About these ads

The Great David Rocastle, What being ‘homegrown’ really means! ……..

March 31, 2011

What is there to be said about the great man?

Born in Lewisham back in 1967, Rocky suffered the loss of his father when he was just 5 years old.

He left school in 1983 and the summer of the same year he joined Arsenal Football Club as an apprentice spending two years in the youth team. Just prior to the beginning of 1985/86 season Rocky signed his first professional contract, with us of course!

Rocky struggled to begin with and in training the players couldn’t understand why this kid with so much talent would be running around, dribbling the ball with his head down, then it clicked.

Martin Keown said this:

They couldn’t work out why Rocastle was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: Can you see the goal?

He couldn’t so the club sorted this out for him and a pair of contact lenses solved the problem. He didn’t look back from that day! ;)

David Rocastle’s debut was against Newcastle and he would go on to play another twenty-five matches that season and despite the change in manager from Howe to Graham, Rocky remained a regular in the side.

In 1987, just prior to him turning twenty, Rocky helped Arsenal to victory over Liverpool in the League Cup but sadly he was also part of a losing side in the same final the following year, Arsenal let a 2-0 lead slip away against Luton.

In 1989 his first League winners medal came after the dramatic events at Anfield, the second came in 1991, albeit a knee injury meant Rocky would only make eighteen appearances that season, a season in which Arsenal lost only once in the league. The following season though was totally the opposite, Rocky missed only three out of forty two matches played, scoring four goals.

In 1992, Rocky was sold to Leeds United for £2 Million and on finding out that he was to leave the club he did something I bet not one player in this current squad would do.

He cried, he cried his heart out knowing that he would no longer be part of the club he loved and cared for so much! He didn’t want to leave Arsenal Football Club, not one bit!

Rocky would go onto play for other clubs too but injury forced him to retire in 1999.

Then, in February 2001 all Arsenal fans were horrified to hear that David Rocastle was ill, very ill. He was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was positive about a recovery.

Ten years ago today, Arsenal Fans hearts were broken when the news broke that David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle had lost his short battle with this evil disease and had passed away in the early hours.

He was just 33 years old and left behind his wife Janet, his son Ryan and daughters Melissa and the youngest Monique, who was just five years old – the same age as Rocky when he lost his Dad.

The world had lost a good man, a decent man, an honest family man and the world of football had lost a truly great footballing man.

He gave his short life to football and to his family, for nine of those years he gave everything football to Arsenal.

For nine years he lived, breathed and walked tall for the club he loved, the club that was in every bone of his small 5′ 9″ frame. What he lacked in height though he made up for in guts, committment and attitude, attitude and desire to one thing and that was to wear his club shirt with pride and lay his body on the line for the club and players around him.

Remember the ‘Winterburn – McClair’ Mass Brawl in 1990 at Old Trafford : Rocky said this:

“It was our team mate, our blood brother, in trouble. They were kicking Nigel like a nightclub brawl. That’s what got us upset. We went in there and we stuck up for each other. At Arsenal we never ever started any brawls – we just finished them”

If only some of our players today had half of what Rocky had……

He was Mr Arsenal for every year he graced the football pitch wearing the colours of his beloved team.

He didn’t need to be told how to play, he didn’t need to be told to have faith, he certainly didn’t need to taught to have belief or commitment, it all came naturally to him, it came from within because he was a true winner, he had something that cannot be taught.

Big Tony Adams always used to repeat the words of Rocky to the Arsenal players new to the club:

The late great David Rocastle always used to say :

Always remember who you are,
what you are and Who you represent!

The only way to leave todays post is with a few tributes…..

Thank you to those who have over the years compiled the tributes for us Arsenal fans to view and thank you for letting us share them today, the day we remember and celebrate the life of a truly outstanding man and footballer.

Rest in Peace David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle, the true Arsenal fan will never forget you……..

About these ads

We need the ‘Special One’ at Arsenal……

March 30, 2011

Arsenal FC could possibly end up winning nothing again this year and unless Wenger changes his transfer policy, they probably won’t win anything next season either.

I have determined that because they lack one key element.


Arrogance is the difference between winning and losing and winning teams have it in abundance. Manchester United have shown it for many years and if you look at some of their players over the years you can see why they have been so successful.

Eric Cantona was a good example he oozed arrogance, George Best another, Ronaldo, Nani, Rooney, Keen and Neville to name just a few.

Our success came when we had players like Bergkamp, Henry, Charlie George, Paddy, Anelka, Adams, Keown and a few others over the years but although they had arrogance, they had something special to back it up, something which the likes of Bendtner hasn’t!

That special element is talent, bundles of it.

Certain players that have got these qualities can change a game in a blink of an eye, they show a kind of air about them that can easily change the mood of the team they play for, supreme confidence arrogance and of course the most important sublime skill.

Players like Cantona and Henry although now finished in the sport, are still worshiped by supporters, they are always used as examples to younger players starting out. Players like Bergkamp and George Best will live on in the hearts of supporters forever, because they had that little bit more than the players you never hear about.

You may think I’m being hard on young Nicky Bendtner but although he oozes arrogance and confidence, he cannot live up to the sublime skills of the others I have mentioned and after he has left us, his name will rarely be mentioned, he just isn’t blessed with ability the way great players are.

That’s not his fault though.

What these special players bring to a team is the ability to change a losing situation into a winning one and that in itself lifts the whole team. You can watch teams stroke the ball about as if they are untouchable, passes start to find their targets, players begin to up their performance and the arrogance/confidence spreads.

The more of this kind of player you have in your squad will usually determine just how successful that team will become. Players like that don’t come along to often.

We had Henry and Bergkamp in the same team, and that brought success, United had Rooney and Ronaldo the same success.

I was beginning to think we had another player in our team in Sami Nasri but sadly that seems to have been short lived. For a while this season the arrogance started to flow and the teams spirit started to rise but sadly it seems all that was just a flash in the pan. When his game went off we went back to our losing ways.

Players like Cantona and Henry had several seasons at the top and their presence showed in the teams they played for but the truth of the matter is, as you get older and slower the skill begins to fade and the aura these players one had, slowly disappears.

I think we are at that situation right now and until somebody special comes in we sit and wait, hopefully for not to long as those days were really special. Remember the lift to the side when Arshavin was signed?

I feel that I must add a word or two about goalkeepers, most successful teams have special keepers – ones that save many a game during a season.

Peter Schmeichel, Van de Sar, Pat Jennings, David Seaman all at the top of their game were outstanding players – the keepers we currently have will let us down over a season.

I would urge Arsenal to buy us a special one to keep goal and another special one in the outfield as together, they may just start to change our future. We know there are goal keepers out there, one in particular has said he wants to play for us.

What’s stopping you Arsene??

Written by Steve Palmer

Cesc Fabregas isn’t worth much! Two new signings to play for reserves today…

March 29, 2011

Here we go again then and it’s not even the 1st July..

Reports coming out of Spain suggest that Barcelona president Sandro Rossell has said they will be able to afford to offer us £45Million for Cesc Fabregas in the summer. That’s the total of their transfer budget but that could be more if they sell any players.

Barcelona offered £30Million last summer as we all know which was so rebuffed by us.

But, all this is bizarre as Rossell goes on to say that a players value falls as each year passes so how come they are prepared to offer more?

The maximum amount we have to spend in the transfer market is £45million, not counting player exits. If we do not sell any players, it will not be possible to sign any player above this price.

Last year, we offered Arsenal £30million and, with each passing year, the player’s price falls.
The future of Cesc is in his hands and we could only negotiate with Arsenal if Guardiola insists.

But only with a sale is it possible to increase the money for the negotiations.”

Rossell then talks about our February capture of Jon Toral:

Our relationship with Arsenal is not good. The Toral issue has not pleased us.


41-year-old Mad Jens is heading for his first match in over a year this afternoon when he plays for the reserves and he’s not the only Arsenal ‘old boy’ who will be getting a run out.

Former Arsenal striker and free agent Jérémie Aliadière will also be in the reserve squad today. He’s been training with Arsenal while he tries to find a new club but he has admitted he hopes to stay and be part of the first team squad.

He has told the clubs official magazine that:

Deep down in my heart, my ambition is to convince the boss that I can still do good things for Arsenal if he is looking for a forward for next season.

He knows me. He knows what I am capable of. I love this club. It’s my home, my soul.

I am so happy and grateful to be here right now that I would love the story to continue.

Well like with all fictional books, stories come to an end Jérémie and yes, the boss knows exactly what you are capable of, that’s why he sold you to Middlesbrough in 2007 for just £1.5Million.

It does kind of make you worry a bit though doesn’t it……

Few little rumours -

This morning we are being linked with both goal keepers Manuel Neuer and Maarten Stekelenburg – either of those two would be a great signing wouldn’t it and it certainly would resolve our goal keeping problem. If you believe all you read then the latter is supposed to have said: “If an offer from Arsenal arrives, I will leave.” Interesting eh ;)

Mind you, we have also been linked with Gianluigi Buffonin the last few days.

Rumour is that talks between Juventus and Arsenal are set to begin over the propsed transfer of Gael Clichy – I doubt this one has any substance either….

Torres has told Cesc to stay put as he won’t get into the current Barcelona side and Gary Cahill has told Jack to go play in the under England 21’s. Talking of Jack, tonight he and many other of our players will be on International duty again, fingers and toes crossed for their safe return to Arsenal.

That’s it for another day, have a good one all…..

Naughty Jack Wilshere should be released and playing Lehmann would be all wrong…..

March 28, 2011

Naughty Jack, who has been given a telling off by his boss for partying and drinking too much is to stay with the England squad for the mid-week fixture against Ghana!

Double standards I say and it pees me off big time, why is it that the likes of Rooney, Terry, Dawson, Cole and Lampard all get released from the England squad and our Jack Wilshere isn’t? I don’t care that the above players are still in the Champions League, Jack is still very young, his bones don’t need to be playing in another stupid friendly, we need him fit for our challenge in the Premier League which is far more important..

It’s wrong and maybe the FA should ask themselves why they need a friendly at this time of the season, they have just been all together for a week for a Euro qualifier haven’t they?

Talking of big decisions, speculation is rife that Mad Jens will start against Blackburn instead of Almunia. I for one believe this would be a fatal error by Arsene Wenger.

Yes, Almunia made a huge error against West Brom when he gifted them their second goal but Chesney and Koscielny made a very similar error in the Carling Cup Final which lost us the game but had both been fit for the next game, would either have been dropped? My guess to that answer is no.

Ok, many will say Almunia has let us down many times before and that is true but if he gets dropped for a ‘out of retirement’ 41 year old, what will that do to him? What happens then if Jens gets injured, how would Almunia come back after that…..?

If we believe what we read about Almunia and our goal keeping situation then Arsene Wenger tried to sign both Mark Schwarzer and Pepe Reina last summer but as so often with Wengers ‘targets’, neither arrived at Arsenal .

Then Fabianski, who some thought would start the season as number one, had a nightmare in a friendly pre-season and Almunia was subsequently handed the gloves for the opening game of the season against Liverpool.

His lack of ability again allowed Liverpool to score and we drew the game. This was followed by another howler, again against West Brom when we lost 3-2 at The Emirates. All this time he knew Wenger had been trying to bring in a replacement.

Confidence building, I don’t think so…..

Almunia was then ‘injured’.

January came and according to reports, Almunia was allowed to return home to Spain and he believed he was a finished man at Arsenal. Reports suggest he had found himself a new club in Besiktas but right at the last-minute Arsenal pulled the plug when Fabianski picked up an injury.

Fair on Almunia? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t rate Almunia but if the reports are true, Arsenal have been a tad naive. We now have a goal keeper starting each week who knows that the club really don’t rate him yet stopped him finding happiness elsewhere.

Now he knows his position in under threat again, to a 41-year-old who wasn’t ‘that’ good at the peak of his game…

Arsene Wenger made a huge mistake in my opinion the day that Mad Jens retired, he sat back and thought that Fabianski or Almunia were ready to take over. Almunia certainly wasn’t and never will be and the jury is still out on Fabianski but age is on his side.

So yet again we in a situation where just one signing could have made a difference to this season, in fact had he replaced Jens when he should, that signing could have made a difference to the last few seasons I’m sure.

Great goal keepers are match winners, they can save a good few points during a season.

We all know that – Why doesn’t Arsene Wenger?

That’s it for today, have a good one all…..

Why can’t we score? – Are we wasting Theo’s talent?

March 27, 2011

I have been looking through recordings of some of our games this season, hoping to find reasons why were not scoring more goals than we are. We create plenty of chances but when it comes to actual scored goals, we don’t score half as many as we should.

I know that the statisticians’ out there, will throw figures at me to show that we are up there with the top teams, well that’s not my concern. I believe the chances we create should produce many more goals.

Now I don’t claim to be a tactician, I don’t consider myself an expert but having played local football for over thirty years and watching Arsenal for fifty odd, has given me the right to criticise a little.

I love our club and I want us to win everything and I may be a bit touchy after a bad result. At times I want a new Manager and players but most of the time I just want to see more goals, spectacular goals, tap ins, headers, I don’t care how they go in!

Watching us play for ninety minutes then a 0-0 result does my head in, especially when I’ve watched chance after chance result in misses.

No doubt like all fans, I believe we could so easily have a winning team if we lose a few players that have not really made the grade and replace them with players with the skills we need. I am not talking major changes, just in the areas that we all know we are weak in but that’s getting away from my point about goals.

I think you would mostly agree that we move the ball reasonably well from the back through to the attacking midfielders, albeit with less pace than I would prefer. Up to this point our possession stats suggest that we are doing ok but I think it’s at this stage we begin to stutter, through no fault of our midfield.

We all know we have good attacking midfield unit in Cesc, Nasri, Song, Jack, Rambo AA and Theo must come in there as well. That little group of players is quite formidable, so why can’t they move the ball forward to the forwards to allow them to score?

Well for a start, the forward players do not work very hard in finding space for themselves, making it difficult to slip a pass in to them.

More often than not they are not in the positions they should be in to receive the ball and quite often they can be found on the wings or in midfield positions.  Hardly the positions to score goals from is it?

Our forwards should be in a position which allows them to clear their defensive marker and be free to collect a pass from our midfield players. When an attack is in motion our forwards do not get in the box quick enough and very seldom do we have more than one player in the box which again limits the option for our midfielders.

If players want to be called forwards then why are they not adopting the correct position?

If we use three forwards, then that three should be ready to go as soon as we break – so often play has to be held back owing to a lack of forward options and this should not be the case.

Whether this is the managers choice or not I am not sure but a goal scorer out of position is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

We are in need of at least two instinctive strikers, strikers that are both footed can shoot on sight and be accurate. Far too many shots end up being closer to the corner flag than on goal. A true goal scorer would rectify our problems and put us in more positive positions.

To hear a commentator say, it fell to his wrong side is not an excuse for a miss, if a striker cannot kick instinctively with either foot then he should not be used. Now this statement may enrage some supporters as their favourite striker is being criticised but look back on some of the games this season and look at the misses we have had, it may make you think differently.

Just a footnote:

Theo Walcott is a striker, a pacey one at that and he can use both feet. My view is we are wasting his talent shoving him out on the wing. I don’t know where his preferred position is, he’s possibly happy playing anywhere but, should he be seeking a striker role in order to fulfill his needs, will we see him playing there for someone else other than Arsenal?
I hope not…..

Written by Steve Palmer.

The good thing about Abou Diaby and Swiss defender signs on……

March 26, 2011

Some of you may think this in bad taste but hey ho – on a day when England play Wales, Jack Wilshere lines up against his team-mate Aaron Ramsey, the farce of football and the FA is again clear. John Terry has been reinstalled as England captain, yes, a man who Fabio Capello said would never Captain England again all the time he was in charge.

Well he is and his reign begins again today. I’m not keen on Terry and not just for his off field antics, he’s a cheat who is allowed to get away with most things bad on a football pitch and now no doubt he will be able to get away with more, just because he’s the England Captain.

Just what we don’t need as Chelsea pursue us in the league.

Yes the incident with Diaby was an accident but if ever there is a person I would have wished had been hurt just a little more than he was, it’s Terry.

Take That!!

You have to admit though, it was one of the better things Abou Diaby has done during his Arsenal career, shame we couldn’t go on and get the win that day to inflict more pain on the Chavs!

It will be interesting to see how the England side treat Jack Wilshere today, he’s the lone representative from Arsenal. Terry has had this to say about him:

I’ve got 100 per cent confidence in Jack, for one, it’s because he wants the ball and, secondly, the manager has trust in him. He’s given him a lot of responsibility but he’s certainly got the attitude and the quality to receive the ball, whether he has two men up against him or one.

Having played against him, even when he was on loan at Bolton, you feel you can push him off the ball but he’s a strong lad for his size. He’s similar to Josh McEachran at our place. They are very clever the way they protect the ball.

I sit across from Jack on the bus and I’ve got to know him over the last few months. As a person and a character, he can handle it. He communicates well for such a young boy. He knows he deserves to be in this England side, he knows he belongs here.

I couldn’t say that when I was his age, that I deserved to be here. We’re seeing younger players coming into this set-up and really believing.

He’s got a hunger. I’ve seen him fly into tackles, winning headers for a small guy and shrugging big players off the ball. You can see the way he glides past people, too.

Even in the Barcelona game, I remember him gliding in and out of Xavi and Iniesta on the edge of his box. That shows the confidence he has in his own ability – and that the players around him believe in him as well.

We’ll see later I guess, I just hope he gets treated better than Theo Walcott has been in the past.

Robin van Persie came though 90 minutes for Holland unscathed last night and our young Swiss defender Martin Angha has signed his first pro contract. He’s just under 6′ 2″.

I try to give everything, do my job properly and focus on the defensive work first, most of the time, I play at centre back for the Under-18s but sometimes I play at full back.

I like to get forward when I am on the wings, get crosses into the box and get one-on-ones. That’s why I like to play as a full back.

Going on from Olivers post yesterday, Arsene Wenger also believe that the international break has come at a good time:

Maybe it will help by giving the players a psychological break after such a demanding, stressful three weeks. Maybe it’s not bad that the players focus on something different and come back refreshed.

Let’s hope he’s right and they all come back fit, refreshed and focused on the job ahead. The Premier League title is still there for us to win IF we want it bad enough!

That’s about it, have a good day, who to cheer then? England or Wales :)

A message to the boys during a timely break, and the way ahead.

March 25, 2011

Timely for the purposes of fitness, form, and momentum…

I think we can all see that you – collectively – were struggling.

Chances created, chances spurned…Slow starts…Defensive mistakes…A lack of collective confidence and dropping of heads as goals are conceded, calls have gone against you, and key first-teamers have sustained injuries seemingly at the rate of 1+ per match…All these have been on display as you have struggled mightily during the month of March.

This particular supporter is relieved that Arsenal FC will not play another competitive first team match this month – as I am confident many of you, the players, are. As bad as March has been, however, it could have been even worse…I think we can see some light at the end of the tunnel – it is down to you to make sure the light is not a false dawn.

Some of you are with your national squads, training and getting ready to play for them. Others are rehabilitating from injury. Still more are doing neither of these two things…

Whichever each of you are respectively doing, I urge you to make the best use of the time. If you play/train, try to avoid injury as best you can.

If you are rehabbing, try everything you can to get yourself back for April 2nd (if possible), without overdoing it and extending your period on the sidelines. If you will neither play international football or rehab during these two weeks, use the time to work on things you know you need to improve. It may be finishing off a break from the opposition half, it may be tracking an opposing forward and giving him no place to go…It may be delivering set pieces, it may be improving in-match decision-making…

Regardless of how you are spending this break from club football, please maximize the time you have – including giving your body whatever rest your situation allows – and return ready to go, focused on nothing but the task at hand. Nine games, twenty-seven points…That is all that should matter – it is as simple as that.

If you, as a team, can clear the external distractions out of your minds, and set your focus to attaining that, three points at a time, then we will be in a very, very nice place after the final whistle on May 22nd.

We are all human, so blocking the “other stuff” out of our minds is easier said than done. I certainly struggle with it personally, and I expect many of you do as well. If this is you, why not draw inspiration and extra motivation from it?

I know that many of you read the supporter blogs – and those of you who do not can ask the club’s communications department (who most assuredly read them) or your teammates for a snapshot of the prevailing mood.

As with everything else, supporter moods range from wildly optimistic, to supremely confident, to cautiously positive, to time to start over. Certain players come in for more criticism than others, other players are lavishly praised. This is life. Whatever is being said about you, why not draw inspiration and motivation from it?

If you are one of the players who sections of our support no longer want at the club, why not use this situation as extra motivation to prove those who doubt you wrong? If you are one of the players regularly praised, regardless of results, why not use that praise as a reminder that standards are attained to be exceeded?

After all, it takes only an instant to negate the positive feedback. I will readily admit that some of the comments – at both ends (positive and negative) of the spectrum are extreme, but as supporters, we see things as we are, not necessarily as they are.

Regardless, there is no reason why you cannot use these supporter views as extra motivation for these last few games…

If the supporter view is unimportant to you, that is your choice and I – as a solitary supporter – have absolutely no problem with that. But may I ask if you can recall the last article or match report (from print media, not supporters) saying that you will go on to win the league? Specifically because the bad recent run is not an indication of mental fragility? Or that recent seasons where you sustained early springtime losses in bunches means nothing now because this is a different season?

Neither can I…I don’t like it any more than I suspect you do, but you are once again being labeled a group of mentally weak bottlers, unable to deliver with real pressure on, and predictably collapsing as the season enters the final phase – like clockwork.

Arsene talks about your mental strength at every opportunity, trying to convince everyone that you have what it takes to go the distance – and is roundly ridiculed, both in the media and large sections of our support. However you look at it, only you can change this perception, and your last shot to do it this season is by winning the league.

If whatever points you are able to collect from these final nine games do not add up to first place after the final whistle on May 22nd, you and all us supporters will have another summer to reflect upon what might have been…

But it doesn’t have to end that way.

Let me ask you – why not you? Is there REALLY any reason you cannot win the league title this season? You have injuries – so do Man United. You have a tough run-in. All the other teams in the top five have fixture congestion, Man City and Spurs still in two competitions and United and Chelsea still in three. Slumping from four potential trophies to only one in the space of a few weeks is discouraging enough, but why not use that to your advantage?

Why not take to the pitch determined to jump on these sides, score early and wear them out. And if either Manchester side and/or Spurs exit from one or more of these cups before we play them, then look to increase their misery and suffering – after all, it was only what Barcelona and United did to you.

So…Come back from the break fit, focused, and ready to go. Each and every one of you will have a part to play in the run-in, and each of you must be mentally and physically ready to do your job at a moment’s notice, with one hundred percent commitment and focus.

If you don’t think this is the case, just look at the players who are currently injured. 27 from 9 will do the job, and there will be nothing anyone else can do – that has to be your goal. And it is attainable, so long as you don’t take to the pitch tense, inhibited, and afraid of losing.

You have come up short in the past few seasons and were eliminated from three cups in the past 23 days – you have tasted this failure; you have had more than your share. Is it really something to be so scared of?

Why sell yourselves short by taking the pitch nervous and inhibited? Why cross that touch-line thinking about failure? Why not stride on to the pitch thinking you own the place, the three points are yours, and the opposition can do nothing about it?

This is an opportunity, guys – an opportunity to come of age, accomplish something tangible, silence the doubters and bring the first trophy to Emirates Stadium. It is nothing to shirk from, nothing to be afraid of – nothing at all.

It is an opportunity for you to banish the ghosts of Arsenal sides past and silence all the whispers about you, your character, Arsene, and where our club is headed. It’s an opportunity that very few other sides have – so make it count and go out and win this thing!!

Written by Oliver


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 686 other followers