CJ, also known as Perry Groves’s Lovechild*, writes for the Arsenalinsider website and established cordial relations with Salut! Sunderland earlier in the season (just before the 1-1 home draw that we really ought to have turned into a rare victory over one of the leading sides). We answered his questions then; ahead of a tough game for us at the Emirates, he returns the favour with some great answers – and a touch of indignation at those who feel the Big Four are Brands not clubs (for the record, I think that much, much less of Arsenal than of two of the other three) …
It’s impossible for me to think about your chairman without thinking about the 1987 Littlewoods Cup Final. Our 2-1 Victory over Liverpool was our first trophy under George Graham. The 1986-87 season was Quinn’s best season as a Gunner but then Alan Smith arrived and that was the end for him at our club…
If, for the big four, the expectation is of victory in every game , how have you coped with relative under-achievement this season?
It’s been a difficult year. In the last few seasons we have always sought comfort in the fact that we played great football, but I’m not sure you could say that this year. A lot of fans we’re worried when we didn’t replace Flamini and it appears that the worries were well founded. I don’t think we can compete in the transfer market with the other clubs in the so called big four so we’ve got to be patient and let the manager bring through the younger players. Hopefully we can have a strong run in with Cesc, Eduardo and Theo coming back and of course our new Russian signing, Andrey Arshavin.
Leaving aside his selective recall of incidents, I am a great admirer of Arsene, his eloquence and his knowledge. Do most Gooner retqain faith in him. or is time for change?
On our website we have a group of writers who stand by Wenger and we all believe we’ve got the best manager for our club but there are more dissenting voices starting to appear. The glamour and success Wenger has brought to the club, and the move to the Emirates, has brought in a different type of fan who seem to think we should spend every penny we have and win everything every year. They are not the type of fans I can tolerate. I think we’ll bring in one or two experienced players during the summer and next season we will hopefully be more consistent.
What did you honestly think about your prospects at the start of the season? And now?
I thought Europe would be our best chance of a trophy at the start of the season. Our squad isn’t strong enough to win the Premiership and we new that at the start of the season. Our big aim now is simply to get back into the top four.
And how did you think we’d fare? Did Keane’s departure surprise you? Looking at things now, do you think we’ll survive?
I expected Keane help you to consolidate your place in the Prem. It was a shock to see him quit but looking at it, he didn’t seem to be getting the best out of some of your players and I think he knew it. It looks like any one from twelve could get relegated this year but I think your squad is a lot stronger than some of the others so I think you’ll be fine.
Tell me your honest view of Sunderland, and of Newcastle and their fans, stadiums if you’ve been
Fans in the North East have a great passion for the game that I really admire.
Is it a good thing that Villa are so far proving successful in penetrating the Big Four, and what of the money-driven potential of Man City?
It shows how important a manager is. I’m not sure Hughes has got the right spirit in his side where as O’Neill’s Villa look like they would walk through fire for each other. I’m not convinced Hughes will be there next season. They have spent a lot of money and still look average even though the did spank us!
Be as blunt as you want about Spurs. Is it as you imagine or know SAFC/NUFC to be, different or worse?
Ahhhh the Spuds. I just laugh at them these days. Every year they keep saying they will break into the top four and they throw a heap of money at it… then it all goes tits up. Danile Levy is the producer of the best comedy series since the Fast Show.
Your appraisal of Niall Quinn, as player, chairman, public figure
Quinn seems to be doing a good job for you and is certainly good with the press and PR side of football. I met him once on a flight and he was happy to chat about his days at the Arsenal so I can’t really say anything bad about him. Himself and Kevin Phillips made a pretty deadly combo!!
Tell me honestly who you think will be champions, and who you think will go down.
I think United will win the league by a country mile. As for relegation, I’ll stick my neck out and say West Brom, Stoke and TOTTENHAM!
Arsenal, less than Man Utd but much more than the Sunderlands of football, attract a lot of glory-seeking fans, many who have never even been to the UK let alone Highbury or the Emirates. Do such fans – and the allegation that this makes you more Brand than Club – bug you, or are all Gooners welcome?
The heart and soul of Arsenal football club is the local fan base despite what the external view may be but we are a London club and that means we’ve always been more cosmopolitan than clubs from elsewhere in the country. Yes we have global support but the EPL is a global product. As I said earlier, yes a new type of fan has come to the club now but that comes with success. It doesn’t bother me, or any other Gooner I know, in the slightest. Why would it? To be honest you’re the first person I’ve ever heard make such an accusation (NB: I’m not making the accusation, but putting to you something many outside the the Big Four feel – editor).
Who are your key players? Who would you love to see in an Arsenal shirt, and who should be shown the door?
Right now Robin Van Persie is our main attacking threat and has set up or scored all of our goals this year. Gallas seems to have returned to form over the last few games and was excellent in the North London Derby but we are all hoping Arshavin will come in and hit the ground running.
Club v country. Who wins for you, and why?
This is a no brainer. I could not care less about International Football. I have one team in my heart and one team only.
What will the score be on Feb 21. Will you be there?
2-0 to the Arsenal. Of course.
* Perry Groves’s Lovechild on himself:
Been watching the Arsenal for 30 years. I write for http://www.arsenalinsider.co.uk/ and try to get to as many games as possible home and away each season. Being a Gooner is a privilege that my brother beat into me from a young age and I’m bloody glad he did!