I mentioned on Monday morning that the past weekend saw me fortunate enough to be invited to an event sponsored by Europcar Sport at The Emirates. Amongst meeting some wonderful folks and watching the less-than-favourable performance against Swansea, Daniel Cowan and I were able to sit down with Ray Parlour for 5-10 minutes and have a brief interview for the Goonersphere Podcast.
As promised, here is the transcript:
Daniel Cowan and James ‘Raul’ Stokes (Goonersphere Podcast): Of all the Arsenal players you played with, which do you think will benefit the current Arsenal team the most?
Ray Parlour: Without a doubt, Tony Adams. Absolutely. He was a leader at the back and I don’t think you would have seen that the other night (against Anderlecht) at 3-1 up. He would have been like, you get in there, you get in there and do your job. He was one of my best mates but I wasn’t doing my job he would hammer me – “Oi you, sort yourself out”. And I’d be like “Well, okay Tone”. I think he would be the most important player for me that they are lacking these days. But people like him are hard to find, he came through the ranks and he knows the club inside out – Tony Adams without a doubt. Or Patrick Vieira maybe but I’ll go with Tony Adams.
GSP: Having been involved in transfers yourself – how easy is it to get one done?
Ray Parlour: It’s not that easy these days. It’s very complicated. I promise you now, you’ve agents trying to negotiate… I went to Middlesbrough and mine was very straightforward because it was a free transfer but when there is money involved. What clubs try to do – it’s like a game of poker, the transfer market is like a game of poker. Clubs think, what is my player worth, what are they going to offer – they don’t know either way – sometimes it’s negotiating late into the night and that’s why it’s so easy to buy players in the summer because everyone is waiting in the January window looking to see who is going to buy who and then when you start competing with Man City and Chelsea, well you can’t compete with that because they’ve got so much wages to give to players why should they come to Arsenal? So it is difficult, a lot more difficult these days – that’s why lots of clubs do everything in the summer because they’ve got weeks before the season starts.
GSP: Is it unfair the club are criticised for not bringing in a centre-half? Everyone’s looking and we’re getting hammered for not doing it.
Ray Parlour: Yeah, everyone is looking but come January I’m sure Arsene Wenger will bring in two or three players in January – I guarantee it. Look, it’s not going to be easy to get these players in but the Chief Scout will be out watching players now. I was out at West Ham and he was there watching players. Maybe Winston Reid or Vlaar but I’m sure he’ll be watching players.
GSP: Maybe he was watching Jenkinson?
Ray Parlour: He was also specifically watching Jenkinson.
GSP: I’m still not quite sure why we loaned him out
Ray Parlour: He’s on loan now and you’ve got to respect that.
GSP: What do you miss about being around the club on a daily basis?
Ray Parlour: The banter, being in the dressing room area, being with your mates. We had such a good relationship between every player. You miss the training. The training I loved. I loved training, I was in there every day. I miss the lunches as well. The lunches were brilliant, 3 course meals every day. Generally being a footballer was superb, the main thing is match day obviously but during the week we had such a laugh and worked hard so I miss all that, definitely.
GSP: Since you joined the club as an apprentice what has changed the most for the better?
Ray Parlour: This new stadium. Absolutely. I played at Highbury, I loved Highbury – it was such a great stadium but this stadium now is amazing. And that’s where the club had to go to. It’s the next level up. It’s competing with – hopefully now – the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona, Chelsea, Man City but they’ve got lots of money – now though, the money coming into the club because of the stadium. I think the stadium is amazing and I’m sure you’ll agree with that as Arsenal guys. Moving stadiums so close to Highbury was brilliant as well. Definitely the stadium.
GSP: Thanks for the time, Ray. It was great to meet you
Ray Parlour: My pleasure, chaps. Enjoy the game.
The most striking things I can report having met an ‘Invincible’ are that he delivers an extremely firm handshake and is especially affable. I’d initially assumed meeting a player so revered by Arsenal fans would be daunting, but his humour shone through the brief Q&A with the assembled masses that preceded our interview and he managed to instantly put us at ease.
Special thanks extended to Arsenal’s official partner, Europcar, who put on the event and invited me down.
The comments are directly below if you fancy commenting on the interview. Ray raised some interesting points about recruitment and seems certain we’ll do business in January. What do you think? Let me know.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards…
Actually, why not have one last treat – here’s the latest Goonersphere Podcast
In this case, thanks for listening, you beautiful bastards.