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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

All We Are Saying...Is Give Matt A Song?

It is getting embarrassing now, as Matthieu Flamini produces just about his most influential performance of a season so far, where he's flabbergasted most Gooners, by fast becoming our most influential and most consistent player and yet Matty has never once heard us Gooners express our gratitude from the terraces.

Even the trusty old "Allez Matthieu" is a bit of a mouthful and yet I persevere with it because i instinctively feel the need to show my appreciation in some fashion. But it really is about time that some of our wittier terrace songsmiths found a suitable ditty with which we might regale the Flamster's prodigious feats.

Matty was everywhere this evening. If Adebayor had got his head over his wayward volley, Flamini's pinpoint crosses would've resulted in two goals, but in addition to making our first and spanking home an absolutely stunning second goal, the Flamster was busy blocking shots and relieving the Toon of the ball with last ditch challenges at the other end of the pitch (on the rare occasion Newcastle made it that far forward!).

I got home in time to watch a replay of the highlights on Sky, where according to the commentator Flamini has become known as Gattuso amongst his team mates and you can understand why, as the former utility player is fast becoming the Arsenal's own midfield general. Moreover, in addition to the incredible amount of graft Matty puts in, on and off the ball, I am not sure if it's something that's developed as his confidence has grown, or whether I simply haven't noticed it in the past, but it's only in recent matches that I've become aware quite how demonstrative Matty has become in encouraging his team mates and directing traffic on the pitch. Gallas might be the incumbent as far as the armband is concerned but from what I've seen in the last couple of games, it's Flamini who is the most vocal, keeping up a fairly constant stream of chatter to ensure everyone maintains their focus and making sure they are all where they are supposed to be on the park. To my mind he's looking more and more like a natural leader with each passing game.

Again tonight Flamini and Clichy were our two best players on the pitch and Gael could do with a song of his own as well. Thankfully it's easy enough for me to show my appreciation with "allez Gael", although according to the media it is pronounced more "Guy-el" than "Gail" but I refuse to defer to pronounciation dictates. I was sitting with someone tonight who posed the question whether I'd choose Clichy over Ashley Cole at his best and although you could make a case that in defensive terms, with his experience, Cole might have had more nous (in his prime!), I don't think I've ever seen a more energetic full-back than Clichy and as an opponent, I would be much happier facing Cole in the last ten minutes of the 90, than the terrifying thought of having to try and contain Gael, with his infinite energy levels.

It might seem a bit churlish to have a whinge, after we've tonked the Toon for a second time and leapfrogged Man Utd to regain top spot. However, the three goals aside, our performance overall this evening wasn't exactly scintillating. It's a measure of how woefully weak Newcastle are that it didn't have to be. When you think of it, it was a similar tale to several other games, where in the first half we might have totally dominated possession, but with Newcastle getting all eleven behind the ball, we actually struggled to break them down and Shay Given was hardly overworked.

After taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, the Toon were forced to show a little more ambition and the game opened up a little, as we began to find some space to get in behind them. But if I do have one complaint, it is that when we'd broken the back of Newcastle's resistance with the second and third goal, as is all too often the case against patently inferior opposition, come the end of the season we might end up regretting the fact that we lack a ruthless streak.

I can't help but feel that if the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez were playing tonight, they would've shown no mercy but would've gone on to help themselves to at least a couple more goals. Whereas we seem far too content to maintain possession, taking the piss somewhat, by playing amongst ourselves, all too often opting for a pass back into our own half of the pitch instead of pushing forward for another attempt on goal, on a night when we really could've eliminated Man Utd's goal difference advantage in one stroke.

Who knows, perhaps Pompey will pull off a surprise tomorrow night and take a couple of points off Utd (although it's even more unlikely with most of Pompey's first choice strike force in Ghana at the moment!). However if the match at Old Trafford runs true to form and Man Utd retake top spot on goal difference, it's a bit annoying to think that we might've wasted an opportunity to erode this advantage.

Man Utd have to go to St James Park next month and hopefully there will be sufficient time for Keegan to have some impact on the Toon by then, as on paper "Souper Kev" has a far more decent first XI than the utterly impotent team we've played in the last couple of games. Then again, the one thing Keegan can usually be guaranteed to bring to the party is the sort of infectious enthusiasm that can inspire players to considerably increase their performance levels , but watching his post-match interview on Sky, Keegan in his current mild-mannered incarnation appears a long way from the ebullient "I would love it" personality from the past. Perhaps this was a natural reaction to having seen his team rolled over 3-0 twice in three days, but similarly we've seen little evidence on the pitch in the last two matches, by way of evidence of any "sweat blood for the cause" type Keegan effect. Hopefully it's just a little too soon, after only three games and Keegan's motivational qualities will come to fruition in the nick of time, for their sixth encounter under his management, coincidentally their meeting with Man U!!

If I have one other gripe, on a very good night, it is that perhaps far too many Gooners just don't deserve to see their team challenge for the title. Watching the highlights on Sky, I have to admit that I found it more than a little embarrassing as it looked so awful to see the Gunners playing out the last three minutes of injury time before a stadium that looked so empty on TV. I know full well that plenty of us stayed to the final whistle to applaud the team off the pitch, but many more had long since left and on my television at least, with so many empty seats directly in front of the cameras, it looked as if there was hardly anyone left to show their appreciation. It's not as if we've spent that much time on top of the pile in recent seasons and so on a night when we regained top spot and when we should have been serenading the team off, demonstrating how much it means to us that "we are top of the league", instead our players went into their now traditional huddle in the centre circle, with far too few "supporters" left in the stadium to give the moment much meaning.

In their shoes, you'd have to wonder if the thought wouldn't cross their mind "why on earth did we bother"?

Sure I appreciate that people have trains to catch, traffic to negotiate, but we should take heed, as in my experience it's wise to savour these "top of the pile Ma" type moments when you can, as you never know how long you might have to wait for the nest one!!

Big Love
Bernard

14 comments:

SgGooner said...

hey bernard, we have one cute one for the flamster when we watch the game in the local pub. it goes like this:

flamini woah
flamini woah
we bought him from marseille
and ashley cole is gay...

nah, i doubt it'll catch on in UK. haha...

Hedges said...

He's short,
He's French,
He's too good for the bench.
Matthieu Flamini, Matthieu Flamini!

Anonymous said...

chant for any player who dont have a song

WHO 2?
WHO 2 BE?
WHO 2 BE A?
GOONER...

Anonymous said...

Who 2 be a gooner? I presume you mean Ooohhh to be a gooner!

Flim Flamini
Flim Flamini
Flim Flim Flaroo!
Who needs Vieira when we've got Matthieu!

Anonymous said...

What are you on about?? They both have songs of their own, where do you sit as you obviously dont hear them...

to the tune of the Sweeney:
Flaminiiii, Flaminiiiii!
dat datta da daaaa da da da da

Gael Clichy Clichy
He's better than Ash-er-ly
He shoulda been number 3
Gael Clichy Clichy!

Steve duK said...

He deserves Paddy's ditty

flamini woah
flamini woah
The boy is here and there
He's every fucking where
flamini woah
flamini woah

Anonymous said...

hey bernard, remember you from Arsenal world, used to enjoy your diary. Got both your books, excellent they are too. Just found your blog and it made my day.

BOOKMARKED.

Mondo said...

My vote for the Flim chimney chant!

As I said before I'm in SF so can only watch the matches from the pub...
So against Spurs I was left yelling, "Don't fuck it up!" watching the Scum/scum match.

As my old friend once put it when I was worried about Spurs taking the 4th position a few seasons ago:
Don't worry Byron, Spurs always manage to fuck it up."
He's a proper gooner from 70's London.
Perfect quote, always rings true.

Amanda said...

As I'm sure many Gooners will point out, they do both have songs.

This is exactly the problem with our stadium's acoustics. How is it possible that true Gooners do not know these songs, when they've been sung for ages?

To the tune of the Sweeney:
Flaminiiii, Flaminiiiii!
dat datta da daaaa da da da da

Gael Clichy Clichy
He's better than Ash-er-ly
He shoulda been number 3
Gael Clichy Clichy!

The stadium's acoustics is why visiting fans have such scathing things to say about our atmosphere. Meanwhile, in the opposite corner to the away fans, the RedAction section is singing, standing and chanting the whole game.

What section do you sit in? Do you ever hear our songs?

Bernard said...

We sit in the lower tier, Block 18, about halfway between the halfway line and the away fans. However I also go to almost every away game and although I might have heard the odd feeble attempt at the Gael Clichy tune (I am assuming, as it's not totally unfamiliar to me), I am pretty certain I've never heard Mathieu Flamini regaled to sound of the Sweeney theme tune, or any other for that matter

I would guess that the atmosphere where we sit in the new stadium is about second to the Red Action corner. From what I can tell, that corner is the loudest, followed by those of us on either side of the away fans. However I have only ever heard the half dozen stock standard chants sung in our section of the ground.

I was very disappointed at the Newcastle games as our efforts to get folk to join in with the new Adebayor song were totally in vain and instead of sounding brilliant, as I imagined it would if most of the stadium joined in, it sounded rather feeble, as the noise only just about carried from your end of the ground.

To my mind that is the biggest problem (or one of!) with the new stadium, as the seating is spread over such a large area that by the time those of us in the opposite end of the ground join in with chants, they've tailed off at your end and so instead of us ever creating a wall of intimidating noise, our chants are only ever sung by individual sections of the lower tier.

I have only ever sat in the upper tier once, so I don't have a clue whether they've ever joined in with the singing, but I rather suspect that the large area of Club Level and the Exec Boxes separating the two tiers means that the sort of infectious effect of the atmosphere one might experience at other stadia just isn't possible at our place and so in the unlikely event that there are punters in the upper tier who might be prepared to contribute to the atmosphere, sadly they are unlikely ever to get the sort of cue they might've had at THOF.

Meanwhile is it not just a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that the Red Action corner sings, stands and chants for the entire game, as if this is truly the case then we only hear you during certain more lively periods.

As for the acoustics, while apparently (as I've never actually been at home during a game) you can still tell the score from our flat, by the noise to be heard coming from the stadium, I was late for a game a couple of weeks back (surprise, surprise!) and we happened to score as I turned into Elwood Street. However I made this deduction from the noise of the celebrations emanating from the Gunners Pub, as this completely drowned out any similar noise coming from the stadium.

My feeling about the whole atmosphere question at the new place is that with the Arsenal now attracting so many football "tourists" and with the faces around us changing from game to game (I assume with so many sharing their season tickets with others), the club need to take some sort of pro-active attempts to improve the atmosphere, as otherwise we will continue to suffer from the "used to be a library, now its a morgue" type taunts from opposition fans.

In all honesty I am not sure what form these efforts should take and I wouldn't dream of claiming to have all the answers. If I am not mistaken, when we visited the Olympic Stadium in Munich a few seasons back, I believe the crowd noise was played back simultaneously over pitchside speakers pointed towards the terraces, I assume to try and improve the atmosphere and to encourage others to join in. I don't know whether there are league rules governing this sort of thing but it's among a number of options that the club could try, in an effort to make the place a little more intimidating and a little less of a great day out for the visitors.

I'm not sure it's something I would personally like to hear, but they could try the Italian approach, where the singing is led by geezers with megaphones.

Whatever means they might try to use, I don't think you can underestimate the importance of a good atmosphere and the problem these days is that our crowd is almost exclusively reactive, rather than proactive, in the sense that we only create some noise in response to events on the pitch and I really cannot remember the last time it was the other way around and it was the volume from the terraces which inspired the team to produce the goods on the pitch.

Fulham and Craven Cottage must be just about the most sedentary and genteel "audience" in the Premiership. Yet only on MOTD2 this evening,ex-Fulham manager Chris Coleman was to be heard remarking on the important part the Fulham home crowd could play in helping to maintain Fulham's Premiership status over the remaining thirteen matches.

I feel likewise that with six remaining league matches (along with the visit of AC Milan) to be played at our place, either the majority of us are going to sit back and merely see what transpires, or we can demonstrate quite how much the Arsenal's success means to us, by playing our part and opening our lungs to do our utmost to try and influence proceedings?

Steve said...

Just a few comments....nice blog.

1. I like the idea of a Flam song, particularly the Sweeney one.

2. I have a ST in the upper, above Red Action, so it's very noisy and we join in. I wish more people would join in more often though.

3. Why do people leave before the end? I have done it 3 times this season (due to having a son I need to get home) and missed 3 goals. Serves me right, and I definitely think it's poor.

Oli-olé said...

I've got a cracker but it needs a middle line - maybe y'all can help.

Flam-ini meany miney mo
Catch a football with his toe
something something something -o
Flam-ini meany miney mo


Wojufink?

Oli, Row 127, North Stand!

Gasmeter said...

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the RedSection is standing and chanting the whole game. It is pretty constant.

However it is true that because we can't hear the away fans, or the Arse fans sitting next to them, we are talking to ourselves a bit.

That means chants flare up and die away quite quickly, even though we're always singing SOMETHING. We're kind of talking to ourselves and amusing ourselves, because it seems no-one else is joining in.

On the RedAction discussion group, we're aware that the chants dying away too swiftly and being sung too quickly are an issue.

What's to be done?

Anyway, we have songs for all the players.

Cheryl Tweedy is our mate,
is our mate, is our mate,
Cheryl Tweedy is our mate,
She hates Ashley!

Gasmeter said...

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the RedSection is standing and chanting the whole game. It is pretty constant.

However it is true that because we can't hear the away fans, or the Arse fans sitting next to them, we are talking to ourselves a bit.

That means chants flare up and die away quite quickly, even though we're always singing SOMETHING. We're kind of talking to ourselves and amusing ourselves, because it seems no-one else is joining in.

On the RedAction discussion group, we're aware that the chants dying away too swiftly and being sung too quickly are an issue.

What's to be done?

Anyway, we have songs for all the players.

Cheryl Tweedy is our mate,
is our mate, is our mate,
Cheryl Tweedy is our mate,
She hates Ashley!