It’d be nice to be able to talk up the fact that Ivan said yesterday in a fans Q & A that we’re going to sign Player x, Player Y is in the bag and Player Z was just waiting behind a pop-up banner to appear like a Sol Campbell from nowhere, but the reality of the sessions like yesterday (which also featured Ian Wright by the sounds of it on perfect form), are that it is simply a way of the club to show that they are listening. Kind of like when people deliver petitions to Downing Street, or write letters to people in power. They know that what they write is going to most likely fall on deaf ears, but at least they have an opportunity to do it and at least the club do show that they’re willing to have these sessions.
It’s good PR. Think about how wrong Newcastle are doing it at the moment by not talking to fans, banning some sections of the media to pressers and generally turning the whole world against them. So whilst I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to the answers from each Q & A, I’m glad we have them as a club. It’s sort of like fighting for the right to vote then defending the right of somebody to abstain from actually voting because they don’t believe in the candidates that are up for election.
There was no flat denial about Petr Cech, but then again there was no denial about Messi, Ronaldo, the Ghost of Christmas Past or Jesus, so I don’t really think we can read too much in to it. That’s what the press spend most of their time doing, with Jeremy Wilson from the Telegraph looking to put his slant on the Cech ‘saga’ by proclaiming that Arsenal are about to make the Czech ‘keeper the highest paid stopper in Arsenal’s history. It’s fairly obvious that if the deal does get over the line Petr will be the highest paid goalkeeper we’ve ever had. What with inflation, plus our improved financial situation, etc, Arsenal were hardly going to dust off the accounts book from 1990 and see how much Big Dave Seaman earned when he joined the club, are they? Still, at least it’s something new to talk about and Wilson will have received sufficient clicks from transfer salivating Arsenal fans like you and I, so he’s done his job in the most part.
So with there nothing more to talk about in modern-day Arsenal (and I don’t really count the Thierry Henry comments about Alexis having the ‘X Factor’ to Arsenal. It’s kind of an obvious thing that we’ve all seen – and spoken about – ourselves over the duration of the season), I thought I’d delve into the inner recesses of my mind and have a word or two to say about Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch master who changed us forever.
He did change us, didn’t he? He was the beginning of the transition from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ the industrious and well-drilled team of the late 80s and early 90s, to the ‘sexy football’ of the late 90s under Arsene Wenger. When Le Boss arrived as manager for the first time and had a look at his squad, he must have pinched himself for good luck after seeing what Dennis could do. The guy was majestic. He could see things that others could not. A pass, a through ball, a little dink, a run of another player, he knew automatically what his teammates could do and he was possibly the best £7.5million we spent. It’s hard to imagine that it was 20 years ago to this day that we signed him from Inter Milan. I still remember it. I was playing football outside the front of my house and my father – not really a footballing man – came out from the front door and said “Arsenal have signed two players”. I rushed inside to see that Bergkamp and Platt had signed and it was like Christmas in summer. It was brilliant. I couldn’t wait to see them both in action the following season.
We all look at Bruce Rioch’s reign at Arsenal and see it as an unsuccessful one, but we should all give thanks to the former Bolton manager for bringing those two players to the club. It was the most positive part of his legacy. I was recounting on Twitter with some friends the last game of the season I saw in his first season at the club. I was offered some tickets for my Dad and I to sit in the North Bank and see us potentially qualify for Europe if we could beat Bolton. It was one of those games that just looked like it was going to frustrate and I remember us being 1-0 down with minutes ticking away when Dennis was involved in the first goal for Arsenal to score – I think it might even have been Platt – then to unleash an absolute thunderbolt in to the top hand corner to win us the game and make it 2-1. That was Dennis. It may have ‘only been Bolton’, but it was a big game and he stepped up and smashed us into the UEFA Cup. Which of course, was a proper trophy back in those days!
He went on to become a legend. A player with whom we all sing songs about, recall with a smile and thank Arsenal that they bought somebody like that in to our lives.
We are lucky to be fans of such a great club.