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  • Новината за смъртта на 68-годишният бивш нападател бе оповестена тази сутрин от неговото семейство в Туитър акаунта на Пол, където споделиха: ''За съжаление искаме да ви информираме, че на 9 юли Пол ни напусна след краткотрайна битка с рак на мозъка. Той си тръгва от този Свят заобиколен от неговото семейство. Бихме искали да благодарим на всички, които дойдеха да го посетят по време на битката му с болестта. Благодарим за оказаната подкрепа и за всичките съобщения, които не спираме да получаваме от Вас. Пол живя пълноценно и имаше късмета да се състезава за страхотни клубове, а също така игра и за Трите Лъва.''
    Пол Маринър е роден на 22 май 1953 година във Фарнуърт, Англия. В състезателната си кариера е носил екипите на Плимут Аргайл, Ипсуич Таун, Арсенал и Портсмут. Неговото име е най-често свързвано с това на Ипсуич, където Пол се състезава в периода между 1976 и 1984 година и дори печели Купата на ФА и Купата на УЕФА. За Арсенал, Пол играе между 1984 и 1986 година. Участва общо в 60 мача и се разписва 14 пъти. С екипа на Англия излиза 35 пъти и отбелязва 13 гола. 



    Френският национал до 21 години подписа със състава на Олимпик Марсилия за срок от 1 година. Сделката е на стойност 1 милион евро и е с опция за закупуване. Бяло-сините ще трябва да се разделят с още около 10 милиона евро, ако желаят да си осигурят услугите на Гендузи за постоянно. Самият играч не пропусна да сподели в социалните си акаунти това, че е благодарен за всичко и на всички в Северен Лондон. 22-годишният полузащитник започва кариерата си в академията на ПСЖ, а след това се присъдинява към Лориен. Арсенал привлече Гендузи през лятото на 2018 година и с червено-белият екип, той изигра общо 82 мача. През изминалата кампания пък бе под наем в Херта Берлин, където записа 24 срещи на името си. Пожелаваме успех и попътен вятър на това момче и кой знае, защо пък един ден да не го видим отново с топа на гърдите.


    Our keeper as hero and villain? I don't think so.
     
     
     
     
     
    1994-95 The Football
     
    Stewart Houston had a tough task
    Last time I covered the off field antics which led to George Graham being removed in February. He lost his credibility, his job, and his (future)statue. And the team were poor, understandably.  I would judge a manager on how well they extract performances from their team. If they have the best team, they should win. If another team does it like Arsenal in the double without the best team under Bertie Mee, it is a great achievement. Like Leicester a few years ago. Now that success had come to Manchester United, Alex Ferguson made sure he had the best players available.
    They were the richest and had that advantage, so he should have won the league every year. He didn’t win this year. Blackburn did. Yes, they spent cash, they had top players but not the squad of Man Utd. But Arsenal finished 12th on 51 points only 6 above relegation. With a team packed full of internationals and winners this was very poor and underlines the importance of having a good manager able to do their job. Graham obviously couldn’t this year and when Stewart Houston, his deputy took over he had a thankless task. We were a little better and avoided relegation.
    A not so super team in a Super cup?
    We played in the European Super Cup against A.C Milan drawing 0-0 at home and losing 2-0 away. This was in early February when the scandal was at its highest.
    We did a little better in the League Cup, starting with a nice 7-0 over Hartlepool over 2 legs. Then Oldham 2-0 after a replay, then Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 before being beaten by Liverpool 1-0 in the fifth round.
    And the FA Cup was worse, Millwall beat us 2-0 after a replay in the 3rd round.  By January, then, our season was over. Or was it?
    The Cup-winners Cup again
    We had the Cup-winners cup again as champions. Could we retain it? With our off field problems it didn’t look likely but we had an easy start against Omonia of Cyprus. We won 3-1 away to make the second leg a formality with Paul Merson (2) and Ian Wright scoring. Wright scored 2 in the next, 3-0  at Highbury which meant we were set up for Brondby in the next round.
    We duly won 4-3 over 2 legs 2-1 away with Alan Smith and Ian Wright scoring, then 2-2 at home with Ian Wright and Ian Selley scoring. But they scored after 2 minutes to make it a bit nervy. Arsenal make it hard for us supporters.  And then the quarters against Auxerre where it was made hard again, 1-1 at home but Ian Wright got it for us then and in the next one away got it for us again, a penalty after 16 minutes being good enough. What would we have done without Ian Wright?
     
    He always scored for us
    We weren't Arsenal
    The annoying thing was that this shouldn’t be happening, we had a top squad, Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Keown, Merson, Parlour and others were regulars for England and Jensen, Hartson, Schwartz and McGoldrick also had lots of caps in their career. Others like Winterburn and Smith also played for England. But Wright was scoring at a rate of around one every 2 games. He could score goals even when we weren’t playing well. In the Wenger years, Henry also scored at a similar rate but in a far more effective team.
    Next up in the semis were Sampdoria, where Liam Brady had also played. They had Sven-Göran Eriksson in charge and current top Italian manager Robert Mancini playing among several top players.  It was a bit crazy. We were 2-0 up at halftime, both goals scored by Steve Bould (!) then Vladimir Jugović scored, then Ian Wright put us 2 ahead again only for Jugović to score again making it 3-2. They had 2 away goals. It is very hard being an Arsenal supporter.
    But they made it really difficult for us next match. Mancini scored after 13 minutes. We were now facing an Italian team away and they were effectively one goal ahead because of the away goals. You would expect them to see out the match. But Ian Wright had different ideas and in the 60th minute he scored to ensure that if we could hold out, we were through. But then Belluci sored twice in the 85th and 86th minutes to make certain they would go though. Except for a superb Stefan Schwartz free kick in the 89th minute to give us parity and a penalty shootout.

     Seaman with a glorious save in the penalties against Sampdoria
    David Seaman was unbelievable and we won 3-2. So all 3 contests were 3-2. First leg to us, second to them and shootout to us. We were through. Against Real Zaragoza who had Nayim who was a Spud before Zaragoza and Gus Poyet who was to become a Spud.
     
    A Spud? Destroying us? A nightmare
    In all fairness, we didn’t play well, they had far more chances but didn’t score until the 68th minute with
    Juan Esnáider. There’s only one Johnny Hartson put us back level on 77 and it was extra time. We were heading for penalties and we had our ace in the hole David Seaman to put us through that. We weren’t the better team on the day but we would win that, surely? Except with virtually no time left, the Spud Nayim punted the ball from the halfway line, after spotting Seaman out of his goal. He sprinted haplessly, it was like slow motion for me watching, but slowly, slowly, he wasn’t going to catch it, and it was in. A Spud had done us!
     
    John Hartson kept us in it.
    David Seaman cried his eyes out after the match, a big six foot 4 Yorkshireman kept apologising to his teammates for letting them down. I have to confess at being a bit angry myself. But I was wrong. We all make mistakes and for most of you out there he is the best keeper Arsenal have had in your lifetime. For me he is second to Pat Jennings, but he was a great keeper. And also a true gentleman.
    And so nothing for us. We were sent home crying as well.
    Only really Ian Wright had a good season with 30 goals in all competitions. He had a perfect record in the League Cup with 3 goals in 3 games and 9 goals in 9 games in the Cup-winners Cup.
    We had lost our leader in George Graham. We knew Stewart Houston wasn’t the answer. It was time to get a big manager. David Dein had the contacts. Surely we would get the best and next week I will write about a glorious season when we were back to being Arsenal? We will see.
     
     
     

    The Dark Side takes over
    1994-95
    Last week I wrote about how we won the European Cupwinners Cup on May the Fourth. I, and many other Gooners were hoping that we have disturbed the force that is Manchester United and are ready to be Arsenal again. George Graham could surely now come up with the tactics to hit us into warp drive. We had the players, we could put out an entire England team and it would be nearly as good as the actual one. We bought Stefan Schwarz, John Hartson, Chris Kimomya and Glenn Helder.   Surely Darth Vader (Alex Ferguson) couldn’t stop us now?
    Certainly Man City couldn’t. 3-0 first match. Your Death Star is about to be demolished, Mr Ferguson, the Arsenal are back. Except we weren’t. Defeats to Liverpool, Leeds, and Newcastle along with draws to Norwich and Blackburn meant we were going to be confined to the farther reaches of the galaxy, more likely. What it is to be an Arsenal supporter. Finally on 25th September we beat West Ham 2-0. We never got going after that and didn’t play like contenders, let alone champions.
    Dark rivers of cash
    Ah, but there were rumours appearing, enquiries into irregularities, and something was going on behind the scene. Not with the Arsenal, surely? We were squeaky clean, not like many others, with Don Revie and Brian Clough regularly in the frame when such allegations appeared. All us football fans believed that there was a river of bungs, underhand payments, and brown envelopes streaming through clubs. Many articles and books speculated on this but it was George Graham who was caught, tried in an FA inquiry, and found guilty.
    The details were simple and undisputed. Graham had received £425,00 from Rune Hauge for services supplied. He claimed he helped him to operate in England, providing consultation and advice when required. He described them as gifts which he never asked for. It is perhaps best put in this extract from the Guardian here
     Rune Hauge: Did this smiling man really cause all the trouble?
    ”The "bung" details are complicated, but, in simple terms, George accepted two lumps of cash, totalling £425,000, from a Norwegian football agent with whom George, as manager of Arsenal, had been involved in various transfer deals. He had also helped this agent, giving him advice and contacts in British football in general. George, therefore, so he says, looked upon this money as an unsolicited gift. He didn't see it as having strings attached, either before or after. At the time, he didn't appear to see anything wrong at all. Arsenal, the club, didn't lose out. His "gifts" had come out of a middleman's pocket. No one, so he maintained, was cheated.”
    Hey, it's capitalism
    It is fair to say that in business, such arrangements are normal, you scratch my back and I scratch yours. Capitalism is built on such things. But sport is different, and should be. There are sporting rules that you shouldn’t break, both on and off the arena. In golf and snooker, the highest standards are maintained, and players are expected to call foul on themselves, but football is probably the dirtiest sport of all. Professional boxing? Maybe, but it is very much a minority sport in terms of participants.
    So George was banned for a year, he lost his job at Arsenal, his reputation was thrashed and he lost a lot of money as he handed it all back and had to pay high legal fees. Arsenal struggled on the pitch as players were in shock. Graham had always seemed so straight, he was tough, but they liked him, mostly. They understood what he wanted, what he valued, how he dealt with them in general. One has to understand that a football manager can only pick 11, and must piss off players every week and the skill is getting them to understand their role and value to the team, even if it is a peripheral role. But also helping them through difficult times, Tony Adams with alcohol and Paul Merson with gambling are examples of this.
     A long tough battle for Paul Merson
    Paul Merson, this season, came out about his severe gambling, alcohol and cocaine addiction. 3 months rehab was offered and George Graham welcomed him back into his role, but shortly after was fired. Merson recovered his career and Graham played his part. He obviously understood human frailty.
    The good and the bad of George Graham
    Graham had been the best manager of my time with Arsenal till now. For a shortish period we were the best team in England. He had a distinct belief in how football should be played and the type of footballer he wanted in every position. He ran Arsenal as a tight ship and must have been a dream for the directors, always being canny in his dealings, keeping plenty of money at home for them. He believed he had a deal with them that he could return but the Arsenal board, being representative of the higher echelons of British society, decided that they did not wish to be tainted with the unsavoury aspects highlighted by the FA, and threw him to the wolves.
     Graham, doing what he does best
    So, what is my view on the matter? George Graham was caught, he did wrong and got a fair enough punishment in my opinion. Put in context, though, I feel he was a small fish in a murky pond, and countless others participated in a lot more dirty dealings. It is still going on, probably a lot worse now as there is a lot more money floating around. Football seems to be irredeemably corrupt, from FIFA downwards and nothing really happens despite periodic exposes. Qatar, anyone? The squeaky clean home of the next World Cup? Yeah, sure.
    Can it be fixed?
    What can be done? I would start on the pitch. Make it an offence not to admit to a foul. In other words, no arguing with the ref, the cameras can see what happened. No claiming anything, from throw ins to penalties, the cameras and the officials can see what happened. Players forced to be honest, on penalty of far worse punishment if they are not, would be a start. No deliberate kicking or pulling of a player to stop them moving. No diving, falling down holding your face when you weren’t even touched on the face and such things like that to be replaced with being punished severely for it.
    Cleaning up on the pitch, I believe, would be the first step necessary to cleaning things up off it. Would fans be happy with my proposals? I have a feeling no is the answer. Often fans are blind to their own teams failings and over sensitive to the oppositions.
    What next for Arsenal?
    For George Graham, he had succumbed to the dark side of the force. Arsenal were knocked back in their attempt to tackle the Man Utd empire and the Premier league trophy was turning out to be in a far distant galaxy which Arsenal had no hope of reaching.
    But as always with Arsenal, there are grounds for hope and next week I will talk about matters on the pitch in this season. Could we rescue it at all? And who would come after George Graham?


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