Kostas Manolas was left out of Olympiakos squad for a friendly fixture against Atletico Bilbao yesterday. This of course must mean that he’s on his way to Arsenal having been linked to us for a while now. Apparently a few other PL clubs, including the neighbours are interested in the big Greek defender, so there’s no guarantee he’s heading our way. Although if he really is a target of Arsene Wenger, I’m sure we are the better prospect.
The Daily Star suggest Juventus are out to pip us to his signing….
The Mirror report that Wenger is lining up an £8 million bid for Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote and he’s ready to join his old team-mate at Arsenal.
If both stories are true, we should get the DM and Defender signings we need, although perhaps not the players we’d hoped for….
On this day back in 1980, Arsenal signed Kenny Sansom in a £1.25m exchange deal with Crystal Palace for Clive Allen. How many Gooners were glad to see the back of him?
Takes us to Bob John’s article, one which will get you all scratching your heads.
Q – Well Bob, you have been coming to Highbury for over 40 years now, although you’ve been privileged to see some real quality in that time, you must have seen some dross as well!
A- That’s true. I saw my first game in the mid-sixties when we had a great attack but a crap defence. In the mid-seventies we nearly got relegated and the mid-eighties and mid-nineties weren’t much better! Some of the t***ers who moan and slag as soon as a pass goes astray these days should be locked in a room and made to sit through film of Arsenal in those eras. Perhaps they could then appreciate what they are seeing now!
Q- Right, you’ve got a choice of every player you’ve seen play for Arsenal. Who’s your goalie?
A- No hesitation. Vince Bartram! Whenever I think of him, circus music comes into my head! One particular game stands out. We lost 3-1 at home to Leeds, who were really poor and negative. Phil Masinga (remember him?) managed to score the worst goal I’ve ever seen past the hapless ‘Coco the clown’. I think this was the game where we ended up with Andy Linighan up front having high balls pumped up to him! Believe me, no one else comes close!
Q – What about your full-backs?
A – Not quite so easy. We’ve been pretty lucky over the years and seem to have had excellent, long-standing partnerships. One man however stands out. One of the few Arsenal players that I have ever hated! Nelson Vivas. I detested everything about this man. He used cynicism to cover up his lack of ability. Mauricio Tarricco with straight hair! Summed him up when he got needlessly sent off in the FA Cup semi against Manure. What annoyed me even more were the morons in the crowd with their da da da da VIVAS chant! What this plank ever did to deserve his own song is beyond me. Lee Dixon gave years of brilliant service and yet got constantly slagged off!
As I say, we’ve been pretty lucky with full-backs over the years but we’ve had a glut of useless centre-backs. Therefore, Tommy Caton gets the left-back spot. I think he may have even turned out there once or twice. Terry Neill had a habit of signing players that scored against us and the late Tommy was a prime example of this. To sum him up; he started badly….. and got worse! His signing was also responsible for the decline of Chris Whyte, who had been playing really well until Caton’s signing was announced over the tannoy before a League Cup game against Walsall. Knowing Caton had been signed to replace him, Whyte had a ‘mare’ and we lost 2-1. He was never the same player again for Arsenal but gladly for him, won a championship with Leeds. So, Vivas right-back and Caton left-back.
Q – As you’ve already said, you are spoilt for choice at Centre-Back!
A – Absolutely. Ian Ure, Jeff Blockley, Terry Mancini, Pat Howard, Colin Hill, Tommy Caton. This lot make Igor Stepanovs look like a cross between Tony Adams and Franz Beckenbauer! Ure was remembered mainly for his horror show in the 1969 League Cup catastrophe against Swindon. Howard just kicked everything. Sometimes he even kicked the ball! Hill was a useless forward converted into a useless defender!
I’m going for a well- balanced pairing, Blockley and Mancini. Well- balanced because it’s difficult to know who was the worst! Not only was Blockley a big useless lummox, with a penchant for own goals and dodgy back-passes but also his signing meant Frank McLintock going to QPR! We signed Mancini from QPR because he was ‘a clown who would make the dressing room laugh’! He never amused me in the slightest! Some might consider Gus Caeser. Although he was error prone, it was usually only one per game. This bunch were consistently rubbish! And please, no one mention Steve Walford, who never let us down. Anyone at the City Ground in the 1979 FA Cup game when we broke Forest’s long unbeaten home record, knows what I mean. He was superb that night. No, it’s got to be Blockley and Mancini.
Q – Ok. On to the midfield. Four across the middle?
A – Yes indeed. Amongst them, in central midfield, another one of the few of our players I’ve ever hated. Peter Nicholas is a cert! I hated the dirty git when he was at Palace and then we went and signed him! Then to cap it all, we played Swansea at Highbury and he was quoted as saying, “I’m playing for Arsenal but my heart is with Swansea”. We lost 2-0 and at least one of the goals was down to him. Alongside him, John Jensen. Another example of a player playing above himself in a major tournament and securing a big transfer. Couldn’t run, couldn’t pass, couldn’t tackle, couldn’t head a ball, couldn’t shoot and he had a moustache! Some people found it amusing when he blasted yet another shot into the upper tier.
Not funny! I can hear a lot of people saying, “what about David Hillier?” Well, whatever his limitations, he did the business when he first came into the team in the 1991 championship year.
Out wide it has to be another waster from Palace, ‘Steady’ Eddie McGoldrick. What was going on there? Can’t remember him having even an average game! Toss-up for the other wide position between Jimmy Carter and Glenn Helder. I’ve no doubt that Helder had the most talent of the two but that’s’ what made him so frustrating in my opinion. Plus, Carter was a Gooner. So, Helder it is. One decent game followed by twenty awful ones!
Q – And finally. Up front?
A- Thierry Henry and Ian Wright! Only joking! Well, before anyone mentions him, not Chris Kiwomya. The day George Graham was sacked we played Forest at home and were in real danger of going down. Kiwomya scored the winner and then got two in the next game at Palace.
We stayed up by nine points in the end so we owe him a lot. Ray Hankin only played less than half a game in kit that barely covered his gut so he doesn’t qualify. Must admit, I never liked the poser, Paul Mariner but he wasn’t anywhere near bad enough to get in this side. Kaba Diawara was the unluckiest player I’ve ever seen. He must hold the record for hitting the woodwork! Paul Vaessen was excellent until his knee busted and anyway, for that goal in Turin alone he deserves recognition.
No, it has to be two classic Terry Neill signings. John Hawley and Lee Chapman. Both scored against us for their previous clubs, so Neill signed them! To be honest, we had no great expectations of Hawley. He didn’t cost a lot but it was still embarrassing watching this lower league journeyman trundle about in an Arsenal kit. A replacement for Frank Stapleton. You’re having a laugh! Chapman cost a million and that was at least a million too much! We went to Stoke to see his debut and gave some old Stoke supporter a lift on the way. He told us how bad Chapman was and boy was he right! So these two ‘classic English centre forwards’ complete the line up!
Well, thanks for that. Let’s look at the line up in full.
Vince Bartram, Nelson Vivas, Jeff Blockley, Terry Mancini, Tommy Caton, Eddie McGoldrick, Peter Nicholas, John Jensen, Glenn Helder, Lee Chapman, John Hawley.
A right pile of poo!
Written by Bob John…