I had an idea. Why not pester my betters with E-mails and try to get them to answer a few questions. I figured by now, those of you that frequent my blog are probably tired of reading my extraneous blathering, and would appreciate a contribution from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
My first guest is Tim Stillman. You’ll most probably know him from his column at Arseblog and his regular work for Vital Arsenal. What follows are a few questions I posed that he was kind enough to take a moment to answer.
I hope you enjoy it.
1. One of the more maligned figures in the current Arsenal squad is Aaron Ramsey. Even the smallest of mistake he makes is greeted with an onslaught of fury. What are your views on him as a player, and his importance to Arsenal in the future?
I’m a huge fan of Ramsey and would back him to the hilt against the current criticism. I think football fans always need at least one voodoo doll at any one time and he seems to be the unlucky one at the moment. The last month or so, I think he has looked a bit leggy. But really that’s to be expected. This is really his first season as a fully fledged first team player in the squad. I think between August to about February he had been excellent. He just needs to work on his final product. But that’s the easiest thing to fix, it just takes practice. Getting the positions is harder to coach and he already has that.
The issue, insofar as there is one, is that the team has been adjusting to Ramsey as much as he has been adjusting to us. After a few years of Fabregas, people are expecting the same type of player because they play the same position. Ramsey is much more in the Gerrard mould. A box to box midfielder making late runs. His energy levels are off the charts and his passing fits right into our team. We just need to work out how better to utilise his late runs and he needs to be better at finishing. There was a chance at Goodison recently that summed it up a bit. A ball was lofted into Robin in the area, he was switched on and spotted that Rambo had made a late, untracked run, so Robin headed it down, but Ramsey ended up blasting over. Everything was there but the finish. That will come with time.
Fabregas’ first season brought 3 goals and 5 assists. Ramsey is dealing in similar numbers. We just need to be patient. I’ll totally put my neck on the line and say, in three years time, he’ll be one of the best midfielders in Europe.
I’d certainly take it as an accomplishment. I don’t think there’s a Gooner out there that wouldn’t have taken that in September and it’ll be nice if we can finish the job and go into the summer with a good feeling. It’s strange because, provided we get into the top 4, we’ll have produced much the same as we did last season but it’ll feel about a million times better. There’s been an element of boredom with the last 3 or 4 seasons panning out the same. Showing incredible promise, only to finish in a puddle of meh. But we’ve been looking up at the top four for so much of the season that we’ve made it feel like a prize rather than a consolation.
I think we really need to keep the squad together above all else. A lot of change happened last summer and the squad is settling now. We don’t need another summer of upheaval and uncertainty. It feels like we say this every year, but if we can axe some driftwood and add a sprinkle of quality we can challenge. I would like to see us be consistent over a whole campaign in our application though. I still get the feeling that complacency sets into the squad too easily when things are going well. We need the attitudes of the likes of Sagna, van Persie, Arteta, Vermaelen and Szczesny to become the rule rather than the exception.
Simple, better application of existing rules. There wouldn’t be many sweeping legislative changes I’d make, I think I’d just like to see the F.A. use the tools available to them. So in answer to that, I’d probably go to work 8 or 9 hours a day rather than playing golf and shaking hands until the media tells me I should be doing something.
These can be governed on a game to game basis. But win or lose, my friends and I always manage to have fun. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? We’re not doomsday pilgrims grimly awaiting the apocalypse- at least we’re not meant to be. We go to games in our leisure time with our disposable income. I guess I have trouble understanding why people seem to be so determined to make it such a morbid, angry pass time. Don’t get me wrong, we all feel the lows as well as the highs- that’s what makes the game so addictive. But I just can’t fathom why people get so cultish about it.
The great thing is about going to every game is that every game has the potential to be a classic. Most aren’t, but you can never predict when one’s going to come along. There’s no real reason why a Monday night home tie in the 3rd Round of the F.A. Cup against lower league opposition should be magical. But when Thierry scored that goal against Leeds, it made Blackburn, United and Spurs away all worth it. Those are definitely the high points. You take a long view on it, you know you’re going to get a few of those in a season. Even the worst teams get those stranger hugging moments at least once a year.
The low points? As a chef you may appreciate this, but I enjoy good food. Football grounds, train buffet cars and motorway service stations are hardly fertile grounds for culinary genius. If you’re on the road for 12-14 hours for an away match, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and use one of these facilities at least once in the day.
Easy, John Terry. I’d dance on his face in Cuban heels. If you need me to explain why, then you’re very lost in life and I suggest you seek therapy. I’d also like to buy Chelsea Football Club in general, then I’d just leave it to rot. You know, stop paying the bills, stop paying the wages. Literally just leave it. Did you ever play Mortal Kombat as a kid? When you beat someone, your opponent would stand limp and a voice would shout at you “FINISH HIM!” You’d get a free hit basically to kill them off. Well, when I played that game, my favourite thing to do when asked to “FINISH HIM!” was just to let my opponent stand limp. After about 20 seconds of inaction, they would just drop to the floor and that was it. That’s what I’d do with Chelsea. Call it ironic punishment.