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Post #501401  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:28 am 
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Watching City and Liverpool battle it out may be interesting. City have only failed to to be out of the top 3 once since 2011. Its the kind of season by season form Man Utd used to have in the 90s and first few years of the 00s.
If City do win it this season and next, the EPL will start to look like a joke corrupted by money. My other fear is our unbeaten record which is very hard to do with the league as it is, but not impossible with what City have.
Liverpool have one of their best sides since some time but when you can't win the PL with 97 points, while losing only once and your contender has all the money in the world, you can only stay competitive to challenge for the title for so long.

We may start seeing Tottenham fall off as well (a welcomed thing). They have the addition of the stadium to contend with, their biggest stars looking at possibly leaving.

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Post #501402  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:12 am 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
We may start seeing Tottenham fall off as well (a welcomed thing). They have the addition of the stadium to contend with, their biggest stars looking at possibly leaving.

Spurs have Vertonghen, alderweireld and Eriksen in the last 12 months of their deals.
Alderweireld was available for £25m this summer, teams obviously didn’t go for it because he’s free in 12 months, or foreign clubs can agree that deal in 6 months.
Those 3 have been mainstays and a huge part of Spurs’ recent rise.
Rose also wants out. Poch is a great manager but as we found there’s only so long you can pull bargain quality players out of the hat.
Spurs wage bill is about half of the other top 6, when they make £50-60m signings those players don’t sign based on Spurs normal wages. They will be some of the top earners which sets the benchmark for any new signing and any contract renewals. We’ve actually reduced our wage bill this year, I think Spurs will see theirs rise at a quicker rate than any of the top 6 mainly because they were so far behind in the first place


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Post #501403  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:25 am 
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Reine-Adelaide is close to signing for Lyon for up to 30m euros. It seems we have a 10% sell on which is handy but disappointing not to get a bigger piece of that considering we sold him for £1-2m last year.

These young players only ever really get their value if they are playing full time football - Bielik being a good case. So for Arsenal to get the big value when selling these players they need to expose them to first team football. If that is with us then we run the risk of an inexperienced player costing us points. We need to manage the loan system better, and ensure that players going on loan aren't just running down their contract. We had that problem with Szcesny who spent 2 years on loan but his contract was running down all the time. I expect Nketiah has already added a few million to his price by scoring for Leeds last night on loan - it just gets him noticed and shows that he can do it at a big club (Leeds are still the biggest club outside the prem I think)


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Post #501404  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:07 am 
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Rich wrote:
AmericanGooner wrote:
We may start seeing Tottenham fall off as well (a welcomed thing). They have the addition of the stadium to contend with, their biggest stars looking at possibly leaving.

Spurs have Vertonghen, alderweireld and Eriksen in the last 12 months of their deals.
Alderweireld was available for £25m this summer, teams obviously didn’t go for it because he’s free in 12 months, or foreign clubs can agree that deal in 6 months.
Those 3 have been mainstays and a huge part of Spurs’ recent rise.
Rose also wants out. Poch is a great manager but as we found there’s only so long you can pull bargain quality players out of the hat.
Spurs wage bill is about half of the other top 6, when they make £50-60m signings those players don’t sign based on Spurs normal wages. They will be some of the top earners which sets the benchmark for any new signing and any contract renewals. We’ve actually reduced our wage bill this year, I think Spurs will see theirs rise at a quicker rate than any of the top 6 mainly because they were so far behind in the first place


Hello Rich,

What is interesting is that I've read a lot of rumbling among sperz fans in various forums about Poch. It's easy to forget that he has never won a trophy but its the best spurs run in terms of the league since forever it seems. They have finished 6th or better every season since 2010 and runner up once.

Trying to be as objective as possible, is Poch a failure or a success? My personal opinion is he is a resounding success with a lack of a trophy being the only negative. Some would argue that managers are judged on trophies and there is a lot of obvious merit to that. I think it has to be measured in stages. He's been there since 2014, its "only" been 5 years in a very difficult league. He had to get to top 4 first stage, now he has to start being judged on trophies. He's gotten to 2 finals and 3 semi finals. The pressure for a trophy has to be balanced with what you said about the stars possibly wanting away, wage bill and the financial pressure of the stadium renovation.

Unless they can bring in someone like an Allegri, Simeone unless they can bring in a top flight manager. If they have reached that stature. I am not so sure.

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Post #501405  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:10 am 
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That sell on clause is a business all its own. I wish I could employ that when if I sell my home. :58big-emoticons:

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Post #501406  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:43 am 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
That sell on clause is a business all its own. I wish I could employ that when if I sell my home. :58big-emoticons:


Trailers don't go for much so pointless.

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Post #501407  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:55 am 
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Was this the right decision?

https://www.express.co.uk/sport/footbal ... nsfer-News
The reason Arsenal and Juventus did not agree Daniele Rugani deal as Unai Emery chased ace

ARSENAL failed to sign Daniele Rugani because they were unwilling to commit to buying the Juventus defender at the end of a loan spell, reports in Italy claim.

Unai Emery put Rugani on his transfer wish list this summer as he looked to bolster his defence ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

But it was David Luiz who rocked up at the Emirates instead as Arsenal hammered out a shock £8m deadline day deal with Chelsea.

Rugani now looks set for Roma, with talks between their sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, Juventus chief Fabio Paratici and potentially the centre-back’s agent taking place on Tuesday.


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Post #501408  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:43 am 
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warrior wrote:
Hi all.

Is anyone having problems accessing the forum the past few days by chance ?
Yes - couldn't get on for several days.

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Post #501409  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:46 am 
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TOP GUN wrote:
Surely only a matter of time before somebody blames Emery for the car jacking attempt
No, that one definitely down to Arsene or Gordon Brown...

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Post #501410  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:35 am 
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old man of hoy wrote:
TOP GUN wrote:
Surely only a matter of time before somebody blames Emery for the car jacking attempt
No, that one definitely down to Arsene or Gordon Brown...


....or David Dein :42laughter:
PS:
We are still within the statute of limitations for blaming Arsene, omoh. I personally plan to blame him for one or two things...when appropriate.
'

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Post #501411  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:25 pm 
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Abu wrote:
AmericanGooner wrote:
That sell on clause is a business all its own. I wish I could employ that when if I sell my home. :58big-emoticons:


Trailers don't go for much so pointless.

:53big-emoticons:


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Post #501412  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:31 pm 
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I had an interesting conversation this afternoon with a Liverpool fan and his son. After some light teasing about never winning the PL, I asked him if he could exchange on the CL's for a league title would he? He laughed, said no. Why? Because he thinks they will win one eventually and likely in the next few years with Klopp. He also said 'winning the league is national, but the CL is global. Everyone knows you won it globally. Good point. His son said he would exchange it because he's never seen them win a title. Too young. He then flipped it and asked me if I would exchange our 'invincible' season for a CL? I had to think long and hard and after some back and forth in my mind, I said no. He asked why. And I said, I think we will win one in my lifetime. Not in the next few years but eventually. I think winning the CL is easier than unbeaten in the season.

Would any of you, in hindsight, exchange the invincible season for a CL trophy?

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Post #501413  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:58 pm 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
I had an interesting conversation this afternoon with a Liverpool fan and his son. After some light teasing about never winning the PL, I asked him if he could exchange on the CL's for a league title would he? He laughed, said no. Why? Because he thinks they will win one eventually and likely in the next few years with Klopp. He also said 'winning the league is national, but the CL is global. Everyone knows you won it globally. Good point. His son said he would exchange it because he's never seen them win a title. Too young. He then flipped it and asked me if I would exchange our 'invincible' season for a CL? I had to think long and hard and after some back and forth in my mind, I said no. He asked why. And I said, I think we will win one in my lifetime. Not in the next few years but eventually. I think winning the CL is easier than unbeaten in the season.

Would any of you, in hindsight, exchange the invincible season for a CL trophy?


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Post #501414  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:00 pm 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
Would any of you, in hindsight, exchange the invincible season for a CL trophy?
No way - it is a far greater achievement to have done what only one other English team did before. Somebody wins the ECL every year, and one day we will, though I'll most likely not be around to see it.

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Post #501415  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:11 pm 
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It's kinda sad to say you may not be around to see it omoh. The Boston Red Sox went from 1918 to 2004 between world series. There was a documentary about it. I hate the "BoSox" but was moved by people who visited fathers and grandfathers who lived their lives seeing the team reach finals and never win. I certainly hope to see us win in my lifetime. The CL as the saying goes 'anything can happen in a cup competition'. 2004 was our gild edged chance I think. Had we just had a better 2nd half against Chelsea, the road to the final was not too difficult considering the competition. All the top teams were out of it.

Anyway, thinking about it more, the 'invincible' season was an entire season with drama each week. And I feel personally connected seeing one of the matches. Still have the program and ticket stub. It's with my trust documents, insurance forms, and other important things.

It will break my heart if City does it, especially in their present state of being economically on steroids.

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Post #501416  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:53 pm 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
It's kinda sad to say you may not be around to see it omoh...Anyway, thinking about it more, the 'invincible' season was an entire season with drama each week. And I feel personally connected seeing one of the matches. Still have the program and ticket stub. It's with my trust documents, insurance forms, and other important things. It will break my heart if City does it, especially in their present state of being economically on steroids.
Of course AG I hope I am wrong and that I do see us win the big-eared jug. I suppose if I see it happen in say 2040, beating Dartford in the Nou Camp on penalties, I'll be alright with that. A 90 year-old with eyesight still intact - that'll do me. Hopefully by then we may have achieved Brexit too, though I doubt it.

On the Invincible season we perhaps only now come to appreciate what we were given by that magnificent team? At the time they were so good it was almost no big surprise they went unbeaten! Yet it was so hard to do as great sides like United, Chelsea and City have discovered since.

The state of football finances today is so ridiculous I can't get too bent out of shape over it anymore. I hope City win the ECL as I have always liked them ever since they were managed by one of our greats, Joe Mercer. Well before you saw the light of day I lived for a while in Manchester (Uuugghh!) and regularly watched Book, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Oakes etc. What a side.

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Post #501417  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:46 pm 
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old man of hoy wrote:
The state of football finances today is so ridiculous I can't get too bent out of shape over it anymore. I hope City win the ECL as I have always liked them ever since they were managed by one of our greats, Joe Mercer. Well before you saw the light of day I lived for a while in Manchester (Uuugghh!) and regularly watched Book, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Oakes etc. What a side.

I’m with you Mr Hoy. City have always been my second English club (although they’re well behind Bayern and Rangers in the context of my footballing bits on the side). So if Bayern have been knocked out, it won’t bother me if City win the Champions League. Mike Doyle is another from that era that I recall. Joe Corrigan and Willie Donachie are others, and Joe Mercer’s assistant was the flamboyantly entertaining Malcolm Allison. They’re actually a bigger club than some give them credit for too. Been told 30+k happened when they were in the old third tier league.


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Post #501418  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:14 pm 
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Bernard wrote:
old man of hoy wrote:
The state of football finances today is so ridiculous I can't get too bent out of shape over it anymore. I hope City win the ECL as I have always liked them ever since they were managed by one of our greats, Joe Mercer. Well before you saw the light of day I lived for a while in Manchester (Uuugghh!) and regularly watched Book, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Oakes etc. What a side.

I’m with you Mr Hoy. City have always been my second English club (although they’re well behind Bayern and Rangers in the context of my footballing bits on the side). So if Bayern have been knocked out, it won’t bother me if City win the Champions League. Mike Doyle is another from that era that I recall. Joe Corrigan and Willie Donachie are others, and Joe Mercer’s assistant was the flamboyantly entertaining Malcolm Allison. They’re actually a bigger club than some give them credit for too. Been told 30+k happened when they were in the old third tier league.

I will always remember the fedora Allison wore at some games. Only from seeing it on Match of the Day or The Big Match whatever we were lucky to see on TV over here. Tony Book - didn't he only make the top grade later in life or something like that.

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Post #501419  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:29 pm 
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I like the way that Griezman thinks about the future.

http://www.sportbible.com/football/news ... r-20190814

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Post #501420  Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:30 pm 
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Gaz from Oz wrote:
I will always remember the fedora Allison wore at some games. Only from seeing it on Match of the Day or The Big Match whatever we were lucky to see on TV over here. Tony Book - didn't he only make the top grade later in life or something like that.

Yes I think Tony Book was rather ancient. I might go and look his age up. Back in a minute or two. Wikipedia says he was born in September 1934. So he was well into his thirties around the era of the late 1960s.


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Post #501421  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:12 am 
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Gaz from Oz wrote:
I like the way that Griezman thinks about the future.

http://www.sportbible.com/football/news ... r-20190814


Is this our only path to glory nowadays, through online football? :42laughter:

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Post #501422  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:18 am 
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gooner7 wrote:
Gaz from Oz wrote:
I like the way that Griezman thinks about the future.

http://www.sportbible.com/football/news ... r-20190814


Is this our only path to glory nowadays, through online football? :42laughter:

Probably

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Post #501423  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:03 am 
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Bernard wrote:
Gaz from Oz wrote:
I will always remember the fedora Allison wore at some games. Only from seeing it on Match of the Day or The Big Match whatever we were lucky to see on TV over here. Tony Book - didn't he only make the top grade later in life or something like that.

Yes I think Tony Book was rather ancient. I might go and look his age up. Back in a minute or two. Wikipedia says he was born in September 1934. So he was well into his thirties around the era of the late 1960s.

Did not come to Div1 until over 30. Spent most of his times in non league. He had followed Allison around and went on to win the title and FA Cup with City. He was their captain. A real story of never give up your dreams.

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Post #501424  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:33 am 
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So what happened to the VAR system in the penalty shoot out with Chelsea. The goalkeeper foot was not on the line in the pen he saved according to a number of different reports. Also early in the game a Liverpool player clearly had his hand over the shoulder of a Chelsea player pulling him back leading to interference as he run in on goal. Why was that not a penalty?

It will be like the Australian grand final which was won by a Melbourne club, who are one of the darlings of our FA. The goal was clearly offside but it was claimed the VAR system failed at that very moment. Never once was our FA asked to prove that this story was true and I have heard no other story of it failing across the globe.

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Post #501425  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:38 am 
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omoh,

I looked up Joe Mercer and hadn't realized he was manager when City won the title in the late '60s.
Wiki excerpt: he went on to enjoy great success as a manager with Manchester City between 1965 and 1971. In his first season at Maine Road, the club won the 1966 Second Division title to regain top-flight status. Two seasons later Mercer led Manchester City to the 1967–68 First Division championship, and went on to win the 1969 FA Cup, the 1970 League Cup, and the 1970 European Cup Winners' Cup.

Amazing.

I recall this specifically because when I became a fan I would look at the list of league champions and saw that City won right after Man Utd did. (side note, I noticed Tottenham was 3rd when Man Utd won it in '67 :sad4: )

Manchester must have been on a crazy buzz at that time. I can only imagine.

As you know he also had a relatively long Arsenal career. I am kinda surprised (and a wee bit ashamed) that I didn't know this.

I liked City when they were trying to push above their weight against Man Utd when Goater was there and I recall them beating Man Utd right before they got big money.

I have a soft spot for Palace and Liverpool for personal reasons. A hatred of Everton for personal reasons as well. Hating Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham is a given as an Arsenal fan.

PS: on another matter to you or anyone, how massive was Everton winning the title in '85 after 3 straight years of Liverpool winning it?

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Post #501426  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:32 am 
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I'm all in favour of a bit of nostalgia about the Francis Lee, Malcolm Allison, Rodney Marsh era Manchester City. But to suggest that there's any link at all between that club and the Frankenstein's monster that currently parades under the same name is beyond the pale. That's right, beyond the pale.

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Post #501427  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:28 am 
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mcquilkie wrote:
I'm all in favour of a bit of nostalgia about the Francis Lee, Malcolm Allison, Rodney Marsh era Manchester City. But to suggest that there's any link at all between that club and the Frankenstein's monster that currently parades under the same name is beyond the pale. That's right, beyond the pale.

I just find it impossible to dislike City as much as Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool. Moreover, If they played Barcelona or Real Madrid in a Champions League final, I’d want them to win it.

I’m not saying it’s the same club as it was, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them and still do. I don’t suppose Arsenal is the same club under Kroenke as it once was, but that hasn’t stopped me supporting them and never will. I just try and make the best of it. Organisations change, just as people do. There’s no point in not wanting things to change, because it ain’t gonna happen.


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Post #501428  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:39 am 
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Bernard wrote:
mcquilkie wrote:
I'm all in favour of a bit of nostalgia about the Francis Lee, Malcolm Allison, Rodney Marsh era Manchester City. But to suggest that there's any link at all between that club and the Frankenstein's monster that currently parades under the same name is beyond the pale. That's right, beyond the pale.

I just find it impossible to dislike City as much as Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool. Moreover, If they played Barcelona or Real Madrid in a Champions League final, I’d want them to win it.

I’m not saying it’s the same club as it was, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them and still do. I don’t suppose Arsenal is the same club under Kroenke as it once was, but that hasn’t stopped me supporting them and never will. I just try and make the best of it. Organisations change, just as people do. There’s no point in not wanting things to change, because it ain’t gonna happen.

I'm a bit like you I prefer them to others you have mentioned. Whilst I tipped Liverpool to win the league I would prefer City win rather than them. Most of their fans (Liverpool) are just too hard to put up with and if they win the league we would never hear the end of it. Plus the media love in makes you want to put your fingers down your throat.

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Post #501429  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:57 am 
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Apparently Xhaka is in doubt for Burnley game.

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Post #501430  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:06 pm 
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Gaz from Oz wrote:
Apparently Xhaka is in doubt for Burnley game.


Yippee :42laughter:

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Post #501431  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:16 pm 
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Gaz from Oz wrote:
Apparently Xhaka is in doubt for Burnley game.

Yesss

We’re back to having 11 men on the pitch.


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Post #501433  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:27 pm 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
Watching City and Liverpool battle it out may be interesting. City have only failed to to be out of the top 3 once since 2011. Its the kind of season by season form Man Utd used to have in the 90s and first few years of the 00s.
If City do win it this season and next, the EPL will start to look like a joke corrupted by money. My other fear is our unbeaten record which is very hard to do with the league as it is, but not impossible with what City have.
Liverpool have one of their best sides since some time but when you can't win the PL with 97 points, while losing only once and your contender has all the money in the world, you can only stay competitive to challenge for the title for so long.

We may start seeing Tottenham fall off as well (a welcomed thing). They have the addition of the stadium to contend with, their biggest stars looking at possibly leaving.

Here's to City smashing Spurs Saturday. :mr100_IsBruceLeeX:

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Post #501434  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:44 pm 
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mcquilkie wrote:
I'm all in favour of a bit of nostalgia about the Francis Lee, Malcolm Allison, Rodney Marsh era Manchester City. But to suggest that there's any link at all between that club and the Frankenstein's monster that currently parades under the same name is beyond the pale. That's right, beyond the pale.
Yes, but name me a top English club these days that isn't a creation of the good Doctor and his sidekicks the broadcasters and petro-billionaires. They are all, including Arsenal, a pale imitation of clubs they once were, albeit greatly richer and overly-branded. City are just the current monster - a bigger one will come along in time.

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Post #501435  Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:00 pm 
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old man of hoy wrote:
mcquilkie wrote:
I'm all in favour of a bit of nostalgia about the Francis Lee, Malcolm Allison, Rodney Marsh era Manchester City. But to suggest that there's any link at all between that club and the Frankenstein's monster that currently parades under the same name is beyond the pale. That's right, beyond the pale.
Yes, but name me a top English club these days that isn't a creation of the good Doctor and his sidekicks the broadcasters and petro-billionaires. They are all, including Arsenal, a pale imitation of clubs they once were, albeit greatly richer and overly-branded. City are just the current monster - a bigger one will come along in time.

With most clubs, there has always been at least some semblance of a relationship between football-related income and expenditure. But when City were taken over in 2008, with the stroke of a pen, rather than staring relegation in the face they were buying a bemused-looking Robinho - and, shortly afterwards, pretty much everyone else: for the next decade. (The Chelsea story is obviously similar.) I think that's a huge difference to what has occurred at United, Liverpool, Arsenal etc. Beyond the pale!

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Post #501436  Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:24 am 
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old man of hoy wrote:
name me a top English club these days that isn't a creation of the good Doctor and his sidekicks the broadcasters and petro-billionaires. They are all, including Arsenal, a pale imitation of clubs they once were, albeit greatly richer and overly-branded. City are just the current monster - a bigger one will come along in time.


I can certainly understand an affinity for City in years past but it the present incarnation symbolizes everything wrong with football and everything that attracted me to this sport and league. I've seen football change over my relatively short time as a fan (comparatively speaking to most of you all).

I can't blame them for turning down the money, but they should have to live with the fact they sold out completely. I have far, far more respect for Man Utd than I do for City and its no secret how much I despise Man Utd.

And you can't get bigger than rich Emirs from the Middle East, unless oil prices fall to a level that makes it difficult to turn a profit.

My sole consolation is seeing the money Roman poured into Chelsea have them in the current malaise they are in. Long may that continue.

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Post #501437  Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:27 am 
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In the TV show "Ballers" on HBO, part of the season 4 storyline are the Los Angeles Rams and I heard Kroenke's name mentioned a couple times.

So depressing having him as owner and its looking like him and his son will be owning us for decades.

(thank you David Dein for making him aware of The Arsenal. The board wouldn't have had him as a choice were it not for him.)

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Post #501438  Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:31 am 
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https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/sh ... g-football

I nice taking apart of lazy punditry - specifically Danny Mills. It always astounds me how these highly paid pundits who's only job is to know more about football and give the TV/radio viewer an insight in to the game often just spout tired old cliches or simply don't even know as much as the average armchair fan.

You would have thought when the likes of Neville and Carragher arrived as pundits and showed what proper analysis and debate was that others may have been embarrassed at their own lack of knowledge - not so it appears.


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Post #501439  Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:21 am 
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I've commented on the differences between sports punditry in America and England. In America, each pundit has a producer. They have people that gather facts to support their view, the producer makes sure they have videos of players or action that supports their view.

In fact, its common practice to have a former player who wants to do play by play or whatever, be put in front of a video of a game and see what he says.

I have my doubts if any of this is common from what I've seen. Gary Neville seems to be the best at getting video support and some facts but by and large they just seem to wing it.

Finally, many of them seem like they don't want to ruffle feathers. Not so in the states. I think its one of the few things football shows in England can actually learn from the states. However, I will say Martin Tyler and Alan Parry are a joy to listen to.

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Post #501440  Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:05 am 
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AmericanGooner wrote:
omoh,

I looked up Joe Mercer and hadn't realized he was manager when City won the title in the late '60s...As you know he also had a relatively long Arsenal career. I am kinda surprised (and a wee bit ashamed) that I didn't know this.
I wrote this about Joe a while back. "Joe Mercer “The Good”. His fame is justifiably bright in the assembly of great Arsenal men. He was one of our finest wing halves and arguably our greatest captain. There is that sempiternal image of him on the shoulders of his team mates in 1952, FA Cup in hand. There is also the legendary story of his last game for the club against Liverpool in 1954. Getting on for forty he badgered manager Tom Whittaker to be selected to play against his old Liverpool pals. He did so, but unluckily broke his leg in a shocking collision with team mate Joe Wade. Perhaps he could have asked for no better hap in his mishap than to finish at Highbury, for some say the ovation he received that day still echoed faintly when they closed the old ground more than fifty years on.

Joe came from a football family. His father was centre half for Nottingham Forest, and young Joe was greatly influenced by Billy Roberts, cousin of Arsenal legend, Herbie Roberts. At fourteen he played for the village of Elton Green in Cheshire and as a reward got his fares paid and a bag of vegetables every Friday. At seventeen he signed professional with Everton where he stayed for sixteen years. His falling out with the Blues came when he was injured playing for England against Scotland and Everton thought he was shirking. He had to have his cartilage removed at his own expense. He joined Arsenal as a thirty-two year-old in 1946, on the condition that he could live and train in Liverpool, as he wanted to look after his grocery business in Hoylake. When Tom Whittaker described the signing as one of the most important deals he or anybody ever made for Arsenal, he told no lie.

Joe Mercer was a brilliant footballer, a delightful provider of accurate passes and blessed with fantastic energy and a formidable battling spirit. His enthusiasm was a by-word and even when time began to damage him there was still a lot of the sixteen year-old in his veteran performances. Maurice Edelston wrote of him ‘Two things about Mercer were unforgettable: his smile and his legs. The smile was Joe. It was not a handsome-boy smile, or a big-star smile; there was no affectation in it; it was natural, humorous and warm. It twisted his mouth sideways in his lean face, and the creases of it almost closed his blue close-set eyes. As to his legs, he had to listen to jokes about them from the day he first joined Everton as a boy of sixteen. They were shaped like a pair of brackets, the left rather more bent than the right; he walked with a sagging, plodding motion, and they gave slightly outwards at each step, as if they were made of thick wire. Mercer captaining a team under pressure looked like a farmer, with threshing in full swing and rain in the air – striding about with activity all around him, directing, encouraging, jumping in to help or take over, always near the centre of the work. There was no doubt who was the boss.’ If it happened in football, Joe had seen it. An old crooked tree that gave fruit."

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