Arsenal can not hire Mourinho.

Warning, this is not about films, games, or TV shows. But it’s something I want to write about this morning. I have followed Arsenal loyally for as long as I have been a conscious human being. They were the first game I went to; they were the best team in England, and they played the best football. Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, they were my heroes. The man behind it all was Arsene Wenger. 

He was the genius who instilled the philosophy that became the thing I identified with. Arsenal played beautiful football on the pitch and conducted themselves with class off the pitch. Only the most heated of rivalries ever changed that, and that was Man Utd under Alex Ferguson. There is a Dennis Bergkamp quote that goes “You don’t support a football club for the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there, found a place you belong”.

That quote has been in my head a lot this week, it’s a very philosophical quote, but it’s in line with the values that Arsenal are all about, and Bergkamp was probably the most “Arsenal” player ever. He was unbelievably skilful, ruthless, efficient, classy and never backed down. He’s been my favourite player forever, even above the king, Thierry Henry.

Years passed, a new stadium arrived and as the team changed the values stayed the same. Arsene Wenger was committed to playing in the way that he felt was right, and it was what Arsenal became known for. Even when we were winning nothing, the football was always entertaining. Towards the end of his reign at Arsenal, I agreed it was time for him to go. The football was good at times, but it felt like the club hadn’t progressed from where it was in 2006, and it needed a revamp.

Arsenal restructured, giving the responsibilities Wenger had to 4 people rather than just one. Now, we have Raul Sanlehi and ex-arsenal player Edu managing the club with Unai Emery coaching the team. Emery has tried his best I am sure, but it just hasn’t worked. Arsenal set up for each game to try and nullify the opponent, regardless of the level they are at. He has turned a team that can impose its game on the majority of the league into a team that sinks its level to whatever the opponent is. The club I fell in love with would never do that. Can you imagine Arsenal of 2002 going out to play even the 2019 Wolves team at home and playing 3 deep lying midfielders, no wingers, and trying to counterattack?

It is not the Arsenal way, it isn’t the football I and so many others associate with Arsenal, and we have become a directionless, reactionary team. Emery has to go, and that axe is about to swing, but the next manager is a very important choice. The rumour mill is grinding as always, and there have been a lot of stories linking Jose Mourinho to the job. I have never been more worried about football in my life.

Mourinho is a hugely successful manager, I respect everything he’s done and even how he has done it by playing defensive, pragmatic and efficient football. In many ways, he could fix Arsenal’s weaknesses tactically, and perhaps even make us into title challengers in within a few seasons. He’s a proven winner, and if you’re being completely results based then he is a great choice. If it happens though, I will seriously consider whether I will follow football with any passion at all.

Mourinho is a bitter, spiteful man, who could not hide his jealousy of Arsene Wenger. Wenger has the respect of the entire footballing world because of his philosophy and his approach to life, not just football. Wenger cares deeply for his players, treating them with respect and putting their well-being above the teams when required. Wenger, and because of him, Arsenal, believed Football should be fun, it should be entertaining. It should be an artform.

Mourinho is a win at all costs and win for himself. He has never had a legacy at any club, even at Chelsea he has tarnished the memories of him with the controversial way all his roles end. Mourinho’s prickly style and tendency to clash with players who don’t fall in line with his strict tactics is very much not the Arsenal way. His football is the antithesis of how Arsenal have historically played. People will probably call back to the George Graham, 1-0 to the Arsenal days, but that was before my time. That was before Arsene Wenger changed all English football. That’s another thing Mourinho couldn’t do, for all his success, he never had the impact Arsene Wenger did.

When Arsene Wenger left Arsenal, he left the club and its fans with the message to “Take care of the values of the club” and it was a line that really struck me. Appointing Mourinho and signing up to his brand for the 3-year cycle we have seen end in a ball of fire would break a lot of the values that Wenger was talking about.

I have been struggling to enjoy watching football this year, Emery has Arsenal playing terrible stuff, but the club seems like its heading in the right direction and a new, expansive coach who understands the way Arsenal should be doing things is a vital next appointment. Mourinho is not that, and I don’t know if I will be as interesting in following football for a while if he is the man at the helm of the club I love.

Tomorrow will be about the usual stuff, I promise.

‘Til then!

ChAzJS

 

Advertisements

De Good, De Bad, and De Niro

How on earth Arsenal didn’t win the North London Derby is beyond me. We dominated spurs (although you wouldn’t think so from the Match of the Day highlights) but a mixture or Hugo Lloris heroics and poor decisions in the final third ruined my plans to enter the office this morning wearing Arsenal’s beautiful bruised banana kit. 

In order to get over this frustration, I decided to settle down and watch Taxi Driver. A film about a man slowly going insane, which is a rather perfect reflection of what being a football fan is like.  The film itself is one of many classic films that I haven’t watched previously, so I was also just excited to watch what is considered by many to be a very good film.

I have to say it’s one of the first movies from the 70’s that I have been able to sit through without being put off by the visuals. Movies from that time are obviously not quite the same as the 4k beautiful shots we are used to now, and for some reason that just feels a little off to me if the film doesn’t grab me. Once Taxi Driver gets going though, I understood why this film is so revered. The performance of Robert De Niro is incredible, and he becomes the character of Travis Bickle. Nowadays, De Niro is a hugely respected actor whose most well-known roll is the dad in the Meet the Parents films, so it was awesome to watch the film where he earned all that respect.

I know he is also in The Godfather Part II, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch that since I watched the original Godfather film. That first film contains so many amazing elements, but I think the style of film making at the time and the way the industry has evolved make it a very tough film to get through. It’s just two minutes shy of three hours long, but when you’re used to the speed of today’s films, it feels so slow.

The film lingers on a shot for 10-15 seconds, to immerse you in the scene, which is an understandable tact to take, but to me it just feels like the editing is poor. This is not true of course; at the time this is how films were made. When you’re used to the quite cuts and fast progression between scenes we have now, The Godfather feels like a slow trudge through the story which could be shortened but maybe 40 minutes by a skilled modern editor without losing too much. Maybe this is blasphemous to some movie aficionados out there, but I would watch a modern edit of the Godfather in a heartbeat over the original, if it contained the same story and showcased the performance of Marlon Brando.

Given my discomfort watching older films, you may wonder what drove me to watch Taxi Driver last night. Well perhaps predictably it was the Joker. The first reviews for the new Joaquin Phoenix led film dropped to my, and a lot of other peoples, surprise over the weekend. For context, this film is still, even today, a full month away from release. Letting people put up their reviews this early is a show of brazen confidence very rarely seen in the movie industry and suggests Warner Bros know exactly what they have with this movie.

By all accounts, what they have is an absolute masterpiece. Reviews from the people I follow have been praising this film’s style and story, but all the main comments are about how brilliant Joaquin Phoenix is in the role of the Joker. I mentioned last week how excited I was to see this flick, but now I want to go into a coma and wake up on release date as there is just nothing else, I would rather do with my time then see this film.

Phoenix is one of the most talented actors around, so I knew there was a chance of something special when you have someone that talented commit to this character. The film is apparently 99% Joaquin Phoenix, as in he is in every shot. That is exactly what you want from a movie about a character so complex. Watching Taxi Driver last night, I started to understand why this type of film was an inspiration. It’s focused completely on De Niro’s Travis Bickle, just as Joker is front and centre of his film. The way it follows his decent into insanity is expertly done in Taxi Driver, so to know this kind of attention to detail is there in the Joker film really puts this top of my most anticipated list.

Another reason for Joker now topping my anticipated list, even over The Rise of Skywalker, is the comparison’s it’s getting to my favourite movie of all time, The Dark Knight. Any Joker performance from now until the end of time will be compared to Heath Ledger’s amazing work in The Dark Knight, so this one is no different. Where this might differ from the rest of Joker actors though, is that Phoenix is being touted as delivering an even better performance.

Time will tell if I agree with that assessment, but I do need to spend the next month trying to forget about the film. I want to go in with no heavy expectations on the film so I can enjoy it as much as possible.

If Arsenal would have lost yesterday, I think I may well have begun my own Travis Bickle like descent into madness. Mkhitaryan needs to get to fuck. Comes on and runs around like a headless chicken with the touch of Romelu Lukaku. Not to mention Superman lookalike Granit-for-brains Xhaka. Spent 90 minutes on the pitch, launching himself at the Spurs players arse first and then acting surprised it didn’t work. Thank fuck for Aubameyang, Lacazette and Guendouzi.

I promise I will have cooled off on the Arsenal stuff by tomorrow.

‘Til Then!

ChAzJS