglehold on the World Cup in 1984 under him. Laurent Blanc and Arsenal Wenger followed in his steps but who better to quote than Michel Platini who said “Michel Hidalgo rebuilt French football at international level. As coach, Michel took the France team to its greatest heights, opting for a beautiful style of football which allowed each one of us to fully express our individual talents.”

  78. 78
    bt8 says:

    Arsenal should have been Arsene. Probably not the first time that mistake has been made

  79. 79
    bt8 says:

    Feeling a bit ambivalent about Cesc. Very honest in what he said, but maybe not so honest in what he didn’t say.? For that and to get a fuller picture of the man, it would be interesting to hear what he told other people, including the Barcelona and Chelsea fans.

  80. 80
    bt8 says:

    Great interview though, and I am not surprised his favorite Arsenal goal was that one against Spurs.

  81. 81
    scruzgooner says:

  82. 82
    Pangloss says:

    It’s difficult with Fabregas… I accept the suggestion that he thought he had better chances at Barca, but I think his departure broke Wenger. He (Arsene) looked like a man who’s had the stuffing knocked out of him for several months so I think it’s quite possible that the team would have fared a LOT better had Cesc’s Arsenal DNA asserted itself a little more strongly.

    Impossible to tell, and not a subject on which there’s likely ever to be agreement. Frankly, I’m staggered that there has been as much rational argument as there has.


  83. 83
    TTG says:

    It’s interesting to look at the different mindsets of players and fans. I’d contend that it is unrealistic to expect players to stay with a club for their whole career out of loyalty particularly if they can better themselves financially and their likelihood of winning medals. Take Kieran Tierney , a Celtic man through and through yet he traded the team he loves to play for Arsenal . As the club receiving him we admire his ambition. Even most Celtic fans accept it is an obvious and understandable move for him Would we really expect him to be loyal to Celtic just because they gave him his opening into football and spend the rest of his career regretting his decision ?
    Look at Harry Kane- if he stays at the Marshdwellers for all his career and wins nothing he might win the undying respect and affection of Totts fans but would you not believe he lacked the courage and ambition to test himself? Football is a career not a vocation for players and while fans remain undyingly loyal to their team players will look at maximising their ability and opportunity for glory . I think that’s natural and it’s hypocritical of fans who would move their own jobs in a heartbeat if it was financially advantageous to do so or if they had better working conditions in their new job to expect players not to do the same .

  84. 84
    cba says:

    its Brendan here .
    Is it ok to post messages here as cba ?
    I know he hated being called that so double chuckles
    Herself is stuck with Ciaran+2 for the foreseeable and she likes distractions.
    If it’s not ok. No problem.
    I will merely visit a pox upon yo.. . . . .

  85. 85
    cba says:

    i tried my best with the phrasing and spacing
    shall we say

  86. 86
    cba says:

    Herself has some pictures of himself she knows he’d approve of and knows he wouldn’t mind being shared because “his hair looks great and his creepers are his good ones.”
    So if it’s ok to post messages as cba let me know
    If not , no problem.
    All the best

  87. 87
    cba says:

    If it’s ok, it will go through me though I’m not much of a music man so maybe this could be very dull

  88. 88
    cba says:

    By way of explanation I think I was the first one to talk on here as my father- he gave me the tablet after something or other he read out was said. As in -go on YOU answer him . I can’t remember what I said but it was I’m guessing shite.
    Unfortunately that became a thing and was abused but I think people could tell when it was my father and not as he called my kids and my brothers kids “that fuckin shower”

    Think TARTAN

  89. 89
    cba says:

    He LOVED them
    they fuckin adored him but be never dropped the “wha ?”
    “Not a singular solitary sausage of a word did I get from your mouth”
    Savages just savages that’s what you are

  90. 90
    cba says:

    We all miss him so much and I’m here because he loved here so much and said check in – see the place hasn’t turned to buggery – Anyway.Thanks and I hope I haven’t moved the furniture about too much. Lord knows, himself set fire to a few chairs he was in at the time here so nothing much different there

  91. 91
    cba says:

    God rest ‘holic
    and God rest can’t be arsed
    and God help all of us


  92. 92
    cba says:

    Here is a song
    I approve
    He’d approve

  93. 93
    bt8 says:

    Brendan, Just not to confuse us maybe you could be cba2 but Brendan does pretty well too. Your choice though. Anyways, I enjoy hearing from you and getting the news of the family so please feel welcome.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    Brendan says:

    BT8 that is the “greatest cover version of all time” I have been told that all my life. I heard that song so many times.
    Me da s favourite

    Maybe you are right. It’s just that like himself my known by name is not the name I’m known by officially. What the taxman reads as my first name that is .Too many people with the same name – it’s middle names and combinations are what we are known by .

    I’m in my father’s house at the minute . In the North of Ireland. My mother is in Donegal with my brother . We are all sticking to where we are .

  96. 96
    Brendan says:

    because of the virus

  97. 97
    Brendan says:

    I hope you and yours are safe and well

  98. 98
    Brendan says:

    it’s absolutely the button down cusp of PANDEMONIUM here
    If our caoimh was still staring at people
    he’d a stopped some selfish cunts not obeying the well-being rules

  99. 99
    Brendan says:

    he was brilliant
    he is dead

    hard to

  100. 100
    Brendan says:

    evaluate that really

    it’s just so difficult

  101. 101
    Brendan says:

    unreconstructed roars of joy are no longer acceptable with regard to goals of yore , anymore

  102. 102
    Brendan says:

    I’ve an actual doctorate.
    at what level of food in the sinking tesco metro should I bring that up .
    Pre or post apocalypse

  103. 103
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well in for the ton Brendan
    Just in time too as I think a
    new post is up soon.
    Good to hear you’re all safe and well

  104. 104
    Brendan says:

    Did you know me da ?
    As well if you are in Japan , please you should be thinking about yourself and yours.
    Himself used to make sake.I think one of my brothers knows how I don’t know if he has since

  105. 105
    Brendan says:

    has had a go at Japan ?

    C19 – explosive
    C19 – neo nazi explosive dreamers
    C19 – the official name for the bogs in Withering-can’t-you-sea’s dole office staff canteen
    C19 – smug answer to someone convinced their pub quizzing days aren’t over despite a monumental Paul Hardcastle catastrophe

  106. 106
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, I knew your Dad in here
    and we’d sometimes chat about
    sake amongst other things. Your
    Mum liked the sake he made he told me,
    a nice rose flavour he thought. Though
    he wasn’t entirely satisfied with it
    and meant to make some more.

    We are mostly escaping from C19 so
    far in Japan……No lockdowns etc but
    who knows so it’s fingers crossed (after
    washing them) and hope for the best

  107. 107
    Brendan says:

    Osakamatt look after yourself. Ultimately you are the only one who can
    You are 100% right. My father used to make it for my mother. He LOVED the process. I can’t remember the exact ness of it but I do remember him saying it was balls of mold. Rice and mold never really swung it for me

  108. 108
    Brendan says:

    It was a skill I’m told
    Never learned it didn’t want to
    It smelled awful

  109. 109
    Brendan says:

    He taught us all the skill of standard homebrew
    Which is mad cos it’s like all the demijohns and carboys in all our houses which he gave us only on the condition that we pestered each other to use regularly sound like him going eh , told ye !

  110. 110
    Brendan says:

    Buying red grape juice outta Sainsbury
    “Well what the fuck do you think they make wine outta”
    Apple juice outta tesco
    “Fuck off , no son o mine doesn’t ……. cider …. Yahoo”

    Beer is complicated he gave that not to me
    He had a fuckin ton of stainless steel and recipes and stuff but was adamant there was no point because tweaking coopers stout kits couldn’t be bettered

  111. 111
    Brendan says:

    Treacle stout was born outta that
    It is lovely
    We drank the last of the last batch he made and set aside a month ago. No bottles left full. No memorializing. Except we all kept the bottles . He wrote on everyone’s. But no contents otherwise what’s the point . Anyway . I’m sorry Gooners. Bye bye and thanks for allowing me to talk.

  112. 112
    Brendan says:


  113. 113
    ATG says:


  114. 114

    […] I’m sorry that this review comes so long after the publication of Arsene Wenger’s autobiography, not least because it has given time for some apparently genuine anticipation to build up. With matches coming twice a week, each calling for a preview and review, it has had to wait for an international break. It only occurred to me a day or two before the book came out, that I might conceivably have been able to get hold of an advance copy against a promise of a website review. Fortunately, by that time it would clearly have been pointless even to have made the attempt, so I was spared the embarrassment of a refusal. With luck, when Mikel comes to retire and publish his autobiography, this bar will be so well established that the publishers will approach us. We have, of course, already published extracts from the autobiography of Mikel’s successor. […]